Is Democracy a Festival in India?

Aarif Rashid Malik

Government is of various forms in the world, one of which is democracy, and each and every form of govt. is different from other forms of the govt. In every form of govt., there is a particular representative who represents the interests of few or the whole. At the same time, the fact regarding the democracy is something different from the other forms of govt., which is evident from this fact that democracy is based on the principle of equality, liberty, justice, etc. which is considered as a fundamental pillar of democracy and it is in democracy where opposition plays a positive and constructive role in order to highlight the grievances of the people in front of the ruling party and they always act as a check on the powers of govt. Without strong opposition, the instance of the govt. in country is similar to the building, whose foundation is fundamentally wrong. It means due to weak opposition the
country gets divided and stands nowhere. One more beauty of democracy is that it is based on free will and in democracy every individual is giving a separate opinion about a particular policy and also ideas in democracy are discussed in a free and fair manner. If we look into the historical context of democracy, it will give us this idea that it is not a new idea, but it is as old as the Greek civilization is. In technical terminology we can say that it has originated from the ancient Greek in spite of this thing it is was practised in limited form in Greek at that time. The term “democracy “was first of all coined by the Greek philosopher Herodotus and it was also a Greek philosopher who defined it first time. Cleon defined it first time in 422 B.C. According to Cleon democracy is defined thus: “That shall be democratic which shall be of the people, by the people,for the people”. After that various philosophers of the world have defined this term from time to time as per their own understanding and knowledge. The word democracy has been derived from the two Greek words demos meaning “common people” and kratos meaning “strength “. In other words we can say that it means rule by the people. In spite of the fact that there was concept of democracy in Greek in older days but still it was a limited one, not the broader one which is evident from this fact that all were not eligible for the citizenship at that time, people like women, slaves, foreigners were not considered as citizens and their concept of citizenship in Greek at that time was for few. It continued even in those days too in Europe, when Europe itself was in Dark Age and rights of all the citizens were not fully assured even after the three great revolution had taken place in Europe. The first one was English Revolution in seventeenth century that was followed by American Revolution and French Revolution. In spite of the fact that these revolutions had carried out the message of liberty, equality, justice etc. but on the ground level the difference between the men and women were still persisting on the basis of gender. It was in 19th and 20th century when adult franchise were given to both men and women. It was in 18th and 19th century when the democratic ideas began to flourish in other part of the world especially in Asia and Africa. The modern concept of democracy was based on rule of law but it was not the case of the ancient Greek.
In the first part of my article I have tried to highlight what democracy is all about and how it is different from other forms of govt. and what are the fundamental principles in it and how democracy have functioned from time to time in the world and how it has penetrated in other part of the world and in the second part I will highlight how democracy has become festival in India right now and how it is facing large crisis in India right now in spite of the fact that the periodic election are happening continuously. If we look into the historical context of India, since ancient times India had been ruled by the number of foreign dynasties and they had fallen prey to foreign rule because of the thing that there was lack of central authority and India was divided into small kingdoms and every kingdom was ruled by its own ruler and these rulers were hardly concerned about the welfare of their respective citizens and were living a luxurious lives and it had become easy
for them to attack on India and to exploit and to plunder their resources and their system was not based on democracy but it was based on monarchy. It was basically British who introduced a different concept of Governance that was based on rule of law rather than monarchy. In spite of the fact that they also exploited India but still India has introduced majority of good things in their country’s political system from England or other countries of the West. Leaders of India were too much impressed due to these democratic values and ideals that were introduced by British and these kind of noble ideas were hardly persisting in India before the advent of British. Indian leaders had also understood this thing that it was because of these nobles idea they were lacking behind Europe and also concept of prosperity was not also in the minds of Indian people. Nationalist leaders were firm on this things that once the British would leave India and automatically we will enshrine all these noble ideas in our political system that was need of hour at that moment in order to get rid
from inhuman practices like casteism and untouchability and both these illogical practices were considered as a heinous crime against humanity. Even Nehru suggested in his book “The Discovery of India” in 1946 that there can be no equality in status and opportunity within the framework of casteism, nor can there be a political democracy. Even B.R. Ambedkar wrote that you cannot build anything on the foundation of caste. Anything you will build on the foundation of caste will crack everything as a whole. These statements depict this thing that we need to represent the voices of the common masses in democracy and don’t need to discriminate them. Nehru’s speech on the “Tryst With Destiny” is still considered as a remarkable speech in India in which he said “Ill fortune of foreign rule over India had ended and India discovered herself again. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and diseases and inequality of opportunity. The ambitions of the greatest man of our generation has been to
wipe out every tear from every eye”. Secularism in India was adopted not to separate
religion from politics but it was also adopted to maintain the diverse culture and to save the minority culture from the majority culture and the incidence of communal violence was very low during the time of Nehru and this kind of concern for masses represent that he want to represent the people in its true essence in democracy and it continued upto 1990. In spite of the fact that the crack began to appear in democracy, once the Indira Gandhi become P.M. of India. Indian polity and society witnessed number of shift in 1980 and 1990 and it was during this time that the assertion of Dalits had taken place and it was during this time that federalizing of Indian politics had taken place. During this time, people began to raise questions to the developmental agenda of post-colonial state and people got eventually
disenchanted within the Nehruvian framework of development. This period has been
