Dashavatars of Democracy

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
24 October 2012 19:37 IST

Mamata Banerjee says UPA Government will not last more than six months! Whether she is right or not elections are definitely around the corner. India is at crossroads!

Congress probably needs to be voted out due to low efficiency if not high corruption. As the Prime Minister’s lackadaisical leadership lands the lamenting UPA in trouble the democratic dilemma before the demoralized people is who should be voted to power.

With Gadkari deciding to play Arjun of Mahabharat by keeping full faith in his driver, the only option before BJP seems to be to taste the forbidden fruit of Modi.

Will Gandhi’s India accept the saffron Modi as its Prime Minister? Alternative is a coalition that is forever struggling to come to terms with itself. While coalition politics seems to be the order of the day is it the correct prescription for India’s woes? Should India forever sway to the whims and fancies of the regional satraps?

To the average Indian perspiring profusely under the pressure of inflation and recession the answers to these questions acquire paramount importance.

What should the voter seek in the upcoming Parliamentary elections?

I would say the voter should first and foremost seek a full democracy in India!

Democracy is not just government of the people, for the people, by the people. This definition is only meant to fool the people. Democracy is a much deeper, much more solemn, inclusive concept. Or at least that was the belief of our forefathers who penned our Constitution.

Democracy and democratic behavior has to be irreversibly entrenched in the consciousness of each individual. Here I call this SOCIAL DEMOCRACY. This includes tolerance of opinions other than one’s own. Also a firm commitment to free thought and fearless analysis of influences on thought. Solemn respect for each individual’s freedoms, rights and duties. This means there has to be a realization of the importance of social responsibility over and above personal profitability. Does India have social democracy today? Far from it! Today’s order is “might is right”. This is not at all conducive to meaningful democracy.

What is ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY? This is an integral component of a functioning political democracy – the one that we sadly do not have in India. Dr B. R. Ambedkar envisaged this concept at the time of writing the Constitution.

“You cannot have meaningful political democracy without a functioning economic democracy. I think this is at some level understood by the working people. It has to be brought to awareness and consciousness, but it’s just below the surface” said Noam Chomsky. Economic inequality has a pernicious effect on any society and more so in a political democracy. It erodes trust, increases anxiety & illness and encourages excessive consumption. Absence of economic democracy is directly related to drug abuse, crime, violence in society. It has been conclusively proved that more equal societies almost always do better.

Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that proposes the shift of decision making power from corporate stakeholders to a larger group of public shareholders that includes workers, customers, suppliers, neighbors and broader public. This is in view of the fact that mega corporations, large financial institutions, corporate owned media and government machinery itself tend to corrupt a political democracy.

Here I would like to point out that corruption which people like Anna Hazare fight is not related to any political party. It is related to absence of social and economic democracy in India.

POLITICAL DEMOCRACY is just one of the many facets of democracy. Political democracy is the freedom to form any number of parties, and contest elections. This has more recently been criticized for not offering enough political stability. We are witnessing this aspect of instability in India’s coalition politics today.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY is founded on the principle of elected people representing a group of people, as opposed to DIRECT DEMOCRACY in which people vote for policy initiatives directly without the elected representatives intervening.

PATICIPATIVE DEMOCRACY and DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY are two avatars of direct democracy. Participative democracy strives to create opportunity for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to each decision making and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Deliberative democracy differs from the traditional democratic theory in that authentic deliberation, not mere voting, is the primary source of legitimacy for the law making process. Deliberative democracy is thus compatible with both representative and direct democracy. Deliberative democracy is able to incorporate scientific opinion and base policy on outputs of ongoing research.

Is India’s democracy a truly representative democracy? When 163 criminal cases exist on 545 parliamentarians of Lok Sabha how can it be unless India is a nation of criminals? In terms of their personal wealth too our elected representative sample is not representative of our general population!

LIBERAL DEMOCRACY is a form of representative democracy that operates under the principles of liberalism. It is characterized by fair, free and competitive elections between multiple political parties. This is the type of democracy that is supposed to operate in India, going by Constitution. But are our elections fair and free? Yes, they are competitive without limits!

DEMOCRACY OF JUSTICE. Perhaps not mentioned in the traditional classification of democracy, this democracy of justice is nonetheless most important pillar on which a democracy rests. Justice must be accessible to the masses irrespective of their economic status, religion, sex, caste etc. Justice must preserve the moral fabric of the society. Legality must ensure comprehensive morality as understood by the common man.

DEMOCRACY OF INFORMATION is our next avatar. Information is the backbone on which a democratic institution rests. Information can make and break governments. Masses must have access to accurate, truthful information on ongoing events – political and scientific. Information colored by the cash rich business establishments or by the corrupt politicians is no information. India must ensure freedom of press in a dignified manner. Self financed media houses must be encouraged. Financial sources of various media must be transparently indicated to the public – more like the statutory warning on a cigarette packet. Democracy of information ensures the health of a democracy. Media in their turn should give proper weightage to positive and negative news coverage. Excessive negative news, as is the current trend, leads to a confused people – something that a democracy can ill afford.

Electoral debate is an integral part of democracy of information. It must place before the people the vision of future as proposed by their candidate. However the quality of electoral debate in India is dismal. In fact there is no electoral debate. There is only mud slinging and mud raking!

Tenth and the last avatar of democracy is FLAWED DEMOCRACY! This, my friends, is not a joke! Democracy index 2011 categorizes India as a flawed democracy. Only 25 nations of the world have been assigned full democracy. Norway scores 9.8 on a scale from zero to ten. India scores 7.0. Full democracy requires a score more than 8.0.

 The reason why India’s democracy is flawed is simple – there is no social and economic democracy in India. Democracy of justice and information is a far cry. There is not even a true representative democracy.

JAI HIND!

Blogger's Profile

Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

Drop a comment

Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image


Previous Comments

for an average aam aadmi,this is like a sunday sermon.. look at the prices ..gas , petrol,diesel...the looting pharmaceutical firms ..hand in glove with the only money minded docs ..Bangkok/ Patpong free tickets with sanwich massage ..the lady patients tore open ..ceasarian..only for money..exploitation ..why not write about this malpractices ..?

- gilbert fernandes, Goa | 29 th October 2012 11:00

 

Mukulbaab,

There is no doubt that it is a well written article, but will it have any effect on our society which has become totally self centered ??? Each one is very much aware of his right,but does not give a damn about other person's right. The highly educated class has two point of views to the whole scenario, one as a citizen & one as a politician !! All political parties are ONLY interested in the winning ability of their candidate, they are not at all bothered about his background & the voters either succumb to the money power or the muscle power of the candidate, so where is the democracy ??? sometimes I really wonder whether we are really ready for a democracy !!!! A few sensible & sensitive citizens who understand the real meaning of democracy & practice it are outnumbered. I sincerely feel that there has to be a STRONG introspection done by EACH one of us !!!!

- Rajiv Hede, Margao | 25 th October 2012 09:42

 

Related Blogs