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Indian Democracy and Its Stake HolderBY: Siddhartha Suripunj | Category: Politics | Submitted: 2012-02-18 05:00:53
one question invariably arises in my mind is: who is the actual beneficiary of this world largest democracy, we incessantly brag about? Is it really the electorate of India who is supposed to dictate the terms of governance or is it Government alone who once elected to govern becomes the monarch of the country? Our elected representatives, once ensconced in governance, are no longer the Country Men and Women of the state. They become the nation; the India unto themselves. They become the metaphor of democracy and any challenge to the luxury of their functioning, by any means-all means are repugnant to government- or by any section of the society, are seen by them, as a blasphemy towards the Parliament. The demand for invocation of effectual democratic right, which the constitution promises indiscriminately to all citizens, becomes the treason for democracy as the government puts TS Eliot the other way round:" The first temptation is greatest treason, to do the wrong deed for the right reason".
Interesting here to realize that majority of our People is starving, deprived of basic amenities and thereby non participant agent in any state affair or movement. They cannot afford to fight for their constitutional right privileged in democracy. They can not participate in "fight against corruption" either. They are, in fact, inveterate recipient. They move where they are lured or coerced to move for the immediate momentary relief from their everyday struggle for livelihood. They are so morally feeble -and it is quite natural for them to remain so-that they can't think just beyond the enough bread to survive everyday. They are, hence, until now, definitely not the beneficiary of this golden word -"democracy". Their electoral vote counts nothing more than the constitutional formality to get an anonymous password to admin the democracy. Their vote is not for executing the democracy but for administrating the democracy.
The other class of citizens which have grown in numbers now-thanks to corporatization of socialism- is middle class. Owing to its name, it always positions itself in middle of almost every sphere of life. They always criticize the system, but they very rarely contribute to build the system. They prefer to queue-in, for obtaining application form for DDA flats, to queue in at voting booths. If something accidental happens in front of them, their first instinct is to watch the event few minutes and after realizing that they might be delayed for office or home, or their further stay can land them in trouble, they, at that very demanding moment, swiftly vanish from the scene, however later, on some weekend, they assemble at some monument, wielding candles to condemn the same event. This is the safer way to assert their right [in group] on democracy and at the same time feel themselves conscious and responsible citizens. In group, they are force, no government can afford to ignore. As individual, they are mute spectator and merit to nothing. Though they should not be blamed as poltroon, because individually they-unless, off course, they have access to a golden key with which democratic right, effectually disabled by default, can be activated- count nothing to the state and its machinery. Nothing is available by default or free of cost to them. Everything comes with a price. The justice enshrined in constitution as "right" is in fact, in most of the cases, seems a provision to save privileged ,and to a common man, it is available with a clause: "terms and conditions applies". As long as they can afford that "terms and condition", every thing is:"hunky dory". Life then remains grooved into 9 to 5.When they can't, they perish and in most cases of the incidental instances in their life they opt for damage recovery rather than damage file. The factor which matter lot to them with varying degree of both psychological and physical is: Social Security. The entire life of Middle class is consumed in to fortifying and consolidating Social Security and, sustaining and elevating Standard of life. They know if some injustice happens to them, no one will come to their rescue. No one will bail them out. When they are earning, they have to pay taxes. When job is lost to recession, or whatsoever national or International reason, they are on their own. As individual they are bound to pay taxes to the state but their misery is heeded only in mass, and also when it rises to become a national issue, as for the government there is no citizen cause; there is always a national cause for which government is supposed to make policy only. Wise among them also understand that if they have means, they can manipulate their way out from any legal or illegal situation, and if not, they can't avail even their basic fundamental right. To them, "democracy" stands for nothing but a piece of information or knowledge about the constitutional set up of the country.
Now there is one section of Middle class-fed up with 9 to 5, dared to turn rebel out of unrequited love with the system, the groups of both amateurs and professionals. They take up the cause of both plebeian and proletarian and bring the matter up to the audible range of governments' hearing faculty. There is one commonality among constituent members of each group of such egalitarians: their stomachs are full and they have the wherewithal to nudge the government. They might have their own aspiration and cause lying in subconscious, but with their full conscience, they fight for the welfare of common citizens. They are civil society. Such groups are few but some time they are active. Exceptionally, government for sake of honor to the democracy engages them in continuous academic dialogue- which it also intermittently snaps, when it feels that honor to democracy is outweighing its own honor. Other wise, step by step, round by round and level by level discussion goes on, because in democracy every contention can be settled only through dialogue and discussion only. From government point of view, there is no threat to democracy as long as discussion is on. When the discussion takes turn of tug of war, democracy is warned to be in "danger" from both sides. Government blames democracy held to ransom, civil society accuses democracy perverted. The democracy is declared "victorious" or "strengthened" when both parties reach on consensus, and there upon, government retains their share on democracy and civil society manages, at least, in fulfilling their own personal unacknowledged aspiration. Whatever the resolution, comes out of the discussion and debate, the condition of people to whom both the parties claiming to represent remains unchanged because the actual accrued benefit out of it, is either many more levels and phases remain long away from reaching to the living citizenry, or in many cases, it is prematurely overridden with some riders or clauses on pretext of better proposal. Long live issue; and long live round the clock discussion- courtesy to divine democratic process. The whole process, with ebb and flow, remains poised merely as a power tussle between Government and the Civil Society where both parties contend for lion share in democracy. One keeps "Parliament" in its side and other holds to their side is: plight of common man, which is silently suffered everyday by an individual but on occasion, when it en masse bursts into an overt frustration, it becomes a handy weapon for the revolution.
In the recent standoff, government won because the opponent exhausted its war paraphernalia-the flare of frustration among People. The people have long practice to subdue their frustration to get back to chore issue-livelihood; social security. The government is also back to her business: mission election; get release of war prisoners; white wash peoples' memory; policy formulation; predicting GDP growth,etc.
The 'all out' exhausted and wounded civil society is convalescencing in dressing room and with the death of 'Non Violent movement', it seems that: "the light has gone out of their lives and there is darkness everywhere".
Everything has returned to normalcy. Status quo maintained. But the recent defeat of civil society on Lokpal issue has exposed a stark reality which never exposed so clearer before and that is about our democracy, and these realities can be examined in answers to following questions: whether the elected government really listens to its electorate? Does it really feel obliged to respond People's voice with intention to redress the grievances of its Country Men and Women in that voice? Does it really feel that the citizens of the country have equal right in say of 'governance'? Does the government who been granted the power by People feel obliged to return the power to the same People? Ask these questions to any one who is in power, we will be answered back in such way: you have every right to raise your voice, it is the discretion of authority whether to be heard or not. Staging dharna and agitation is your right, but we damn care; it does not and will not affect our mandate. Suggestions can come from anywhere, but law is made in parliament not in the street. We welcome the debate but not in the street, the parliament is right place where decisive debate can take place. Parliament is supreme..Off course people are supreme but yet parliament is supreme. We are happy that you brought up the issue to us but there is certain democratic process to resolve the issue, till then bear with us.
With these answers it is crystal clear now that government and aspirant government have their own private opinion about their positioning in the democracy, however, in practice for public demonstration, they play their part best to look modest to conceal their actual conviction which is far apart from the rosy definition of democracy, we people have understood so far.
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