Of late the anti-government demonstrators and disruptors are claiming that their fight is to preserve the ‘Idea of India’ and the ‘Soul of the Constitution’. These assertions give rise to the question – who is the arbiter of such concepts? What is the right forum, body or authority to decide what the idea of India is or where does the soul of the Constitution lie, and which actions threaten them?
Let’s talk about the idea of India first. In a vast and diverse country like India, there are bound to be many views about what our country is all about. Different ideologies co-exist in our democracy, and for those espousing each, their’s is the only correct one. The established methodology for deciding which of these will be translated into official policy decisions is by going to the people and seeking their mandate through elections. An elected government thus has the sanctity of the will of the people of India to take decisions on their behalf. There are checks and balances in the system to ensure that such decisions are duly deliberated and arrived at after following the due processes laid down in our constitution. Once all that has happened, anyone who still feels aggrieved by such a decision has the right to legal recourse under the constitution.
As for the ‘soul of the Constitution’. Legal recourse exists for any perceived unconstitutional legislations as well. And a question that needs to be asked here is, wasn’t this soul tampered with, or trampled upon, when the preamble of the Constitution was amended at a time when the legitimate political process had been suspended and an Emergency was in force?
But is it legitimate for a bunch of politicians who don’t have the people’s mandate, coupled with sundry ‘intellectuals’ and ‘artistes’ who have never fought an election in their life, to cause disruption in public life in an attempt to hold the elected government to ransom? Doesn’t their ‘idea of India’ include democratic norms at the top of this list? Or, instead, are they an elite class of people who feel that their own thought process, ideas and ideology is synonymous with the idea of India, while they hold office and even after they have been thrown out of office by the people? What makes them so entitled?
What is of greater concern is – in a democracy, can the viewpoint of those who don’t have the people’s mandate ride roughshod over that of those who do? Can this be enforced through hitting the streets and disrupting normal life? What if the larger mass of people who elected the government to power decide to adopt the same methods of practicing democracy, taking to streets in greater numbers in support of the government they elected?
Democracy lies at the core of both, the idea of India and the soul of the Constitution. What is unfolding on the streets and campuses is a subversion of democracy, and thus against the things the protestors are espousing to save. Having lost power through democratic elections, they are now propagating anarchy and leading the country down a very slippery slope.