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DEMOCRACY UNDER THE SHADOW OF DICTATORSHIP

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Before talking at any specific topic, there is no hard and fast rule to explain the history of that specific topic, we can start from its general view point or from the current situations or scenario, but if we know the historical background of that topic, which we were going to discuss, then it will help to make a clear view point on that topic without creating any biasness to a particular view point and I will try to shed  light onto this relatively blurry jungle of information that is revolving around the theme of “Democracy”.

INTRODUCTION

So, after seeing the theme of the article the very first question that is come to our mind is that what is democracy? The word ‘democracy’ is a term that comes from the Greek and it is made up with two other words demos means People and kratein means to govern, to rule. Among the 193 countries worldwide that are recognized by the United Nations, 123 are said to be democratic.[1]This shows that a tide of democratic change is sweeping the world, not only in the once-monolithic communist regions but also in a wave that started in Mediterranean Europe in the mid-1970s and spread to Asia, Latin America, Africa and, even, South Africa. Thus, more than half of those States have set up a form of government that is characterized by the participation of its people, under whatever form that may be. But what do we mean, anyway, when we talk about democracy? Each individual surely has his/her own perception of what democracy means; then the word “Democracy” can be literally translated to the following terms: Government of the People or Government of the Majority.

Democracy, as a state form, is to be distinguished from monarchy, aristocracy and dictatorship. We may have already heard about the most common definition of democracy:

Government of the people, by the people and for the people’ (Abraham Lincoln). To put it another way we can say that a government comes from the people; it is exercised by the people, and for the purpose of the people’s own interests. The above description of ‘Democracy’ is a very narrow one, but engulfs some broader aspects, to start with, there is some broad principles but, these principles have been time and again turned and twisted by the politicians and political parties and these politicians and parties would continue to do so, until the whole picture and meaning of democracy changes. This change will lead to the rise of Dictatorship, as the overcast shadow of democracy.

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY’S TRUE ESSENCE?

According to Mahatma Gandhi, “The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of the heart. It requires the inculcation of the spirit of brotherhood.” [2]

Democracy must in essence mean the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of the various sections of the society for common good of all.[3] Some of the basic elements required for true essence were: –

  • Discipline
  • Responsibility of Individual
  • Representation in Democracy
  • The People (core element of essence)
  • Majority and Minority
  • Intolerance
  • Quality, Not Quantity
  • Public Opinion
  • Legislation
  • Political Work
  • Nature of Power

FOUNDING STONE OF THE DISTORTED INDIAN DEMOCRACY

It was all started on June 25, 1975, when Mrs. Indira declared a state of emergency across the country citing that security of India was threatened by internal disturbance. Between June 26 to March 21, 1977, when the Emergency was in force, the government of PM Indira Gandhi assumed draconian powers and crushed all dissent. Hours before the proclamation — through the night of June 25-26 — police arrested all major Opposition leaders, including Jaiprakash Narayan.

“It was a phoney emergency on account of proclaimed policy that Mrs. Indira Gandhi was indispensable to India and all contrarian voices had to be crushed. The constitutional provisions were used to turn democracy into a constitutional dictatorship,” 

“By 1973, it became apparent that the Government had no intention of changing a disastrous economy path on which it had embarked. Its political strategy was instrumental in the Government losing the sympathy of the intelligentsia,” [4]

So, its clear shows that, In the 1970s, the Indira Gandhi government declared an Emergency and suspended civil rights. Political historians point out this was enabled by provisions in the Constitution itself, which kept the window open for a strong Centre to override the rights of states and citizens. From this information it is very clear that if a Prime Minster wants to use his democratic power as any dictator, he can easy do it without giving a faithful justification to anyone.

WHAT ARE THE LOOPHOLES OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY?[5]

We could conduct elections and thereby boast of democracy. Even the elections itself are not majoritarian in the real sense.[6] So, a government with less than one fifth support could take decisions of other 80%. Even these votes don’t directly belong to the party having declared ideology (no party has ideology is another thing), because certain votes are due to the individual legislators, caste, emotional blackmailing issues, money and for acquiring the power from where legislators could get their desired deeds done.

