From Parliament to the Panchayat Raj institutions!
Democracy has a long and hoary history. From Athens to the entire world, for over 2500 years on a tiny hillock, what today we call the ancient Agora, today a neglected part of Athens to the last corners of the world, democracy has resonated and turned mankind into a civilized society.
We have had the good fortune to walk across the remaining pieces of that spot. We were inspired by the very name and forms of government they practiced. Any civilized man or woman must think it their good fortune to have had such a personal experience.
Blessed are those who had tread that little piece of territory. Up on the hills rises the immortal Acropolis, that man-made gem of white marble Architecture that held mankind to an unsurpassed reach of beauty and human excellence.
Now? Now, democracy is on the lips of everyone, from the common man to the great thinkers. Is democracy now a common man’s belief or practice?
Alas! It is not so democracy is corrupted in a wide variety of ways. In the name of democracy, certain highest qualities of modern man, even the most educated and highly competent ones, shall we not say, even the most highly qualified to turn not into ethical or moral personalities! Just the opposite behaviour!
In the name of constitutional oaths, men don’t bat an eye to take other in total disregard for any high ethics. In the 2500s BC, the great Athenian General, Pericles, declared that Athens is a school for the world and Athenians are the practitioners of Liberty and Democracy. The two words first pronounced by man!
Alas!! Today men for the sake of power for which they didn’t work at all seek office and profit and pensions and that is how democratic practices, its many nuances and norms are trampled in the dust.
Democracy is a delicate governance system, without democracy there can’t be social and economic justice! We, Indians, have come from a very historic background that of the contemporary British history! India got freedom from Britain in 1947 because in Britain at the time a new progressive party, namely the British Labour Party won the elections. The rival conservative party lost power because the British people were tired of the world war and they wanted a change. That is how the Indian national Congress won freedom.
In our time at Oxford, in our own College, New College, a 14th century establishment there were many Labour Party leaders who came to power from the background of the Fabian Society which gave ideas, inputs to the Labour Party. Giant thinkers like Prof.Harold Laski inspired a generation, why, Laski inspired a generation of Asian and African students, some of them were with us at the Oxford colleges.
So, Pandit Nehru and some of his friends and colleagues were also part of this new awakening in India. The rest as they say, is history! India’s freedom struggle too was marked by several phases. Our own political history too much was affected by world history, from Soviet Revolution to other happenings and so what we today in India need to keep in mind is that political ideologies, even the current ones, from the Congress to the BJP and other minor or major formulations have to be seen and analysed and applied in the true historic context.
Today, we are driven by much a confused and contradictory political formulations. So, we too in India at the present are taken by fancy formulations. Many of the regional political outfits present their policies in a very superficial way and the situation has reached certain extreme nationalistic language.
For instance, at the end of the recently held Bihar Assembly elections, the BJP had raised slogans like Bharat Mata ki jai! What does this slogan mean? It is simple, very raw emotional pitch only?
Can we raise such slogans in an election context? We are sure this is not a positive educational and educational phrase, So too many other countries and peoples who go for extreme political slogans. This comment needs much detailed examination.
For example in the recent elections in New Zealand, the incumbent Prime Minister, Zacinda has done the most admirable, progressive thing, namely, she had inducted into her Cabinet representatives of the native indigenous people and also from the Opposition parties. How innovative!
We, a great democracy in the world, are still to reach that stage in our political evolution. It is really a revolutionary concept, to app the best brains and talents and the country concerned only would stand to benefit!
Democracy is a very powerful word. It has a hoary history. India, among other nations, has a great responsibility and a moral commitment to uphold democracy and democratic practices. Since only in India leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru came from, the former a great soul and latter a great sensitive democrat.
The very many ideals and institutions. They established and taught the people deserve our gratitude to work ourselves to some of their own ideals.
The Mahatma always spoke about the simple peasants of India, the rural people, the poor and the hungry. The latter with his own Western education and beliefs, Nehru was one of the great Fabian Socialists, Nehru was a personal friend of such thinkers like Laski, Kingsley Martin, the redoubtable editor of the Newstatesman, the Socialist weekly that educated the latter generation of Indians and Africans.
We were once the leaders of the Non-Aligned world. Today too we are the examples of good democrats. The world even today values us as example of tolerance, we accommodate Dalai Lama and such great souls. Now, there are practical political issues in the name of democracy, we have done not many positive things. First, the party system is being corrupted in the name of ideologies. Second, religion divides us. Secularism we struggle with to understand and absorb how can a country with so many religions, many ancient, can we choose one religion to uphold, others to struggle?
Third, social divisions. Caste is now our only hope to survive in politics, right?
How do we practice our Parliamentary system?
Without Opposition there can be a true democracy. We don’t practice a good parliamentary system, we avoid the Parliamentary debates, the question hour. Why we also select the candidates who don’t deserve to be there. The electoral system is in shambles. From democracy to authoritarianism seems like a quick walk and cross over!
Down to the States and then to the villages, there are a lot of things to do. We owe to our poor villagers, farmers, the landless. Many rights which we don’t deny but we don’t recognise!
We need it to distribute more powers to the panchayat raj institutions. There must be rigorous gram sabres and debates and financial power to the panchayats. We need to activate many new institutions like the Farm Producers Co-operatives. These are all the areas we have yet to penetrate. Now, there is darkness all around, so much corruption’s much non-functioning of institutions like RTI. Lokayukta, LokPal etc.
The subject calls for wider debate. There is fear, raids and much police brutality, violence against women etc.
It is for us to further enquire to make ourselves worthy of our great leaders, men and women who gave their lives and all to the worthy cause of the upliftment of the nation.