ZERO OPTIONS AMONG MANY

By Chirag Aggarwal

(07/11/2020 18:00 IST)

When I woke up this morning, I was intrigued by the ubiquitous debate on nearly every news channel, on the US Presidential Elections. Not that I had seen the race for the first time: I had been following it since it started; but what got me was the sheer tightness of the results. The tiny margin and the tinier lead. Regardless of who became the president, a deeper question rose in my mind. The two party system used in US politics, offers a binary choice to the voter- it’s either the Donkey, or the Elephant. But here in India, you get to choose from a gargantuan spectrum of options- you can get the Lotus if you want, or you can go for the Hand. We’ve got everything here- the Broom, the Lamp, the Bicycle, even the Elephant; you name it. But even then, we cry for the lack of a political alternative in India. Even then, journalists shout on the top of their voices and scream out aloud, “If not Modi, then who?” And even then, most of us spend hours debating on the party we’re going to vote and at the end, it’s all भेड़चाल.

भेड़चाल | Mob mentality. The bandwagon fallacy. Herd instinct. Knee-jerk. Sheeple. Sounds familiar? These are the terms used to describe the voluntary acceptance of a suggestion without critical analysis and consideration. There are multiple instances to this: the:‘weird’ kid in the class you don’t want to talk to just because no one does, or that shiny new watch you want just because Shah Rukh Khan (probably) wears it too; the list is endless. From something as mundane as the colour of the walls of our house to the big decisions we make in life, we are always influenced by भेड़चाल, and most of the times we surrender to it.

Do you get it? We are blinded by the tinted spectacle of भेड़चाल which encompasses prejudices and stereotypes. This is what advertisers, influencers and (surprise, surprise) political parties use to cash in on their vote banks.

This is further amplified by the advertising tactics of political parties. Some parties in particular, are less political parties and more marketing goliaths. They use various mediums and nuances, to subtly plant their leaders and their narratives in the minds of their voters. So much so, that the people become extreme partisans of the concerned parties. Sometimes, these people are colloquially (and affectionately) referred to as‘pidis’ and‘bhakts’.

Another problem that further aggravates the so-called lack of political alternative in India is the somewhat lackluster performance of the opposition parties in the recent years. This gives an edge to the already strong ruling party.

उसने किया तो सोचा मैं भी कर लू।

He did, and so did I.

Of course, it isn’t always bad to jump on the bandwagon. If your timing is spot-on, the results can be very beneficial, (mostly in financial backgrounds, like buying real estate and shares). But ignorance is what makes it detrimental. Sure, you want to vote for a party. But voting for it just because all your friends are, is straight up foolish. Back your choice with strong reason. Be vigilant and take the decision in an aware and informed manner (at least in something as sensitive as deciding your political representative).

But perhaps the most concerning point about the illusion of the lack of political alternative in India. The point that concerns me the most, is mass ignorance. It is simple: people need to stand up. People from all walks of life, need to come together. The only thing that one can expect from a conventional political party is stale propaganda and dynastic succession. The times we live in are unprecedentedly dynamic, and yet we vote the same, old, stagnant parties with leaders who care about nothing but themselves. The lack of a real political alternative can only be addressed when intelligent and honest people hold offices and use their power responsibly, with integrity and good conduct.

It isn’t that India doesn’t have strong and reasonable political alternatives. It’s just that Indians need to free themselves from the capture of the bandwagon fallacy and realize the power they have in their hands.

About Authors.

Chirag Aggarwal

Desk Editor

References.

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