World’s largest democracy? Yes, surely. But the World’s largest successful democracy? Maybe not.In a country where the approval rating of the incumbent Prime Minister is below 10% (Ouch), at the heart of all problems lies the politics of the country. We opted for democracy as our political system. But I have been wondering for quite some time – how democratic is Indian polity?
Indian polity has failed to provide solutions to the common man’s problems. If a government teacher plays truant or does not teach properly, can the parents do anything about it? Or if a doctor in a government hospital does not treat properly or does not give medicines? What can a poor person do if the ration shop keeper openly siphons off rations? Or what can any one of us do if the policeman refuses to register my FIR or registers a false case against us?
We cannot do anything about it. We can only complain to higher authorities who do not act upon our complaints. So, the citizens do not have any control over government employees.
We also do not have any control over government funds. Sundernagari, a slum in East Delhi does not have a secondary school, water, sewer, etc. The people have been demanding these things for ages. But the government says there are no funds. But the government made fountains worth Rs 60 lakh a few years back. Obviously the people did not need fountains. These fountains did not work for a single day, even on the inauguration day, because there is no water!
Likewise, we see that the same footpaths and roads are broken and repaired again and again. But the road in front of my house never gets repaired.
So we, the citizens of India, do not have any control over government funds. Government money is our money. We pay taxes. Even a beggar on the street pays tax – when he buys a piece of soap, he pays sales tax and many other taxes. All this money belongs to us. And we have absolutely no control over it?
We also do not have any control over government policies or the kind of laws passed by our legislatures. Recently, the cabinet has passed the ordinance allowing convicted MPs to hold their seats in the Parliament with certain ridiculous restrictions. This is totally unacceptable. How can we expect criminals to safeguard our country? And should we expect it?
So, we have no control over government employees, government funds, government policies. Is this democracy? Just vote once in five years and then plead before the same people who you voted to power? Or plead before the officials who take salary out of your taxes?
We have a democracy of elections to elections. After winning an election, the parties become brazen and arrogant. They would do all wrong things and if you question them, they would say – why don’t you change the government next time? But that would be five years later. What do I do right now? I am suffering right now.
Right to Information is a small concrete step in making our polity more democratic. In this bizarre democracy of elections to elections, it has given power to the people to “just question” the governments. Is it not time to move a step forward and demand some kind of direct participation in government decision making? Is that possible?
Thank you for reading.