The game changing factors in Democracy: By Bipin Sharma
In the last decade or so, the word “game changer” has been uttered a countless times for both political and apolitical reasons. Be it in the context of ‘Lokpal Bill’ and the ‘RTI’ being referred to as ‘game changers’ for the country, or ‘Narender Modi’ being touted as a game changer for turning the fortunes of not just the NDA, but the country on the whole, or the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s ambitious ‘Food Security Bill’ being hailed as a game changer, or AAP’s ‘Swaraj Bill’ being projected as a watershed moment in the world’s largest democracy. Then there has been the promise of ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme for ex-servicemen which too is yet to see the light of the day.
Though the term ‘game changers’ may have enjoyed an overwhelming share of popularity in the last three years or so, in reality, what actually has impacted is the ‘projection’ of different personalities-cults, or the proposed schemes and projects of the government and the political parties before the citizens-‘the masses’. Thus what really has changed the game, and eventually made all the difference, boils down to how effectively a concept or a personality is projected before the world. The right type of “communication” has an extremely crucial role for not just sustaining democracy, but also for ensuring a smooth flow of useful information from time to time.
Ever since the world was introduced to the fascinating world of Internet or the ‘web’ magic as they say, it’s been one Gigantic leap for mankind and democracy on the whole. With these astounding new age inventions, life for the common man has transformed into a whole new world of exciting dream come true options.
As a result of various forms of communication, the ‘democratic movement’ as such, has been greatly bolstered and in fact, assumed a new dimension.
The various communication channels and forums in tandem with the different components of the society such as the NGOs, activists, corporate, government and the private sector, play their own special role in bridging the gaps between citizens of different nations, religion, caste and creed.
Prime instance in this context being the genesis of two web portals named ‘attachowk.com’ and ‘parichowk.com’ which are today not just the “Gateway of Information” for citizens and travelers, but have become the ‘lifeline’ of both Noida and Greater Noida for those seeking any sort of online information on the twin cities. A key objective in conceiving the portals has also been to empower people from different walks of life in the two cities to collectively address their day to day issues of concern, thereby helping in raising the overall quality of life. The portal has been instrumental in organizing numerous Health Camps, Blood Donation camps, Traffic Green Card Camps, Environment Quizzes, Cultural Programs, Voter list Camps, Voter Identity Cards camps and seminars.
Due to the new age innovations in communication industry, everything gets evaluated ‘rationally’ in a democracy.
Communication mediums ensure that new reforms are introduced in different sectors and avenues from time to time for improvising upon the existent standards. Besides, it also ensures the timely and effective implementation of new reforms.
When we specifically talk about communication in democracy, we take into consideration the entire segment. Meaning that communication should encompass not just the government sector, but also the private and the public sector.
What is the point if there is smooth communication in the government sector, and the private and the public sector gets overlooked? Vice versa, it will be half job done if communication in the private and the public sector are only catered to, and the government sector gets overlooked.
Due emphasis has to be given on ensuring a facilitation of smooth communication channel for keeping the citizens duly informed about the different developments happening in the world. In this era of breaking news, when news become stale in matter of few minutes, citizens rely on different communication channels for staying updated with what is happening in not just their city or country, but in different nooks and corners of the world. It is through the various communication mediums that citizens get informed about happenings such as weather updates, new policies of the government, infrastructural development plans, new reforms in education, real estate, agriculture, country’s defense preparedness etc.
If communication is an indispensable component in democracy, there are fortunately and unfortunately other components and factors too that make an impact in democracy such as activism, politics, inflation, demand and supply, environment, policies, humanity and compassion, religion, economy, corruption, secularism, healthcare system, Bhagidari, casteism, symbolism, pseudo-ism etc.
Expounding more on the same, let’s take into account how Activism in India particularly has played a critical role in consolidating Democracy post independence. Myriads of reforms have been ushered as a result of the tireless and unrelenting efforts of crusaders and activists. Successive governments have been inspired or compelled to introduce new policies and improvisations as a result of the initiatives of the never say never die activists of the country. The Chipko movement is a classic instance in point. From highlighting the issues pertaining to farmers, child labour, pollution, animals, economically weaker sections of the society, manual scavengers etc, countless of movements have been organized and initiated from time to time by activists for sensitizing the relevant authorities about germane issues and problems concerning the citizens.
