It's the final stretch of the greatest political show on earth. The Indian elections may not be as long as the US elections (NOTHING is as long as the US elections; two years of building up to primaries, primaries, conventions and then finally an election, all of it preceded by two years of posturing), but they're the most colorful, mind bending, noisy, boisterous and impressive elections known to mankind.
Close to 800 million voters, I say close because somewhere in South Bombay a politically engaged person living in india as an adult for the first time during an election WASN'T ALLOWED TO VOTE!
I digress. Close to 800 million voters, across 29 states spread over 1.3 million square miles.
There's an Election Commission that actually regulates this circus and succeeds for the most part. Politicians of all ilk are hauled up if they are caught campaigning within a certain period or displaying their party's signs too close to a polling booth.
It's the election where EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) meet vastu, India's version of Feng Shui, with politicians insisting that the EVM be re positioned in accordance with the rules of vastu.
Talk shows don't happen on Sunday mornings, as they do in the US, they're on every evening across scores of channels. Each channel hosts anywhere from five to six speakers at a time, who all insist on speaking simultaneously, along with the host who yells over the din.
The political class argues about the declining rules of civility, the argument being carried in this case by Dr. Karan Singh, one of India's foremost politicians and writers.
That said, at least India has elections. Every five years the entire system heaves itself into action and gives the common man a right to vote. Voters consciously decide to give a particular party or candidate a chance to perform with the knowledge that they can oust him, her or them out in five years' time.
Can't wait for May 12th, when the first exit polls will be out! All TV channels not dealing with the elections will be banned from then on, at least in one South Mumbai household....
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.