Yes, minus, if you don’t watch out. You are between 18 and 22 years old. Young and raring to go. But where? Not far, if you still bow down to the rule of dinosaurs. Today you can take the first step to making your nation reflect your spirit. By voting; and voting right. Your first vote is your insurance to an unfettered future.
A few points you should think through before the empowering ink anoints your enquiring finger.
1. What is a government’s actual job? The reason for it’s very existence. Isn’t it safeguarding your freedom, maintaining law and order, upholding the rule of law? Doesn’t bending rules for special groups — either very big or very small; very rich or very poor; cutting-edge technologists or forest-dwelling tribals — undermine the very duty of governance?
2. The government is not your parent, nor your hostel warden. And which candidate has the gumption to say he can do a better job than your mother? Ethics, morals, habits etc. are best left to individuals and families.
3. Poverty is big business. The total amount of subsidies flowing through the hands of public servants could be more than the turnover of India’s biggest business house. This is an age-old con game whose aim is not to eradicate poverty, but to foster it. Because if there are no poor, the saviours will be out of business.
4. Charity should be a private affair. You do good with your own money, not someone else’s. Be wary of parties that promise certain sections everything from household goods to houses.
5. Whatever caste or creed you were born to, you are first an individual. Once individual freedom is eroded no community can save you.
6. Corruption is not a cause but a consequence. Of a bloated bureaucracy and an expansionist government intruding into every aspect of people’s lives. In the name of democracy, which is supposed to protect independence, they make the populace dependent. Favour-seeking facilitates bribe-taking.
7. Examine with suspicion the ‘Inequality’ bogeyman. We are not tubes of toothpaste or silicon chips; we differ in various ways and abilities. A government that claims to battle inequality is perpetrating a hoax. All unnatural and unjust inequality stems from government patronage.
8. When the government spends more than it collects, it spends tomorrow’s money today. That is your money. You will be slogging till your middle-age to pay for the sins of today’s political, bleeding heart profligates.
9. India needs 12 million new jobs a year. And government does not create jobs; it can only conjure useless sinecures. It is people, entrepreneurs, that create a flourishing job market. For that, they need only decent infrastructure. And not hurdles, on one noble pretext or other.
10. Lastly, there are no guarantees in life. No one can be insulated from life’s vagaries or their own follies. Even by a government filled with mahatmas.
Be proud of being the master of your own destiny. And the architect of your country’s. About 40 years ago, one of the most popular movies of all time had a coming-of-age song where a young boy assures a younger girl that he’ll take care of her: ‘You are sixteen going on seventeen…’it goes. Can we hope for a reversal of that sentiment? When your country asks, ‘I am 66 going on 67, I need someone younger and smarter to depend on,’ will you be man or woman enough to stand up and say firmly, ‘I am 18 going on 19, I’ll take care of you’?