TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE

Politics is messed up and in return, I am lousy at it. It is a very healthy relationship I assure you; of being uninterested, apathetic, uncaring, and indifferent and all the synonyms you can find in the thesaurus for the word “voter”. Do note that the word ‘voter’, here, not only refers to those who vote but also those who can but prefer not to.

And I appreciate the voters who don’t vote. After all, they must have more pressing concerns such as working to put food on the table. They have no reason to care about which candidate gets elected or what schemes he proposes. Those schemes are never going to bear them fruits. But yes, if they must, they would rather vote for the candidate that delivers promises before the elections even begin. After all, he ‘shows’ promise despite his track record. Now, while most cultures may call this ‘bribery’ and condemn it for being a despicable act, the truth remains that nobody would admit but everybody is guilty of it. And that makes the whole world which includes those who vote and those who don’t equally and unequivocally a despicable lot. Since everybody is born this way, no-one is alone in being lazy and dishonest. Thus, without shame I can confess to you, one voter to another, I’m one who’d rather not vote.

THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH BEHIND AN ELECTION MANIFESTO

I will get up

And wash about

Me, my house

 

I will drink

To the health

Of me, my house

 

I will eat

To fill the tums

Of me, my house

 

I will work

Hard to earn

For me, my house

 

Day after tomorrow

I will do all I can

For me, my house

 

Tomorrow I will plan

The how-to-do

For me, my house

 

And I will want today

Your support

For me, my house

 

For what is mine

Is yours too

Even me, my house

 

And together

We sink or swim

That is our house

 

Coz ‘everyday’ comes

But the day after ‘tomorrow’

In this blessed house

However, I vote. Despite the fact that the higher echelons of the society are infested with petty politics of a silver tongued governance riddled with corruption, I vote. After all, the media has spiced it up into a soap opera, irresistible even to the likes of me. And I absolutely despise it; a love-hate relationship. Moreover, I want to feel like Santa Claus. I want to know which candidate has been good and deserves a gift. It gives me a perverse guilty pleasure to note that no politician deserves it. Still I vote; partly because I am inclined to put up the pretense of a nice active voter who cares and partly because if I am to give up my nation to vultures I’d rather choose the least greedy one. So yes, while I am lousy at politics and would rather not dirty my hands with it, I refuse to sit on the sidelines and accelerate the rot. Who knows? Once in a blue moon, the tide may change and long-sought changes may be wrought.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Look at those giant feathery folks

That poke their beaks into businesses

That bother them not

And rather than lay an apology

Thickly and swift

Their tongues erupt into

Hackneyed discourses and juvenile diatribes

That fail to eclipse their wilted wit

So much so that these long weathered ears

Grow wary of potential permanent abuse

Especially as their voices grow louder

And their stilted stature elevates

Mayhap it’s their nearness

But as their beaks elongate

I wonder how many of us

Are blind by choice

And how many oblivious

But it is quite certain that the giants seem

(Beyond their bulbous beaks)

Unable to see

Or care about

Our apathetic visage

And a pathetic state of affairs

~ Akanksha Gupta

(PS: This article was published in HKUST Wings 23.1)

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

I’m two days late in posting on Teacher’s day. These two days were spent in shock. Well, usually, it would not be unusual to expect something of this nature from petty politics that imitates the utterly useless theatrics of Indian Soaps more than Indian families do. Yet, I was quite surprised that our nation can politicize even a day that honors, as Dr. Radhakrishnan said, “some of the best minds of the country.”

To be nameless or be named
Shameless will never be ashamed
As their grapevine’s political noose
Tightens around important news

It is difficult to be proud of a nation, that, on a day where it should be celebrating the unsung heroes of the nation, is busy arguing on the nuances of a name change. All God have various names, each symbol has a multiple connotations, every religion has different interpretations and a child often has shortened derivatives of his name. And you are rebelling against a simple name change?

It is difficult to be proud of a nation, that, on a day where it should be working on reviving the honor in being a teacher, is busy perpetuating hypocrisy. When Independence day can be called Swantantra Divas and Republic day Gantantra Divas, why is it a problem when Teacher’s Day is dubbed Guru Utsav? Why do we not see any hard-core, political, territorial linguist argue whether or not the government is imposing Sanskrit on all States or that Sanskrit influenced all Indian languages?  In fact, what is wrong in translating a name to a language that belongs to our country and has a long, rich and proud heritage from one that was ‘imposed’ by those who colonized us?

It is difficult to be proud of a nation, that, on a day where it should focus on improving the quality and accessibility of education, is busy creating a controversy regarding something as trivial as a ‘name change’. Yes, India has increased its focus on education in the past years. It is trying to spread the awareness among masses regarding the long-term individual and national importance of education. But, when we look at the bigger picture, we see our  failings too – the lack of access in many rural areas, the deplorable quality of infrastructure, the persisting child labor and the degradation of respect in the teaching career. In fact, while the schools strive to make teachers feel unburdened and special on this day, what does the government do to? It looks at the littlest picture and decides to politicize it by changing the name; though it would have been harmless had it not become an instrument for the opposition to protest and capitalize on.

But then, I’ve decided to be the bigger person and let go of this mockery, and do the best I can; pay an honest heartfelt tribute to all my teachers throughout my school, and now my university, life:

There is a hunger in our bellies and a thirst in our throats
Every time that you fill ‘em up, a burning emptiness bloats
And you, like those hardened warriors, stand tall and proud;
Custodians of knowledge; you shine like a beacon in the crowd
Heartily we salute your struggle to mold the future generation
Educating the youth comes not without its trials and tribulations
Ruing every deadline we are wont to curse and cry, but later
Savoring every moment with you we wonder how time flies by
Dear mentors, dear siblings, dear friends – you are all in one,
Articulating your desire that with wide eyes we’d run; run, run and run,
Yes, through a world where we’d make your pride burn bright like the sun