Tuesday, 24 May 2016

There's a little problem with democracy and power

I write after long gaps, yes. I agree to that. Law school takes its toll on people. I’d also point out the fact that I write on certain important issues that might sting people, cause disagreements to my views and the like. That is how society works – that is how democracy works. Nah, wrong. That is how a democracy is supposed to work. There is a reason there’s that emphasis on that ‘supposed to work’ part. Today, I write about democracy.

Today’s democracy is a distorted democracy – it is not a very flawless form of power-check on the powerful. We associate ‘authority’ and ‘power’ to the modern State than we associate ‘co-operation’ and ‘development’. Most States are often mostly associated with police and militia than with the welfare of its people. Most people would agree, the phrase, “Tu jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai?” (Do you know who my father is?) is a commonly used phrase that explains this entire concept. Those in power, use it for various different purposes including essentially suppressing other’s powers.

The powerful often forget that this power does not belong to them. It is held, at least in my opinion, in public trust. This power to decide the fate of millions of people is not a right, but a grace conferred upon him by those millions. India has a pretty bad rank in the rule of law index, especially in the field of legislative corruption[1], pertaining to legislators, and it is rightly so. Legislators more often than not, deem the power to be a right rather than a grace, they deem it to be absolute rather than held in public trust.

The democracy of today has gone wrong somewhere – it has lost the way and has been derailed from its goal. Today’s democracy is a ‘democratic dictatorship’. Those elected to power neither speak for the majority view nor hold the office in public trust. A legislator hardly ever gets 40% of the vote, often getting elected with 20% of the votes. Thus, ignoring the voice of the other 80%, decisions are made that changes the lives of millions of people. The subjects neither have access to decisions and can hardly ever influence any decision. Any form of protest is criminalized and this brings us again back to the relationship of police and State. It is more often than not, any form of protest against the State is tackled with tear gas and rubber bullets. How, in the world is this a participatory democracy? How is this not a dictatorship of a handful of people?

An ’ignorant democracy’ has made this possible. Those who rise to power, are seldom judged on merits. Selfish gains of people who vote have crumbled down the foundational pillars of democracy. A ‘participatory democracy’ had presumed people would know how to choose what is in the interest of the nation – but that assumption was wrong. People vote not for people who will look after the interest of the nation, but for those who will give them the most benefits when elected. Corporations look after their economic benefits, ordinary citizens look after reduction of income tax and other taxes and so on. It is the personal interest and not national interest that triumphs the other. So, ordinarily, legislators are not exempt from this addiction of personal interest. If they are standing for the elections, it is more out of personal interest of power than out of national interest of serving the nation.

So, people, please come out of your palace of illusions, and see what you have done – what the sacrosanct ‘we the people’ has been into by putting selfish gains first.

[1] You can access the data at http://data.worldjusticeproject.org/#/groups/IND

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