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Future of Democracy in India (Mohd. Anas)

Is the future of parliamentary democracy in India in danger? Is this country unsuited for this form of polity? Will this democracy survive the repeated assaults made on it by our elected representative, both is parliament and in the state legislatures? There are some of the questions in the minds of political observers. It is felt that if the present trend continues to prevail and good sense and wisdom do not dawn upon our elected representatives, people’s faith in democracy may evaporate.

The framer of our constitution produced a voluminous document covering all the aspects of political, economic and social life, which can withstand all challenges. The basis on which the whole constitutional structure was raised, was the faith in the political morality and inherent political sagacity of the people in general and their leaders in particular. In fact, when adult franchise was introduced in the constitutions many an eyebrow was raised putting the political wisdom of the millions to exercise their vote wisely and in the interest of the country under serious doubt. Doubts were created by the fact that most of them were illiterate and lacked knowledge of democratic necessities.

The political history of nearly five decades has amply demonstrated that the masses have displayed rare political awareness and wisdom in exercising their franchise and choosing their representatives, both for the parliament as well as for the state legislative. Thus, they have completely justified the faith reposed in them by the authors of the constitution. However, their elected representatives have let them down and have, by their conduct and behaviour, thrown all norms of democratic traditions to the winds.

Parliamentary democracy envisages two or more political parties having their own programmes and policies, vying with each other to win the confidence of the voters. The party that wins the poll has mandate to form the government and implement its programmes and policies. The ruling party has to carry out administration through debates and discussions in the legislature. The opposition parties are entitled to have unrestricted say on all matters brought before the legislature. It means that the opposition has to play a constructive role and it is the duty of the ruling party to accommodate it to the maximum possible limit. However, the will of the majority party has to prevail. This basic fact has to be grasped by the opposition which has the democratic right to expose the weakness of the ruling party and its methods of governance. In other words, it has the right to create an anti-government feeling.

In the first 20 years of independence, the present system of democracy worked satisfactorily and the ruling party and the opposition functioned more or less in harmony and goodwill in spite of differences in the approach and perception of various problems. But gradually, the lure of power made some parties deviate from the democratic path and to resort to undemocratic methods to consolidate their positions. The opposition also deviated from the democratic path and resorted to tactics which were not in consonance with democratic principle and conventions. The role opposition, which has a role of maintaining discipline in politics and work as a safeguard against tyrannical policies of the government, was negated which is bad sign for health of any democracy.

The parliamentary process was also damaged by the large number of defections of MPs and MLAs. These elected representatives change party loyalties from opposition to the ruling party with the fall of a hat. It showed they had no strong convictions and hunger for power and money were the only guiding principles. All is fair in love and war and Indian politics. This process was checked by the anti-defection bill but concrete result were not achieved.

The situation has now deteriorated to such an extent that the legislative chambers are losing their sanctity and are becoming arenas for abuses, free rights and mud-slinging. Protest walkouts from the chamber and demonstrations outside the assembly hall are justified to express resentment against the actions and policies of the ruling party. Such methods are resorted to educate the electorates for the future. Poll walkouts have now become too frequent so as to lose their utility and value and are now preceded by slogan – shouting and unruly scenes inside the legislature very often, members sit in the well of the house in defiance of the orders of presiding officers and prevent the conduct of proceedings by loud shouts and by enacting unruly scenes. The usage of furniture and microphones in the chaotic up state assembly amply demonstrate that our politicians are yet not mature enough for running a nation.

The live coverage of parliament in session introduced in 1992 to gave an abhorrent picture of the way our elected representatives function. Abuses, object throwing and shouting in the face of the speaker were the order of the day. More then reasoning questioning and probing, it is low of the jungle carried into the well of the house. We do not have a proper work ethics; lack of punctuality in offices, insubordination, threat of labour unions in the face of administrative action have set everything out of gear. Subhash Chandra Bose, the great freedom fighter, once said, ‘India needs to be ruled by some autocrat for at least a decade because by nature, Indians responded favourably only to a martinet discipline’.

A democracy gives our laws many loopholes through which miscreants escape. The right to vindicate in purchased by the evil rich who escape through the services of a good lawyer. “Let a hundred guilty escape but see that not a single innocent is convicted” is a dictum that lawmakers exploit to the disadvantage of those who cannot afford a costly lawyer.

Remember what Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain, said about India getting independence, “She is not yet fit rule herself!” Therefore do we need a democracy tempered with restrictions? Some have suggested a judicious mixture called Democom the best of democracy and Communism.

Law and order are virtually at ransom in the hands of the terrorist and the militants who eliminate government officials and panic the crowds. So if law and order, elections economy and work-ethics fail, what is left that democracy could be proud of? The present coalition government at the centre is witnessing more crimes, state assembly duels and moral decay of our politicians. The time are dangerous as our won house in not in order. More than 100 crores people need good leaders who could steer the nation. Emergency is not called for but the political system need through cleaning.

*Mohammad Anas is a resident member of Mohsinul Mulk Hall, pursuing Research at Centre of Advanced History, Department of History, AMU, Aligarh.
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