Democracy in India is fast deteriorating into a 3D variety. It is decaying, demeaning and has become hopelessly ‘debateless’ in the past sixty years of existence. Indian constitution is still considered one of the best in the world and it is undoubtedly a standard template for any newborn democracy or those undergoing springs (and autumns) in their democratic evolution. Though adapted from the British, the vision and farsightedness of those who made up our Constituent Assembly could successfully put together a document that can hold a nation of million varieties in every aspect of life but one culture and one civilization together for all times to come. However, the quality of those who were subsequently getting elected every five years to uphold our constitution steadily deteriorated and the results are showing.
The quality of debate that took place in our Constituent Assembly is something without any comparison. Core features of our constitution are something that has come out of hardcore debates like ‘amruth’ out of ‘palazhi’. But those who inherited the constitution have failed to live up to the expectations of our erstwhile leaders who were outstanding parliamentarians in addition to being politicians. Succeeding generations of Indian politicians have completely distorted the meaning of some of the key elements of our constitution viz. Reservations, Minorities and Secularism. The self-defeating traits of Vote-Bank Politics and Political Correctness are now dominating the minds of most of the Indian politicians. To make matters worse, the unprecedented levels of corruption is taking Indian democracy to its death bed within a century of its birth, unless there is a new avatar who can save us from the asuric politicians.
Maximum damage to Indian polity has been inflicted by our politicians, the elected among whom are the so-called lawmakers. One of the most important marks of a politician in a democracy must be his or her ability to communicate. They must be able to articulate well in the parliament and communicate with the masses through electronic and print media, in addition to talking part in the rallies and seminars. But see the case of India now. We have atleast four of our top-most political authorities who do not talk at all and never participates in the parliamentary debates for making laws that govern our nation. No one knows what is in their mind and what type of human beings are they? India’s common men do not know what are the opinions of their rulers? And what are their proposals for solving the problems?
Another important requirement is the need of transparency in public life. Democratically elected leaders must not only be honest but must also appear so. If anyone raises any question on his or her integrity, the response must be immediate and without any delay or excuse. Unlike earlier days it may not be a practical option to step down every time there is an allegation, but the written or spoken denial or explanation is a must. Otherwise they must resign immediately and face the enquiry. The recent trend in India is to keep quiet and never ever respond to any allegations or questions. Security is provided to the rulers for their safety and not for isolating them from the very public who have elected them. Hiding under the security curtain, unanswerable to the nation seems to the easiest way to avoid inconvenient questions. Rulers of India are now clearly above the rule of India law.
If only a miniscule proportion of Indian politicians were corrupt till 1970s, the percentage is almost 75% in contemporary India. Popular perception about the top echelons of power in India has reached an all time low and many politicians now genuinely believe that they cannot survive in Indian politics unless they are ‘smart’ in corruption. Air of confidence radiated by Raja and Kalmadi when they were under arrest for corruption has established such a notion in the minds of almost all our politicians. The notion is bound to get more established when the two will eventually walk free and are awarded millions of rupees as compensation for defamation. All political parties are facing the same situation and when it comes to corruption the nation finds that there is no party with a difference. With atleast a few skeletons in the cupboard, no political party is able to stand up and clean up the system now.
The recent anti-corruption wave in India is nothing but a natural reaction of a few well meaning members of the civil society from the pre-independence era against the all enveloping corruption clouds that will eventually destroy our nation. Silence is the best encouragement for corruption and that is exactly what our rulers are encouraging us to do by their own silence. Media can do quite a lot in saving the nation now. In the all pervading electronic era, we are surprisingly having lesser numbers of investigative journalists who can easily unearth the Swiss accounts and corrupt deals. The Bofors enthusiasm is completely missing among the present generation of Indian journalists. Just one Chitra Subramanian or Arun Shourie can still bring down the complete corrupt edifice that is haunting India today.
The next general elections in 2014 will present the best bet for a change in political climate of our nation. All participants must be made to talk and American style debates must be made mandatory. Those in power will not take any initiative in this, but our electronic media can definitely force the situation. The potential PMs must come to a single platform and debate. The advantage of any open debate is the recording of commitments made by the contesting parties. It will also reveal the individual as well as his or her capabilities to understand and handle the situations. Those without any merit but only some connections and family name will stand completely exposed in an open debate. Political ‘dumpheads’ must be kept away and only those who are elected to the Lok Sabha must become the Prime Minister of India. That is the best immediate anti-dote for rampant corruption that we can hope for.