Indian Democracy

Democracy is a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or assembly, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. Democracy is further defined as (i) “government by the people; especially : rule of the majority (ii) “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”

According to political scientist Larry Diamond, it consists of four key elements: (a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Going by the ideology and scope of Democracy, it can be safely said that among the various types of political systems prevalent pan world, it is the best one. India is the largest democracy of the world. It is a matured democratic Republic with a population of around 125 crore – having many states, multiple religions, myriad languages and diversified culture.

We shall now try to critically evaluate how our country has fared under democracy since the day it became a Republic on 26th January, 1950:

  • The first election was held in high esteem as the national spirit and the love for the country were the underlying consideration for voting. Moreover, only one prominent party viz. Indian National Congress was there to contest the election and as such, there was practically no competition. Therefore, the election was smooth, free and fair.
  • The second election was more or less smooth, free and fair as the underlying spirit was still in vogue. There was hardly any opposition and as a result not much need was felt for campaigns involving flow of money. However, in the campaigns, a large number of so called powerful people came forward to show their solidarity with the persons and their parties fighting in the election.
  • The third election saw some competition as by that time not only the number of political parties has increased but they could strengthen their position also. However, it was not at all a problem for the ruling party (Indian National Congress) to win the election. What was worrisome was that huge amount of money and a large contingent of manpower were used during the campaign. Despite that, the election was more or less free and fair.
  • Before fourth election, however, the prevailing situation changed abruptly with the death of the then Prime Ministers Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri (who became the Prime Minister after the death of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru). Meanwhile, the political arena became very vibrant with the increase in number of regional parties in addition to the existing national / regional ones. The democracy got a huge jolt.
  • The fourth election experienced criminalisation of politics and thereafter there has been no looking back. The gravity of criminalisation increased manifold during all other subsequent Central / State elections. Criminalisation can be defined as under:

“When politics or political power is used by self-interest-seeking persons for pecuniary gains or various other advantages such as to get special position in administration or to rise to the higher stage of administration which is normally not feasible is defined as criminalisation.

In other words, criminalisation of politics means to use politics or political power for nefarious gains. To gain something not legal or normal has been called crime. Here the word crime is used in politics in special sense. To cite an example: An officer in administration wants to be promoted to higher post but this is not his due. He uses politics or political power to achieve this. The person succeeds. But the matter does not stop there. The person who helped to get undue privilege to that person will again use him for the achievement of his purposes which are, in normal course, not due. This is the policy of give-and-take and this happens behind the curtain.”

  • Over the period, election became hugely expensive and power play by musclemen. What precisely happened was that ruling party in its all-out efforts to come back to power used services of powerful people (in most of the cases with criminal background) and spent huge amounts of money during campaigns. Knowing all the loopholes and intricacies of the election process, these criminals started fighting for election and came out successfully. As a result, we are having a sizeable number of MPs and MLAs with criminal backgrounds (from petty criminals to grave offenders like murderers, rapists, etc.) and the situation has been deteriorating fast.

In the back drop of aforesaid changes in political scenario, let us now find out the developments happened in the country in the recent past, as under:

  • We have been reeling under wide spread and evergreen corruption.
  • There is hardly any protection for common men as the leaders rampantly misuse their power and position. They also misbehave with them in public.
  • The leaders still are shamelessly continuing to play divide and rule game which was religiously being practised by the British. They have divided and are dividing people on the basis of religion, caste, languages, etc. to win the election though they are not capable of running the state / country.
  • They are encouraging unfair business practices to get support for election campaigns. This is solidly visible as most of the politicians support rich people for their business aspirations who in turn pass on monetary benefits like donation to party funds, etc.
  • The sole motto of the politicians is to get into power to make money and derive own benefits which can be corroborated from the fact that the net value of assets vis a vis liabilities increases manifold even after a single five year term as an MLA / MP, as per his / her own declaration.
  • Due to politically provoked strikes and protest, the common men are at a loss. During strikes, the shops and markets remain close. When these strikes run for weeks and even months, income sources suffer. But in spite of this, the parties use these tools as their publicity without bothering the plight of common men. And, if someone questions this, they say it is their right way of protest as provided by the Indian constitution. So in one way,democracy leads to conflicts instead of prosperity.
  • Ignorance of the masses is taken for a ride. Democracy means anyone can be elected by masses to rule. Moreover, the intention in democracy is that any one elected by common public should govern the nation. But we can see there are also dynastic rules. This can be seen in few developing countries like ours. This is because they exploit the masses emotionally. Thus the very basic idea of democracy is defeated and democracy becomes dynastic democracy. Even people also vote for them as they are brain-washed by media and party workers. Hence, you will see selfish and less capable people taking the power in hands.

CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of this post.

Pitfalls of the Indian Democracy in the backdrop of Illiteracy & Poverty (Part 1 of 2)
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