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We the People
Nalinaksha Mutsuddi Bookmark and Share

How far does the concept ‘we the people’ matter? It is the people of a country that gives power to the government. A government is an institution through which leaders exercise power to make and enforce laws for all round welfare and safety of the people.

Today all the countries of the world are mainly democratic with very few exceptions if any. Even a few existing monarchy runs on democratic principles. The communist countries prefer to use the terms ‘socialist democracy’ and ‘popular democracy’. In democracy the leaders derive power from the people through an election which is a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position.

It has been usually seen that leaders promise many things, close to the hearts of the electorate, before election. After winning in the election they totally forget it and don’t bother to fulfill the promises made. This is specially true for developing countries infested with low standard of living and numerous other problems demanding urgent attention for remedy.  And sometimes enact laws which go counter to the interest of the people; indulge in corrupt practices for self aggrandizement to the detriment of the people and the country.

The people have no power to recall the erring politicians. They have only democratic rights to protest by peaceful means to face teargas, water cannons, police brutality and arrest without any solution to the problems. Great leaders like Mhatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King strongly advocated nonviolent protest for redressal of all kind of grievances and they succeeded to a great extent. Is it equally effective today? It seems authorities developed immunity to the virus of protests.  Nonviolence protests proved ineffective in almost all countries. Glaring examples are the Hong Kong and Belarus protests. Both the protests were peaceful in the beginning. But when the people find no favourable response, frustration gives way to violence. The unarmed people can’t do anything. They can only resort to give vent to their wound feelings and anger by smashing windows, pelting bricks and stones found at hand and burning tyres and putting roadblocks and they get ruthlessly suppressed.

Once in power many try to remain in power perennially. They contest election term after term till death. Putin and Xi Jinping did it legally by making amendments in the constitution. Quite a few do it by rigging in the election. Being in power it becomes easy to manipulate. Prominent current example is Lukashenko of Belarus. He has been ruling Belarus since 1994 and not willing to let it go. It is alleged he indulged in massive rigging in the recent election. Thousands of people were in the street in protest. After a lapse of five months of mammoth protest people could do nothing. He enjoys the blessing of Putin. International community stands mute witness.

Hong Kong protest initially began against the extradition law and soon it turned for democratic rights. China threatens to discontinue ‘one country two systems’ agreement reached during transfer from British rule. The protest is running for more than a year now. Many activists are put in jail. People seeking asylum in other countries are debarred. The situation is worsening by the day and no solution in sight.

Coming home to Indian liberal democracy. The farmers are protesting against recently enacted three laws -- which they consider-- go counter to the interest of farmers. The government is adamant not to repeal the laws on the premise that such action will impede introduction of any reform in the future.

It is true Indian agriculture sector needs reform. Reform means change. It is also a general inherent tendency to resist any change from the status quo. Whatever the government intends now is a major reform. Naturally, the farmers rise in vigorous opposition. We follow the top down process. It appears imposition from the higher authority. It should begin with the proposition from the bottom, at least in cases of major reforms. Discuss the problem in threadbare and then introduce it for implementation. The farmers won’t feel threatened. One amicable solution could have been to keep it on hold, as suggested by the Supreme Court, till the farmers get convinced of the benefits of reform. One caveat in favour of the government is that probably farmers of all the states are not opposed to new laws. As it stands now, the problem has become complicated. If the farmers win, victory at what cost after braving severe winter cold under the open sky for over a month? Dozens of farmers died due to exposure to harsh weather and one committed suicide. If they lose, it will only reinforce the common perception that people have no power.

The people have handed over all the power to the elected leaders. ‘We the people’ stands nowhere.                                                                                                 


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01/06/2021
More by :  Nalinaksha Mutsuddi
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