Pune voted today along with a large part of Maharashtra, Karnataka and many other regions, as part of the amazing month long process of elections for the 2014 Lok Sabha.
And for the first time, I did too - as a voter in Pune, having got myself registered here earlier this year.
And, like I have been for the last few weeks, I want you to take a moment to think of what goes behind this amazing exercise, and feel proud that we are all part of this amazing phenomenon called Indian Democracy.
With a population of over 125 Crores, over 500 seats across 30 odd states, and with many constituencies larger than many countries of the world, it is no mean feat. Yes, parties still use religion and caste to divide voters, and money and liquor still flows, but nothing should take away our pride and wonder. Think of the fear the election commission instills in every politician, the absolute power it wields during the elections. It's absolutely no nonsense. Gone are the days when parties flouted rules, pasted posters over every wall and pole, blared slogans through loudspeakers all day and night. This time, police even searched cars on the roads for cash, video cameras in hand. Every night, parties had to file expense reports, ensuring the power of money was less of an enabling factor in the elections. Technology is playing a bigger and bigger role.. with EVMs, counting is now complete in just a matter of hours. Every voter can check his/her enrolment online, and at the voting centers, helpdesks empowered with laptops and Internet connections quickly checked your names from the election commission websites.
Social media also played a huge role in ensuring huge turnouts. Goa, for example, had almost 80% turnout, the highest in history, I would guess. While most FB and Whatspp posts and DPs showed the inked finger, the youth proudly went out to vote, making each one's priceless vote count. When I reached the booth today, it was so heartening to see young and old, rich and poor, everyone patiently lining up to partake in the amazing process of voting in the new government. Housing societies had special voter enrolment drives, and businesses offered discounts and incentives to customers who showed the inked finger.
After more than 60 years, with all our diversity and problems, being able to manage election after election, without violence, without retribution, and ensuring smooth transfer of power, in a country of our size....
Indians, take a bow!
And the rest of the world, take a lesson from the world's most amazing democracy!