Going by the book, democracy is a system of governance for the people, by the people and of the people. Apart from this, what people know about democracy is that the elected representatives engage in the governing system to satisfy the common man’s demand and to make a harmonised society. But what will happen when the elected representatives no more represent the people’s will?
What if the people are not allowed to raise their demands? What if the people who ask questions to the system are labelled ‘anti-national’? What if the elections are rigged? What if the basic constitutional tenets are harmed by the elected representatives?
Then comes the real question of democracy, and of the constitution drafted by Dr.Ambedkar, which we have taken for granted. The democracy in the minds of our constitution makers meant – a committed judiciary, media committed to the profession and not to political parties, concerned and awake citizens who preserve all liberties that go on to make a democratic society.
It is imperative that the consent of the people, for whom the laws are made, be addressed while making laws. In a democratic setup, the politicians must know what the people want, but they must also have the data on which they can outline schemes to satisfy the needs of the people. It is on the Parliament to act as a watchdog of the activities of the executive; and, it is to the credit of the opposition that it has always kept a vigilant eye open in this respect.
But unfortunately, the opposition is doing its own needful to somehow be in power. The valuable time of the Parliament is wasted when ruckus is created, the debate is stalled and it is not in the national interest. It is the duty of the party in power as well as the opposition to listen to each other and to give feedback to improvise the discussion so that the root question is addressed.
Even in a democratic country like India, press and independent newspapers have to cope up with pressure. This is not the first time that The Hindu has been denied government ads; the same happened in 1971. When the press is frightened, democracy is subverted.
Newspapers that do not follow a particular party’s line are threatened with extinction. In 2014, the current PM of India tweeted ”India has won” after his huge electoral victory. Does that mean that all the other parties except NDA were “anti-India”? In a democracy, and that too in a parliamentary form of democracy, one party should not claim itself as the only nationalist party because even the other party members are elected by the people of India.
So, is it legitimate to call the people’s decision as “anti-national”? The opposition should be loyal to the constitution and not to the government of the day. What is the use of an opposition party if its views are not recognised? Dissent and opposition should be acknowledged as legitimate, not “anti-national”. INC had a majority but they rightly and fairly acknowledged the opposition while making the constitution.
The co-existence of social movements along with opposition and dissent make the Indian democracy. Democracy is a living thing, it evolves and acquires different forms. It should be promoted through an orderly application of basic institutional rules under the constitution and must move in diversity to work in an orderly manner.
We have to discourage communal forces and should not use them for the sake of political power as this will harm the secular nature of India in the long term. Political gains should not outweigh the cost of democracy and constitutional values. The political parties should walk on the path of consensus-building and transparency. A sense of security should be restored across all the sections of society. The future will answer the questions arising out of the controversial abrogation of article 370 and the NRC process which may be implemented pan-India, along with the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 in the long term.
Our constitution makers toiled day and night to draft the holy book of the constitution to secure the future of India and to give us freedom. We have taken this freedom and democracy for granted; for example, taking holiday trips on election day, electing a criminal to represent the people, ignoring the misuse of the constitution by the government in power, by not taking a stand against the socio-political wrongs, etc.
We are undermining our rights as well as duties which make the soul of the constitution. When we say that “democracy” is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people, we have to check whether this is followed in letter and spirit. There are many instances in the 70 years of Indian democracy when people in power have misused the constitution and law of the land for the sake of power by “power” to rule, “power” for making wealth.
Why don’t we ask ourselves as to why is poverty still an issue after 70 years; why people still need schemes like MNREGA? Why we are lacking in technology when we have a huge number of engineers in the country?
The lawmakers are constitutionally compelled to answer all these questions. And if we are not getting satisfactory answers, then there is something wrong in the system. “System”, this word is on everyone’s lips -what it is exactly? It is simply a structural manner to empower the society through checks and balances, to give justice to all, to make sure that no one is hungry, and to make sure that system is doing its best to make the society peaceful, happy, harmonised and aware.
Democracy doesn’t fall due to corrupt, powerful and incompetent leaders but due to powerless and ignorant citizens. Remember, even Hitler used the constitution to be a dictator and the people of Germany blindly followed his diktat.
Rest is history. It’s the duty of “We” the people of India to preserve the idea of India and let the Tiranga fly high in the sky. Jai Hind.
This article was originally published here.