Was There A Message In The Indian Mans’ Self Immolation?

Sameera Ehteram
Northern India: A man set himself on fire and embraced a politician on a local debate show. Could this be a reflection of the reality of the world’s biggest democracy during the world’s largest elections? What was he trying to tell us?

The election show that appeared on India’s state-owned national TV channel Doordarshan was being recorded in a park in a town about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the city of Lucknow.

The man, identified as Durgesh Kumar Singh by the police, emerged from a crowd of about 150 onlookers, doused himself in petrol and then grabbed Kamruzzama Fauji,the local leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, engulfing the pair in flames.With 95 per cent of his body burned, the doctors have no hope for Singh whereas Fauji was in a critical state with 75 per cent burns.

India is embroiled in election fever right now. 

India’s General Elections 2014 are the world’s largest elections and will end on May 16.The trends observed show the victory of the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the cards.BJP will be coming to power after 10 years of rule by the leftist Congress party.

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The rationale behind an act of such extremist such as incineration remains unknown. The man is speculated to be mentally unstable. Indeed, 35-year-old Singh's family claims he was being treated for mental instability.

indian elections

According to a PEW survey, seven-in-ten Indians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in India. The survey indicated widespread dissatisfaction with the recent developments in the country among both BJP supporters and Congress backers.

To add to that dissatisfaction, the common man, overburdened with the inflation and economy has little patience for political intricacies of the leading parties. Fixing the economy will be a top priority for whoever comes to power. India is currently going through its worst economic crisis intwo decades, with high inflation a particular problem.

“Elections in India are known as a one-of-a-kind festival of democracy, replete with colorful pageantry, flamboyant personalities, and very large numbers,” writes Milan Vaishnav, an associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

However, Vishnav adds, “Elections certainly bring out the best in India’s raucous democracy, but they also expose some of its blemishes“

He goes on to describe corrupt politicians with criminal charges against them holding public office and getting ready to contest elections.

indian elections

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Buried Behind all the vibrant colors, there’s an India where majority of women do not feel safe. As for the Muslims and other minorities’ existence is marked by fear and uncertainity. Add to that burdens of inflation and corruption that each man, woman and child must bear.

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The incident could have been an act of desperation, a show of dissatisfaction, a Muslim vs. Hindu conflict or maybe just of a man slightly off his senses; either way, the picture presented was grim.