Democracy is not just about elections. It is is wider than the mere organisation of elections. It also includes the following tents:
- Common people must have a say in the making of the government.
- Common people should be kept in view while formulating the policies for the country.
- Common people must benefit from the programmes carried out by the government.
- Common people’s aspirations must be the goal of the government.
- Common people should be given the central role in the making of those decisions which directly affect their lives.
- Common people must have the power to change the government if it does not improve their lives in a positive way.
This is the essence of democracy. The system is manipulated or redesigned in India according 1o the whims and fancies of politicians. The most important feature of democracy, which is manipulated to a great extent or say maximum extent by politicians, is:
The Right to Vote
Just to use people as vote banks, politicians try to retain several problems and conditions suffered by the common person.
- Poverty is retained because poor people can be easily influenced and their votes can be bought for a few currency notes. Poverty in India will exist as long as it is used as a vote bank in India.
- Further, ignorance in terms of illiteracy is also used by politicians to grab votes.
- Religion and caste differences are manipulated into great divisions by politicians only to garner the votes on religious and caste lines.
So, I feel that the right to vote is an important feature of a democracy that is being used by politicians to fulfil their political thirst. Further, we are enjoying Procedural Democracy and not substantive democracy.
Procedural is one that follows the rules of a democracy — such as elections every five years, right to vote etc. Such a democracy follows our Constitution only in words and does not implement the spirit behind those words. Today, our democracy is functioning in the interest of our politicians irrespective of which political party they belong to.
- But there is no substance in the Indian democracy in terms of value of an individual voter. The party that gets 37%, 38% or even 39% of the votes rules the country. But if you see it in a different way, it implies that a political party rejected by more than 60% voters gets to rule the country. This needs to be changed.
- Further, there is lot of poverty and illiteracy, which are two of the major sources of manipulation of votes. Many voters do not understand the importance of our right to vote or their duties in a democracy. Democracy without education has no meaning.
- We also need a healthy competition between ruling and the opposition parties. We need a progressive thinking and strong opposition rather than an opportunistic one.
In conclusion, I’d like to say:
Democracy is a degenerated right at the roots, so the fruits of democracy never reach the common person. This is how democracy is redesigned in India. What is required is a Substantive Democracy, which works in the interest of the people.