As far as the democratic establishment goes, India is truly a nation that tops many a chart. Not only are we the largest democracy in the world, we are also the most ethnically diverse, we also happen to have the most number of political parties, ergo implying more choice.
Explaining the Indian Democracy
If you’re willing to look past the corruption that has crept into the indian democratic system, it truly seems like the most wonderful and compatible method of organizing society ever conceived.
Why I Still Care About The Democracy Of India – And So Should You
The democratic doctrine was put into motion just as the British left India and since India hasn’t been overrun by dissidents, why are we still talking about democracy?
After all, don’t the 5,000 children dying of hunger in India every single day a deserve a discussion over something that was accomplished 50 odd years ago?
To truly answer that question however, we’d have to figure out whether we’d attained true democracy. If not that, at the least we’d have to figure out whether we’d attained the level of Indian democracy that the founding fathers intended.
What is the meaning of democracy in India? What parameters and scope does the definition of India democracy have?
“India is a democracy. And we’re the largest democracy in the world. We have achieved that.” After the cheers died down, the old politician, clad in white fielded questions.
Unlike the rest of his brethren, who were known for avoiding questions, this one stood standing until every single question that his audience had was answered. To him, the parliament, and the individuals who comprised it were a true functioning extension in the “people’s ability to exercise the fact that India is a democracy”. His name was Nehru and they called him Chacha.
India is a democracy, but who’s democracy is it?
The Anna Hazzare protests. The general feeling of discontent with the state of the system. The massive youth turnout at Anti-Corrruption rallies across the nation.
These are what an economist would call, trailing signs. These outcomes, regardless of their cause, point to a disturbance not only in the satisfaction levels of the populace, but the system as a whole.
A deduction of this sort is quite easy to make. Just think about democracy in India as if you were an outsider looking in. If the discontent had only been with the state of affairs, then there would have been a slew of parliamentary procedures being carried out to correct it.
Parliamentary Democracy & How The History Of Indian Democracy Was Fraught With Warning Signs
Assume the nightmare scenario for Indian democracy. The struggle for democracy in India has failed and the British flag is still flying high over Kashmir.
The state is run by Indian officers, who’s only interest is doing the biding of their overlords while shuffling morsels of money into their pockets. The rule of law is circumspect at best and overtly flexible at worst. The middle and lower class bear the worst of it. No potable water, no electrify throughout half the day and worse, no access to life saving drugs, basic healthcare or education.
Now compare that to the current state of affairs. See where I’m going with this?
Its as if the British ruling class never left. Whatever happened to all men are created equal? Maybe that is beyond the control of the government, but what about the equal treatment for all?
Politicians who’ve committed rapes and executions roam free? I’m sure this wasn’t what the founding fathers had in mind.
Anna Hazzare & Giving Democracy Meaning Again
The Indian democracy may be the largest in the world, but the kind of dissatisfaction that has flown towards the system makes for quite a study.
The biggest debate, as far as the characteristic of democracy in the nation goes, is the renewed debate between ‘parliamentary democracy’ and ‘people’s democracy’. The easiest way to explain this difference, without delving into legaleseaise is to study it under the lens of current events.
Anna Hazzare’s protests, the Right To Information Act and the Lok-Pal bill are prime examples of legislation that would have been passed in a people’s democracy. When the people have the ultimate power to choose, their choices should reflect the legal, governing and policy making framework of this nation.
Parliamentary democracy, on the other hand is the process which is in this case inhibiting, maybe even opposing the people’s will. Under this system, a purely feature-based failure has occurred. The elected representatives of the people have failed to carry out the will of the people, for whatever reasons one may speculate.
The Role of Media In Today’s Democracy
The historical grants of the press and the media have been laid out in such a way that condensing it into a one liner doesn’t diminish its potency.
India has a policy that protects the rights of the press to be free. Free from political or corporate influence. Free from any restraint. Free to carry out sting operations. Free to report anything that they deem worthy.
Compared to our neighbors, the freedoms that the press has could easily venture towards the right to slander!
Media and democracy in India have been intertwined for a long, long time. While other countries exercise freedom of the press, the reason that the Indian democracy’s relationship with the media is so strong is because the media played a big role in helping India achieve her independence.
The press, at that time, along with the swadeshi radio performed the singularly important task of disseminating opinion as well as speeches that the Mahatma and regional leaders made. Fast forward to modern times, and you see Times Now positioning leaders of the India Against Corruption movement against politicians in a no-holds-bar debate which became a television event beating out every popular soap opera in terms of the eyeballs that it garnered.
While the existence of a free press is one of the prerequisites of a democracy, the issues based media that we have in today’s date is doing a job that can be certified as good enough. Sure, there are stories that get buried and sometimes the most heart-wrenching of cases don’t get the attention they deserve, but the spade of citizen journalism that everyone from the compulsive tweeter to the prolific blogger is pulling out is inching towards making a difference there.
The Biggest Debate About The Challenges To Democracy In India Is Happening Right Now!
If you’re a child of the 90′s then there isn’t much about democratic challenge that you would have heard. For the longest time, I took the silence to be assign of the good times.
Then the Election Commission reform bill made its debut and with it came a slew of allegations and denials. The biggest accomplishment of the bill was however realized earlier, as it happens with many revolutionary things.
For the first time since the independence movement, the corruption and malice that had crept into the system was highlighted with a solution attached to it. Before the EC Reform bill, while the lament towards the increasing corruption rates felt across the the entire strata of Indian society.
The role of democracy in India, and the challenges that it was facing became first page news. This, in my opinion is the biggest indirect achievement of the bill and its proposal. After it got the word out, that yes, the future of democracy in India was under siege, a massive number of activists, NGOs and other change makers went into action.
