Saturday, February 18, 2012

What does Democracy mean to me?

(Entry to Blog-A-Thon being organized by American Center in partnership with Youth Ki Awaaz)

“Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt…We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn battles of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.” – Winston Churchill, Radio Speech, 1941.

I thought of beginning the monologue with the words of a man who was so optimistic about his own country that he looked down snobbishly at others. Winston Churchill also unfortunately belonged to that school of thought which relished as it wrote the obituary of the then newly born Indian democracy.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Then this is how I would respond if I were to visit the grave of the British Statesman with a bouquet of Lilies and probably think, “We did it Mr. Churchill! Contrary to your pessimistic notions, we did it and with panache!”

The foremost meaning of democracy for me is the ability to air my views without the fear of bearing the brunt of any tyrannical regime. I can roam around freely anywhere in this part of the country without having to face the ignominy of boards that said, ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’. This is my India which has come a long way in a time period spanning sixty-four years. Yes, there have been pitfalls for sure nevertheless the journey has been an illustrious one.

Religion and caste have been those sores of our system that has afflicted the society in a way that goes beyond anyone’s comprehension. There have been patches of Dark Age sprinkled immediately after partition in 1947, Anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and Godhra carnage in 2002. Lessons have been learnt and what masses have to watch out for is aversion of those instances that tend to incinerate and disrupt the prevalent harmony. While the migrant Sikhs have emerged as one of the prosperous communities of India, it is the Ram-Rahim model of business (referring to equal partnership between Hindu and Muslim brethren inhabiting the area) emerging in Alindra, on the outskirts of Godhra that is taking everyone by surprise. Ayodhya verdict of 2011 and the unanticipated calm that prevailed thereafter asserted a basic contention that perhaps things other than temple and mosque mattered more to people. Well, in the words of lyricist Prasoon Joshi – ‘Kisi ne kuch banaya tha, kisi ne kuch banaya hai, humein fursat kahan roti ki golai ke chakkar se, na jane kiska mandir hai, na jane kiski masjid hai”.

The thorn of caste is yet to be plucked from the garden of diverse ethnicity and culture, unpleasant dank zephyr has already taken to leeward side. Though the regime of UP Chief Minister might bear the blot of large-scale corruption, miniscule development and draining of resources over the construction of elephants and her own statues, yet for a large section of the Dalits, Mayawati is an individual to reckon with. For, she has emerged as the potent face of a community that was used to discrimination of sorts for ages. As the first and only lady Dalit Chief Minister of India, the ferocious leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has proven that power and authority is no longer restricted to the shackles of the Upper Caste. A round of applause for the proclamation that has popped up and which establishes that Harijan are more than being the despised class.

While the Parliament and even the State Assembly has been reduced to a jamboree where everyone wants to speak and nobody is ready to listen; where chairs are thrown at each other apart from scathing remarks, even porn is being viewed at in spare time, a mausoleum of hoodlums is at display as they seek refuge-cum-afterlife (after having impressive criminal records, you see!)  here, there are governing bodies like the Election Commission that can set the record straight if it wants to like it happened recently in Salman Khurshid case. The minister went around daring the EC only to render a sincere apology later on.

In fact I’m bowled over at times by the reach and control of Judiciary. After all it was only due to judicial intervention that government had to enact Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and Right to Information Act. These have been landmark legislations indeed that are more than mere accoutrements in the democratic machinery. Who knows perhaps the Lokpal Bill might be cherry on top of this case. However in my personal opinion Anna Baba should have adapted more democratic ways of pushing through his idea rather than hopping on to autocratic ways and social media platforms for creating a superficial upsurge that seems to have gone into hibernation in a matter of few months only.

Pontificating according to me is a fool’s job and we perhaps need to stand atop a height that enables us to have a panoramic view of the entire State. Hey! What do I see? An Absent State! This black hole encompasses regions of Kashmir, North-East, Chattisgarh and other tribal areas. Something has gone terribly bad with the residents out here. While one section has resorted to stone pelting to give vent to its anger and grievances, the others have chosen to pick up arms against the very State they are citizens of. There is an underlying dissatisfaction behind this incorrigible behavior. Perhaps it’s high time when instead of Operation Green Hunt our Home Minister should focus on launching an Operation Trust Building, an initiative which rekindles the faith among these rebellions into the belief of ‘for the people & by the people’. Trust me it isn’t tough if only we can seek a way out by not eliminating the likes of Chemkuri ‘Azad’ and Kishenji via heinous and shoddy encounters; what about employing Kobad Ghandy as an interlocutor and giving it a try with utmost earnestness!

In midst of all the haranguing act that one witnesses with respect to the rising elephant that has finally come to triumph the world, some people are being left behind in this tryst with progress. Welcome to the land of Bharat a place unlike the zealous India that trundles in hope of matching its pace one day with its other counterparts enjoying the fruits of a liberalized India. Numbers are disturbing, more than 37% of   India’s population of 1.35 billion lives below the poverty line; for them every single day is a struggle for existence as they try and strike a chord with minimal means of subsistence.

Let us acknowledge the presence of Bharat and generate means where they can also claim on to the saddle of development and realize that GDP is not just a figure. That day shall redeem the status of Second Independence Day in the history of India, for our Prime minister would not deliver a mundane rhetoric of achievements from the bulwarks of the Red Fort, rather there would be spluttering over tranche of ways when empowerment has overcome frailty and agriculture contributes more than other industrial sectors in the overall economy. 

Till then I would posit my trust firmly in the lady called Democracy who actually loves playing the hopscotch with us. She has just made her presence felt in the terrain of West Asia in the form of Arab Spring and is endeavoring to dole out more such cosmic outcomes. By the way I guess it’s our turn to snuff the opportunity and play wisely by taking just the right steps around the stone.


  1. A must read for our law makers...kindly stop oligarchy and nepotism.give equal opportunities to all people irrespective of caste and class.

  2. nice information & funny pics....