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Times: An Inept Government May Be India's Best Choice

Author: Aravind Adiga
March 23, 2009

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The security fears surrounding the IPL cricket highlight the dilemma facing voters in the world's largest democracy, says Aravind Adiga.

Excerpt: Imagine that ten men from a neighbouring country--boys, almost--get on a boat one night, go to London, spray bullets, kill, take hostages and paralyse the nation for nearly three days. During this time the police have no idea what to do. The Government has no idea what to do. Months later, the Foreign Secretary still can't get that country to close the terrorist training camps that still operate with impunity in its territory.

Now it's election time. Would you even think of voting a government like this back into office?

If you're an Indian, you may have little choice but to do just that. Starting on April 16, India holds its general elections, one of the world's great exercises in democracy. More than 700 million voters will decide who rules the world's largest democracy for the next five years. Proceeding in stages for nearly a month, the elections will be great entertainment. Bollywood stars will campaign (and contest); and a political party has bought the rights to Jai Ho, the signature tune from Slumdog Millionaire, which it plans to play at rallies. International media will swoop on the subcontinent and people across the free world will applaud what usually gets called "the carnival of democracy". Anglo-American adulation, a sure thing each time India holds an election, is likely to be especially intense this year, given that Pakistan is in chaos and appears to be sliding into military rule.

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