Monday, February 16, 2009

A Political Junkie's "Excellent" Journey


Editorial Note:


This posting is more personal than usual,  I hope my daughter will get know something about her father when she is old enough to read this. I apologize if this is not of general interest.



The story begins in February 1977,  I had just turned nine (My daughter turns nine this year). India was in the grips of the Emergency, and Indira Gandhi had just declared elections. Our family was a staunch Congress household  and the Emergency had been explained to me as Indira Gandhi has put all the bad people in jail. Of course,  my father had no doubt that the Congress would be swept back to power. This sense of absolute certainty was passed on to me.  So when a friend of mine insisted that the Janata Party would win this time and offered a bet of an "orange bar" I felt that it was like taking candy from a baby though I had no idea how I would pay up if I lost.


On the day the results were to be announced,  I was  still  hopeful  as I listened to All India Radio continuously reporting about how the Congress had won 41 out of the 42 seats in the Andhra Pradesh  and silent about the results in the rest of the country.  By the next morning the papers were full  of the Janata Party riding a wave back to power and I had  sinking  feeling as I wondered how I would get 55 paise.  I dared not tell me father about  the bet.  It took me two weeks of scrounging around for spare (aka unguarded) change,  but I re-payed my debt using 11 five paise coins.  This traumatic experience led me to make a solemn promise to myself:  I will never blindly believe what someone tells me about a election,  I will always come to my own conclusions based on the data.  That month, a political "junkie" was born.


To be continued ...



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