It takes a certain amount of gumption as a member of the opposition or a critic of the current Indian Government to look at their achievements of the past five years, shrug, and say 'I don't think they really did very much'. Electricity to 98% of Indian villages, guarded railway crossings, 5% more coal production in five years than in all ten years of the previous Government, toilets and sanitation for 75% of the populace, LPG connections for millions of households to replace firewood, increased solar energy production, twenty eight vs twenty kilometers of new roads laid daily for five years, more villages connected by road than ever before, water filtering plants for the large cities, direct flights to smaller towns in North, East and North East India, but no 'I don't think they did very much'.
I certainly don't like everything about the ruling party, the BJP, and like any political party it has its share of unsavoury characters. I don't believe it's good enough to quietly tolerate such people in the 'larger interest', but essential to call out people whom I believe are intolerant of the opinions of others.
I don't need a political party to defend my religion or my beliefs, as my religion is just that, mine, and having been around for a few thousand years perfectly capable of defending itself. More than that, a Government needs to strive explicitly to defend the religion of those less capable of defending themselves.
After five years of rule by the BJP and its allies there's much that still needs fixing and improving in this country. In a city such as Mumbai, one of the richest municipalities in Asia, there are scores of public schools without proper benches or studying material for the kids. Twenty five percent of Indian school kids graduate without the most basic of reading and arithmetic skills, ill equipped for a rapidly changing world. Indian railways last year had 'only' 27 accidents, less than the 56 of the year before, but 27 too many.
I do believe however, that it's incumbent upon a ruling party to get the most basic aspects of running a Government and thus a country right so that people can progress and be equipped to fend for themselves and rise above their current station, and I believe that this Government has made important strides in that direction. More than caste and creed I think there is an impatience with the status quo that unites large parts of the country, an unwillingness to accept poverty and incompetence. In fact, there is an impatience with incompetence that has re-surfaced, and it doesn't just belong to the youth. People who remember a long ago era when not everything was dictated by the Government, but during which busses and trains ran on time and schools and colleges, however simple, functioned.
Seventy years of ill - conceived socialism has today left India poorer than South Korea, a country which until 1959 was measurably and arguably poorer than India. It is time to move ahead, not only for the few, not just for the cronies, who by the way have always flourished more under socialist governments than those of the right, but for all Indians of all religions and creeds. For the young entrepreneurs who wish to set up businesses, for women who wish to enter the work place and feel safe traveling to and from work, for people who wish to be able to commute and travel by train without fear of dying in an accident, because ticket prices have been frozen at the same level for decades and because there's no money for safety equipment, for young children who wish to study and develop their minds, for the soldiers guarding our country who have been waiting for basic fighting gear for more than a decade, for the poor who deserve access to basic healthcare and for the elderly, who now for the first time have a basic pension, and this is why I shall be voting for the ruling party on the 29th of April in Mumbai.
I may not be running this race, but I applaud all those who do.
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.