Thursday, June 9, 2011

Democracy and Civil Society in India Today - A Citizen's View

 Democracy is by the people, of the people and for the people. The three major wings in it - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary - are constituted by either the elected members or selected and/or nominated by rules enacted by the elected members/Legislature. Citizens directly participating in governance appears redundant in such a situation. However, when they govern badly, act inimical to the good of the people at large, indulge in using their public office to their personal profit, indulge in corrupt practices, thereby creating hardship and misery to people, and when vast majority(80%) of people still remain in utter poverty and ignorance  even after 64 years of Independence, and when impressive development is enjoyed by only 10% of the people, when social inequality and prejudices is widening and is exploited by the political parties, - citizen's initiative becomes imperative. Citizen's initiative is necessary because democracy is being abused, laws enacted are subverted to ruler's advantage and they are averse to change the law as the existing ones are advantageous to them, deep seated vested interest in status quo develop then, people perceiving it and changing the government by ballot is almost futile as either the ballot is won by bribe or had to wait for the election for too long( five years) by which time worst damage would have been done already, where then a criminal democracy reigns, and it needs to be corrected .Further, all political parties, not just the ruling political party, indulge in same corrupt practices either in power or outside it, have lost all authority to raise against the evil as all are sailing in the same boat, their party's ideology being totally irrelevant, we can expect very little from all of them to do something to correct the course.

Congress Party ruled this country for sixty years and is riddled with most of the worst scams we have seen: Bofors scam, Quattrochi  escapade and Bhopal tragedy where the looters are helped to escape from their loot, heinous crime,  by the unpatriotic ruling congressmen as alleged and reported in the media. 2G scam, CWG scam, Adarsha scam, Telecom scam where allegation of crores of rupees swallowed by Congressmen or their partners under the approval of them. Hundreds of lakh of crores of rupees of black money stashed in foreign banks were never even attempted to be booked because, as perceived by the commoner, they are also party to it, but if that were to be recovered and utilized we would have solved all our problems  such as poverty, illiteracy, inequality and so on permanently.

BJP rule was only for five years and you may not have seen many scams in them, but there is all the indication that if they were to continue they would be no better. Look at the State ruled by them, Karnataka, which is steeped in corruption, nepotism, swindle of the exchequer by floating grandiose "development" projects  where huge amount is sanctioned only to fill their private kitty and the project done so poorly that it hardly benefits the needy. There may be a sole exception elsewhere but exception never makes a rule. Story is the same with Communist who had a very long stint in West Bengal and the State is one of the poorly developed in the country. So is the Janata Dal variants, dismal rule of of Lalu in Bihar, short stint of JDU in Karnataka were also equally dismal with little exception.

Allegation of corruption among members of the parliament(e.g.bribe for question) and legislature is also widely and frequently reported. Corruption in the Executive is so rampant that people believe that no work  gets done without bribe. Allegation of corruption in the judiciary too is reported that has not left even the topmost judges of the topmost Court in the country.

It is in this scenario where people at large are driven to desperation, morality of the vast majority of people in the public offices being dismally low, corrupt and brazenly unethical practices so openly committed, that the voice of the honest citizen at large need to be made counted for the good of the people. Leadership taken in this regard by the team of Anna and Baba need to be appreciated and nurtured by all, notwithstanding the excesses on both the party that can and must be sorted out by sitting across the table together if at all the cause is dear to all. The Civil Society must prevail upon the Power that be to act swiftly to stem the rot by booking the criminal, changing laws immediately wherever needed, changing system of governance towards total transparency and accountability, changing electoral system to weed out the criminals and the malpractices, and so on. In case the rulers fail to act, it is time that they be dismantled, a new interim government consisting of patriots and competent people installed only to bring in changes in law and governance system and for the new real democracy to take place. There are enough people available who have long experience of knowing what ails the system and what can be done to change it. We have to allow them to come forward and support them to the full in this regard.

1 comment:

Venky said...

India has to take "citizen's view" seriously. For the past few centuries India is sluggish in showing social change. As M N Srinivas puts it in his monumental work - sanskritization and westernization. India need one more social leap, I would like to call "access-tazation". Governance in democracy should use tools and technology for 80% of the people to access - resources (water, electricity, education), power and privileges as a citizen, and role in shared decision making. We need to change in our psychological make-up, as M N Srinivas says indians are basically dispute prone, we need to be more solution focused. One of the joy of living in western society for me is: NOT money or luxury but every social problems and issues of us here has achievable solutions. We feel "hope" and every citizen deserves that. It is foremost responsibility of leaders to provide decent living (respect), quality of life and the "HOPE" to the citizens. Navigation through the civic systems for the citizens to be simple and straight forward. I always think of India, when I use technology, policy, systems here, many of them we can implement in India. India need not have to invent a wheel, can barrow good governance tools from other countries.