Systematically all the systems, institutions, checks and balances of democracy are scuttled so that the administration should serve only the interests of the party in power and never the tax payers (who are fooled now and then). All government officials get their salaries and benefits from the taxes paid by you and me, but they never treat the common man as even fellow human, and on the contrary ever ready to serve the masters of power and money. In a way the civic life is totally devoid of Democratic principles unlike the western nations were a local policeman could arrest the prime minister or the president, if he/she is found suspicious of some crime.

The administrative systems are so opaque and subjective, that it is highly difficult even to the highly educated, leave about the illiterate commoners. The way the rules and even court judgements are interpreted and implemented, just mocks our democracy. A small step in the form of RTI has been initiated, but all the forces have succeeded in getting even the smallest effort scuttled.[7]

The real institutions of democracy are the Gram panchayats and the Zila Parishad, and the local bodies at the town and city level. They are loaded with responsibility but without resources of their own, the lion’s share of taxes goes to the kitty of the center, without having greater responsibility of the day to day issues concerning the majority. The center has to distribute finances as per its own terms and on the issues, the government in power deem necessary, not necessarily the ground realities. In some cases, it has been found that the current government gives the major share of economic funds & aids to the states, in which their parties or alliances are ruling. They even try to tarnish the image of the states and the governments in which they aren’t successful to form a government. Even after the elections and formation of the state government, the central government which as a party tries of horse-trading and after stacking up the bellies of the MLAs and MPs with money gets successful in dethroning the party or the government which was voted into the power by the people of the respected state. Now see, where’s democracy?

Most of the important issues like agriculture, education, health, water and sanitation, law and order, power supply, female safety, etc. which are connected with all the people are up to the state government level and they have to depend upon nay at the mercy of the union government. Once, the CM of Karnataka said that his state contributes above 9% of the income to the centre, but in return it receives less than half of it. Here I remind you of how the state government of Karnataka was formed. It is completely evident that the BJP did a massive horse-trading after the formation of the alliance party (Congress and JDU). It’s even to this date is not clear why the MLAs of Congress and Janta Dal switched sides? It was because of the horse-trading.

Another most important one being eternal vigilance is the “price of democracy”. Whereas most, even educated shy to vote (only 65%) for the best candidates, we blindly support a party or a person, in spite of the actions are against the spirit of democracy. And no one cares till such time the election comes and our politicians are great in rousing emotions, unconcerned issues, even in state elections, false propaganda through the technology, the money power, and caste equations are taken for granted, and everyone is concerned only somehow winning and forming the government by any means, by purchasing the elected representatives and voters.

HOW DOES THE FOURTH PILLAR OF THE INDIAN DEMOCRACY LEADS TO MANIPULATE THE WHOLE SYSTEM WITH ITS WIDE POWERS?

If we talk about the role of the Indian media, it is the fourth pillar of Indian Democracy, which was created to add weightage to the three other significant Pillars (Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary) has now become lost in translation.

According to me, the media is way more important than political parties or even governments. This is because the government keeps changing every five years, and there is no permanency. If there will be no media, we would never know what the government is up to?  In today`s modern world, media is the only direct link between a common man (Citizen) and the legislators.

But, unlike its name, today’s media doesn’t act like a medium between the world at a large and the viewers. Instead of helping people to fight against the never-ending tryst with poverty, unemployment, and the very many social evils that are haunting India, media today has resulted in a total disconnection between the ground reality and the viewers.

What was once meant to act as watchdogs of the government and help people understand what is happening in their own country and outside of it; has now become nothing but the envoys of different corporate houses and political parties. From the watchdogs to the puppets, we could say.[8]

The ownership, control, and the ability of censorship seized by these interest groups speak volumes about the way media works in the present day. A true example of leading by bias, the mainstream media today has defeated its purpose of being a watchdog and is now nothing else than the lapdog of the political parties and leaders that they support or by whom they are funded.

Even there are some journalists or media houses which tries to show the real picture but, when the ruling party of the state or the centre finds the news/journalist/media house as a threat to their dirty way of politics, they just get the journalist murdered or send legal notices to the media houses with the help of their friends in the judiciary. Even the signals of the news channels are disturbed by the party from the broadcasting stations as today, everything is controlled by the central government or could say by the PMO. For instance, a female journalist, Gauri Lankesh was brutally murdered for showing the truth against the government. In Uttar Pradesh, a journalist was booked for breaking the news of serving of salt and chapattis in mid-day meal by the government authority.

