Democracy is the flaring essence of India or at least was heretofore? Or was India always under the pretence of being a democracy? This question is probably too insolent, or too disparaging to be bought into a flowing political or even existential discourse in most free countries.
Time and again, this question has been shot at, maimed, run over, incarcerated, heckled or simply always been vilified in overt and covert ways by people, cultures and collectives.
In ceremonial terms, democracy is an apparatus for governance in which people have the authority to choose their governing legislation. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic theory, development of countrymen and the making of a constitution. Some cornerstones of these issues are freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness, equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life, and dignity and minority rights, which by and large dictate the rule of existence for this political apparatus in various countries around the world that adhere to this political apparatus for governance.
However, particularly in India, democratic institutions and their framework have been tailored around India’s historically and culturally intrinsic state of affairs, divisions and circumstances. For instance, the annihilation of various forms of discrimination rooted in caste and religion is one that has been at the crux of democratic remedial concerns.
Other than that, reservations and safeguards for citizens belonging to culturally, religiously, socio-economically and demographically disparate classes, castes, tribes and minority religious groups are also intrinsically unique to the Indian condition of democracy. This again pertains to unique pre-dating circumstances and situations that required democratic remedies, presumably.
A major part and parcel of the mammoth democratic apparatus in India is the Right to Speech and Expression that constitutes the flesh and bone of the democratic apparatuses in all democratic models of governance around the world. The Right to Speech and Expression in the Indian framework of democracy had been vested as a Fundamental right to all the citizens right after the Indian Constitution came to existence and has been etched as integral to the law of the land.
However, its clarity and definition has gotten more ambiguous and blunt ever since its conception. India commemorates the Freedom of Expression each year with a heightened censor of communication and aesthetic expression, incarceration of dissenting voices, rising intolerance to deviant opinions and overall, through an annual augment in populist and Orwellian 1984 nightmares that bleed the nation saffron, day by day, voice by voice, thought by thought. Freedom of expression has been nailed to a pillory in broad perversion of conscience.
On the monumental 15th day of August last year, India commemorated 74 years of Independent home rule from British imperial precedents and tyrannical colonial imposition. However, much has changed from the five-year plans or the onset and protagonistic prognosis of democracy after the British set their foot off Indian soil, till this present standpoint of the centenary. This change can be called upon as rather imperative to legitimise freedom in the eyes of people, rather than projecting the actual dumbfounded state of affairs at the bourgeoisie helm of a few “inheritors” of the national movement.
No soul can gainsay to the fact that the Constitution of India is conclusively a marvel of statesmanship. Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and the Constituent Assembly gave birth to the marvel of a document in the form of a gospel that was adopted on the 26th of January, 1949.
On the eve of January 26, all the members in the Constituent Assembly would have been overwhelmed with joy to have drafted a path for a flourishing and a crown-stone-like Independent nation which was about to take flight.
Little did the assembly stalwarts know that their vision of a free, just, fundamentally structured and an equal India would get reduced to a glimmery chimera of impending fantasies that lay itself to rest the moment Ambedkar sat his pen and perhaps breathed its last only over the gallows of martyr revolutionaries alone.
Seventy-four years later, the country still staggers through incessant misery and desolation that cleverly garbs itself in the plain white mirage of shameless glitter and drooly First-World fantasies that mock 80% of the country which still lies and fends on the bits and bones of the past. Simultaneously, audaciously and without any stern conviction to indelibly change the abysmal status quo, we prefer to keep milking the collective benefits of doubt in the realm of reform and dissent with signboards with the clique of “Justice/ Equality” written on it.
While momentary remedy seems scrumptiously befitting, rather it’s like combing the hair of a growling froth salivating beast in order to not make it look too dangerous. Cheap theatrics of reactions alone push the marginalised further into the doom margins and the void of destitution and agony while we deafen the nation with empty slogans of India.
Further on, the rendition of an Independent India becomes, by the same token, even more bleak in the cacophony of orthodox, dogmatic, and regressive dictions of a theatrical called “the tricolor republic and the occasional shades of grey”, where the audience has been lamenting at it and at the same time, has been hooting in celebration since aeons at the many climaxes and endings lit in blinding bright lights that miraculously unfold one after another. I wonder who made us buy the tickets to it?
Let’s not throw the baby out with bathwater after all, and praise the undying tryst of our nation in search of something that is best of both the worlds and caters to the few as well to the many. However, the tricolour entity walking the tight string is in a tiff to balance both worlds on its shoulders to the other end, but for how long? Perhaps, only the person on the other side of the bare ground know.