Minority rule

Published: Saturday 31 May 2008

the common wisdom of electoral democracy might call for politicians, specialising in arithmetic, who can identify the biggest number. But the post-modern understanding of electoral politics may demand integrating a small number of voters whose limit to power is tending towards infinity! Let us look at how a few road dividers on a stretch of 19 km in Delhi have completely divided the urban classes (see page: 32-38).

A quick look at the English media will certainly make you feel the capitals Bus Rapid Transit system (brt, an abuse by now) to segregate traffic, and create smoother movement for public transport, as planned by the Delhi government, is but a rogue attempt to throw citizens into suffocating traffic jams. And no questions, please, on the hundreds of traffic snarl-ups all over the city. Without attributing any value, we can understand this imperative. This section of the media is addressing a simple arithmetic of circulation, their target group. Nobody ever elects a privately owned newspaper to look after the greater common good, and like any other product, the English language media designs and packages content for its consumers, and possible consumers, comprising the very goods and services they advertise. Hence, mounting a campaign that addresses the ego of private car ownersdeflated, just for 19 km, by the smoother movement of buses used by under-achievers of the cityis logical. It is another question whether the concerns raised by the media will generate uninformed public opinion, if we consider the context of the greater common good.

What remains surprising is the behaviour of the political class. It is arithmetically proven that a politician looking for numbers will get attracted towards public transport, for it promises smooth travel to around 60 per cent of the population (more, if we add pedestrians and bicycle users), undoubtedly the majority. But strangely, in these troubled times of virtual reality, these numbers are not taken as serious political maths in our democracy. The situation is even more absurd when we find out political parties have no capacity to give voice to these numbers. Hence, bus users voice remains unheard in the media, and is inaudible to politicians, including the Left, championing the cause of the poor.

The fact remains we are all living in a dream, complete with soap bubbles, as in a movie sequence. Reality does not matter any more, for politicians feel it is the perception created by the minority that counts, even if that is an unsustainable dream. There is no better way to describe what influential really means.

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