By Ashish Kumar:
More often than not, the sobriquet of the largest and most robust democracy of the world sounds dichotomous to the common masses of India. Democracy, going by its most popular definition, is rule “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The people connect to that statement only when, before elections, candidates prostate before them and beg for their votes. The voter is disillusioned every time that his rule is about to come. The Indian democracy sometimes appears closer to “rule of the chosen, by the chosen, for the chosen”. Can this ephemeral empowerment of masses by virtue of votes and then allowing the representatives to go scot-free with little or no accountability to those who elected them be the characteristic of a lively democracy? Certainly not.
At the same time, our democracy may be in a moribund state but there are ample evidences of it still breathing. There is just a need of infusion of fresh air into its lungs. In spite of rampant corruption and various inefficiencies, we have managed to put in place fairly stable governments and avoided dictatorships or the chaos of military-rule. We don’t trample the people’s voice ruthlessly as they do in China. Military doesn’t usurp the popular government every 10 years as is the case in Pakistan. There are a lot of cobwebs in our democracy but there are still ample reasons for not abandoning it. It is at a crucial juncture as the choices and decision-making processes of its participants are maturing. It is getting reflected in election results. Increased voting percentage and clear mandates vindicate the pulse of our democracy. What is needed is more intense participation of these literate, intellectual people in active politics so that the illiterate musclemen riding on the caste-cart don’t get a chance to enter the holy boulevards of our democracy. How can we realise the “rule of the people, by the people, for the people” without the bulk of our civilised literate population getting involved in the process avoiding the mud-slinging of politics? They have to realise that the dirty politics would remain dirty unless someone clean comes and unshackle it from its curse. Instead of thinking about bidding adieu to democracy and labelling it impotent, an oath of active participation would do more good. Working for a better democracy is much worthier than sliding into anarchism of dictatorship or acquiesce to ruthless, inhuman one-party-rule. So, there is a lot of scope for improvement in our democratic model but we are still better off sticking to our democracy. There is no need to lose hope in democracy.