described by political scientists of India as a period of political representation in Indian politics. One more positive development that had taken place in India after 1990 was economic reform in India that reduced poverty to large extent. On the other hand Indian politics had gone through the various setbacks during this time like the incidents of communal violence began to increase. Second, the majority and minority politics had taken new shape in Indian politics and the elected institution began to corrupt and the political leaders began to personalise their power for their own selfish interest. In spite of the fact the fact that the numerous schemes have been launched by the govt of India for the welfare of poor people but still there is huge chunk of population who don’t get benefits of these welfare policies like tribals, Adivasis, Dalits etc. are still marginalised and exploited in India. This present model of development in India is pro-rich and anti-poor because in private sector it is rich poor who will invest more than the poor and it is also evident from the fact that majority of wealth has been accumulated by the rich population illegally whose population is in less number and the majority of population who are poor people have less wealth than these rich people and it is because of this exploitation from rich people that poor people in India are dying because of hunger and starvation. The hypocrisy of these
political parties is such that the manifesto is being prepared in the name of poor during the time of election but when they need these politicians at that moment they are not active on the ground level and they are sleeping in their respective cabins and in their luxurious house. It means they are using these poor people for their selfish motives and are hardly concerned about the welfare of the poor people.
Even when Modi become the P.M. of India at that time he said our party will work to end poverty in India and will disentangle India from the corrupt practice and will make India as a prosperous and developed country and will provide employment to those who are unemployed in India .But the dream of Modi has been completed shattered in India and his govt. has failed to implement these policies on the ground level. Instead of focusing on the issues of development they have given preference to those issues that are not valuable to people like the incidents of communal violence and the incidents of mob lynching also got increased in India and even the name of many places were changed in number of parts in the country and assaults on journalists too took place. Modi govt. has also conducted other faulty experiments like changing of currency notes and introduction of G.S.T which has not only affected the lives of the common masses but these faulty experiments also made bad impact on the economic growth of country which is day by day declining and is not improving and it is also said by the experts that if Covid-19 will remain in India for long period of time then the economic growth rate India will be around zero which is right now 2.5 %. Unemployment rate has reached all times high in the country after forty years that is
around thirty % right now and it was estimated by Centre for Monitoring Indian economy through. Their periodic sample survey shows a staggering loss of twelve crore jobs in the country from 2014 to 2020 April. Failure of this govt. is not up to these things only but they have hijacked every institution of the country and now all the main institutions are acting as a junk of ruling party and even have completely crumbled and judiciary in India is in deep crisis right now and even media and police is corrupt too who are not only justifying the illegal activity of govt but also defending them because govt is providing huge money to them to spew venom in the country. The recent violence in India is glaring example of it when the students were brutally attacked by the mob in prestigious institutions and these mobs were fully supported not only by govt. but also by the police which is very clear from the fact that police acted as a mute spectator in such violence that was triggered in India over the Citizenship Amendment Bill and police hardly took action against these rioters.
Right now, the murder of the democracy in India is going on a daily basis that is how the elected government of congress were toppled down by BJP for the political end in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka and they are trying to follow the same approach in Rajasthan right now where they are purchasing the M.L.A.s of Congress through the money power and stunning and shocking thing is this the Supreme court of India is insouciant about this political upheaval that is going in Rajasthan right now. The condition of democracy in India is pathetic to that extent anyone who will speak against the govt. will either be imprisoned or will be considered as anti-national. It means the threat that citizens of India are facing right now from their own govt. that make their safety and survival very gruesome and tough. Even the insensitivity that was shown by the govt regarding the condition of the migrant workers depicts this thing that ruling party in India is concerned about their power and prestige and the tragic death of these migrants workers hardly matters for them and these all things tell us this thing that democracy in india is now a festival that is celebrated during
the time of election with fervour and enthusiasm. The concept of governance and
representation is hardly found in democracy in India right now .The dreams of the Indian nationalist leaders is being shattered by Modi govt. because of their authoritarian and hawkish stance. I will conclude my article by quoting the three great minds in which one belongs to Greek and rest of two are Indian. Plato’s concept of philosopher king is really suitable over India in which he says, “Philosopher must rule and ignorant should follow”. According to him if a country is ruled by a person who possesses wisdom will obviously work for the betterment of the citizens and he will not be concerned about his personal power and he will be capable leader who will eschew tyranny and would change the corrupt polity, similar to a good doctor could change prescription in view of the disease. Basically same crisis was prevailing
at that moment in Greek that is prevailing in India right now that is crisis of leadership. Dr. Ambedkar also said few things about India during 1947. He said “Political majority in India would be always be a communal majority, which would be permanent and fixed in their attitude. This would be detrimental to the democratic ideals “He also asserted that the country should be greater than the heroes. He was against the practice of hero worship or personality cult”. He cautioned his country-men that hero -worship will be detrimental to the democratic ideals of India. It is really remarkable analysis that has made by Ambedkar about Indian democracy because in India people have become victim of personality cult. Instead of questioning their representatives they are blindly following them especially this blind following is happening mostly with Modi govt. right now in India. Tagore gave a similar
opinion by saying that we have to create free thinking in our country where the ideas will be discussed freely and we will make our country prosperous and developed. From all these things, we come to conclusion that the idea of democracy needed to be revisited in India which is in crisis and it has been confined up to elections and the spirit of representation is essentially absent in Indian democracy.
(The author is pursuing Masters in Political Science at Kashmir University. Views are his own, [email protected])

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