democracy autocracy

Too Much of Democracy has derailed our economic ‘growth’ says CEO of Niti Ayog, who once professed that ATMs will cease away in the coming years. A ‘devotee’ of Narendra Modi’s ‘digitalisation’ process, Amitabh Kant wanted government to get away from Schools, Colleges and Jails by handing them over to private sector. Now, he is disturbed with the ongoing farmers protest and hence this talk of ‘too much democracy’.

Where does India exists in the ‘democratic index ? In 2020, India fell 10 position below comparatively to 2019 and ranked at 51 under flawed democracy category by the Economist. According to The Economic Times, the primary cause of it was erosion of ‘civil liberties’. If any one has seen how justice system is functioning in India and how issues of Article 370 and the handling of Jammu and Kashmir was done, followed by anti CAA-NRC protests and now the farmers protests, we will find out that brutality and insensitive behaviour of the police was justified or glorified by the BJP in such a way to gain the maximum political benefits. All such issues were cleverly converted into politics of ‘majoritarianism’ and people were made to believe that the BJP and the government is fighting against anti national. So the only party of Ambani and Adani is nationalist and others have become anti national. This sermon coming from the party with least leaders in the freedom movement and which try to co-opt leaders from freedom movement as their ‘own’, whether Sardar Patel or Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, all could never have supported the Hindutva brahmanical politics of BJP.

In the World Press Freedom Index India was ranked at 142 much below Nepal ( 112) and Sri Lanka (127) and just above Pakistan (145). Of course, the World Press Freedom has no way to ‘monitor’ too much of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom of expression’ for Arnab Goswami and other loud speakers who continue to chant and abuse the political opposition, dissenters, human rights activists and weave conspiracy theories to defame people and movements. Nothing happen to them. In fact, they get the biggest protection from the court. Look at the vicious and toxic tweets of Kangana Ranuat but they get the full protection and encouragement by the state. Most of the toxic elements have got VIP Z plus police protection unheard of in the past.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Sonia Gandhi on her birthday which is good for democratic polity where opposition is not enemy. Atal ji used to call that ‘matbhed’ i.e differences of opinions, does not mean ‘manbhed’ i.e. but what has happened today is exactly opposite of what he said in Parliament so powerfully. Look at the BJP IT cell tweet yesterday ‘ Bardancer Day’. If you look at those tweet utterly filthy and absolutely disgraceful which should have been blocked by tweeter. In the name of freedom, we allow the ruling party and its IT cell to abuse and mock the opposition leaders and dissenters and if any one take them to court then we get these ‘lectures’ on ‘freedom of expression’. One wonders, where is the ‘freedom’ hiding for octogenarian Varavara Rao, Father Stan Swamy and septuagenarian Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navalakha. Why the same kind of concern is not shown for Prof G N Saibaba, languishing in Nagpur Jail. If we agree to disagree in democracy then shouldnt they get the benefit of the same lecture that if we dont like their thoughts then we must not ‘read’ them or their literature.

Today, when we celebrate International Human Rights Day, it is important for all of us to think how and why have the democratic governments becoming the biggest threat to democracies and human rights. World over people fought against monarchies, military juntas, dictators but now the challenge is much difficult because democracies have been hijacked by the powerful corporations and their ‘interests’ have been converted into ‘National interest’ through the grand narrative building by the pen slaves who sing hosannas to these corporate houses to befool people. The term Reform and ‘minimum governance’ is only to ensure that cronies take over all the asset of the nation while maximum governance is reserved for the people who face lathis and bullet by the police and military when they oppose the policies of the ruling parties world over.

It is a challenge for us. Countries used to feel proud of multiculturalism. Today, minorities have become a hunting ground for the majoritarian power hungry politicians to vilify them for their power. How long will this be allowed. Why should dictators ever get away from their misdeeds. What are the mechanism for bringing the dictators and authoritarian regimes, officials to international laws and justice system. We will have to work on that when the institutions in most of the developing world have collapsed and surrendered. No courts can take the might of the political power any where in our part of the world. Authoritarian governments are using courts as a tool to legitimise their misdeeds and inaction. Courts are not the same where people can get justice but have become a tool to provide legitimacy to acts of the government. It is here, we need international instruments to deal with all those governments which violate laws.

Human Rights is not merely rule of law or good governance. It is respecting individuals supremacy, her personal choices, rights to live with dignity, right to choice to have faith and marriages. Where do we stand on these personal choices. We dont even want to allow people to eat food of their choice because somebody else’s ‘sentiments’ might hurt in a far away land. How will you satisfy the state which is not ready to accept you and your partner of other faith.

Human Rights day should not be merely a customary celebration and jai jaikaar of our system but time to introspect as why democratically elected leaders and ‘free media’ have become the biggest threat to democracies and people’s rights world over. Unless, an international consensus is not built and mechanism to protect people’s rights are not developed internationally, we will always face tyranny of the ‘elected’ in the name of ‘democracy’.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity


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