Is India Fit for Democracy?

Rajarshi Guha Roy

India – the land beside the river Indus, is a large country with different hues and shades of opinion . This very existence of different shades of opinion can be attributed to the migration of different races to this part of the world over different periods of history. As the ancient Indian history goes, overtaking the ancient Proto-Australoid people in the pre-Dravidian era , the Dravidians took control of the land . Soon came one after another the Aryans and the Macedonian people. History never stopped and took its new turn with the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals and lastly the British Raj. Thus, the intermixing aboriginal traits have given rise to different habits, opinions and ideologies, but all under one big roof, i.e., the Indian Land. Thus, ‘Indian Democracy’, in the true sense of the term, is deeply rooted in the long history of the land and is not a mere entity in the pages of the Indian Constitution. The geographical spectrum of the land with its varied inhabitants, viz., from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Kutch to Kohima is very loyal to the need for democracy and sovereignty of the nation.

The Fathers of the Indian Constitution post-Independence had thought it correctly to instill democracy in the land after the Victorian Hangover of the British Raj, being loyal to the vastness of the land and the differences of ideologies between various sections of the people. They dreamt of tying the people from different backgrounds, religious ideologies and social backgrounds into a single string of unity and solidarity in this way, but over the years, various internal problems and many obvious obligations of democracy have seemed to paralyse the governance of the country. Let us look deeply into the problem.

The Indian Constitution has allowed for co-existence of various political opinions, thus the parliamentary structure of governance stands strong as a tool to administrate such a large country with many diversities. The ‘Fundamental Rights’ rooted in the Constitution also entails to freedom of speech and expression. But continuous misuse of these rights, which many hail as the obvious obligations of a democratic nation, has stalled the growth of India as a country.

Issues lighting up the misuse of democracy in India :

  1. The political honchos of today are only engaged in usurping political power and monetary benefits rather than serving the people of India and developing the nation. Thus, democratic rights invariably allow corrupt politicians to form the organizing committee of the Commonwealth Games and on the other hand, people from different ideological backgrounds go beyond their limit and literally slam the games, not even thinking that the event is a ‘Growth Indicator’ for our very own country. Thus, the flip-flops regarding the exploitation of democracy, co-exist.
  2. ‘Maoism’ – which has been termed as the biggest national internal security threat, both by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India, in recent past, has proved to be nothing but an indirect outcome of exploitation of democracy. ‘Freedom of Expression’ has turned into ‘Freedom to kill innocent people’, and ridiculously, this has been hailed as a ‘Revolution’ against the State , thanks to the alleged deprivation of rights by the Government in the tribal areas and forests. More so, an intellectual stratum of the society at large is upholding this national menace for some unknown, vested interests of their own. Experts hail this as obvious obligation of democracy.
  3. ‘Separatism’- the term in the first go itself, reminds us of Jammu and Kashmir. The picturesque state has turned into a heaven for stone-pelters and at present, places like Srinagar, Ganderbal, Jammu, Samba etc. is very similar to the period of ‘Matsyanyaya’ meaning ‘Utter Anarchy’, in Bengal during the rule of Gopala long back before 750 AD. The North-Eastern Parts of India, Darjeeling in West Bengal, Telengana in Andhra Pradesh are all children of ‘Separatism’. The brutal violence associated with all the ‘Democratic’ movements denounces nothing but ‘democracy’ itself. In this regard, mention may be made of the formation of new states like Uttaranchal, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, which have all been results of  so-called ‘Democratic’ Movements.
  4. ‘Horse-Trade’ in the political arena of India is a direct hit on democracy where ideologies and opinions accept defeat to money, and that too, a lot of money.
  5. The recent honour-killings, synthesized by the Khap-Panchayets in various parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh mainly, have literally slapped ‘Indian Democracy’ on its face, leaving the entire governing machinery of the country paralysed. Same can be attributed to the Godhra communal riots, the Babri Masjid demolition and the communal  riots following that. It’s very obvious that democracy will take a backseat if greed and money reign supreme in the country with the government officials doing nothing substantial and only penning down reports, which never see the light of the day.
  6. The All-India Strikes called by various political parties and trade unions depict the misuse of democracy. Though the political leaders claim that they, through these strikes, fight for the ‘Aam-Aadmi’, but the stark reality tells the story of the plight of common people on these strike days when they miss their daily wage and go hungry for the entire day with their family.

Nevertheless, it must be clearly understood that a population of 120-plus crores with so many religious, social, economic and political ideologies has to fall back on ‘Democracy’ for proper governance. Democratic structure of the nation has been a boon to innovations, creations, ushering of new ideologies and development of the nation as a whole. But in order to achieve an ideal state of democracy, a few basic requirements must be fulfilled like :

  1. Proper education, both on Government and Private initiatives must be provided to the people of the farthest of Indian villages, specially among poor people and tribals. Electricity and Medical healthcare must reach all Indian villages. These basic civic amenities must not only be penned down in bureaucratic files but should see the light of the day in terms of implementation. Then only, the so-far deprived part of the Indian fraternity will feel themselves as ‘Indian’-s and anti-state insurgence will take a backseat.
  2. Corruption should be measured on strict scales in every stratum of the society. The political leaders should take a note of this in terms of the monetary benefits which they crave for. Things like tax evasion, disproportionate assets must be monitored on a regular basis. The PIL and RTI should be implemented on a stronger note and the Information Commission-s and the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) should be given more authority. Again, the Judiciary of the country needs to be faster in completing the trials of the accused. It is ridiculous that in a country where more than 50% of the people don’t get food twice a day, the parliamentarians yet after getting a whopping 300% hike in their salary, still vouch for a colossal 500% hike in their salary.
  3. Various political opinions must have their own say, because that is the sweetest thing in democracy. But the difference in opinion should not stand as an obstacle when it comes to policy-framing inside the federal structure of government, i.e., the Central Government and the State Governments must work in tandem and the political parties must stand above all their political interests and ambitions when it comes to governance of the nation. They must respect the ‘People’s Mandate’, which is actually the most powerful entity in India and the ultimate manifesto of ‘Indian Democracy’.
  4. Political manoeuvres with minority sections and the backward classes of the population must be done away with. Democracy does not mean playing with the sentiments of different sections of people for political gains. Had the political leaders of this country been more sensible, acts of terror, nowadays referred by different colours, like the phenomenal Babri Masjid demolition, would not have taken place.

The entire discussion here entails to the pros and cons of democracy and also the proper implementation of democracy. We made a tryst with destiny long ago and it is high time we look forward to an all-round development in all aspects of life like arts, culture, trade, sports, science, technology etc. rather then brawling over the same burning issues and putting our rich natural and human capital down the drain. Only then can we celebrate what the Fathers of our Constitution had bestowed upon us, ‘Democracy’.

Like it? Tweet it.

"Is India Fit for Democracy?" by @bongbuzz

*

*

  1. I more or less agree to all the points in this really well-written article but one. Before labelling Kashmir as a heaven for stone-pelters, one needs to take stock of the situation there. Word is that human rights there are not in a pretty good state. With the army empowered with an absurd act that gives them an extraordinary power, something of the sort General Dyer (of Jalianwalabagh fame) was equipped with, that has been questioned by United Nations and criticised by human rights organisations. This act has been a tool of oppression in the North East as well.

    http://www.indiatogether.org/peace/kashmir/articles/indhr.htm