Democracy: Contest not fight, Represent not Rule

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Official logo for Lok Sabha Election 2019

As the nation celebrates the festival of democracy- exhibiting the world’s largest democratic exercise as India gears up for the seven-phase elections starting from April 11 to May 19, 2019 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha, the general masses are once again feeling like Kings and Queens, when the candidates visit them with folded hands seeking votes. Many also take such opportunity as the season for earning and put their requirements before the contenders, knowing well it may never be fulfilled.

Such election campaigns always witnesses respective political parties releasing their manifestoes, but how many voters get to understand the manifesto. Till date the votes are either sold or cast as per the family allegiance towards a particular party, or the charisma of the candidate. There is also a percentage of votes that are muscled through threats and compulsion. Under such circumstances one need to questions – is this democracy?

One keen observer of Indian politics in Canada observed: ‘Contest not fight. Represent not Rule. Until this is not understood do not be proud with world’s largest Democracy.’

This time, the new voters and the first time voters are said to have surpassed the old voters. As the youths are considered the most forceful organization in the nation, be it as pressure groups or volunteers for physical and pressure tactic, but when it comes to full time politics they are just countable heads. Most of the youths consider politics as dirty domain, only meant for corrupt practices. The youths refuse to take up politics to change the system. So also the political parties, they admit youths only as the volunteers for electioneering processes and campaigning; the youth seldom jump to the fray. Neither the political parties nor the youth themselves have the confidence.

In the absence of young visionary leaders to take the nation or the state forward, “Opportunity” is the term only for the elite society. The unplanned city, trade and commerce, judiciary and legislature seem to have been inherited by the tycoons of the state. As such, the pressure groups and NGOs are screaming from the rooftops and streets alike, but all their cries fall on deaf ears.

A political observer explained as such: Political parties are the formal, open and recognized part of the political system, competing for power; the interest or pressure groups are informal, often secretive, concealed and conspiratorial and sometimes even unrecognized entities. Also, pressure groups are interest groups which use different pressure tactics including extra-constitutional methods to pursue their goals.

If more youths do take up politics seriously, with contemporary outlook for the national development, the world’s largest democracy will surely be at par with the rest of the countries having younger President and Prime Minister to lead the nation. More so, the change can be expected soon as the political parties in India are slowly passing on the baton to the next generation.

Coming back to the public meeting or the media reports, sadly one gets to hear very little about the future of the Nation. Mud slashing and character assassination dominates the speeches and the same is in the media reports. Neither the voters are interested to know if the outgoing 16th Lok Sabha had performed or not, nor will they seek the progress reports of the representative candidates on their performance for the last five years. Instead all one hears or reads is about the fight and as one makes all attempt to go one-up against the opponents, it turns out to be self-claim as ruler, forgetting that the elected representatives are supposed to serve the constituency and not to Rule.

The democratic system is to have the Treasury and Opposition benches, which also means that one needs to work together to draft legislation, while the other serves as watchdog such that the masses are not left out. American author, philosopher, naturalist and social critic, Henry David Thoreau, in his in his essay “Civil Disobedience” describes Government as: ‘government is best which governs least’.

Thoreau’s version is very relevant when it comes to Meghalaya government in particular and the national government in general, where neither the etiquette classes for new recruits nor the proposed law on Service Delivery System will help if the work culture and patriotism does not come from within.

Yes, every individual needs to contribute to the development of the state. The work culture is individual conduct, and no law and rules of conduct can force any individual to deliver if there is no sense of accountability. Once everyone focuses on the development of the state in their respective position, than only the lawmaker- the one elected through world’s largest democratic exercise, will also perform and not just to fight in the August House and rule the nation as conqueror. Wake up and come out to vote and make the changes to elect the representatives who will represent the individual voices in the Parliament and Assembly.