Though we are fortute to have a democracy in our country, its varied aberrations still make us a tion that keeps seeking the centrality of a functioning democracy regime. There are many experts in the field who have their independent opinions on the subject of democracy and who feel that our democratic system would have evolved in a better fashion if there been the right political-bureaucratic will to make the system a truly functioning one. And, then, there are questions like: After all, are we not a democracy still at work and why should expectations be so high when we are still a system at work? But then does it also not trigger the question as to whether a democratic system at work must also be seen to be working for those for whom the system is really meant – the people at large, and not just the affluent in the thriving community of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen. Such reality vis-à-vis a system that calls itself democratic brings us to some larger issues. The most important one perhaps is: Whose democracy do we talk about? The great American statesman Abraham Lincoln says famously that democracy ought to be a system of governce and administration dedicated solely to the people because it is a system by the people and for the people. Otherwise, democracy is a mere fiction; its ideas are merely chimerical. What we see in India is that most of our political representatives are so intoxicated by pelf and power that they have no qualms at all in subjecting their people to a cruel game of deceit as long as they confidently continue to bask in the glory of power, and when they remember that an entity like the electorate even exists on earth is when elections knock at their doors and when they must win elections by hook or by crook, no matter what they have done to their constituencies and how.
The Democracy Hope
Secondly, the nexus that thrives among politicians and the apparently non-political unscrupulous lot both in the overground and the underground worlds deals the body blow of the yet another worst kind to the fledgling hope of a meaningful democratic system at some time in the future. Allegations of corruption are aplenty. Proofs exist of such crimility. But punishments are a rarity. This is the precise reason why people are losing their faith in the system. There is no doubt, nevertheless, that the judiciary, of the rest of the pillars of our democracy, has been remarkably pro-people in its attitude, but there is an element of sluggishness when cases are tried only to be prolonged due to a host of factors that seem to be intrinsic to the very system in place. And, as the dictum goes, justice delayed is justice denied. Given the ture of scams to have hit this tion – their magnitude, their plot, their intent, and the confidence with which these priests of corruption operate and roam around without any fear of punishment – it is anyone’s guess that the day may not be far when the powers-that-be would boast of their classic abilities of transforming a very hard-earned democracy into a classic ba republic. Or is that we have already mutated to such a republic even as many of our leaders are just short of declaring it to be so because they have other vested interests to fulfil as clandestinely as possible to further add to their coffers – all in the garb of them being ‘democrats’ again?
A system where ‘political correctness’ is the guiding principle cannot be a pro-people system. For instance, there is this form of ‘secularism’ in full display in which you ought to be a champion of the cause of a particular religious minority community at the cost of the betrayal of the largest religious majority to be a candidate fit to be hailed as ‘secular’. This is not even pseudo-secularism; this is secular fundamentalism. And nowadays, at the top of it all, we are witness to a raging debate on what constitutes secularism! It’s being conveniently forgotten that India is a secular country not even by choice because the fact of the matter is that secularism is ingrained in the Vedanta philosophy that forms the essence of Hinduism as a way of life. Instead, why is there not any meaningful debate on poverty – its real cause, its perpetuation and its possible solutions? Why not a debate on development politics? Why not a debate on knowledge society – its pros and cons, its possibility in this country? Why not a debate on disaster magement? All these are larger issues in the interest of a democracy that has been extremely hard-earned but that seems to have been hijacked by some with ulterior motives. This must be stopped sooner rather than late. And here comes the role of a smart civil society activism, some of whose contours are fortutely visible. Here lies a hope again, some reason to be optimistic.