Images of debt-collecting eunuchs, exotic fakirs and widows on funeral pyres unfortunately still excite many an otherwise well-informed mind. A more subtle variant are the cliches that surround India’s electoral process.
One could almost write it blindfold: "As India’s 675 million voters go to the polls...this teeming, vibrant, colourful democracy...the largest electoral exercise in history...India’s 6,00,000 villages cherish their hard-won right to...often only by recognising the party’s symbol can the illiterate...." And so on.
All of the above may well be true. But as George Orwell never tired of pointing out, when a writer resorts to cliches it is a sure sign he hasn’t given the subject much thought. India is indeed going to the polls in what is indeed a daunting but evidently achievable logistical feat.
The problem is how to cover...