•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences
An estimated 13-minute read

Our Democracy: A critique

 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in

One thing that has virtually mesmerized the whole world these days is perhaps ‘DEMOCRACY’.

Though it is not of nascent origin and has been in vogue for past couple of centuries in some form or the other in many countries, its magical spell has however made it a CATCHWORD almost in all countries and profusely regarded to be the BEST form of government.

Having suffered the tyranny of mighty monarchies for centuries together, people gradually started realizing their own value and human dignity as also immutable power of their collective strength. They considered democracy as a panacea of all evils & maladies of all other kinds of governments the rule or rather the misrule of which they were subjected to suffer until the wisdom or the virtue of democracy descended on them.

The blitzkrieging impact of scientific & technological development gave further impetus to this thought in gaining a universal currency & appeal as means of communication shrunk the vast world to a manageable extent and spectacularly enhanced accessibility of people from one part of the world to the other.

This awakening of mankind gave rise to a tumultuous uprising of people at places where people were damned to suffer their fate in the darkness of ignorance of their intrinsic value & strength and desperately awaited a golden sunrise to herald a better &dignified future for them. No wonder the preceding couple of centuries witnessed many a revolution in the wake of this cataclystic upheaval all over the world.

This inevitably led to overthrowing of tyrannical monarchies where ever these existed and had earned the notoriety of a colossal parasite surviving on the sweat & blood of the gullible people. Democracy is a self contained political mechanism conceived to empower the people only to serve the people for their growth, development and prosperity in a decent, dignified way. Great scholars and thinkers extensively extolled on the merit of this form of people oriented government and considered it to be the best one to adequately cater to the ever rising hopes & aspirations of the people.

One of the legendary philosophers, thinkers and scholars of our times, Abraham Lincoln, beautifully embodied the significance of people within the Statecraft and defined Democracy as Government of the people by the people for the people.

Obviously as understood by this definition democracy should necessarily be equipped and well geared to adequately address to the basic needs& requirements of the people in a substantially wholesome manner with no place for autocracy or authoritarianism playing a nasty role. People’s satisfaction or contentment by and large should ideally be the sole criterion of the success or failure of this form of government. Here no one single person’s writ prevails as in the case of a monarchy, but an elected body of people carrying the mandate of people in fact rules the roost.

There is no standard template for this and each country opting for democratic form of government adopts a model that best suits its body polity. We in our country have adopted parliamentary form of government drawing inspiration from The Great Britain where it is supposed to be working well.

Here the “people” constitute the real crux/pivot of the government and wield the ultimate sovereign authority to rule the state. Since it is not practically possible to ascertain each individual’s opinion about the choice of his/her leader, his/her vision about the future of the country, ELECTIONS are supposed to be the best via media to do so and therefore regularly free & fair elections are held in our country to elect our leaders from a wide range of RECOGNISED political parties each having its own distinct political philosophy & policy for the growth & development of the country.

It however does not mean that election could be contested only from the plank of a recognized political party at National or State level. There is no bar or prohibition imposed by our constitution on an individual to throw himself/herself into the fray of election on his/her own if he/ she considers himself/herself competent to do so according to the relevant guidelines of the Law in this behalf and is capable to command the requisite support of masses about the agenda he cherishes close to his/her heart to be implemented for the growth and development of this country.

A conjoint & comprehensive study of Art(s). 14, 15, 16 and 325 of our Constitution accords right of equality and protection from any kind of discrimination based on caste, creed, religion, domicile, sex etc. to its citizens and Art.19 further clothes him/ her with a fundamental right to enjoy a wide tally of freedoms, including that of contesting elections ,subject of course to certain reasonable clutch of restrictions ,if and ever found, necessary in some cases in the vital interest of public order, National security &integrity etc.

These elections are conducted under the aegis of Election commission(s) both at national level for the Lok Sabha and at State level for the State Assemblies popularly known as Vidhan Sabhas. It is thus the bounden duty of the Election Commission(s) to see to it that the elections whenever and whereever necessitated to be held owing to the expiry of the fixed term of the House concerned or otherwise in the event of some political exigency having so developed as to necessitate fresh elections are conducted in a free & fair manner and the foul, nefarious game of money or muscle power, in no case spoils the sanctity and credibility of free & fair elections so held.

Once the elections are so held in such a mandated manner and results are declared in equally impartial and dispassionate manner, the political party or a combination of likeminded political parties/independents having been declared elected and enjoying majority of its elected members then lay their claim before the president or the governor as the case may be to form the government.

Once the government is so installed as per the laid down procedure, the party in command of authority of government or the combination of parties forming government (euphemistically called a coalition government) draws up a charter of activities on priority basis on the basis of mutual consensus so arrived at among the parties joining hands together to form the government and go about to implement the same.

Allegorically it could be said whether it is parliamentary form of democracy as we have in our country or any other variant form of democracy as in vogue in other many other parts of the world, it is clear that if democracy (in simpler terms the government) is a pudding ,people are its very basic ingredient and election is a process of its formation(preparation) and to see if it tastes well as was desired to taste, the sole arbiter to judge this is the ballot (palate) of “PEOPLE” only and none else.

A cursory diagnosis of current state of affairs would reveal that our democracy is prima facie suffering from following malaise:-

  1. Our leaders, unfortunately, on being elected get so much intoxicated under the influence of the power and authority they command in government they soon forget this basic truism of life that they are actually the servants of people and not their masters as they falsely start assuming themselves to be. Unfortunately the lust for power &authority completely blinds them to this veritable realism and they contrive ways& means to stick to power somehow or the other.

