First of all: WTF, Norway?
Now, I am just guessing, but one or more of these had to be factors in the decision:
1. Award ceremony’s TV ratings were falling.
2. Nobel committee wanted to get photographed with Obama.
3. Obama is so handsome, the Committee wants to take him behind a middle school and get him pregnant [Ref].
4. Will award anyone who quotes Gandhi. Yeah, still making amends for that one.
5. Committee chairman’s daughter wanted Obama’s autograph.
6. Just making sure that America doesn’t start another war.
Readers, feel free to add your own.
Update (Oct 14): Not that there is anything new about it, but I was pretty much on the mark here. It was a variation of (1), (2), and (5) above.
In what universe is the Indian “common man” privileged enough to travel “cattle class” by air? Given the extent of poverty in India, any Indian who travels by air is not “common man” in any sense. He is middle class, of course.
And while you create a brouhaha about nothing, the real “common man” is struggling for “do waqt ki roti“. He has no time to waste on appreciating your austerity drives.
Do everyone a favour and shut up. That’s an austerity drive we can all support.
I guess that’s the sort of headline that might run in the minds of some folks when they read about the Gujarat bypoll results.
BJP trounced Congress winning five out of seven seats – including Congress bastions like Jasdan and Chotila – raising its tally in the 182-member assembly from 117 to 121. The saffron party, however, lost Kodinar and Dhoraji. What makes BJP’s revenge sweeter is the fact that Congress had won six out of these seven seats in 2007. [TOI]
Please note that out of the 7 seats for which polls were held, as many as 6 were with Congress just a couple of years ago.
Of course, if you are a committed conspiracy nut, you could also just assume that the Congress did not rig these elections precisely so that they could neutralise people like you (the world revolves arounds you, isn’t that how you’ve always felt?) – and then rig the next election – the one that really matters!
The controversy over Indian EVMs seems to have been taken out of the hands of loonies, but is far from over. Writing in Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor demands creation of a paper trail for EVM votes. The article is all over the place, and full of ill-considered comparisons of EVMs (thankfully, not with American EVMs, though Microsoft has been quoted). Here is the money-shot recommendation made by an unnamed “Election Watch body in Andhra Pradesh”:
The best solution is a combination of technology and paper. Most of our population will never ever be comfortable with technology. So no matter what security experts may say about the security of EVMs, the vast majority of our citizens will have a lingering doubt. Hence, we believe that each time we cast our vote, a small printer connected to the EVM also prints out the vote, not the name of the candidate but the number of the candidate in different languages. This would make the design of the system much simpler as the EVM per se does not know the name of the candidate. The person who is voting can obtain a physical confirmation that the machine printed the number of the button he or she pressed and then this ballot paper can be placed in the ballot box and sealed. A physical counting of votes can only be ordered by a court of law. This process may increase the cost of the election process, waste more paper, be environment unfriendly but we believe it will set all nay sayers to rest. [Indian Express]
So, what happens when a Congress supporter in LK Advani’s constituency casts his vote for BJP, and then waves the printed receipt in front of election officials and journalists saying that the EVM has been hacked by Advani’s supporters (by Gujarati NRIs, who seem to have a great deal of experience in hacking EVMs in the great nation of USA)?
Feel free to change the names of parties/candidates in the example above to suit your political inclinations.
How would you deal with this? Would you videotape everyone’s vote, and then keep the tape secret? But if your entire premise is that EVMs can be hacked, how can you be sure that video cameras (which are far more complicated than EVMs) would not be hacked? If you already suspect that the secure storage of EVMs is not secure enough, how would you convince yourself that the video tapes have not been tampered with during storage?
Or, would you just abandon the EVMs and go back to the days of paper ballots?
I have a feeling that that is precisely what objections to the EVMs are about.
That is what Amrinder Singh (of Congress, please note) wanted in 2001. And if you take away all the fluff, that is what some losers are demanding in 2009.
To be fair, some commentators perhaps have a genuine fear of technology. The Election Commission must do everything in its power to demonstrate the credibility of EVMs to the electorate on a periodic basis. It should allow whichever party wants to inspect the EVMs, even if sometimes they don’t even turn up. It should also consider using EVMs for elections right down to the Panchayat level (is that done already?) to build trust among people. Remember, the smaller the electorate, the easier it is for individual voters to confirm their mental calculations about the victors and the margin of victory, and be satisfied about the EVMs.
And as I have said before, the Election Commission must release the source code of the embedded software in public domain.
But it must make no compromises on the use of EVMs. If our democracy has to remain healthy, the EVMs must continue to be used. A return to the paper-based system is a return to the days of goons, violence, needless deaths and yes, rigged elections.