Januray 26: India would be celebrating its 60th Republic Day! A moment of pride and a sense of achievement! Yes, for sure! But the occasion also gives us an opportunity to reflect back upon the path traveled so far!
India is the world’s largest democracy. It has survived and has shown the determination to grow despite the obvious obstacles that we as a country have: illiteracy, lop-sided development, sub-optimal delivery in social justice and inability to implement the fundamental right -as enshrined in our constitution- of uniform civil code.
The decades of experience with our democracy has thrown up a few stark realities: Lack of reforms in various branches of democracy, viz. legislative, executive, judiciary has resulted in stymied growth of our nation and has hampered the fruits of a democracy reaching uniformly to all sections of the society.
Since Independence, our political system has somehow become an example of “Revolving Door Democracy” and has been crippled with political sub-versions, maneuvers, and corruption. It may not be an under-statement that over 60 years our nation has failed to bring in regulations, and reforms into our system at a desired pace! Blatant misuse of muscle-power, money power and lung-power has meant that Laloos, Mayawatis , Jayapradas and Mulayams have thrived, whereas right-thinking voices have been systematically marginalized.
Bring in real reforms in all branches of our democracy: electoral reforms, judicial reforms, an eagle-like oversight on the use of money in elections, and rigorous implementation of conflict of interest and ethics are some of the badly needed actions without delay.
I often say that if a commoner like Manmohan Singh (who is not a typical politician) as a Prime Minister can be a mute spectator to the ills of our democratic polity (remember vote of confidence of Manmohan Singh Ministry! The whole nation was looking haplessly while open horse-trading was going on!) and has been unable to initiate reforms, then expect it from no one else! That means that there are flaws in the system that need to be fixed! To expect that our elected politicians would unite to bring in these reforms: would be a day-dreaming! Only solution is: we the people (and voters) must rise above partisan feelings and press for reforms ( in other words, empowerment for the people).
Let me conclude with a word of caution. Looking at American model, many in India have advocated a two-party electoral politics. That model has been working for USA, but I am very cynical about that for India in the current scenario. Give the voters the choice of only 2 parties: both would loot the whole country alternately! Whereas multi-party eletoral system has shown obvious drawbacks, I am afraid unregulated and unaccountable democracy would be further jeopardized if we choose to abbreviate it to a 2-party system!