    In order to give a semblance of justification to such an arrogation of power &authority ,they don’t even hasitate in misinterpreting the legal position in a wayward manner to their advantage. They start claiming supremacy of legislature and thus claim legitimacy to lord over the people as their masters. As the very definition suggests it is a government made by people for the people ,the primacy of people’s locus standii in the affairs of government is all too obvious and any view contrary to this is misleading one smacking arrogance and patently amounts to travesty of fact which doesn’t carry any one’s conviction.
  2. As a matter of fact, in practice the term “political parties” is often used as a misnomer or the PEOPLE as elections are contested by a vast spectrum of political parties having varied approach & philosophies of their own for running the government. The role of indpendents, how so ever scholarly is often rendered quite nebulous in the din of gargantuan political parties and doesn’t make any significant dent in the state of affairs of the government.

    The greatest bane of democracy is that it is a vehicle of Statecraft equipped with only forward moving devices and is devoid of any reverse gears. Thus while it provides for the FORMATION of government, it does not provide for undoing or recalling of such government prior to the expiry of its statutory stipulated term of office, if in the reckoning of people at large it is miserably failing to look after the welfare of the people in terms of the promises held out to them through the manifestoes at the time of the elections. In such a case the people find themselves cheated and have no remedy except to wallow in anguish until the expiry of the term of the government (or rather misgovernment to be correct). They rue the day when they installed such an irresponsible government that landed them in a soup of sorrow & grief despite their best intentions to choose leaders to form a government to serve them.
  3. Another noticeable defect in the prevailing system in our country is the division of people on caste , religion, region lines and people exercise their preferences on these lines only for their representatives in the government regardless of their otherwise suitability to serve their cause. Unfortunately our constitution doesn’t prescribe any standard of educational qualification for a candidate to contest & get elected in elections and therefore an illiterate/uneducated person having no understanding of democracy has a fair chance to defeat even highly educated & thoroughly committed candidate purely on the basis of these vicious grounds giving a terrible jolt to the quality of our polity. Ironically caste, religion, region, sex etc., find mention in our constitution in prohibitive sense as divisive factors of our society and it is enjoined that no discrimination is permissible on these lines.

    Obviously when people of one caste, region, or religion express their preferences to elect their leader within this narrow domain of their caste, region, religion etc they inter alia show their inherent abhorrence for all those not falling within the narrow circuit of preferences and this negative approach in other words tantamount to gross discrimination – so strongly eschewed in our constitution. Though the prescription is basically meant for the State to follow, it is these people when elected on the basis of these fault lines ultimately hold the reins of administration and proudly don the mantle of the State unmindful of the grave harm they have already committed to the society they profess to serve under the solemn oath of our constitution.
  4. Therefore viewed in this socio-political perspective it is clear that though elections are a very basic attribute of our democracy, these are however no guaranty to its successful functioning unless it is found that not only were they held in a free& fair manner but were free from the morbid virus of caste, region, religion etc. There is no point in proudly gloating over the mere fact of elections having been conducted in a free & fair manner.

    Yes, the invidious influence of money & muscle power in charting the course of elections is of paramount importance and this has got to be curbed at all costs. But this alone is not sufficient if , in the exuberance of successfully conducting elections in a kosher manner, we unwittingly ignore the gravity of aforesaid evils blighting our society. Civil society especially the intelligentsia owes a duty to be watchful of such evils gaining roots in our society and has to assiduously exert itself by all means to purge it of their maleficent influence before it is too late and society gets irretrievably divided into warring factions on the fault lines of caste, region & religion.

    God forbid if this happens, it would not bode well for our democracy and all our efforts to hold elections in a free &fair manner would come a cropper to meet the hopes& aspirations of the people in real sense. Therefore there is no point gleefully gadding about the successful conduct of elections while ignoring endemic virus ailing our democracy as this would be self delusional day dreaming and would be very fatal for the democracy we clamour about.
  5. Another thing that is also no less sinister and damaging for the very survival & growth of democracy in our country is the cult of sycophancy and hero worshiping gaining firm roots in our society that robs one of his/her faculty of rationality and blinds him/her judge things on merit. The root cause of this problem basically lies in the way we have sought to model our democracy.

In our parliamentary form of government, barring a sprinkling of a fringe of independent aspirants (considering their prospect of success under the prevailing circumstances) generally it is the political parties that hold the sway in influencing the conduct of elections.

Here all the nefarious activities come into play to grab a ticket by hook or crook. Unscrupulous power hungry political activists with no concern for public weal, all of a sudden surface on the scene and enjoy a field day employing all means to get a ticket. Here the only qualification that works in a candidate’s favour to bag a ticket is proximity with the party head who considers the suitability of candidate not on the basis of his/her passion if any, for public service but on his prowess to exploit public sentiments on caste, religion, region basis, his/her money/ muscle power to have lasting impact on electorate etc.

In other words the art of chicanery clinches the issue. To reap a rich harvest of votes of gullible voters liable to fall an easy prey to the machinactions of such politicians the political parties incorporate such sensitive issues as would facilitate exploiting the sentiments of a section of people who would be given in their trap and start mistaking them as their real champion. Obviously this approach further accentuates the cult of sychophancy and mediocracy besides causing fissures in our society on caste and communal lines which indubitably have a debilitating impact on our democracy.

Ironically almost all the political parties constituting the very kernel of our democratic system do not follow canons of democracy in their own internal management . There is no gainsaying of the fact that they preach of democracy without practicing the same in their own cases. They seldom hold internal elections to elect their leader in a democratic way. This indeed is a dangerous portent for our democracy that calls upon the intelligentsia/civil society to seriously ponder over it before it is too late.

It is high time that serious efforts were made in right earnest to salvage our democracy from further damage by such a creed of vicious vectors and prove our credentials as true sentinels of democracy . Let it be a clarion call to bestir ourselves or else the progeny shall not spare us for such an obtrusive sense of complacency and gross inaction.

Tagged in: democracy
No comments yet: share your views