In the year 2021, we will be celebrating the 71st year since our country’s independence when the Constitution came into effect. Whenever we hear the word “Constitution”, we remember the basis on which our country was formed and in what way the country will be governed. In order to understand this statement, it is necessary to go back in time as once Mr Shashi Tharoor had said: “If you don’t know where you come from, how will you appreciate where you are going“.
Using the same analogy, how will we know the importance of our democracy or Constitution when we don’t know what led to their establishment?
It was in the year 1947 when we won independence from the British colonial rule and finally it was on us to decide the path of the country. As the lawmakers took the role of governance, it was decided that India will follow a democratic path where each citizen will have the right to lead a progressive life. This would be fulfilled by the drafting process of our Constitution which will guide the country towards progress. Eventually, it was on 26th November 1950 when the Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. It was drafted considering the diversity of citizens with Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar as its architect.
At a time where still there are many countries where authoritarian dictators have come and gone, India has always continued with its democratic process despite several challenges. This has been recognized by several individuals who have held positions of political executives in countries as well as international organizations and even executives of China who have resisted the idea of a democratic system citing their population size.
Initially, many individuals, including Former British Prime-Minister Sir Winston Churchill, were not optimistic about democracy surviving the day in India. But they were proved wrong because of the conscious efforts of our political leaders. The consciousness that the democratic system in India needs to be preserved and this was very well stated by our Late. Former Prime-Minister Hon. Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his famous speech “Sarkarein aayengi jayengi, partiyan banegi-bigdengi magar desh rehna chahiye, iss desh ka loktantra amar rehna chahiye” (New governments will be formed, but the country should remain and so should its democracy). This does not mean that there were no attempts to harm it, irrespective of which political party has been in power at the centre.
As stated earlier, the political executives had the conscience to preserve the democratic system but it is also true that politics or governance is a mixture of all sorts of people where some actually intend to develop our country and some who have vested interests. Their objectives cannot be fulfilled by following a purely democratic system hence their interests force them to violate it. This has been extensively observed in the past few years where various ways have been used to violate democratic values, especially during citizens’ protests or disagreement with the government’s decision.
Every government tries to avoid a protest like scenario but it is the way in which they deal with the situation that shows the intent of the political executive. In a democratic country, protest is the right of every citizen to display their dissatisfaction. It is the respective government’s responsibility to address the citizens’ concerns.
But in recent years, it has been observed that whenever there are protests, the political executives term the protesters as people backed by foreign powers or anti-national elements. Their biggest tool is the media with government inclinations as well as the party IT or social media team.
In the recent protests that have taken place, be it the anti-CAA protest or the one against the farm laws, it can be seen that the protesting citizens were being termed as anti-nationals by the political executives and a similar pattern was observed during the protest of farmers against the newly introduced farm laws. It was seen that when the Central Government’s narrative was on backfoot, the protesting farmers were being termed as misinformed or backed by hostile forces. With such instances, a perception might develop among citizens that the democratic system is falling apart and it is a reality. But at the same time, we should also never forget that it is our responsibility that democracy prevails and the citizens will have to make efforts to ensure it.
We as citizens should never forget that there will always be attempts to subdue the democratic process in order to fulfil various vested interests but still, our Constitution is in place which can be used to protect our rights. I have come across many people who say that they intend to shift abroad because they think that democracy will eventually be curtailed but I always reply that although our democracy will be attacked, we should still remember that we have our Constitution which entitles us with rights.
But for that, the citizens, as well as the individuals belonging to political echelons, need to be vigilant because when needed, even the political executive pitch in the values of democracy or press freedom. This was very well observed when TV anchor Mr Arnab Goswami was arrested in Mumbai on charges of TRP Manipulation as well as a suicide case. Here too, the political executives assumed to be close to Mr Goswami came to his support citing press freedom and democratic principles.
What I am trying to say is that even in this sensitive period, we have our constitution that can preserve our rights. The biggest example was the decision of our judiciary which has ordered a stay on the farm laws passed by the Central Government.
In addition, the judiciary had also instructed the Central Government to take the impending concerns into consideration. This proves that still there are avenues which protect our rights from getting violated and this is why we should strive to protect them. Because till the time there are such avenues, we still have the chance to raise our voices or express our opinions because this is a privilege many are not subjected to in many parts of the world. That often results in their voices or movements getting suppressed.
There are many instances where it was our Constitution which protected the citizens and even the Government had to retreat. That is the most significant feature of our country which is recognized by every citizen and this is the reason that when it comes to nation’s interests, each one of us binds together leaving aside our differences.