The Textbook

About a week ago, I was looking for a book in my (rather dusty) cupboard when I found myself staring at a thick blue book. Pulling it out, I realised it was a Political Science text book I had bought in the 11th grade.

I didn’t need to flip through it to remember what I learnt. Political Science was quite simply one of my favourite subjects in school, one that I looked forward to quite eagerly. Initially, it was a bit draggish with learning about Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau (the “project” which divided the class into three groups – we still look at each other and say “hey, where you Hobbes or Rousseau?”), but then once I reached 12th grade, it was the subject that got me thinking about an issue throughout the day.

When I was younger, I sincerely believed all politicians studied Political Science before they became politicians. I imagined them all going to Politician College, their uniform being white kurta-dhoti, carrying thick politician text books. I believed they studied how to run the my country.

Today, I know better. I know that there is no Politician College. There are no thick politician books, and there definitely is no studying going on. Yet, today I went out and voted. Why?

Well there’s the usual argument – if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about the government. Also, what if I didn’t live in a democratic country? What if I lived somewhere where I had no *option* to vote for someone?

It’s a sad thought when I think about the number of eligible voters who have left the country to study/live somewhere else. Some of these people will never have the opportunity to vote in India, some might. But the point is, when I’m here, why shouldn’t I vote? Sure, getting hold of my Voters ID card was an exercise on its own, and it’s filled with mistakes (something I hope to get rectified before the next election) but after that, all I needed to do was walk over to the next street, show my ID, get my finger dabbed with ink and press a blue button.

Back to the Political Science book. I remember thinking this book was a god send during the boards, as it pretty much listed out everything I need from the exam point of view. But now I realise, those exam questions aren’t just exam questions do deal with once and forget about later. They reappear again and again, as questions voiced all over the country – What is democracy, why is it important? What are the basic duties of a political representative? What is a party manifesto, why is it necessary? What is secularism? What are vote bank politics?

I answered these questions on paper, and I learnt about fair and unfair election practices in a classroom, but I still see unfair practices around. I still see people asking for schools, electricity, employment oppurtunites, good roads and a decent sanitation system – things that I, and the rest of the world, deem as important to a citizen. So since I have one vote, and the opportunity to cast it independently, I vote in favour of these things.