our democracy and the democratic institutions that promote it will be snuffed out by 2025?: Shantonu Sen
Why do I , sometimes, feel that our democracy and the democratic institutions that promote it will be snuffed out by 2025?
For a long time pundits in India have seen doom approaching the mother land and wringing their hands in helplessness. Our politicians in Parliament and State legislatures are, in the majority , prey to temptations of loaves and fishes. Their motto is no longer service before self but self before any body else. Among this lot are property dealers and heads of fraudulent schemes. They are the respectable criminals , if such creatures exist. Many more are a despicable lot, excrement of society who have successfully duped voters who do not know the meaning of the oft quoted “your vote is precious cast it with care”. No wonder for better part of the day Parliament sessions are exercises of lung power and not sober and meaning debate. If the Parliamentary standing committees were not precluded from the public eye our most important democratic institution would deliver precious little. This lung of our democracy lives on because these Committees have members with conscience , such a handful only ,at that today. This is largely true of our State Legislatures too. To add to their disgraceful record many of them seem to exist only exist to fulfill the requirements of the minimum days of session laid down in our Constitution. So much for the legislative pillar of our democracy.
The EXECUTIVE was never more than a” mai bap”. From the time the British created the civil service all it did was to serve its “GORA AND BROWN” masters. All the rest were subjects of the Raj and they were cared for , just enough to keep them subjects with out much aspirations. With Independence things were to , start with, different. The bureaucratic numbers in the Executive required to serve the people whose needs , requirements they were called upon to cater shed its” mai bap” out look and get into the nitty- gritty of service. Those who were to be served, so long used to bits of bites from the long table did not have many demands and what they started receiving was such a refreshing change that they were easily satiated. Not too long. Today’s aspiration obsessed Indian is demanding . But corruption cocooned and quiescent in its early days is now unchecked and encouraged by their political masters. It has spread and now it has corroded the services beyond repair. At least, in the present system of governance. The British never introduced anti corruption laws in their entire 200 hundred odd years of being colonial masters of India. In the Second World War when corruption in the services impeded their war effort only then an Ordnance against Corruption was promulgated some times in 1942. They suborned our education system first. It was to be Macaulay whose method would guide our education system and not our guru kuls who produced Aryabhatta and taught what Dhanvantri gave to medicine. It would take many more paragraphs to narrate with pride what our gurukuls taught ,. They, the British, then , went on to cleverly manipulate the services . It ceased to be upright. Soon it came to look upon the extra income it made as rightfully earned “UPRI”. Even then it was limited , largely, in the area of happily given gratuity and confined to the lesser tiers of ‘ babudom’. That was then , in the days of the the British Raj. Today? The entire service, across the board, high and low , is among the most corrupt bureaucracy in the World. Transparency International so proclaims for all and sundry to gloat.
The third pillar , the judiciary for very long remained taint free. The prompt dismissal of the black sheep had the members of the judicial services on leash. Its downfall has been precipitate. Its worse than bureaucracy as its accountable to none except its own . The latter is ever so protective. Such is the state of affairs in the Indian Criminal Justice System that that the influential class is confident that lucre and weight can buy justice. Plus, the inordinate delay plagues its working and where there is justice its delayed. One could rattle instances after instances to expose the venality in the third State but let me desist.
Finally, what of the fourth State? It survives but just. With the rapid categorization of ownership among industrial barons of the media houses the once famed independence of the members of the press is in serious jeopardy. Paid news has already heaped shame on the Press. However, it survives and the veracity of debated information is still vouched for by asserting that the PTI or Reuters or such and such channel or news paper has carried the news.
All, then , is not lost. The World still sees India as a functioning democracy. Roderick Mathews in his book The Great Indian Rope Trick asserts that because of the virtues and vices that Indians display democracy in India has thrived. He has qualified our traits and idiosyncrasies, nudged them into components and compartments and come to a amazing finding. “Democracy has flourished, in varying degrees, because of the willingness and invention that Indians have brought to the institution of the Government, the (general) reluctance of leaders to use political power to hunt down opponents and the capacity of the wider political culture to absorb diversity and dissent.”
But the Jury has not returned yet.