As Indians, one of the things we take pride in is the fact that we’re the world’s largest democracy. Largest in many senses: the population, communities, regions and caste. But there’s one more word associated with our great nation, and that’s corruption, which has directly impacted the socio-political scenario. So the big question remains — is India truly a democracy?
The Plight of Democracy in India
Democracy as a system has been through a roller coaster ride in India, being impacted by several factors including nepotism, casteism and corruption. If we look closely, there is a huge gap between the ideal and the existent state of democracy. In several villages, Dalits are still not allowed to contest panchayat elections. Well, even in cities, a new candidate needs to have what I want to politely call the ‘goons and guns’ to make it to the elections! Otherwise, seasoned politicians have all the tricks in the book to beat you. In short, there is a lack of socio-economic and political equality in our country sadly.
We still have politicians sitting in the parliament with criminal cases pending on them; many of them don’t understand a word of it if the proceeding is conducted in English. Bureaucrats are either corrupt or killed for being honest. How do we expect to have a ‘value-based ideal democracy’ when its in the hands of such apathetic leaders?
Politics in India started with legacy, with a privileged few taking the seats. It then turned to democracy with a representative government ‘of the people, by the people’. And finally today, it’s nothing but hypocrisy. A politician’s son is more than happy to take on his dad’s seat. And then pass it on to his children. Although we do see outsiders joining politics, I want to stress on the word ‘outsiders’. Outsiders they are — and definitely treated like that. And the ones who take the throne sit there, making their own rules, telling us what to wear, eat and drink!
Who is Responsible?
We’re now left with a hypocritical political scenario where voting is just a formality as politicians take the saying quite literally: promises are meant to be broken! When you vote, you are not sure if the voting machine will be in safe hands for your vote to be counted. There are times when you feel cheated by the government, there are times when you see no relevant benefits for general masses in a government-led decision. But you can’t help it, or so you think. You are scared to raise your voice thinking you are not as powerful as those corrupt politicians. So, the democracy which should bestow the power upon the masses does it for the politicians instead. What a pity.
Still, the aam aadmi sits back and takes the heat. In the popular lines of Bollywood flick Nayak, everybody wants the muck to be cleaned but nobody wants to enter the pothole. How true! Ask a young college student if he wants to join politics and he will give you a sceptical look. As Nikunj Daruka, an active participant of college politics in SRCC, Delhi University, tells us, “Being from SRCC, where the number of students and courses are fewer comparatively, everyone gets involved in college elections in their first year. So even I got involved in the first year and continued to be a part of it throughout my three years. I also got an opportunity to be a candidate in the elections during my second year at college.
The entire experience was great and taught me a lot, but I never thought of continuing it after college because after getting an exposure of the elections there, it made me realise the level of filth we face in politics and how people can go to any extent to win elections, which was bothersome. I chose academics as my career, as it would be a safer bet.”
We Are Responsible
We cast our vote and sit back thinking that our job is done. Is it so? Then why do we complain that politicians don’t fulfil their promises? Democracy, considering today’s scenario, is like a see-saw ride wherein citizens have to equally participate in order to maintain balance. Some wise man must have thought the same and we got the RTI act passed, a big democratic tool for the citizens of India. To bring about fair democracy, many other steps were also taken like coal auctioning, spectrum auction, control on mines and so on. It’s simple — if we take our responsibilities seriously, we get to enjoy our rights surely.
A few years back, Indian electorate was given an option to ‘not vote’ if they aren’t in favour of any of the candidates. Although many of the millennials must have had the urge to press that button not many actually did — family trend of being loyal to ‘one party’, you know? In India, we are still party-centric instead of focusing on the candidate. So, why do we expect progress, and how?
Before blaming politics or politicians, it’s time for us to review our own duties. We never even realised when words like regionalism, caste and money became an integral part of democracy. All because we said ‘what can I do?’.
Democracy means a rule for the people, by the people but in recent times do we really feel this obligation? I don’t think so. Democracy can only be successful if run mutually by both citizens and politicians. If you agree, say aye in the comments below.
Image Credit: Click here
A wife, a mother and a blogger and has gradually managed to handle all three together (though not without coffee). Shilpa is keen on pursuing her lost dream of becoming a writer. She likes to eat and wants to reduce at the same time.