Saturday, June 15, 2024

Deserving Democracy

Rajendra Singh Baisthakur

It is unfortunate that the question of deserving Democracy is a matter of concern even after 75 years of Indian independence. Of course, we can rejoice that we remained a Democracy unlike Pakistan. We vote every five years to elect our representatives to discuss the best way to spend public money for our welfare. It is a pity that most our voters and leaders are not fully aware of this objective and that many of the leaders are not knowledgeable enough to participate in discussions on various issues.

Also read: “Justice / Dharma”

Democracy functions well when efficient and service minded people are elected. To elect such leaders Indian voter is not given necessary civic knowledge. It is necessary to give him minimum awareness of how government functions at various levels. He should know what an elected representative should do after getting elected. It is ironic that many of the elected public representatives too do not know what their duties are and are not equipped to participate in discussions about things to be done. So voter asks for things like a tap connection or a contract and the representative takes care of some of his own people! Not giving civic education is to keep people ignorant and undeveloped to maintain them under their thumb. Ignorance of people sustains power in the hands of useless politicians.

Also read: Saw young SP begging for an opportunity to sing

Elections are conducted regularly but the money spent by politicians is so much that a poor or common man cannot contest in any election. Only very rich people who can invest dozens of crores are able to contest. Some people are made to vote by giving money, liquor, gifts and benefits in the name of welfare schemes. Worse is people are made to vote by inciting caste or religious considerations (to create vote banks) thereby creating divisions in society. Corrupting public materially and emotionally has become an investment to win election and subsequently earn lots of money. Further thirst for power made the contestants resort to violence and muscle power has become a major factor in elections. So today to contest in elections one needs lots of money, support of caste/ religion, and rowdy gangs. Merit of a candidate ceased to be a factor in the election.

Threatening the contestants and manipulating voters’ lists have become the order of the day. Adding names advantageous to a party and deleting the names of sympathizers of opposite party from the voters’ list is the latest move to win elections. Another recent malady is police has become a tool in the hands of ruling parties and remains ineffective onlookers when rigging or violence takes place. This subjugation of executive to legislators is a dangerous trend for the country and politicians are perpetrating it.

Also read: “Vote for Your Future”

Domination of politicians over executive officers destroys rule of law and ultimate sufferers because of it are the general public. The duty of MLAs and MPs is to participate in discussions in respective Assemblies and Parliament. Why should they participate in district level meetings with Collector or other district level officers? The fact that an MLA belongs to the entire state and an MP belongs to the entire nation and not just to his constituency is not realized by most of the politicians. Further MPs and MLAs are given lots of funds to spend in their areas. This act helps them consolidate their power in the region. The power of the executive should not be usurped by the legislators. 

Legislative Councils have become havens for defeated politicians. They do not serve any useful purpose in the states but consume a lot of public money in the form of salaries, perks and pensions. So are caste corporations. They have no useful purpose to society other than supporting parties in elections. Money spent on them is waste of public money. It is better to do away with both these. If need be, state government can have four or five eminent humanists, technocrats, scientists or industrialists (but not politicians) as advisors in the place of MLCs.

Also read: “Power in Your Vote”

Governance in India is at three levels. Central Governmant, State government and Local Self Government (Panchayat Raj). Panchayats, Samitis/Mandals, Municipalities/Corporations and Zilla Parishads with elected members are there to look after the local needs. In addition to these creation of additional elected members for Mandal Praja Parishad (MPPs) and Zilla Praja Parishad (ZPPs) is of no use. Further, it is ironic that duties and powers of local government servants are given to additional superfluous bodies created to serve the purposes of the ruling party. Obviously this unnecessary parallel structure for handling the freebies is wasting public money.  

Democracy is governance by discussion among the elected for public welfare. But power hungry political parties do not discuss issues impartially. Every move of the ruling party is opposed by opposition parties and vice versa. Good and bad of an issue is not considered. Instead, creating hue and cry or boycotting the meetings has become a habit. No opposition party member gives any constructive suggestion to ruling party.

Also read: Subjugation of Executive

That all people are equal is a fundamental tenet of democracy. Still we find some cases of ill treating women and social discrimination based on castes. Continuing reservations in jobs and promotions, even after 75 years of independence, is against the spirit of the constitution. Similarly, different laws for different regions or for different religions is also against the fundamental right to equality. Judicial system which deals with cases relating to these and other matters takes a lot of time to judge issues and we are reminded of the adage ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’.

When people lessen some of their selfishness and realize that world/ country/ society is more important than individual’s comfort/ freedom/ religion, there would be peace, harmony and happiness for all. If each one of us fulfills one’s responsibilities as a citizen, we will have true Democracy. If one performs one’s duties well as a person, there will be heaven on earth.

Also read:Indian Democracy

Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.


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