Friday, November 20, 2015

A noble but impractical idea

No one will question the desirability of democracy. Yet the fact remains that there are so many aspects of life which are eminently desirable, but not possible.

True democracy should satisfy two conditions: 1) Will of the people should prevail and 2) People should benefit from the system.

When the Election Commission was not robustly independent, the first condition was not satisfied because the ruling dispensation was at liberty to tinker with the ballot. Now there is unanimity that elections are conducted freely and fairly and therefore the first condition is met. If any citizen is too lazy to exercise the vote, we cannot blame the political system. So even if only X % of voters exercise their franchise, we need to accept that the final result reflects the popular will. So much, so good.

The political system will benefit the people if and only if the elected representatives are honest and the voters are really alert. Unfortunately, neither of these requirements is met in our country. Corruption is rampant among the elected. Ability of the ministers to understand their basic Constitutional obligations is suspect. A particular minister in Bihar is unable to understand a term in his mother-tongue while taking the oath of office. We cannot expect poorly educated and grossly dishonest ministers to sustain fair democracy. This does not mean education is a requirement. But, ignorance in association with deceitfulness is toxic to democracy. Politicians in India know that offer of freebies at the time of elections is an antidote to citizens' grievances.

Voters are not alert. At best, they vote for the least dishonest elements. They are reconciled that there isn't much variety of candidates to choose from. Even those who are relatively honest initially are lured by the attractions of office to opt for the easier way.

Added on Nov.22:
Unless the ruling and opposition political parties have national interests in their mind, democracy cannot succeed. Whether in power or in opposition, a political party should have the same consistent stand on any issue. Absent this, only chaos will prevail. 

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