There is no doubt about the fact that India is the biggest functional democracy, but it is also a fact that it is rated as a flawed democracy and there are better and functional democracies in the world. The democracy index compiled by a UK based company Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) places India at 42nd rank with a score of 7.23.
The Index also gives five different categories on which the ranking is based. These days, I see a lot of debates and talks which insinuate that civil liberties are under threat. But, the Index says otherwise. For India, the bigger problem is the prevailing political culture. The score awarded to political culture is 5.63 against 7.35 for civil liberties. Political culture in India has been repulsive to the extent that a majority of people would try to stay away from politicians and politics.
An underdeveloped political culture is leading to an environment where any and every event that occurs irrespective of it being positive or negative, constructive or destructive becomes highly political. The inability of asking the correct questions and asking questions only for the sake of asking questions is, to a great extent, a reason for this uncultured political culture in India. I know, there are a lot of things about Indian politics that I don’t know or am ignorant about. Everyone does not need to know everything about the political system but there is a question of paramount importance, which I along with every voter should know the answer to before participating in an election. If we do not know the answer to this one question, we would not be able to do justice with our right to vote.
As a voter, I have different matrices and indexes to gauge or measure the incumbent government’s performance. By looking at those, I could decide if they should get another chance or not. But how do I gauge or measure the opposition party’s performance? How do I decide if the opposition party or parties have done a good enough job or will do a better job if given a chance to form the government? The official opposition’s main role is to question the government and hold them accountable for their deeds in front of the public. Are protests and violence across the country a measure of the opposition’s performance? If they are, aren’t they pulling the nation down? Please go through an article posted by me a few weeks ago.
There are a lot of political parties, and they have to keep themselves alive in the voters’ mind. How do they do it? One of the easiest or rather the quickest ways is to muster up a news, news that gets them the centre stage. Indian political history is full of instances which would simply corroborate this.
I do not intend to lengthen the article by quoting the instances, but I could describe the simplest template that is being used to generate political centre stage out of non-political mishaps. Let’s say a crime occurs (could be rape or murder, etc.). The normal events following such an action should be: an attempt to keep the victim alive if possible at all and imprisoning the culprit – that is it, nothing more and nothing less. But this would not make any news, would it? Add a few “necessary” details like the complete names of both the victim and the culprit and now it opens a window to create something bigger than the crime itself. There are on average tens of thousands of people raped or murdered every year in India. How many make a news headline? How much effort would it take to find a couple of murders/rapes with the culprit being from the upper caste and the victim from the lower caste or culprit and victims from two different religions? I don’t think it would take much effort. But somebody would be able to get the required attention.
This is also a reason as to why people always fall prey to the caste/religion politics as they have no other way of deciding who to go with. Does this mean there can be no constructive way of measuring the performance? Certainly not, there are ways by which a political party could showcase its performance. One of the ways could be showcasing the model of their governance in states which they were in power. The Gujarat model, for instance, proved successful in the last election. A second way that I could think of, is showcasing the performance in the parliament sessions. For instance, if the GST bill was dreadful according to the opposition parties, how come it got a go-ahead by them in Rajya Sabha? The party could have boasted about the way they opposed it in Parliament, or the important changes they made in their election campaign. Instead of opposing it at the place where it should and could have been opposed, creating a hostile environment seemed a better approach. Further, the parties not in the ruling coalition could pitch for any idea for improvement and beat their chests when the government does not take that into consideration, the person who pitches the idea could showcase it during the elections. There could be many more, but the bottom line is: it takes a greater amount of time, effort and patience to create something and political parties are not just ready for that kind of commitment.
I also think that India as a democracy is still not as matured as it should be and we have been improving with the passing years and decades. Although it could be well argued that the pace at which it is improving is good enough. The place for the official opposition was vacant for almost three decades after independence. In the year 1991, for the first time, a non-congress party (BJP) became the official opposition. It would not be incorrect to say that since there was no serious opposition, parties did not know how to behave in opposition. Decades after decades, the same old ways were followed.
After staying in opposition for quite a few terms, one party came up with a constructive way to showcase their credibility and the voters accepted it without an itch. Congress has so far not given any such indications and is sticking to the age-old tried and tested phenomenon of divide and rule. To be able to pursue a positive approach towards making news and showcasing their worthiness, they will have to let go of their old tactics. If the current politics that they are demonstrating is all, I would wish they lose 2019 so that they wake up from their deep sleep.
Please go through another article posted by me a few weeks ago – why the Congress should lose the 2019 elections for its own good. Sooner or later, they would find a new and a better way. Although the sooner they do, the better it is for them and for us.