Revisiting the voters' dilemma or What Exactly Was That ?

Voted yesterday.

There were 3 EVMs with nearly 3 dozen candidates for Bangalore Central, the constituency for which I was supposed to pick a candidate to vote for. I was familiar with a couple of the candidates, and knew a lot more about the parties themselves.

For a while I was unsure of what to do. Picked the least uncertain choice, and felt extremely illiterate about the entire exercise.

Here's a bunch of questions I have about the whole setup of State Assembly vs Lok Sabha candidates and elections:

  • Whats the "impact" of choosing candidate X to the Lok Sabha. To the State Assembly ?
  • What are the candidates rights, duties and scope of influence ? What issues can they raise/influence ?
  • Is the specific candidate even relevant for the Lok Sabha polls ? Why ?
  • Do candidates even have a voice within their parties during the functioning of the Assemblies ? Why is the concept of a "whip" permitted in a democracy ?
  • What mechanisms/ground realities exist for these elected representatives to engage with their constituency before they participate in debates and vote on issues in the Assembly ? Does the concept of the "whip" render this idea impotent ?
  • Should not candidates clearly pick and spell out specific agendas and causes they intend to pursue - obviously from those that are within their spehere of influence depending on whether they are representing the constituency at the centre or in the state ? Should they also not be working for these issues "off duty" - i.e. even when they are not members of the Assembly etc ?
  • If the possible local impact of a Lok Sabha candidate is low, whats the big deal about a candidate "from my constituency" ? I'd rather pick someone - irrespective of where they are standing for election from - based on the attractiveness of their thoughts and leadership qualities on issues that impact the nation or policy making, as a whole.
I am totally confused about the candidate vs party, and a little cynical about the inner party democracy in all outfits - if all decision making is decided centrally, with little consultation at the constituency level, its hardly important who the candidate it. In fact, you don't really need "people" representing you if there's little dialogue or impact possible - you can vote for the symbol/party directly.

Perhaps I've got a lot wrong - perhaps there's just a lot of information gap. But to me, right now, it does look like the the mere exercise of franchise does not make for a healthy, functioning democracy on its own. There's definitely much more to it, and I cannot imagine too much of it happening around me as it exists today.

Anyhow - good first step - maybe the next set of changes will start to happen soon. Staying positive.

Haralur Road's Speed Breakers - or why "Only Our Needs Matter"

I get more and more cynical about the Great Indian Middle Class that I also belong to.

Here's the latest trigger: folks who use one of the roads that passes close to our house complaining about the numerous speed breakers that were added to it.

Background : this was till recently a rural road under the panchayat. Its primary purpose was to connect Haralur Village to Sarjapura Road. Obviously not a very wide road, it served the needs of numerous who walked along it, or cycled, to get to school, catch a bus at the main road, or buy provisions, etc.

All of a sudden it got "discovered" by the ever growing city, and a bunch of apartments and layouts, including ours, came up off it. So we got the road improved. Next, people discovered a short-cut to Hosur Road using a network of roads leading from this to the next village and the next. It saves more than half an hour, and lots of fuel! So far so good.

The traffic on this increased - and speeds started going northwards too after the road was improved and even widened! Being a narrow road used by mutiple modes of transport and pedestrians, the panchayats rightfully saw reason to enforce some sensible speeds and civic sense since fellow drivers obviously were not managing to use enough common sense of their own accord.

So the GIMC did what it does best - protest something that causes it "inconvenience" - in this case defined by slowing down for speed breakers and never getting to get up to speed, on a road where speeds are downright dangerous. [Enough drivers manage to still speed in between speedbreakers, btw] Anything that we start using automatically becomes a resource that is subjugate to our requirements and must bend to what we think is right.

I'm really wondering if the current trend of get-up-and-vote is a healthy thing for the nation. The signs aren't always healthy since this set of people rarely seem to be able to see things beyond their own noses.

Your Own Little Space ? Update ...

Some more details are available.

Likely location: Carmelaram - about 2.2 kms off the Sarjapura Road - the left turn before the railway track. Nice serene location and not far from the ORR, or Whitefield, or Sarjapura Road. The connections to Hosur Road make Electronic City a quick drive as well. The road that leads to the place has beautful old trees on both sides, and given campuses with Churches and associated buildings, is unlikely to get too urbanized too quickly. Sarjapura Road in the vicinity has all the creature comforts including stores, restaurants, etc. There's a couple of convenience shops in Carmelaram as well. The Carmelaram railway station is less than a km away, and hopefully Bangalore will have a train service someday ;)

What: About 30 homes - between 1300-2000 sqft in size. Land lots between 1500-3000sqft. A 2 acre campus overall. Some goals:
  • Build less, and not with too much concrete showing. Lots of open, community spaces.
  • Be as carbon neutral and energy efficient as possible
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • The area is the starting point for numerous jogging and cycling trails :)
  • Develop a natural waterbody in campus. If the finances work out, a small pool as well.
Pricing: Should be between 45-65L for various options. This is indicative, of course, and will keep interested folks updated. Given lower than market pricing, there will be a certain amount of "seed funding" for the project.

If you know folks who're looking at homes in the area, let me know - numbers will make this dream a reality. You can drop me mail at get DOT sameer AHT gmail DOT com.


Here's a presentation with some early details. Nothing's frozen yet, and the idea is to iterate over the needs with those who're interested.

Skoda : Skeletons in the Closet ?

This is probably a good read for potential Skoda buyers, and auto enthusiasts generally.

The original string of problems and the subsequent responses, and even a threat from Skoda's representative!

Its amazing how unprofessional the entire response has been. On the other hand, as one story after another starts to surface about parts exchanged, inaction on Skoda's part when faced with consumer complaints against dealers, it starts to make one wonder if all is well. There are potentially some systemic issues that need to be set right, and Skoda has an opportunity to either come clean, or potentially face a severe drop in consumer confidence.