Stop Saying That India Is A ‘Democracy’, Because All Evidence Points To The Contrary

Posted on September 28, 2015 in Politics, Society

By Shreya Chatterjee:

दुश्मन की गोलियों का सामना हम करेंगे, आज़ाद हैं, आज़ाद ही रहेंगे | — चन्द्रशेखर आज़ाद

(We will face the bullets of our enemies, but we will not compromise on our freedom- Chandrasekhar Azad)

As the nation proudly celebrates its sixty-nine years of independence, there is a feeling of concern that hides behind the wall of appreciation. There are innumerable things I ponder over. Have we really attained freedom or is it just an illusion? Do we really get a fair chance to exercise our fundamental rights? Are we all really equal before the law? Can we really retain our individuality in India? Are we really safe?  Here are a few reasons why I am pessimistic over the matter.

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Despite the scrapping of Section 66A of the IT Act by the Supreme Court, many still face threats if they choose to express their point of view on a political matter. Police forces too don’t avert themselves from making arrests for anything deemed ‘annoying’. You must have heard about the murder of U.P journalist, Jagendra Singh and the ‘much-deserved’ punishment he received for expressing his knowledge regarding the various ‘illegal’ activities under the minister, Ram Murti Verma, on social media. Almost every murder case like the Jagendra Singh case is given a false angle of suicide by fake forensic reports and forged documents. A series of suspensions of officials take place, but the actual felon stays immune since political career plays a shield to their felonies.

An eighth-grade student learns the eight fundamental rights listed in the Indian Constitution by heart, only to realize later the terms and conditions of exercising them in real life. The peaceful protest that went over the Nirbhaya case was unfortunately welcomed by lathi-charge and launch of tear gas and water canons. Who were the protesters? Hooligans? They had rage in their eyes, which demanded answers regarding women’s safety in the capital. Their grieving hearts had the right to seek scores of answers from the government. Our government spends years to decide capital punishment of a terrorist, but does not refrain from resorting to brutal display of force against harmless humans.

200 years of British rule gave birth to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes homosexuality. The Supreme Court also gave the same verdict in favour of the law on December 2013.  The biggest irony lies in the fact that three out of the four nations within the United Kingdom have already completely legalized same-sex activities. You can now very well trace the miles we have moved on the path of modernity from ‘British Raj’ to ‘Swaraj’. What right does the Government have to call one individual’s sexual preferences as ‘unnatural’ and criminalize it? Is this freedom? The recent incident of Mumbai Police picking up couples from hotels for ‘indecency in public’ throws some more light on the priorities of the Police forces. I wonder where else the couples should have gone for privacy?

There was a recent debate regarding the population decrease of Hindus. Even Ghar wapsi was introduced by VHP and RSS in U.P to combat the so-called ‘extremely serious’ issue of conversion. The reconversion drive of poor non-Hindus to Hinduism has gained decent momentum in our ‘secular nation’. Is this how my or anyone’s freedom to equality works?

Attacking art galleries, banning books and movies is not something new. Added to all this we had a short-lived porn-ban in recent times. Not to forget the legal prosecution that All India Bakchod (an Indian comedy group) faced, that exposed the declension of tolerance level of Indian society towards harmless humour. Show contents which include profanity clearly have warnings. Moreover, movies do have ‘U, U/A, A’

labels, creating a clear picture of the audience that it targets. But sadly, my freedom does not let me decide what I should watch or do in my personal space.

Seems like our lawmakers poke their nose in almost every matter, leaving the ones which really demand substantial consideration. Every lapse in law enforcement reveals various hues of our leaders. Ironically, ‘tonight the nation wants to know’ many things, but unfortunately, all it is left with are piles of unanswered questions.

Thus, it would not take eons to conclude that we do have freedom, but in disguise. A true form of democracy can’t be achieved as long as our freedoms are curtailed. Without the people having the freedom of speech and expression and right to equality, democracy is just an empty word. And without ‘real’ democracy, the true potential of the nation remains in a veil.

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