Is Democracy India’s Bane?

Posted on February 25, 2011 in Specials


By Ravi Radhanpura:

India, a country of 1.2 billion people, boasts to be the largest democratic set up in the world. Along with this, it also is a country allowing dozens of religions, hundreds of languages, thousands of castes and sects and millions of Gods. Thus, it is also today, the most chaotic and controversial democratic set up in the world! One can surely argue for the fact that Democracy has hampered rather than boosted India’s progress.

There are several reasons that prove ardent proponents against this belief wrong. In the backdrop of such a massive administration, India houses politicians and so called crony, corrupt and uneducated leaders of society. More than half the members of parliament in Lok Sabha face one or the other criminal charges. There is a huge list of scams and scandals by ministers and petty bureaucrats under almost every government regime and what happens in the end is nothing except discussions. This is one of the primary weaknesses of Indian polity. In the face of problems, the democratic set up allows culprits to exploit situations on the basis of religion, caste, language or in recent times coalition weightage.

In other developing countries, the Government policies do reach the lowest strata of the society with much transparency unlike India and thus countries like South Korea, South Africa are much highly ranked in termed of socio economic development and transparency. In India, we have interpretation of laws and policies so as to make rich richer and poor poorer. Multi layered governance and innumerable amendments or laws for people to protect themselves, lead to utter chaos even in the event of exposure of any illegal practise. India’s constitutional framework which guarantees impartial democratic rights to all, is perhaps the most complex and misinterpreted in the world.

Moreover, a very important point of difference between India and other countries is that in India, people have the power to vote out a government as quick as a swish of an eye. This periodic renewals of governments and polity through ballot box deters single minded focus on development and results in varied agenda and undue wastage of time in fixing and re fixing policies.

On the economic front, India has travelled from being a closed and protected socialistic economy to a liberalized economy overnight in 1991-92. This marked an era of democratization of businesses and economy. But, I guess the effects of such a gesture have stopped reaping benefits. Today, industrial output is pegged at an abysmal 1.6%, whereas price rise as much as 16.7%. Such a free scenario has led to a roller coaster ride for the market, commodities razing down the agricultural set up, a steady decline in agricultural output over the last 2 decades, massive migration and urbanisation leading to more and more unemployment and polarization of development initiatives. India still stores more than 50% of its unemployed population as unemployable. There is a huge disparity between income levels, standards of living and human resources development among different regions of the country. Whereas India’s very neighbour China and a small island nearby Singapore, both being non liberalized or democratized countries boast much better development, rate of growth and better income levels . This is when china moved from social/cultural revolution to economic initiatives in late 80s, almost the same time as India. Today, projects in India take years and years from planning to execution stage with budgets for them increasing several fold. The inclusion of indigenous fighter combat planes TEJAS is one such bare example of the hypocrisy of our democratic set up. Today, India instead of building on its brand image in meets like davos, has to defend its image as a non corrupt and idealistic country.

It is said that a country is marked by how it treats both its patriots and traitors. Today, in India, we struggle to convict a flagged telecom minister who has lost us 1.76 Lakh crore rupees, or a tainted chief minister in corruption, we have a terrorist whom we cannot punish, a state that we cannot treat normally or businesses whom we can direct honestly. India, shamefully is facing challenges and identity crises within its so called democratic set up.

Today, we overlook all our problems with a very simple and cowardly statement, “This is India”, but my friends one should remember that with great powers come greater responsibilities. We need a Hero, an Idea, a revolution to make things happen. We need an answer to this so called crony democratic society whose false veil is now lifted for the world to see us.