It is clearly evident in the context of India – a country much hailed as the largest, vibrant and stable democracy in the world. Indeed we are fortunate to experience the fruits of democracy – rights guaranteed by the constitution, empowered to vote and chose the ‘right’ representative to frame the laws, rule of law etc.
Politics is much maligned and abused field in all the democracies – whether in USA, Europe or in India, it is reviled and looked upon with disdain. There is a reason for this. Politicians, whom we elect with much fanfare hailing free and fair elections, tend to become the arbiters of ‘power’. In India, they become the custodians and abusers of power.
Criminalization of politics is the biggest peril of democracy. With it comes misuse of position and authority. It inevitably leads to corruption. It’s not uncommon to see criminals getting repeatedly elected to the legislature
Bad politics leads to corruption. The very notion of ‘chalta hai’ attitude is the gift of democracy. Post 1992 reforms, it’s individualism which has been strengthened by certain set of laws, which has become the root cause of corruption.
Violence – between citizens belonging to two disparate groups, classes, religions, castes or genders blossoms best within a state that has deregulated its authority on its citizens. And violence – citizens versus state is the result of authoritative state using its power to do injustice to a section of people, e.g. Naxalism and insurgency in north-east.
In democracy poor people vote, and the elected become rich at the cost of the poor. It’s a government of the rich, for the poor to sustain the poverty. If 80% of India’s population still earns less than Rs 50 per day, should we compliment ourselves or introspect?
Development has suffered more in democracy than in other forms of governments. Though it is fashionable to say that democracy is better than despotism despite lack of development, does it do justice to the vast millions who go to sleep with hunger in their bellies?
We are witnessing the loot of our resources by the powerful few who are covertly supported by the government machinery. Every penny that’s put to improve the lot of this country is unaccounted for. The crux is lack of accountability.
Education of the masses and strong institutions. Institutions which are not pestered and interfered by the ruling classes perform better. The fear that these institutions if given complete autonomy would grow as a threat is unfounded. The Supreme Court of India has acted truly as the custodian of our constitution and also public faith in the system we live in. The election commission of India has become the role model for other countries for emulation in conducting free and fair elections.
Even our military has gained reputation for being fair to its people and the constitution. For a democracy to thrive and bring development to the masses, we need independent institutions to act as check and balances on the government and make accountable people responsible for policy implementation.
We need universities which are not at the mercy of government; we need public service commissions not interfered in their functioning by the government; we need a strong Lokpal to punish the corrupt; strong local governments to bring development at the bottom; independent CBI and a police force which is pro-people; the list goes on.
Perils of democracy are the result of loopholes within it. To plug them, we need to fight. Of course, non-violently.