By Radharao Gracias
01 October 2011 20:59 IST

I have this habit, of picking up plants wherever I go. And planting them, wherever I please. My plants, have now grown into trees. The mangoes and the mangosteens, the avocados and the rambutans. They thrive and yield in good measure. These are tropical plants. Peaches and litches, plums and pears too, I have. These merely survive, flower, but do not yield. Because, these are plants from the temperate climes.

Our democracy, is like my trees from the temperate climes. It is a transplant. It survives but does not thrive, in the tropics. After more than six decades, our democracy, flowers and fades, does not fruit.

Democracy, in Britain was not achieved, in a day. The British, took a small step towards democracy, when King John II was forced in AD 1215, to put his seal on the Magna Carta. The giant step, came over a period of several centuries through struggles, sufferings and sacrifice. Democracy, in Britain, came by way of a process, not as a one time event.

We merely copied democracy, from the British. Our history, our culture and our traditions are a complete antithesis of democracy. The concept of equality of all men is a negation of the very foundations of our way of life. Hence, democracy fits into our society, as a square peg fits in a round hole. The ingrained inequities, refuse to die. Transplanted democracy refuses to take deep roots, in our soil.

Of course, it is true that we are a democracy. Our democracy is functional; not performing. Casting a vote, electing a government and a peaceful transition of power is not the be all and end all of democracy. The purpose of democracy is to create a prosperous and vibrant society. We have certainly failed on this count.

The country is now beset with scandals and scams. The Congress and the BJP are equally enmeshed in the mess. There is no solution in sight. Anna Hazare is a mere mirage.

Take our electoral system. A fine success in Britain. An utter failure in India.  I myself envisage several reforms in the electoral law. However, at by nightfall, I wonder whether we need reforms in the law or reforms in our society. The best of laws can be of no use before a society which is utterly dishonest, lacks integrity, discipline and thrives on pseudo patriotism. As a people, we seem to have been bobitised since much before Lorena came on the scene !

Our voters, are split into two categories. The purchasable, which is an overwhelming majority and the non purchasable, which is a pitiable rump. And the purchasable are not merely those who sell their votes but includes all those who cast their votes for favours received or for considerations other than legislative merit. You may blame the politicians for all your worth. The truth, however, is that the MLA reflects the true personality of the voter.

I recall reading “The Continent of Circe” in my college days. I was then young, full of hope and optimism for the country. Nirad Chaudhury painted a bleak picture and a dull future. I believed he was wrong. I have to revise my opinion. I increasingly feel that if India is not actually the continent of Circe, we are fast moving towards it. We have either been turned into swine, or are on the verge of it. The book, is possibly the best analysis of our country by a fellow countryman, as post independent events indicate. We have converted the West Minister model into the worst minister model !

Let us face it. Democracy is a wonderful form of Government. For those, who know its worth. Nothing better has been invented. But there is a rider, that goes with democracy. No people, get a government better than what they vote for. We need a change. Not of the system. Not of political parties. Not of politicians. We need a change of attitudes. We need character, above all.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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