Additionally, the debate and the media’s extensive coverage of the issue managed to recruit the attention of the average Indian throughout the country, something that hadn’t been seen before.
The biggest challenge faced by the democracy of India used to be apathy. Getting people to care about what was happening beyond their own backyard and having the will to do something about it or at the least speak out against it has been a considerable hurdle.
The election cleanup proved to be the gateway for the Right To Information Act and set the platform for the Lok-Pal bill debate which seeks to push the type of democracy in India back to one where the populace held the power instead of the politicians.
The Greatest Advantage Of Democracy? Having The Freedom To Have An Open & Public Debate On Democracy in India
Imagine googling for ‘corruption in India’ and ending up with results that only talk about how the current government has managed to cure it.
That pseudo–activist friend of yours? The email he sent last week to his mother about how he thinks the government’s stance on capital punishment is too harsh just got him a 25 year sentence in jail.
No twitter. No Facebook. No free expression.
Too Orwellian? Ask the Chinese.
A country, which has taken some of the most draconian measures ever to prevent its citizens from exercising the freedom of speech. Or mobility throughout its Tier Cities.
The anti-nepotist amongst you will have at times felt hatred mixed with disgust at how sometimes the System feels so hollow. I know this because I have experienced it multiple times. From having been dropped out of a scholarship consideration to spending 45 minutes in an unwarranted traffic jam because of a neta’s rally, I’ve experienced quite a bit of the gamut.
The biggest privilege that the Indian democracy bestows upon its citizens is the freedoms provided in the constitution. In those freedoms lies the importance of democracy in India; being able to say what you want, to elect who you want, even go and campaign without fear for your favorite candidate.
Are Our Freedoms A Sufficient Enough Feature Of Democracy in India?
While the freedoms that we share are truly something we should cherish, considering that the Indian Constitution was written over a half a century does lead the 20-something to ask whether this is it?
While global challenges are the number one thing on people’s mind when the topic of an outdated constitution occurs, I am more concerned about the enemies within. No, I’m not talking about sleeper cells of terrorists. While this might seem Annaesque, corruption is truly the reason why India has missed the mark at achieving our 5 year plans and why the milestones we’re achieving are lagging behind by over a score years.
The Fallacy Of A Democratic Government
While rampant corruption can be blamed for a number of things, the one thing that you can’t attribute to corruption alone is the fact that even after elections have been legitimized, we keep electing inefficient, if not the wrong kind of people.
However, this is not a problem that is endemic to the rural or the comparatively lesser educated areas. The blame for India’s inability to .In fact, often the most educated people keep electing the same inefficient people over and over again. Compared to the way democracy in the West, not only do we have a choice of parties to vote for, we also have a slew of candidates to take our pick from.
There is a maxim that is quite popular among computer security experts. Something of the same nature is expressively seen when you examine statistics from airplane and automobile accidents.
The user is always the weakest link. Over 80% of accidents are caused by human error. And uneducated voters are the greatest disability towards the long term length of our democratic system.
Why We Need To Eliminate Illiteracy & Poverty in India To Make Ourselves A True Democracy
Its the simplest thing to see, really. The votes of those who don’t even have enough money to eat three meals a day can be bought. Likewise for those who are easily duped by the overtly regionalistic or classist promises and the worst part is that neither of these groups can be blamed for the plight that they are in.
Democracy and corruption in India have had long ties for quite a while now and the reason that we haven’t been able to sever them is because of the double–edged dagger of illiteracy and poverty that has prevented India from taking her rightful place in the world.
What You, The Youth Can Do About Your Eventual Role in Indian Democracy
For some reason, the most turbulent group of the populace also happens to be the one that could make the most difference and votes the least.
And the corrupt politician thanks you, the young non-voter, from the depths of their heart. While the youth will make up close to 40% of the voter bank in metros within the next 5 years, they are the singular group that votes the least.
This isn’t something that can be attributed to the youth across the entire nation though. Most of them do vote in the village. However, the socioeconomic migration pattern that any growing nation, not just India has been experiencing means that the majority of the country’s youth will be concentrated in the metros. After all, all the jobs are there.
However, it is the youth in the metros that votes the least. We are lead to believe that they lead a generally apathetic existence while the truth is that many are frustrated by the diluting value of their vote.
In addition to that, what further becomes a problem is that with the migration patterns, there is a lot of taxation without representation. For example, if you’re from Lucknow and come to work in Mumbai then you’ll only be able to vote in Lucknow’s State elections. This, despite the fact that your immediate well being and indirect taxes go to state that you are staying in – which is governed without you having a voice in its running.
The India Democracy In The Context Of a Contemporary World
From an objective point of view, the Indian democracy is a truer democracy than our ideological brethren in the West. If you look at the characteristics of a democracy, the basic tenet is freedom.
Freedom to choose. To live. To preach. And the Indian multiparty system gives us many more choices than the tankard democracy model. Not only do we have more than two choices – democrats and republicans – but the party system allows anyone with the right kind of chutzpah to kick start their own party.
While many have considered this to be a pipe dream of sorts, the biggest social-good to come out of class warfare is going to be the fact that the educated, nay, literate masses are going to concentrate in the cities. With that, it will be much easier for the candidate with the better message to get elected rather than the vote bank defaulting to the candidate with the most money to spend on his campaign.
Facebook And Its Role In The Democracy Of India
The Facebook generation. The baby-boomers might not like their music, but you can’t argue that they are truly the most connected generation of all time.
Not only does YouTube make rockstars out of Canadian teens, it also has the ability to make campaigns viral. If the idea of viral political campaign ad seems too far fetched, think of the Virgin Mobile IPL campaign. If you work back the ad views and the ratings, then the easy-going, mildly profane campaign makes it into one of the campaigns that garnered the most eyeballs in the last decade. With zero distribution costs.