Thursday, 24 July, 2008

Highly suspicious

During the recent Vote of Confidence in the Lok Sabha, quite a few members' (54?) votes couldn't be counted electronically, and they had to be issued paper slips. 

TV commentators found this very funny. One remarked on the irony that while 60 million people voted without a glitch using electronic voting machines during the general elections, their representatives were having trouble with the (relatively) few machines in parliament. He suggested that Infosys be brought in to better the situation.

Just a thought: How can we be so sure that all those machines worked perfectly during the general elections? What if many of them malfunctioned? Who'd know? The illiterate voter? Or the literate voter who couldn't care less? Or the callous election official? 

The fraction of eligible voters who vote was always low, and is becoming abysmally low (I have never voted, for anything). Can malfunctioning voting machines have something to do with this (not everything; something)? 

While we're on the confidence vote, there's another, completely different, matter: representatives' educational qualifications.

A few days before the vote, I was eavesdropping on a debate at my office. The unanimous conclusion seemed to be that all legislators should be, at least, graduates. 

Today morning paper gave a list of cross-voters, members who had disregarded their parties' whips, and abstainers. Conventional opinion maintains that these are the worst of the lot (I wish one could say that these were the most moral, and they followed their consciences). 

Of the 28 (including 6 absentees and abstainers), only 5 hadn't gone to college. There were, incidentally, 6 lawyers, 2 doctors, and an engineer. 

More to the point, which us understands anything about the nuclear deal? 

The interpretation that comes out in the popular press and TV channels is so simplistic, it's bound to be misdirecting. 

And Frontline, the Communist mouthpiece, writes Latin. Even if its argument is right, it's so badly written that it's impossible to decode. I wonder if even the authors of these pieces understand them. 

The best one can hope for is, probably, to have a multiparty team of experts in international law go into the intricacies of the various documents involved and reach a consensus.  

An alternative would be to give law students the task of translating the public documents into everyday language as an exercise, have an all-party panel of lawyers evaluate their work, and release the documents on the parliament's website, perhaps with dissenting arguments and counter-arguments.

That way the interested layman would be able to make out more or less what the ruckus is all about.  

But then who's an 'interested layman'? We're either indifferent, illiterate or ideologues.  

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