Democracy in India: Some Reflections

Indira Gandhi Modi

A simple definition of democracy goes as, “Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people.” Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a dynamic thinker, a speaker, a critic, an activists participated in the debates of the Indian Parliamentary system with keen interests and reached at a conclusion that the democracy is the only form of government through which basic social, economic and political changes could be brought without bloodshed. Dr. Ambedkar, who was posthumously awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’, was the chief architect of Indian constitution and was the founding father of Parliamentary democracy. At the same time, Dr. Ambedkar was a great believer of the ideals of Liberty, Equality & Fraternity which he borrowed from his Guru- the Great Gautama Buddha.

In my opinion, democracy is simply not all about holding fair & free elections. It is beyond these limits. Democracy means representation of all sections of the society. Democracy means distribution of equal wealth & prosperity of the nation among all sections of the society. Democracy means to tolerate all forms of religious freedom. Democracy means equal opportunity for men & women. Democracy means equal opportunity for education for all. Democracy means complete respect for Art & Culture of different religious societies.

India is the largest democracy in the world. History always judges a ruler on the basis of his or her accomplishments. In a democracy like India, the citizens have the opportunity to fix a responsibility on the rulers because in a monarchy or country under the dictator, the citizens do not have the same opportunity to register their grievances by organizing street demonstrations. The magnificence of democratic system is that we have a system of checks & balances. It is, therefore, it is essential to examine the similarities & differences between the so –called democratic Indira Gandhi & Narendra Modi as a ruler of India.

As everyone knows about the days of infamous national emergency (1975) which was declared by Late (Mrs.) Indira Gandhi, Former Prime Minister of India. She jailed the tallest political leaders and stifled their voice. In June 1975, Article 352 was invoked on grounds of internal disturbance by her. Fundamental rights were suspended. There is no doubt it was an era of brutality & coercion. Indira Gandhi misused government machinery to suppress dissent of any kind against her government. She also misused Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). Many journalists were detained and heavily punished without trial. Despite all this, Indira Gandhi & Congress party took care of the marginalized sections of the society and several welfare programmes such as ‘Garibi Hatao(Removal of poverty) were launched to lift them from deep poverty, Art & culture flourished during the congress regime. India was realistically a secular country. There was less communal dispute between Hindus & Muslims. Banks were nationalized by Indira Gandhi giving more employment opportunities to the marginalized sections of the society in government Ministries & Departments. The Commission for Scheduled Castes(SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) used to submit report to the President of India to discuss in the Parliament. The Congress party or its allies did not burn the constitution ever.  Gandhi clan began national movements in removing the curse of Untouchability & succeeded moderately in achieving the goal.

The Narendra Modi as the current Prime Minister of India keeps a company with the capitalists like Donald Trump of USA, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia who displays opulence of wealth.  They are narcissists and Narendra Modi is also on the same page. All these powerful & rich leaders are known for bullying the marginalized sections of the society, subjugation of women, and murder of political opponents, investigative journalists so & so on. In their respective countries, social mobility declined, income inequality widened and the people are grossly disempowered, human capital decapitated by their respective regimes. There is a famous proverb that goes as birds of a feather flock together. The Modi`s Government has been promoting capitalism in India since he captured political power in 2014 and brutalized the political opponents. Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America (1861-1865) famously said, ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ But today in a democratic country like India the Modi government is of the capitalists, by the capitalists, for the capitalists.  The Modi is starving the populace to fund the corporates. The Modi government has all the characteristics of capitalism. Hitler`s fascist ideology is openly & shamefacedly being practiced to suppress all kinds of political opposition & to destroy the fighting capacity of the enemy. Under the Modi rule, democracy has turned into ‘chumocracy’.

The Modi including the RSS, a right wing, politically & economically powerful Hindu organization in India, have succeeded in dismantling democracy in India on two accounts. Firstly, it has destroyed secularism; consequently, the social & religious gaps between two major competing communities i.,e Hindus & Muslims have widened abysmally with no hope for communal fellowship. Secondly, the Modi government and its allies have no respect for the constitution of India. One example in this regard would be suffice to quote when Prakash Singh Badal- patriarch of Shriomani Akali Dal(SAD) in Punjab shamefacedly burnt the copies of the Constitution of India. Despite this, the BJP shook hands with the SAD and ruled Punjab. It shows that the Modi and its allies have no respect for the constitution of India. The Indian judiciary is submissive to the BJP & is further made vulnerable & weak beyond redemptions by the current establishment by patronizing a Hindu class.

On economic front, Banks are either merged or privatized. Public Sector Units (PSUs) are being sold at a throwaway price. On social front, since 2014, the Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) & Scheduled Tribes (STs) has not submitted a single report to the President of India for discussion. Reservation meant for the upliftment of the social & economically marginalized Dalits for which Dr. Ambedkar fought at the risk of his life, has been attacked several times by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who said that the economic background and not the religion of the person should be the criteria to provide reservation (India Today 24 April, 2010).

The Modi government has been misusing National Security Act.(NSA) to suppress & bully the political opponents. The passage of Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance and its implementation by the majority of the BJP-ruled states shows that democracy in India is just for namesake. If any one dares to write against the Modi government or the RSS he or she is branded as anti-national. The RSS fascists workers do not allow Art & Culture to flourish because they want only Hindu Gods & Goddesses should be worshipped. They want that that everyone in this country should preach & propagate degenerating Brahmanism   The Modi and RSS have no space for secularism. They have one lethal agenda to saffronize the country. The nonesense thing is that the scurrilous, vindictive, hateful, angry & invective workers of Bajrang Dal, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Hindu Sena, Bhartiya Gua Raksha Dal, morally depraved, loathsome, sociopathic & rotten, are willing to say anything derogatory against anyone who is atheist, liberal, & scientific in outlook. The Narendra Modi and RSS did not launch ever a movement neither at the State or national level against the curse of Untouchability.

The point I am trying to make it here is that the basic difference between Indira Gandhi & Narendra Modi is that the former pruned the fundamental rights as elaborated by Dr. Ambedkar in the constitution of India and the latter annihilated the social, political & economic rights of the people and made the majority of the working middle class Eunuch.  Under the Congress Party there was social, economic, political & religious stability in the country. Under the BJP rule the country is economically, socially, politically & religiously unstable & vulnerable.  I am of the opinion that instability of any kind is worse than the complaisant stability.

The elected representatives feel proud in amassing ill-gotten fortunes with impunity. Under Modi rule, the Indian politics became noticeably extreme. The BJP is making strenuous efforts to idealize and impose one party rule by discrediting the leaders of regional, smaller parties. The federal structure cannot run efficiently until the rights of the minorities are protected. Incendiary rhetoric is reinforcing. Today democratic elections in India are under seize because the BJP controls electoral commission and the procurement of election technology. Democracy is ultimately based on trust and the Modi government has single-handedly compromised our faith in our system of governance. Under BJP ideology democracy has no future at all.

Despite all this, I still subscribe to the political philosophy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar who passionately believed that democracy is the best form of government.

I end this article by leaving a question: ‘Under what kind of democracy are we living? Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs & Buddhists should ponder over it and seek answer before further colossal damage is caused.

Dr. Rahul Kumar, PhD in Sociology from the Center for the study of the Social System, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.



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