Saturday, May 15, 2004
The crackpot irony exposed by the electoral upset in India is a dead Canary for governments everywhere.
The ruling party in India was quite proud of its high tech campaign: sending 4 million e-mail messages and transmitting an automatic voice greeting from the PM, according to the NY Times.
Unfortunately, they overlooked the fact that out of the 180 million households, only 45 million have telephones. Among the 1.05 billion citizens, only 26.1 million have mobile phones and only 659,000 households have computers. In a gaffe resembling Bush the First's embarrassing public ignorance of UPC scanners in supermarkets, distancing him from the majority of the public whose votes he expected, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's high-tech campaign alienated the majority of his perceived constituency.
The message that the Hindu-nationalist-led government had delivered the country to a new era of prosperity was belied by the limited reach of the media to deliver it. That gap - the coexistence of a growing middle class with the growing frustration of those excluded from it - helps explain why Mr. Vajpayee's government has been turned out of office in the biggest upset since 1977...Those gaps exhibit the quintessential short-sightedness that de-stabilizes leadership and leads to internal regime change. In democratic countries like India, this bloodless coup is imposed by elections. Even non-democracies should take note and take measures; for these nations, regime change or even major policy change is not often as peaceful.
The gap between the government and the populace of the U.S. grows wider as the official prevarications about the wars overseas become evident. Even Republicans don't like being suckered, especially by one of their own. Even Christians despise the savage execution of a Jew broadcast over the internet as an exhibit of contempt for America and all it stands for. Or the idea that, like the attacks of 911, it was inevitable.
The truth is hard to take, but unless those bitter pills are digested, the web of lies that invariably produce disaster accumulate, exponentiate and explode in more disasters. This is a world gone mad, writes my brilliant and prolfic husband in The LongBow Papers. There's hardly any other way to comprehend it. Perhaps it is only out of chaos that order can emerge.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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