DYSFUNCTIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND OUR DEMOCRACY – SHANTONU SEN
Democracy also means that the institutions of the Government that are created to serve the people play their assigned role in accordance with the charter that gave them life. The rules and regulations that were thereafter framed to make them functional are all under Articles of Constitution of India. Their day to day functioning is required to be in compliance of these laws and rules. They discharge their duties and play their part in the sevice of the nation in their respective spheres. The main areas where they provide service to the people are in the areas of general welfare of the people, in the area of ensuring basic shelter to the home less, to allow easy ownership of homes , be a enabling force in the area of providing food, clothing and employment, in the area of health, in the area of education, in the area of law and order, in the area of equal justice to all .Then there is the area of prevention of exploitation of natural resources, developing renewable sources of energy, providing potable water , push agricultural growth, thwart encroachment on public land and protect mineral resources of the state .
Despite dooms day prophets , at least, some of the major institutions, that serve both the state and centre, have delivered. The Union Public Service Commission, The Supreme Court of India, The Comptroller General of India, The Election Commission have functioned as bulwarks in our democracy. To a lesser extent our High Courts our specialized Intelligence and Investigation Agencies have also served the State competently. But that is about all. Other agencies are partly functional or entirely dysfunctional. Our police, our lower judiciary,our municipal bodies, our land protecting agencies have failed us. The list is endless. They are doing a disservice to the people they have taken a oath to serve. In the opinion of the vast majority, our democracy has not been served by them , as we ,the people, live our day to day lives. The grind to earn a living for the vast multitude that live in cities, jhuggi-jhopris, rural areas, villages is compounded several times by the sorrows these bodies extend to them. They provide poor sanitation, less electricity, little protection against even minor furies of nature,epidemic and as for law and order , in providing the law to the weak the old the children and security cover to women their inadequacy is horrendus. These institutions are not with out funds or man power or other resources. Our democratically elected leaders , the rougue elements among them and the corrupt man power in these services together constitute a substantial mafia that misuses them .
At the root of our institutions not delivering is the passive acceptance of this fact by those who are at the receiving end. Even today , in the year of our Lord 2014, people are not demanding enough. A habit that is a legacy of centuries is not going to go away easily. It needs sincere desire and determination not only at all tiers of the political authority but also in the various components that constitute these institutions. Frankly, we have been too long reconciled to the gross corruption that exists at all levels in these institutions. After Indepedence, though we ushered in a Constitution considered a pick among the the former British Colonies and gave ourselves several Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy our several institutions continue to provide the same disservice to each one of us that they did during their days under the colonial masters. Nothing will change till people decide enough is enough and compel the institutions to provide service to them
Finance Minister in UPA P. C Chidambram while speaking to Karan Thapar some time back said the people of India are no longer just the ” petitioning lot”, ihey are turning into ” aspirational lot” . He was speaking in terms of economic reforms that were not set in motion to cater to these aspirations in 2011 -2012. His candid confession speaks volumes with regard to a politicians mental picture of the people who elect them to serve them. In their mind the picture is stll that of of the Hindu as a mendicant and a a Muslim as a fakir begging ((petitioning) for doles. This India has persisted in their minds despite the six decades of freedom from colonial yoke. Our political leaders have let us down, horribly.We too have let ourselves down. Now, this change ? We are” aspirational”! Is there enough determination, enough yearning and enough courage in this change to compel/drive our institutions to serve us better?