Anna Hazare etched his name in history books for having played a stupendous role in propagating the grave need for a strong Lokpal Bill to weed out deep rooted, rampant corruption from our system.
One reason why his movement and campaign was able to catch the imagination of the masses was because it was on realism, and not on pretentious symbolism.
If some thought that Anna exceeded his brief during the peaceful agitation at Jantar Mantar, it was not the case, as the indefatigable man sat on fast for days together for ensuring the welfare of the masses, and not for any personal interest. Activism has a definite constructive role in the democratization process.
Nations that believe and abide by democratic norms are bound to be not just tolerant towards activists, but will encourage them to point the lacunas in the existing system so that they could incorporate the requisite improvisations subsequently.
The synergy of Activism and Communication can do wonders for any nation, just like the synergy of Activism does wonders when combined with the power of the Citizens.
The synergy of Activism and democratically elected government indubitably yields far reaching dividends. Ditto holds true for the synergy between NGOs and the government, and the synergy between NGOs and the citizens. In order to ensure transparency and accountability in democracy, a certain deal of caution needs to be exercised so as to eliminate, or minimize the risk factors in the longer run.
Now coming to the other crucial factors in democracy, cinema for one, has had a huge impact on the lives of Indian citizens since time immemorial.
It is imperative to state that the impact of cinema has been both positive as well as negative though if one were to see it in totality, then the Indian cinema has by and large, played a remarkable role in conveying the positive messages through the films.
A substantial segment of the society especially the youth brigade, take leaf out of the books of reel life heroes, and consequently make drastic changes for the good in their lives.
Vice versa, there is the flip side as well when the wrong things shown by actors in movies are endorsed by the audience.
As far as the Indian cinema in specific is concerned, the Censor Board is quite proactive and has been doing a fine job to ensure the censoring of objectionable matter and scenes that they deem could be detrimental for a certain segment, age group, or the general public on the whole.
For Indian students enrolled in foreign universities, there was a great deal of communication problem between the students and their parents in India primarily as they didn’t have the privilege and luxury of internet till the late 1990s. ISD calls being too expensive, thus most of the students and the parents could only seldom avail the same.
For the present generation, the internet and the new age communication mediums might just be technological innovations, but ask those who were deprived of it when they were miles apart from their loved ones. For all such people, the advancements in information and the communication field would be no less than a real boon and blessing in disguise.
Democracy as such, has got colossal fillip as a result of various powerful tools and mediums such as Cinema, internet, mobile phone, RTI, the fourth estate etc. Gone are the days of the feudal lord when the aam aadmi could be suppressed, and his or her rights violated. Not anymore, as the well informed citizen is fully aware of the relevant components that aid the democratic process.
No exaggeration to say that the seminal factors in democracy have changed in the 21st century. A powerful minister indulging in blatant misuse of his or her power can easily be taken to task, and made to tender an apology, or an explanation for the unbecoming behavior. Times are a changing, and unlike the earlier times, the power lies with the common man, and there is absolute no difference between the ordinary citizen, and those wielding power.
A full fledged revolution has brought about the much-needed change that has resulted in a drastic transformation of ideas, thoughts, outlook, notions and opinions.
The civil society has played a pioneering role, and albeit the RTI act is doing a fine job so far, a lot still needs to be done for attaining a sense of contentment. To make the democratic process more robust, the RWAs have to be aptly empowered if the desire is there to improvise the city and the overall lifestyle.
However if it is important to stand for Democratic rights, it is equally pertinent to maintain the sanctity of democracy by not misusing it for any self vested gains.
The democratically elected government of the day has to run in consonance with the rule books, and cannot dictate terms as some sort of their fiefdom. Similarly, the citizens too have to adhere to certain do’s and don’ts, and cannot simply justify their wrong acts by citing it to be their democratic privilege.