India is the nation where we have quite something to be proud of and to make us flaunt over the world in which one and best of them is the rich and broad legacy of democracy, comparison to others. India has been regarded as the largest functioning democracy in the world and constructed itself to be felt strong in the global economic arena of the world. During one visit to India two-three years ago, British prime minister referred India to be the beacon of democracy to the world. The well developed and fully evolved democracy that we are witnessing here is flourishing throughout the long span of time. It has went through much ups and downs, has shined and diminished but going through these all things somehow it is managing to survive in India till now. These various dilemmas fixed a truly democratic future in India after colonization. The future of the democracy depends totally on the past inherited traditions of the society and the challenges we are facing in the present contemporary India.
While discussing all these we have haunted always by a question that how has India managed to remain democratic despite all problematic signs we found in the society? Why not this democratic regime is not affected by the various misfortunes of narrow-minded reaction of different regional and ethnic fundamentalism, freedom fighters movements and the strongholds of illiteracy, poverty, backwardness and the root of all these causes i.e. corruption. If the absence of all these factors is considered as a requirement to the formation of successful democracy, than India would surely provide a miserable and depressing picture of democracy in the world. But the important fact here is that our country is regarded as the country having largest democracy in the world and which make us to think that we have something more reliable and strong thing with us more than these facts which is serving our eyes. It is impossible to define Indian democracy as liberal, participatory or deliberative because it is considering as the mixture of all these at the same time.
It is not enough for us to talk about the formal presence of democracy in the country but we have to focus on the institutions which are participating in the society to shape the democracy. Our country is touted as the biggest democracy in the world but I am wondering through this that our motherland is actually a democratic country? When I was in 5th or 6th class, we have one chapter in our social science book over democracy that reflects the definition like- democracy is something we can achieve by the people, of the people or for the people but I was not able to grasp these things till now. I think now a day that a Democracy literally refers to a state where the citizens have plenty of rights on major elective decisions and as well as related to important program and policies.
It signifies the meanings like all citizens have equal access of power, freedom and liberties. Our founding fathers borrowed the principles of democracy from the western ideology of the colonial masters but there was an important discouraging task before them was implementation of the democracy in backward and traditional society which can show the light of freedom and liberation in the society. Our national worked hard for this. They consider democracy as a type of mindset and attitude of life to change the world. The best part of the democracy in our country brought the adopted form of representative democracy which is basically characterized by regular elections, adult franchise, parliamentary forms of government etc. after independence a well-mannered and proper election was carried out in the country, in spite on only one national party was presented here at the national level in our political arena.
This was a great example of commitment of the leaders towards well-functioning and establishment of democracy in the country. These things are not giving us the conclusion that the democracy is perfect in those governments. An example related to this will somewhere clarify our mode of thoughts when the government favored the Kashmir issue where popular Abdullah government was replaced by a puppet government and his role in diminishing the democratically elected EMS Namboodripad which led these governments as out of the image associated with democracy but the commitment associated with the socialistic pattern of society by the nationalist party was created a contradiction between them because of the rise of a hegemonic state which is so lazily and slowly nurtured by the Nehru, had the potential to weakening its democratic foundation. These things can be explained in the context of Indira’s times, where her politics was becoming stormier as a reaction to the general conception that she was a puppet in the hands of the groups led by Kamraj.
Her infamous ‘national emergency’ in 1975-77 is seen as the only break or rather a spot on our accounts which has been reported thus far as a democratic regimes. The National emergency was based on the safeguard of her political and personal interest and her son sanjay Gandhi was the beneficiary of her dictatorship performance. The root of the emergency was set aside when the Allahabad high court were set aside the Indira gandhi’s re-election to the loksabha in 1971 on the grounds of electoral malpractices. The verdict was challenged by the supreme court for stay of Indira Gandhi which allowing her to be a member of parliament but disallowed her to take part in parliamentary proceedings. Another specific reason of emergency was the JP movement which gave the call for total revolution and also demanded for the resignation of Mrs. Gandhi. But a large number of people protests were against the emergency systems in India and also calling for resign of Mrs. Gandhi, which we can see here was not ever compared or repeated in other countries.
Sanjay Gandhi was one of the most controversial figure of the Indian politics that has been accused as the master mind of atrocities committed during the emergency. At that time, he ordered for the demolition of slums in Delhi’s turkman gate area with the help of his associate Jagmohan. both mother and son developed a twenty-point program which advertised the ‘salient features’ to make the situation worse. However, one of the most controversial agenda set by them was the implementation of family planning program, which was considered as the so called vision of sanjay Gandhi to contain population growth in the country. Officially it was declared for both men and women to be part of it as a voluntarily. But the government official and political opponents were forcing young unmarried men and the poor one in some of the cases to do so. In one case I.K Gujral which was the minister of information and broadcasting at that time was forced to resign when he disobeyed once the order of Sanjay Gandhi.
After the withdrawal of the emergency, general election were declared and congress was lost their vote banks. The third and the current stage of our development as a democratic state also experiences some interruptions which is mostly undermining our commitment to secularism like Babri masjid demolition in 1992, or the post Godhra riots in 2002 and some would also with the views of Arundhati roy when she claimed that the special power act of the armed forces places in the disputed regions of Kashmir and north-east was also destabilized the democratic principles. She even goes to the extent of calling democracy a fake thing which only used for manipulating the public for vote bank process.
All these things somewhere focuses on the opinions that the so called democracy is still decorating the font of paper; it is not able to accumulate his original and actual goal in the society. It is far more behind from the term democracy. Political parties also contribute a lot in diminishing the term by their illogical and illegal work and performances like capturing the booth at the time of election ignited the light of riots based on cast, sympathy, religion, creed etc., by manipulating the innocent people on the name of these unnecessary things and many other things. But I want to highlight only one thing that honorable lady Arundhati roy was forget that the right she got in the country to speak like this because of the democratic society, she was unaware about the fact or consequences which she has to go through when she would speak like this in Afghanistan, North Korea and Pakistan like countries.