Today, media which was once said to be the mirror of society acts nothing like it. Politicians have made Indian news channels nothing less than hostages of their power.

In my opinion, paid news is worse than no news which in turn began to spread fake news. In today’s India, the media has too, become communal and doesn’t take even a minute to communalize the whole debate or to mark someone as a traitor. In the absence of any information, people form no opinions, but with paid news, people form opinions which the broadcasting channels wish them to form. Just like little knowledge is a dangerous thing, wrong knowledge is the most dangerous thing in the world. Not being a neutral source of information has jeopardized the spirit of media as an important pillar of Indian democracy.

CRUX WHICH LEADS INTO FADING OF TRUE NATURE OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY:

  • Bad economic policies and foreign policies can cause crises that have dangerous political consequences.
  • Politicians commonly demand arbitrary power to deal with a national emergency and restore order, even though underlying problems are commonly caused by bad government policies.
  • The tussle of power between the political parties, especially between the state and central government in some cases.
  • In hard times, many people are often willing to go along with and support terrible things that would be unthinkable in good times.
  • There’s no reliable way to prevent bad or incompetent people from gaining power.
  • Fascism became the main ideology in winning the elections.

MY OPINION:

According to me the actual structure of Democracy will be:

But today`s distorted picture of Indian Democracy is just opposite to the picture that is shown above. This is very disappointing, and at the beginning, I have already mentioned that People were the core element of the essence of Democracy.

So, Today`s ground reality is that we are in totally a commercial atmosphere, the business enterprises treating every human as consumer only and every party supported by them treat everyone as a voter only, and in any case, you’re lured by discounts, warned that other brands are harmful and against the nation and religion, etc. Too much exploitation of the people may be highly deleterious to the well being of the democracy and it is our duty to protect it from the clutches of business parties and houses. It seems like the business houses think that two individuals would have the same per capita income.

Some of the eyebrow-raising concerns that have still not give us full satisfaction is that the separation of power from the Indian Democracy, the biasness of the media houses, and the political funding of the parties during the elections by the corporate for their benefits.

Before concluding this article, I will leave my readers with a question that I am unable to find was, is it true that Fascism act as a game-changing weapon in a democratic society which will make it more complicated for a common person?

CONCLUSION

At last, when I conclude, I observe that the whole system of ‘DEMOCRACY’ in itself is a fallacy where the party or men in power has every option to bend the rule of the land which best suits his or her own or party’s ideology. The election commission though is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes, but the appointment of Election Commissioner is at the will of the Central Government (President appoints EC at the direction of the PM). A party in power, in order to remain in power, would definitely appoint someone as EC, who will serve their purpose. And who doesn’t know about the level of corruption in India; even SC judges selling judgment is not unknown. Even the appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges are controlled by the Union and the State government; and they obviously try not to give an appointment to him or her who won’t function according to their words.

In a country like India, the police administration is always under the control of the ruling party and has to function at the will of the ruler. And sometimes it is also due to a Weak opposition which is also a drawback. So, this scenario of Indian democracy shows that our democracy is under the unsung dictatorship which we are unable to see from our naked eyes, even though we are not sleeping.

Author(s) Name: Ajatshatru Singh (Allahabad Degree College, Allahabad)

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[1] www.freedomhouse.org

[2] Mk gandhi.org, Essence of Democracy

[3] (H, 27-5-1939, p. 143)

[4] Arun Jaitley (former Finance Minister ), Indian Express,( June 24, 2018,5:27:57 pm)

[5] Rajarao Garikipati, Mar 24, 2018, what are the loopholes in the Indian democracy system? And why are they present?

[6] For instance, see the BJP, which got 282 seats, more than 50%, got just 31%of the votes polled %of 65 on an average. In effect, it comes to about 20% of the total voters and not the population.

[7] Amendment of the RTI Act, 2019.

[8] http://www.sadhavikhosla.com