Masood’s post on Indian Democracy brought about this post.. It just reminded me of all the ways in which we take our democracy so much for granted..
I have heard comments, as long back as I remember, about how India needs a dictator to make things right.. How one dose of dictatorship will set right all our problems! Have we started taking our democracy for granted? Have we stopped valuing our democracy? Today, as we are in the process of voring in our 15th Lok Sabha, a brand new government, I really wanted to pen down, how I view the democratic process..
From what I have read, from the time India , as we know it today,came into existence, there have been dark and pessimistic predictions of how quickly the ‘democratic setup’ will dissolve and India will slip into total chaos. Initially it was the West which were predicting its decline and then we ourselves picked up the chanting, but miraculously, despite all the problems, all the flaws, and the short foray into dictatorship during the emergency, India has continued to function as a democracy.
Yes, we have our problems, but why do we forget that we are just 60+ years old.. That is surely very young, if you compare,for instance with England. Despite being a monarchy – they had a parliamentary system in place as far back as 1295 . That is a lot of years to iron out the issues and fine tune their system.. Add to that, the fact that India’s cultural diversity adds another element which brings a different take in our parliamentary system.. According to the wikipedia – ‘At least once every five years, India’s Election Commission of India conducts one of the largest, most complex elections of the world. India’s elections in the 2004 involved about 581 million voters who travel to nearly 800,000 polling stations to choose from some 11,680 candidates representing roughly 221 parties. The elections reveal much about Indian society.’
We talk so much about regionalism in politics and it’s harmful effects. But can we totally do without regionalism? Will that ever work? The way I look at it – in the UK, such a tiny country, especially in comparison to India, still has 2 countries within it – Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. They have their own sports teams and there is a very intense rivalry between these ‘countries’ and yet they remain a country. So in a ountry like India, these regional feelings are quite normal and expected.. What probably, needs to be done is that any sense of alienation, needs to be tackled by governments in a positive and encourahing manner – as opposed to a patronising or ‘votebank’ style as is being practised today..
Yes, our democracy has criminals representing us – but isn’t that because of our own apathy?
Yes, our democracy has the caste card and religion based votebank politics being played – but isn’t that a reflection of our society, where which caste and religion you belong to, seems to matter ?
Yes, our media might be biased, but atleast we have the freedom to speak our mind. Google does not need to modify/alter searches for our country – we are free to look up what we want in our country.
Yes, we do compare with China quite badly, but really, do we want the government to take our personal decisions for us? And the truth is that we do not even know the whole truth behind China.. If some reports are to be believed, the villages are in as bad shape.. In India, we can, at the very least, question, our
Yes, our secularism has its flaws – but do we really want to be a Pakistan?
Yes, we have people like Narendra Modi and Madani in politcs, but we also have the right to question them.. If found guilty, Modi will not be able to contest elections. Yes, we have a slow judicial process – but isn’t it better than no judicial process? Or a judiciary which is totally controlled by the government?
Yes, a lot of us do not vote – but we have the option and the option to not use it.
I have heard of people dismissing news channels and freedom of press saying – oh they just debate the same things’! But at least, we can discuss, debate and question our leaders.. Today, even though there are criminals in politics, I do think that parties are aware that they will be questioned about it.. And even if it is a slow process, it will take effect.
Yes, we have a lot of problems, but are we not part of it? Are we all doing what we can do.. I especially feel this whenever I read some of Manju’s posts.. There is so much we can do, we can express ourselves, we can disagree with our political leaders, we can even complain that we have a democratic system which does not work – because we have a working democracy - however flawed it might be…