By definition democracy is a form of government that is Of The People, By The People and For The People. Theoretically it empowers people. It is participative governance which takes the people’s views and needs into cognizance. The ideal behind the theory believed that if citizens were stakeholders in decisions, it would lead to better societies and higher prosperity and happiness.
Alas! In India, often called the World’s Largest Democracy (because of the sheer number of people who are listed voters), the actual functioning of the ideal of democracy could not be further away from reality.
Democracy in India: Not Of The People
Take a quick look at most politicians in India today. More than half of them are in this career by virtue of their birth into a political family. Political parties are strewn with brothers, children, spouses, in-laws, outlaws, nephews, nieces, chamchas and what-have-yous who are in some way connected to existing (and mostly powerful) politicians. This is true not only of Indira, Rajiv, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi but there are Raj Thackrey Uddhav Thackrey in Maharashtra, and Vasundhara Raje Scindia in Rajasthan, Rabri Devi in Bihar, Akhilesh Yadav in UP, Navin Patnaik in Orissa, Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, Omar Abdullah in Kashmir, M.K. Kanimozhi, Stalin and Jayalalitha in Tamilnadu…the list is endless and encompassing all parties. Only a handful of our netas have made it on their own. Narendra Modi is the most outstanding example in this category.
The percentage of leaders rising from the general populace hovers somewhere between negligible and nil.
Evidently, the government is not formed by representatives Of The People.
Democracy in India: Not By The People
India’s only claim to being a democracy is the fact there are periodical General Elections in which the citizenry ostensibly chooses the government. Booth capturing and the recent expose that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are not tamper-proof cast a doubt on the real effectiveness of the election process itself.
The General Elections are held once in five years. That is twice in a decade. The voting turnout is usually quite pathetic. Which means that not all citizens are participating in the selection process. This is another nail in the coffin of democracy in India.
Having once cast their vote and assuming that there was no booth capturing or EVM tampering, the public become mute bystanders. The machinations of the political parties to form a government start after the counting. The wooing, money exchanges and new party allegiances play out like high drama. The actual creation and formation of a government is a spectator sport for the country. People have no say in the crafty moves that politicians make to come into power.
Obviously, democracy in India is not By The People.
Democracy in India: Not For The People
Which is the last change, resolution or law that anyone remembers which has been for betterment of the society or for accountability of those in power and has actually been effective? Which is the last scheme that has actually reached the purported beneficiaries? Which was the last tax that has helped you? When was the last time when food, health or shelter was affordable? When have you last felt safe from corruption, terrorism, violence, cheating, rape, molestation, neighbours, politicians or police? When was the last time that the civil society has been able to ask for something and it was fulfilled (IACs big movement for Janlokpal Bill languishes somewhere in the labyrinth of delays even as the group behind movement itself gets decimated)?
In a time when countries like Egypt and Turkey have their citizens spontaneously rising together and demanding change and being heard, the massive collective of a billion people in India has no voice.
Clearly, democracy in India is far, far away from being For The People.
Democracy in India is nothing but a sham conducted by self-serving individuals with no integrity, vision or ethics. Today it is only about dividing the people into smaller and smaller groups. To create a group or vote bank that will support the creator of the group in reaching power.
India is a giant chessboard and we the people of India are mere pawns in power play.