The term democracy somewhere brought enlightenment in the society. It brings equality among the most backward people of the society. One of the writer Atul kohli, somewhere supported the term democracy as the most successful events of the country. He favored the term effective democracy and emphasis on the Indian democracy to bring equality, should focus on socio-economic aspect as well as power distribution in the society. According to him, the democracy will go through a great success in India by ignoring many illogical or irrational aspects of politics, lot of challenges are coming around and within the democracy of India, so governments have to work on it effectively. He favors the liberalization and economic growth for development of democracy in society and emphasizing that the point where democracy are reached now is coming through it only. Sudipta Kaviraj want to explain that the democracy and its demand in the country was mostly created and favored by the working classes and women for bring the universal suffrage in the country.
The democracy brought the liberal discourse of rights in the country to at the extent of change in community’s discourse of rights. He argues that the democracy ended up the liberal ideas and liberalism and focused upon the strengthening of national claims and rights rather than focusing upon the individualism as well as individual rights. It is useful to see that in this context the various parties like very important backward caste parties like the Bahujan samaj party, the samajwadi party or Rashtriya janta dal party by various manifestations articulating their claims in the language of various communities interests. Kaviraj claims that the odd way of democracy where liberal mode of democracy was merged with a notion of community and its rights and these things give a rise of universal populism in the Indian politics The ongoing unrest in Jammu and Kashmir is also a negative side of our democracy which we can say that the sole problem of our democracy is that it functions very slowly.
Not all citizens know and aware about their rights and responsibilities as well as political issues of the society. Because of this they made wrong choices in their representatives. As democracy give the power to change the government time to time, the authorities may work with a short-term focus. As they have to face an election after the completion of each term, they may lose focus on working for the people and rather focus on winning elections. Another disadvantage of democracy is that mobs can influence people. Citizens may vote in favor of a party under the influence of the majority and these parties try to force or influence the people by the philosophies of themselves, and this influences can not help a person to voice his/her true opinion. Corrupt authorities, media and press and other political parties distracted them by their actual path by using unethical norms and works and hampering the term democracy.
Bureaucracy and democracy present a conflicting attitude between themselves as increased power in the hands of people and reach of the states, it provide somewhere unclear picture towards us. I really don’t want to promote a very beautiful and rosy picture of our democracy. Infact, I also presented the scars we have in our democracy but it is not well to see the negative spots only which is only one corner of it, it’s time now to see the beauty of it. Even in 1979, the Indian masses which are also poor and innocent did not bring the dictatorial Gandhi back in the power. They did not able to submit her speech-making true and affordable on the empowerment of the poor and these facts and promises made by her in favor of the marginalized section expanded the sphere of democracy around those sections who have or have not’s those availability they need, those people are very fair enough in position to understand the leaders they want to have for themselves. There is also a great electoral reforms emerged in our country because of democracy.
The representatives are chosen by the active participation of the people of the country. Regular election is also a very determined and useful feature of the nation which seemed to be in the condition of up roaring of its citizens towards the selection of their representatives. The democracy brings a great and active participation of citizens in the political affairs and other things related to this. Participation of women and marginalized section in nation building as well as in parliament. The participation is not at the great extent but at a level where the further step can move towards the upliftment of these sections. Now a days elitist class are participating in the parliament but the thing get changed day by day. Now when the citizen feels that there is something which is going wrong suddenly they protest against this which may be against the government or other parties.
The recent judgment on the Ram-janmbhoomi suit was handled and met by the calm and composed public reactions which shows us that we have come a long way from 1992 and have been successful in establishing democratic principles in the society to the essential asset of this democratic environment is political activation and so called mature civil society of our country. Because of democracy some section of marginalized are knowing about their rights, survive equally in the society, getting their basic rights and also seeking for something better in their future in comparison to their forefathers. Democracy now a day becomes a matter of communities, community rights rather than a matter of individual independence and individual rights.
There are many other factors in our democracy to be proud of, in which our independent press plays a very important role in democracy. Democracy and suppression like this should be equally high-class but the voices of some are still controlled on this matter. In our internship I have seen the live examples of democracy in our country that the marginalized section are participating and raising their voices against those who ruled them or used them. In case of providing the 100 days’ work in NREGA, the panchayat rojgar sevak, program officer, mukhiya and sarpanch exploited them by not giving them the work, their employment wages and took their passbooks and kept with them, sometimes not put their names in muster rolls and many other things goes on till the time they are not knowing their rights but when the Jan Jagran Shakti Sanghtan reached there and gave them the information , they started to protest against their fake ruler and for getting their rights and it mainly involves the backward section as well as women participation.
This is possible because of democratic principles of society. Still a lot of marginalized sections are fighting in the most backward region of country that is Bihar to achieve their rights. A modern and nonstop debated topic of everyday life example we can take is the gay rights. If we claim a very impressive democracy then we has to go through a question day how come a group of people is still fighting for their rights in our country? They are not fighting for reservation, quotas, representation or concessions but for their basic rights of existence.
Democracy is not a definition or meaning. It is a process and has a goal and we have to work on it for achieve this at great extent. One day the times will really bring the change where differences will be celebrated and unequal as well as dissimilar voices will ring out as a beautiful melody or rhythm. We achieved a little but have to achieve more. We just need a long term vision, an open minded approach and a spirit of learning from our mistakes. There is no denying fact that we grow as the democratic nation and will continue growing till we reach at the level of perfection and it is not possible without the reason that we are called the largest functioning democracy by the leaders presented around the globe.