Wake Up Indian Democracy

India is the largest democracy in the world. We are justifiably proud that all our governments have been changed peacefully through the ballot. We have been holding regular elections since 1952. We have a written constitution which clearly demarcates the roles of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. The constitution lays down the rights and duties of the various functionaries in the government and clearly demarcates the areas of responsibilities. There is a federal structure and the responsibilities between the states and the centre are clearly demarcated. The system has been functioning smoothly for the last 67 years. In order to ensure checks and balances, there is the fourth estate, the media. All components have their own strong points and weaknesses, but then that is how things work.

Parliament of India
 One of the main characteristics of an anarchist is to not follow the rule of law. Try and create systems that best suit his or her interests and follow law selectively. Create a hype and use propaganda to own benefit. He/ she will create situations that would lead to break down of law and order and provide him/ her opportunities to question the existing rule of law. He/ she will usually not use the established democratic methods beyond what suits his/ her interests. Democracy is usually used by them to come to power and thereafter they would manipulate it to retain it.

Desperate situations need desperate measures. This belief leads even rational people to be swayed by propaganda and take decisions that are influenced by the propaganda. Germany of 1920s and 1930s was in such a situation. She had been defeated in World War I, she had to cede land to France and also pay reparations. The industry was in ruins and inflation was in three digits. People of Germany were demoralised and desperate. This situation was understood well by the Nazi Party who fought all elections democratically and increased their vote share from 2.6% in May 1928 to 43.91% in Mar 1933 when they came to power. In the same period, the seats won by the party increased from 12/ 491 to 288/647. Once in power, they used all tricks in the book, including burning down the Reichstag to pass the Enabling Act which gave all powers to the cabinet. As a result, they banned all other parties and came back to power in Nov 1933 with 661/661 seats and 92.11% votes. Hitler showed dreams to the German people by building the Autobahns and providing a car to each home (Volkswagen Beetles, ironically one of the most loved cars in the world). But what happened thereafter needs no introduction.

India also faces a unique challenge and desperation in the form of corruption. Deeply rooted, this corruption can be seen in all places and at all levels, be it running and industry, refund of taxes or getting a berth in an overnight train. What was the genesis of this corruption? Well Indians as such are a very enterprising people. India was one of the largest economies in the middle ages and the reason for it was free trade. People were free to produce and sell their wares and produce. They paid taxes to the government for protection and for allowing them to trade. Under the British rule, though trade was not so free, but private entrepreneurship was not restricted.

Then, post independence we were introduced to the concepts of socialism bordering on communism. Communist practices like five year plans, government control of everything, production quotas etc were introduced. The government controlled what car one bought and when, who produced steel and how much, who listened to radio etc. To top it all, the pay of the bureaucracy was slashed progressively. Discretionary powers and exclusions galore were introduced. Thus, a poorly paid government servant – with all attendant aspirations which he could not meet legally – was endowed with phenomenal amount of power to control people’s lives. There was a shortage of everything and the general public aspired to obtain whatever was available. This is a breeding ground for corruption. The industrialist was ready to pay a bribe to increase his production quota, to get a piece of land allotted or to get access to energy. The middle class was ready to pay a bribe to get a license to own a radio (imagine) or to get a scooter allotted before the marriage in the family. People were ready to bribe to get small things in life which should have been available anyway.

Though things changed dramatically post liberalisation in 1991, the scourge was deeply ingrained and refused to go. Greasing a few palms to get things done fast became a way of life. People were justifiably incensed by it and were desperate for someone who would free them from this evil. Herein lands a Party that promised the moon and made fighting corruption its plank. People of Delhi, desperate as they were first gave 28/70 seats (29.49% votes) to them. Once in power, they indulged in a lot of drama and when things out of controlled resigned within a few months. But the level of desperation remained in the people and the propaganda using the media continued. Result, they came again to power, this time with 67/70 seats (54.3% votes).  

Delhi State Assembly
 Delhi faces a unique challenge. It has a state government, however, it is also ruled by the nominee of the Centre, the Lieutenant Governor. It has a police force that is controlled by the Central government. Law & Order and land issues are also controlled by the Central government. To allow for smooth functioning of the system, the constitution was amended in 1991 (69th Amendment) and rules of business were established. I am not aware as to why such a complicated system is in place, but, I do understand that the constitution is amended after a lot of deliberation and a very rigorous constitutional process. Also the present system is in accordance with the constitution. The system has functioned smoothly under a number of government since 1991.

If the incumbent government is not happy with the arrangement and if it wants the control of police, law & order and land, then the right way is to follow the due process of law and get the constitution amended again so that these powers are vested with the state government. On the contrary, newspaper reports indicate that orders have been passed that the due process and rules may not be followed and all matter be resolved without the approval of the Lieutenant Governor. This, I think is gross violation of the rule of law. The scary part is, the law makers themselves are not following the rules. Members of this party have show disregard for law and rules in the past also. This, in my opinion is a dangerous situation. Also, it appears like a ploy to create unprecedented situations that would lead to an opportunity for hype and propaganda and break down of law and order in future.

Parliament in Session
I love a peaceful and prosperous India, where the rule of law is followed, democracy is respected, due legislative process is followed to amend laws & rules and which is also free of corruption.

It’s a wake up call for political parties which believe in the concept of a democratic India, please do all you can to reign in corruption and don’t just pay lip service. Bring people back from the brink of desperation so that they can take rational decisions and not get swayed by one point agenda propaganda.