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Hijacked Democracy

By G K Goswami | PUBLISHED: 15, Aug 2010, 12:18 pm IST | UPDATED: 15, Apr 2011, 12:18 pm IST

Hijacked Democracy

Democracy is well popular as a rule “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Each one of the ingredient is as necessary and important as the other one. People here do not mean only those who are sitting comfortably within the air-conditioned premises of parliamentary/assembly halls of the country's or states' capital or power centres known as secretariats or so called Raj Bhawans, but also include those who live in broken hutments in remote corners of villages or in so called " Kachhi basties" or slums of a township.

Basically, most of them desire a rule which is " for the people " and are not much interested in " of or by " of it. While the part of concept of " By the people " is certainly gaining momentum, the route to "for the people" is not widening. Hence there is hunger, law & order problems, increase in crime rates, corruption at every level and lopsided development of the rural and urban sectors. Today's "Netaji" ( a part of the people) aims at not serving or providing succour to the people, but at a system helpful and beneficial for his own enrichment through that service.

Realising the way the stream was flowing at a point of time, the then Prime Minister, Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru, laid stone of " Panchayati Raj " system, so that the democracy may take its roots at the lowest level i.e. “Panchayat" of a village. Though it went a long way of " By the people ", the pious dream of " for the people " was still to be achieved. It was because of the reason that powers and duties to rule in different fields of services and administration were not decentralised.

Then came yet another era. At the time when Shri Rajeev Gandhi took over as Prime Minister, another significant step was taken by amending the constitution by the name of 73rd and 74th amendments. It was envisaged that duties and powers to implement developmental programmes and essential services be handed over to these institutions i.e, Panchayats at village level and municipalities at the urban level.

It would ensure that the basic facilities and services would directly reach to the lowest point and the democratic objective " for the people " shall be achieved. It included functions related to water- supply, health, education, food and essential services, transport etc.

However, neither states handed over the same to them, nor these institutions asked the state authorities to do so, afraid of their poor capacity to handle them effectively. So the objective of  " for the people " is still hanging in the air. The areas and volume of " the people " have certainly expanded, thereby extending the centres of power, areas of corruption and so on. " Ameers " have become more " Ameers ", while " Garibs " heve become more " Garibs ".

Look at and recollect the history of India's " Swatantrata Sangram ". Everybody was ready to sacrifice-both physically and financially. None had the slightest idea of any type of " financial earnings " or getting enriched out of that struggle. On getting freedom, why not the same approach to sacrifice " for the People " continued? How come the greed of enrichment overtook the feelings and that too at the cost " of the people"? "Netas " say they need money for elections i.e., to be elected" by the people ". If so, this very democratic system through elections has become a negative factor, which in fact was considered to be an idea of highest moral value. " Paisa for vote " has become a visible Phenomena ( may be seen in television). Thereafter, if voted for, to earn "Paisa" from people to get all the more enriched. The slogan "for the people" is not being heard.

It is well known that while China, with no democratic system, has proved to be more and fast developing nation, India, with it’s democracy, is suffering from all types of diseases and is nowhere near china. Had it been with an approach "by the people and for the people" it should have certainly progressed much faster than China. But neither "the people" were taken into confidence (in fact they are being fooled), nor they in general are being benifitted that way. Yes, the number of "Netajies" has continuously multiplied and hence "Ameers" have become more "Ameers".

What in fact is required is a democracy, practically true to its basis   well-known concept. "By the people" is relevant if it is "for the People" and not for self. The morality, the heartfelt emotion and an approach to sacrifice which were so imbibed in the people during the freedom struggle need to be revived.

Democratic decentralisation is the route, but those who walk on it, need to be morally sound and sacrificing from the core of their heart. Then only the dream of "Mera Bharat Mahan" would be realised, failing which, the present day concept of this "Mahanata" would remain only a parody. The quarrels amongst the elected representatives, whether it is parliament, Legislative Assembly, or in a Municipality or Panchayat, represented on personal or party basis, the throwings of chairs and tables and all such actions do not and will not serve any purpose.

What is required is to seriously consider how these institutions and their elected members who are chosen "by the people" and belong to "of the people" can serve " for the people" and give them the desired solace.