Tuesday, May 11, 2021

No ideology

It can be said that the institutions of governance, though important, are not superior to the citizen. It is the individual who imparts all the meaning and importance to them. Unfortunately with the passage of time this has been reduced to an idea that had existed sometime in the history of politics. All the power now stands usurped from the citizens and the politicians and bureaucrats wield the clout. Though India is one of the largest democracies in the world, with all the trappings of a well-defined structure – parties, assemblies, elections, free press, etc – it still appears to be mere gimmickry, with rampant corruption almost everywhere. In a democracy, the concept of people’s participation is emphasized. Peoples’ participation in our democracy, though, is limited to casting ballot once in five years, and here too, the poor, illiterate and gullible folk are fooled into voting the same set of deceivers to power again and again. Political parties, as one would like to believe, are born of ideologies where like-minds confer and resolve to represent and work towards their common belief. As time goes by, the ideology is pushed back to gather dust and the personalities begin to take lead. The party that had originally given the men a standing is sidelined and the personalities start corrupting the body, and as a result their conduct is steadily governed by the rules of power play than by reasoning. Looking at such a scenario, it is more than evident that simply holding elections does not signify a political democracy. The citizen of today would swear by the liberalism and advantages that are promised by the concept of democracy, but in truth he would rather not have the men who have twisted it to suit their end. Democracy does not mean doling out largesse to benefit the supporters in order to retain them as supporters – giving away petrol pumps, gas agencies, various licenses, land, etc – nor does it make room for nepotism. Yet, all this exists. In a democracy, one does not have to bribe at every step of the way to get the smallest of things done, or to pass through an unwieldy bureaucratic tangle for the tasks that can be accomplished through simplest of procedures. And that is the reason why the zeal and enthusiasm has been replaced by a general sense of frustration and apathy. The elected representatives have been given a great deal of free hand. The current picture of coalition governments is all the more bleak. Precious time, money and resources have been spent in just keeping the allies in good humour. The principle that works here is that you scratch my back and I scratch yours, if not, then the ‘dog eats dog’ policy will operate. Citizens have to realize that it is time to call for his due. In the existing state of affairs, there is no parity in, for instance, a government servant serves for minimum of 15 years and maximum of 30 years of his life and then gets entitled to receive pension, while a politician has to serve only a cushy five years, where he may or he may not do any substantial work before he begins to get his pension. While the ordinary man knows nothing but waiting for the most basic of facilities, the big businessmen are gratified for they fill the coffers of the parties. Politicians use this money, gained through unlawful ways, to fund election campaigns, and therefore initiatives like disclosure of assets are strongly resisted by this coterie. It is ironical that people’s representatives must go outside the state for medical treatment, while the masses do not even have access to primary health services in many areas. The weddings of sons and daughters of political bigwigs are celebrated in a manner that would berate the magnitude of celebrations on the occasion of a festival, while countless people are falling prey to factors like starvation. The crux of the matter is that all the efforts targeted at banishing corruption from our lives cannot bear fruit unless the existing democratic set up is given a shake up and reminded of its real essence that has unfortunately been long forgotten.