Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This morning's Times of India, Bangalore edition made for an interesting read, specially the article headlined, "Fewer criminals in the fray". This article gave out the educational and criminal backgrounds of 181 candidates in the fray for the 23 April 09 poll in Karnataka. After reading this article, I was reminded of my first exposure to the people in the US in 1989. Whenever asked a question, I would respond in the typical Indian way of, "this is how it generally happens" and they would ask me to be specific, everytime, and I would respond with that it generally happens this way, and they would want many times out of a total number of times or some other measure to that effect.

Well, that was the first time I became aware (thanks to my American colleagues) of this typically Indian habit of generalising everything because then there is no need to provide proof...providing proof is hard work, and we are very content with generalisations - that is just the way we are. So, we are all content with generalising that most politicians are illiterate and corrupt. Let's look at the statistics compiled by the National election watch for the 181 candidates fighting elections in the first phase in Karnataka.

We have 15 candidates with heinous crimes, including murder, kidnapping, extortion and others. This works out to 8.28%. We have 27 candidates with criminal records out of a total of 181, which works out to 14.91%. These numbers indicate that 85% of the candidates are without criminal records or the majority of the candidates are without criminal records. The good news is that these numbers are lower than the numbers in the 2004 elections.

On the literacy front, we have only 52 out of 181 candidates who have education below 10 + 2 level, out of which 29 are again 10th pass. In other words we have 129 candidates that have completed school level education. Even more interesting is the fact that we have 91 out of 181 candidates who are either graduates or post graduates, i.e. nearly 50% of the candidates. 20 candidates have not indicated their educational qualifications. Even if we presume that all these candidates are illiterate, we still have 50% candidates with graduate or above qualifications. This is not ideal but is not as bad as we percieve our politicians to be.

These are very good indicators for us. In case the numbers of criminals or illiterates in the parliament is more than this percentage then we can only conclude that we the people are not exercising our vote very diligently.

I had written an article on perception and reality and how our perception of things is the basis of our reality. Our perception of our politicians needs to change so that our reality can change. The facts all point to the direction that our perception is mostly at fault. I would like to have no criminals in politics, but then that would not be a reflection of our society, and us. Our politicians are a reflection of us. I would like to have the most educationally qualified to be law makers, but then who will understand the pain of the underprivileged amongst us?? I believe our perception needs to change. What do you think, based on these facts??

“I never questioned my reality. Why would I do something as silly as that? Then the reality I was in became a mess, and I began to question my reality – not necessarily the tables and chairs, but my perception of it. Once I realized that my reality was only the construct of my limitations, I realized I had to be willing to dream outside of them. What is it that I truly desire that I don’t believe I can have or become? The only thing “solid” in my reality is my perception of it. If I am willing to open my eyes to new possibilities, my reality can change”………..
- Betsy Chasse


Indian Home Maker said...

Mr Joshi,

Indian Homemaker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Indian Homemaker said...

Generalisations do a lot of harm,and are an indication of ignorance. I also did not know the exact percentage of criminals/educated/uneducated candidates. We imagine much worse when we do not know.

But the best thing this election is bringing for us are all those independent candidates :) I hope some of them win or at least give a tough fight to the long established candidates.

J P Joshi said...

IHM: Thank you. Will try to do the tag at the earliest.

I agree with you that this election is bringing in lot of independent candidates. I do pray that most of them win. I am also happy about the involvement of the youth in this election. Bad that 26/ 11 was, it did shake us out of our 'don't care' attitude, and it is showing in this election. I just cannot wait to see the results of this mind boggling exercise of the Indian democracy.

Indian Homemaker said...

It is a direct result of that anger, awakening anger we felt that day, that the educated middle class has become actively involved this time. I hope we all are able to encourage them and thus contribute our bit.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

Well most of India is illiterate. But yes most Indians are not criminals. Many politicians use the excuse that the majority of India is poor and illiterate to say that people who represent them should also be poor and illiterate. However, they never realise that to develop and move forward we need wise people with vision, as these are the people who have to show the way to the majority who are poor and illiterate.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I like that you have researched and given hard numbers here. I still cannot see how we can justify criminals being in the fray though.

Reflections said...

Interesting read Sir!!!!!

I often feel...if only the educated youth of India took an active interest in the running of their Country, it wd have gone from strength to strength.

Aaah all is not lost I guess...things r improving...a bit slowly but nevertheless steadily:-))

J P Joshi said...

LVS: Agree with you that we need wise people with vision to help development. However, only the person wearing the shoe knows where it pinches and thus we need some representatives who belong to the class that need to be provided the basics - it is a different matter though that once in parliament these reps forget about the shoe pinch. Hopefully some always remember.

Regarding criminals - we should have none in parliament. Hopefully it will happen one day - the signs are encouraging. It will happen much faster if the educated and young get involved in the political process.

J P Joshi said...

Reflections: Agree with you on all counts. Yes, we are moving in the right direction. The youth of today are at least talking about such things. Hopefully they would one day get actively involved in nation building and governance issues.