Friday, 1 November 2013

DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF PEOPLE

We are told time and time again by the people who have taken upon themselves to rule us that we have a lot to thank them for because they let us live in an independent nation, a democratic country which allows us freedom to do, think and speak.

How truly democratic and free is India? Do the people and citizens of this country really have any power? Now to make things clear to myself I first did research on what democracy is? I found a lot of information but the below mentioned points summarise what a true democracy entails:

1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life. 
3.  Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
4.  A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.


In a democracy, the people are supreme—they are the highest form of political authority. Power flows from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily. They hold power because the people vote for them in supposedly free and fair elections. Citizens have an obligation to become informed about public issues, to watch carefully how their political leaders and representatives use their powers and to express their own opinions and interests. It is also important for women participate fully both in politics and in civil society as they not only constitute half the population but are, as mothers and wives, mould the destiny of humanity.

This requires efforts by civil society organisations to educate women about their democratic rights and responsibilities, improve their political skills, represent their common interests and involve them in political life. Political parties are vital organisations in a democracy and democracy is stronger when citizens become active members of political parties or at least make themselves heard and be counted.

However, no one should support a political party because he is pressured or threatened by others.  In a democracy, citizens are free to choose which party to support. Democracy is a system of rule by laws, not by individual whims and fancies.

Democracy depends on citizen participation in all these ways.  But participation must be peaceful, respectful of the law and tolerant of the different views of other groups and individuals.

So much talk ‘for the people, by the people and of the people’ but it remains just that…talk. Our political parties make a mockery of all that is free and fair, the elections are always rigged, the politicians are all opportunists with no accountability or morals and women are of course just there to put up with all that society wants them to do…women cannot dare to have a mind of their own and no ordinary citizens ever reach the stage or are allowed to become active participants in politics.

The so called educated lot has been brainwashed into believing that they are a lucky lot living in a democracy where we have freedom to speak and write and that there is freedom and pluralism in the mass media. Hogwash I say because even if we are “allowed” to say and write what we want to that is only because the politicians know no one is listening. The mass media is a big player in a democracy and a big player in influencing the public… but then who influences them? It’s sad that they are being played by parties and have rigid political affiliations too while the poor citizen doesn't know how well they are being played. 

Another fact is that real power lies with the rich and the businessmen who in cahoots with the politicians decide the fate of this nation. The poor are mere vote banks and thus allowed to run around and made to believe that they are important components of a nation, a nation which has no time or patience to pull them out from the mire they are born in and then die in.

We forget that the state is completely outside any democratic control. So while the public at large is taught to behave democratically, as citizens who need to observe certain principles and rules of democratic conduct, the political parties rule us like a monarchy. We have been excluded and will always be kept outside the purview of true democracy.

But even if we, for a moment, consider that we are truly a thriving democracy, isn't democracy about 51%, ignoring the opinion of the remaining 49%. As someone has aptly put it, a true democracy is one in which if the majority decides to jump in the well, the remaining will have to follow!

With the 2014 elections coming up I implore each of you to be well informed, civic minded and well behaved citizens of a country which can only hope and wish to be a true democratic nation in the hope of making it a better world for our children.

And if that were not to happen, then the “rule of people” will remain what it is today – a sham rather than a reality.