A plea for India’s most neglected vote-bank: the hipster
Next year, because democracy trusts us, the same people who gave Bigg Boss 7 seasons (and counting), India will go to the polls. In the largest democratic exercise of its kind in the world, campaigns will be waged, speeches will be made and stupidity levels will be pushed to what the Pentagon calls “DEFCON Digvijay.” How you fare in a general election comes down to how you handle different “vote banks”, blocs of voters from a specific community who vote for the same person over and over again no matter what nonsense he subjects you to i.e the political equivalent of a Salman Khan fan. For example, people from Amethi only vote for the Gandhis, despite the fact that they’ve done nothing in 67 years to change the name of the town to a less distasteful vegetable.
Politicians court several vote-banks in India, such as the Muslim vote-bank, whose common quality is that they’re terrified of the Hindu vote-bank. There is also the slum vote-bank, who politicians woo with free water, free electricity, and free of not having their houses set on fire by a builder who’s really just the politician in Batman clothes. There is however one crucial faction that I feel politicians have slighted for the longest time; the hipster vote-bank.
The hipster vote makes up a whopping 0.0000mathfailsme % of India’s polling. Political analysts (me) estimate that 0.000012 % of these will be awake during polling hours, the rest sleeping off the hangovers they acquired the previous night because “tomorrow is some democracy visarjan holiday”. More importantly though, hipsters believe that they form 100 per cent of the country’s vote, because THEY HAVE TWITTER ACCOUNTS DAMMIT AND THEY’RE NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM. However, they detest being called a vote-bank because it cramps their individuality. Besides, like all good hipsters they much prefer the term vote-microcredit-institution (104 % Organic).
This begs the question, who is a hipster? If you thought to yourself “A HA! He used “begs the question” wrong and I will immediately correct him. On Twitter!” then congratulations, hipster. Another important question is who is the ideal hipster candidate? Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi? Rahul Gandhi may seem more urbane, but Narendra Modi looks like he moshes to bhajans, which is a lot less mainstream.
Also, which party’s ideals best reflects the hipster ethos? The Congress is a good bet; they were starting riots before it was cool, while the BJP’s work in the genocide department, while popular, has been largely derivative and one-note. Furthermore, hipsters are more likely to go with a boutique party like the Aam Aadmi Party, because it meets every hipster’s most important criterion; it’s an indie start-up with refreshing lyrics. The game has also been changed by the Supreme Court’s directive to provide for a “None of the Above” option on voting machines. But real hipsters won’t use that option, they’ll just get a graphic tee with it printed on it.
And now the biggest question of all; how do parties woo hipsters to come out and vote for them? The standard practice of handing out two kilos of rice and wheat won’t work, because as all good hipsters know, carbs are a sin and gluten is the devil. Besides, freebies go against the hipster ideal of earning their things. Usually through online hashtag contests. Parties would be advised to use #ReplaceMovieNamesWithRajivGandhi or #ReplaceAdvaniWithModiBecause KLPD. However, there is a more macro-level solution that goes over the heads of individual parties. Election Commission, take notes; rebrand the election “Summer of Democracy Butterfly Fest 2014 (powered by TedX) Pop-Up Store.” Also, my peers at the EC, it’s not a Voter ID card, it’s a “season pass.” Explain that the festival will travel to 29 states over 3 weeks. And don’t forget to mention that the party symbols were painted by Warli artists while a bulldozer tore down the tree they lived in. But don’t assume they’re stupid and they’ll fall for cute marketing gimmicks. What matters is issues, so most of all, dear leaders, engage every hipster’s largest issue; what IS the correct usage of “begs the question”?
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi
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