Challenges Before Democracy
“Two cheers for Democracy; one because it admits variety and second because it permits criticism.” These are the remarks of writer E.M. Forster expressed way back in 1951 but if we think, don’t we find that these remarks in itself are the biggest challenge before democracy and Development. India, as we know, is the largest democratic country in the world; but that democracy is limited only up to papers. In practical life, what we find is the rule by men of money and muscle power, or we can say that the cheap politics of our country has not allowed Democracy to take its original shape. Definition of Democracy given by the former USA President, Abraham Lincoln is “Democracy is a form of Government which is elected by the people, for the people and of the people”.
We have indirect from of Democracy in which people elect their representatives and the foremost duty of these representatives is to work like servants of common masses. But they behave as if they are masters of the people. It is clear from what happened in Bihar, Jharkhand and Goa recently. In Bihar, people’s representatives started changing their parties because of which Legislative Assembly had to be dissolved by the Governor. In Jharkhand, Governor, Mr. Syed Sibte Razi acted unconstitutionally in appointing JMM Chief Mr. Sibu Soren as the Chief Minister despite made known that BJP-led NDA had clear majority. Same happened in Goa where Governor, Mr. S.C. Jamir, did not allow majority part to from Government.
“If a free country cannot help the many who are poor it cannot save the few who are rich’, said the former USA President John F. Kennedy. These remarks are well suited to our country where rich people are getting richer day by day and poor are becoming poorer. Then percent of extremely poor population gets just three percent of national income whereas then percent of extremely rich people get 33 percent of national income. Our country claims to be the larges producer of milk in the world and second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, then what is the reason that people die slow death because of starvation and malnutrition in some parts of Orissa and Maharashtra. Whenever there is any adverse calamity like draughts, floods or tsunamis, it seems to be a bonanza for corrupt politicians and officials. After every calamity, scams of crores of rupees come into limelight. Sometimes we wonder whether we are living in Democracy or Corruptacy. Everybody known the cuff remarks made by Rajiv Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India, “that only fifteen paisa out of every rupee allocated for poor welfare schemes reaches its destination”. Corruption is one of the biggest problems being faced by people for our country. There is a general fallings of skepticism about anything related to Government. After almost six ‘decades of independence and more than fifty years of working of the Constitution, it is the public feeling that any work is Government offices cannot be done without giving bribe. The demon of corruption has engulfed out whole society. Most of the money drawn from the Government accounts on the name of providing basic infrastructure to poor rural people is engulfed by politicians and top officials and thus lack of infrastructure forces rural people to migrate towards urban areas and hence increases the pace of migration from rural to urban India. But question is that why there is migration from rural Indian to urban India? The answer is simple, we have allowed urban areas to grow at the cost of rural areas. On on side urban areas get all facilities like electricity, water supply, means of transport and communication and so on; on the other hand in rural areas people do not have even pure water to drink.
Problems don’t end up here what is more worst is the condition of women. Government claims that ti is taking steps for the improvement of the status of women. Many laws like abolition of dowry system, abolition of ‘Sati system and child marriages are here but again they are limited only up to papers. Fixing of marriageable age of 18 years for girls and 21 years fro boys is of no use, as we find in our daily life that whenever parents find any suitable match for their daughters they marry them without bothering about their age. They take it for granted that granted that whether she is fit to hold up the burden of marriage. But why parents do so? Simply because they feel quite insecure for their young girls and think that marriage will act as a protecting layer for their daughters But actually it des not happen as we find in newspapers everyday that there is always at least one report on the murder or suicide of a newly married girl of minor age. Is it the sign of democracy that 85 percent of married women do not feel safe about going out unescorted after 10:00 p.m. On one hand our country claims to have renowned women in the world like Aishwariya Rai, Sania Mirza, Kiran M. Shaw, Kanchan C. Bhatachrya and so on; an don the other hand we always forget those ladies who sacrificed their whole life for the sake of their family. In our country condition of women is so worst that mothers themselves don’t want to give birth to a girl child. Out of every 100 abortion cases 90 are of girls. Gender bias here is so strong that sill many families for the sake of just one boy are ready to give birth to ten girls and add up another problem of growing population for the country. At present 16 percent of world population is living in India, whereas we have just 2 percent of world land. Growth rate of population in India is 1.8 percent which is very high, it should be 0.8 percent then only there will be an equilibrium. Growing population puts a lot of pressure on agriculture sector also. It has led to huge disguised unemployment in agriculture sector and thus puts negative effect on agriculture productivity which is not good, as agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. Seventy percent of the country’s population (50 percent directly and 20 percent indirectly) is associated with agricultural activities, whereas the share of agriculture in national income is just 26 percent.
Moving further, we face communal violence also which is another face of politics in which cheap political activities, make people to fight with each other in the name of religion, caste, creed etc. Out country has almost all major religions of the world. We do not have variations only in religions but in region, geographical conditions and languages also. We have almost 169 languages and 500 dialects To live in a country, where variations are found on every step and in every respect, doesn’t it seems to be a dream? But this variation again creates problem for the country. Everybody tries to uplift one’s own religion which ultimately leads to communal violence. Indians are the victims of communal violence not from today but right from the time of independence when the outgoing British empire divided India into two parts and instigated Hindus against Muslims and vice versa and it took lives of thousands of innocent people. Starting from there our country faced Delhi riots of 1984 and Gujarat riots of 2002 and many more. She has faced and she has to continue to face, such communal parties to earn votes in the name of religion. Fundamentalist Islamic terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir as also in the rest of the country is yet another challenge.
In the end, the challenges before democracy is a never ending debate, the more one writes or speaks the lesser it will be. So, what is most important is that we should change our attitudes and mindset, We should try to overcome our self-centered nature. Our doings should be for the welfare of society. We blame the Government for the bad condition of our country but if we think deeply, we will find that the people who form Government are from amongst us. So it is the responsibility of our elders to provide children with good moral education, so that they would become, responsible citizens of future. Out society needs a paradigm shift instead of creating chaos in the society at the name of misshapenness done by the Government. I think it is much better that we try to change ourselves. We should try to learn from our past mistakes then only we would be able to face challenges before our democracy boldly.
By – Ms. Swati Shrma
- The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future by Martha C. Nussbaum
- India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha
- American Indians, Time, and the Law: Native Societies in a Modern Constitutional Democracy by Charles F. Wilkinson
- Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) by Alexis de Tocqueville
- 7 Days WYOMING -SOUTH DAKOTA USA by TravelVideoStore.com
- Indian Politics and Society Since Independence: Events, Processes and Ideology by Bidyut Chakrabarty