rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Electing the President: What's the big deal?

Electing the President: What's the big deal?

Last updated on: June 17, 2012 16:34 IST

Electing the President: What's the big deal?

     Next

Next
Priyanka in New Delhi

The run-up to the presidential election in India may be hot news in the media, but on the streets of New Delhi, rediff.com's Priyanka is met with ignorance, apathy and plain disinterest, as she tries to find the layman's views on the subject.

The past two days have witnessed a rush of events ahead of the presidential polls next month. Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Yadav's joint declaration of their candidates sent everybody in a tizzy. The ruling United Progressive Alliance finally declared Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as their presidential candidate.

"So what?" asks Deena Nath Grover.

The 64-year-old owner of a small grocery shop in Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi asks, "How is that supposed to help me? What will change for me?"

Nath is bitter. His shop doesn't bring him much monetary benefits. And most of what he earns is spent on a court case he has been embroiled in for over 35 years.

Having studied up to class Xth, Nath bought a plot near Kapaskheda border on the outskirts of Delhi in 1976. He wanted to start a small tyre manufacturing factory. But he never could, and is still fighting a court case to get the land.

 "I don't watch television and have shut down the radio," he points at a rickety radio set lying on the top shelf in his shop. "I have lost all faith in the politicians and this country."

"My whole life is over now. What will a President's election change for me? Will it bring down the prices which increase every second day," his questions never seem to end.

A young boy taps on the counter, places a ten rupee note and leaves with two small packets of namkeen. Nath shifts his gaze and never looks back again. He is not interested.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: Grocery store owner, Deena Nath Grover
Photographs: Priyanka

     Next

Electing the President: What's the big deal?

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

A few shops ahead, two traders are hooked on to their television sets. The news channels have been covering non-stop the run-up to the polls to elect the next President of the country. But they are not watching it.

"How can we watch the news about the President," asks one of them, Sanjay Gupta. "There is hardly any electricity here. The power has gone out more than 20 times today," he informs.

There has been acute water shortage in Delhi this season. The duo is closely watching a news report on people fighting for water in Ashok Nagar, Narela, Azad Nagar, Dhaula Kuan, R K Puram. And the list goes on.

"People are dying to get water and electricity; why don't the TV channels talk about these problems," his friend Manoj Agrawal asks.

"The news channels pick one news and all of them start showing the same thing throughout the day. Isn't there anything else happening," says Sanjay dismissively.

They continue to stare at a news report where residents of Ashok Nagar were up in arms over a bucket of water. "We have enough problems of our own here. There is a parking problem. Business is slow these days," says Manoj; his eyes still stuck at the monitor.

Do they know what the nation has been talking about? Are they aware of the intense political drama in and around Raisina and the high stakes involved?

 "What President's election? Who is Pranab Mukherjee? We have never heard of him," says Sanjay. "He may be well-respected in the political circles but we have never heard of him," he adds.

"The children liked Kalam, though," Manoj interrupts and Sanjay nods in affirmation.

"He was the only one I think who was close to children. Name one other President who did that," Sanjay throws up a challenge.

"We are really not interested," says Sanjay. "All this politics and they (politicians and political parties) have made a business out it. They have and always will work only for themselves. What is there for us," he asks while his friend distances himself from the conversation.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: Traders Manoj Agrawal and Sanjay Gupta
Photographs: Priyanka

Prev     Next

Electing the President: What's the big deal?

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

It is busy evening on Vikas marg and traffic moves slow. A group of young students jostle and laugh at some joke. They have just returned from their coaching class; the area is almost a hub for coaching centers for students.

"What? The election of President of India?" asks one of the students looking particularly bemused. "We have been too busy with our classes and have little time to study other things."

"Yes, TV can be educative, but media is also big business today," says another. "They have to take care of TRPs."

In his mid-40s Brampal has been driving auto rickshaws on the streets of Delhi for nearly 15 years. He reads Hindi newspapers whenever he can, and watches television occasionally.

"Yes, I heard about it yesterday, but after driving for 11-12 hours daily I don't have the energy to do anything else," he offers to explain.

A few other auto rickshaw drivers join in.

Shiv Kishore asserts that a small group of friends do catch up with the daily news. "But what have we got to do with the election of the President of India?" says Kishore.

"They are the raja. We are only praja. We just hope that the right person is elected. What else can we do," asks his friend Sanjay Kumar. A group of people disperse from a meeting at the Central Park. And the drivers rush to them.

A few steps ahead, 47-year-old Dinesh Kumar is cleaning stacks of books neatly covered by plastic sheets and laid on the floor.

"I am not interested in politics," he says blatantly. "Not even if it's about the election of the President of the country."

A few onlookers run through the array of books lying before them. "Really? It was played all day on television yesterday?"

"I didn't see. I was here working all day," he says, almost shutting down the conversation.

His son, 28-year-old Ankur walks forward and says, "You see, I feel more people from his (points at father) generation are interested than mine," he smiles and says most of his friends are not even aware of the day-to-day political happenings.

"Yes, I think the election does matter to us," he says. (Finally! Some ray of Hope).

"But I don't understand why the news channels talk about it only and nothing else," he asks.

He argues that many of the viewers and listeners he knows are tired of the same issue being relentlessly pursued by all television news channels, all at the same time. 

The news channels should balance news. The channels don't focus on the real problems of the country. And since all of them show the same thing over and over again, the only option we have is to watch or shut down the TV set, he says.

"It is not right for the news channels to say that they show what the viewers want to see. It is the other way around. We are forced to see what they show," Ankur sums up.


Image: Book seller Dinesh Kumar
Photographs: Priyanka

Prev     Next

TOP photo features of the week

Prev     More

Click on MORE to see another set of PHOTO features...


Photographs: Priyanka
Tags: PHOTO , MORE , TOP

Prev     More