Monday, December 03, 2012

Fostering Democracy

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Since the beginning of time, people have always preferred democratically established governments.  We have seldom seen dictatorships or single person enforced laws successfully supported by people who live in such rule.  Even if such rule was temporarily accepted by the people, they eventually result in revolt by its population, leading mostly to violent overturn of the establishments.  The world rarely has seen a peaceful dictatorship and the very fact the word dictatorship don’t foster the freedom of choice by people who live in such conditions.
Irrespective of where we live, we prefer to make choices of our won and when restricted to what a ruler dictates, we typically revolt against the idea of being told what to do on a daily basis by someone who is in power by force.  Time and again restricting human thinking and living, results in revolt that leads to violent overthrow of the powers in place, and people wanting to have a choice of their own in their day to day affairs.
Whatever the mankind has witnessed over the past century or so (while not forgetting the thousands of years of history that we know and read about), there has been very few instances of peaceful transformation of dictatorships into democracies.  Nations go through turmoil with loss of life, financial strife and eventually learning to live in a democratic environment, which often is a challenge in itself.  After years of being told what to do and how to live and restricted to think freely, freedom of thought and expression is not a simple thing to embrace immediately.  Democracies are also fostered to be successful over a period of time, wherein the people who live in it respect the process and live to be free of a single person’s rule.
India has been independent since 1947, which is several generations into freedom, and there are very few remnants of the pre-independence era’s policies and people.  Yet, the country has not come to grips with its freedom of choice.  Perhaps the ability to be free has not yet sunk into the thought process of the nation, which is large, diverse and mostly new in thinking.
Once we lost the leaders who worked hard to gain independence from the British, the new set of leaders have not been able to focus on development of the nation as a whole, rather they have become increasingly concerned about only retaining power and making money while in power.  The power to elect people’s representatives is still in the hands of the people, but who we elect seem to feed from the seat of their power rather than focus on what is needed by the people who have sent them to elected office.
For successive terms and governments in both the center and state level, the spirit of people’s agenda is clearly missing.  Although tall claims of each elected party are rhetorical, the actions don’t seem to match what is being promised and what is being done.  The country and states have more than enough resources to handle the needs of the population, but much of these resources are diverted to individual benefit.
There are nations who are as diverse and large, as India and strive in democracies.  Elected representatives minding people’s agenda and business and striving to develop their constituencies is not an abnormal thing, but how do we get this into Indian elected representatives.  Irrespective of who we send to the office, quickly forget that they are there for people’s purpose.  Regional parties, national parties or even very small parties, all of they get elected by emotional issues they bring to the people, and promise the moon, but once elected they all ignore the basics of good governance.
While Indians love the largest democracy title, its politicians have yet to start respecting the value of the democratic system.  The population of the country also doesn’t seem to get grips with the value of the democratic process, rather they probably don’t believe in the system, but simply send their elected representatives for the next term simply because of irrational thinking.
Each passing election cycle is more and more cynical than the previous one and the conditions in the country survive only gets worse.  New parties come to life whenever a senior leader of a party is dissatisfied or caught in a massive scam and wants to start fresh, but always with same old philosophy of all talk and no action, but feeding to the fear factor of the population.
India is a massive population with diversity of people, religion, regions, language and every imaginable people’s factor.  The very fabric of the country being democratic and under one nation is by itself a massive human endeavor.  While elected politicians are unable to appreciate the value of democracy, and how best to function under democratic rule, its people are also hapless in selecting the next set of elected representatives, who might turn out to be equally selfish.  There is no end in sight for money controlled electorate, and until the overall system rejects corruption in politics we will continue to be challenged as a nation which will always be classified as developing.

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