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Whither Indian democracy?

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“Strengthening parliamentary democracy demands strengthening the opposition as well” said Chief Justice of India Hon’ble N. V. Ramana recently while addressing Rajasthan Assembly and further expressed “concern over diminishing space for opposition in legislative bodies with law being passed without detailed deliberation and political opposition turning into hostility.” It is true and is also a serious concern. He also stressed on the points on the need to maintain the responsibility and accountability of the political dispensation and the validity and importance of parliamentary debates and committees. In short he pointed out the prevailing decline in the quality of legislative performance and also the criminal justice system.

The observations of Hon’ble Chief Justice of India has raised a Pandora Box as to finding the reasons and remedies to prevent unruly behaviour of the legislatures. While the CJI expressed his concern, he should have suggested some remedial measures which he thinks fit to mitigate the problems prevailing in our democracy.  However, a dispassionate and an unbiased review of the situation prevailing now in the political arena shows some definite trend which if not arrested, would do more harm which may lead to unprecedented repercussions in the already charged political atmosphere of our nation. 

The role of the opposition cannot be minimized in democracy. The opposition is an inevitable and unavoidable condition of democracy not only should be accepted as constitutional, but must be preserved and perceived because it is indispensable. The opposition has professed values, rights and duties cut out for them as watch dog to maintain the equilibrium of the democratic principles and good governance as much as that of the ruling government whose prime responsibility is towards perpetual implementation of good governance for the welfare of the people and to uphold the principles of democracy of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and to keep up the unity and integrity of the nation.

Unfortunately democracy being practiced as of now in our country as we see it, is nothing but a sham. Are the elected representatives of the people discharge their duties and responsibilities as envisaged under the constitution and as expected under the principles and practice of a vibrant democracy?  What the opposition indulge in now as being perceived in the recent past, is it congenial to democratic principles and conducive to tackling the deteriorating trend being found in the conduct of political behaviour? A statistical study on the productive working hours of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha since 2014 will reveal the truth. 

The opposition criticises the government for the sake of criticism which is nothing but prejudice. They find everything wrong in whatever the ruling government is doing, it amounts to deceit.  The actions of the opposition parties with divergent views and ideology working together for the sole aim of bringing down a democratically elected government with absolute majority, then it is not in the national interest.

However the opposition parties may deny it, the impact of many of the happenings of the recent past suggest the realities of an impending catastrophically charged situation ahead. All the political parties aspire and swear on the Constitution for their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of action particularly demonstration and dharna without bothering about the inconveniences caused to the public which many times, by accident or by design, go out of control or deliberately kindled causing damages to public property and culminating in human losses also.

All the acts of hooliganism and vandalism and even the anti-social and anti-national activities perpetuated by extremists and radicals are brought and propagated under freedom of speech and democratic way of protests to demean the nation and put down the government in the world forums. Even the normal investigations, enquiries and questioning by investigating agencies against political leaders are met with violent protests unmindful of its impact on the general public and their daily lives. Can the CJI overlook what happed with regard to Agriculture Reform bills and Shaheen Bagh protest in spite of the best efforts made by the government and the Supreme Court of India to diffuse the threatening situation? The Grave lawlessness are the order of the day.

If the trend is allowed to continue, it will further add fuel to the fire to the already divided and fragmented society on the basis of caste, creed, religion, language, regions, ideologies where saner voices are not being heard nor being felt. Unfortunately the judicious, prudent and sensible law abiding and progressive thinking silent majority of the citizens of all sections of society stand helplessly as mute spectators to the deteriorating situation without raising their voice and not taking any counter action but surrendering themselves on account of fear perpetuated by the radicals and extremists who openly challenge the authorities and taking the law in their own hands.

The prevailing dangerous situation is primarily on account of the ideological differences between the political ideology of Hindutva of the ruling party who has an absolute majority and the secularism of the opponents who do not have any commonality among them but united by the only agenda of opposing Hindutva and the ruling dispensation. The ruling Government considers it as pseudo secularism and politics of appeasement. This war of attrition between the two ideologies have been raging since 2014 when the present government came into power.   

To aggravate the dangerous situation further, some of the recent violent incidents culminating in deaths of some people and call for revenge raised vehemently by a section of hard core extremists and fundamentalists of a particular section of society with the tacit support of local and foreign elements has created a national threat, if not dealt with firm resolve, will create more harm. The call of revenge has given way for yet another crisis of civilizational and cultural identity of this heritage nation which again leads to the idea of nationalism and patriotism. Political atmosphere is changing globally and new concepts and political thinking are evolved. The concept of secularism is changing. The secularism as practiced in America, Europe and other democratic countries is different from that of India and as far the Islamic nations are concerned, they are mostly purely Islamic and secularism is alien to their religious belief.

A new thinking is emerging all over the world regarding Civilizational Identity “by drawing powerfully from conceptual tools developed over the years to study other forms of identity”. There is an emerging debate on “what this newly conceptualized civilizational identity explains in contemporary world politics. Social scientists are now only beginning to apply important tools of social science to this question, with even public opinion research in its infancy. Early findings suggest civilizational identity may be shaping not only elite foreign policy making but also patterns of domestic politics, including the recent rise of populism and levels of democracy and authoritarianism more generally”.

Can the historical truth be denied that this heritage nation of Indic Civilizational identity was divided based on the two nation theory perpetuated by Muslim League on communal line? Is it not a fact that in spite of the division of the Heritage Nation that is Bharat on the religious lines, a sizable portion of the Muslim population of the undivided India never opted for migration to the newly born Islamic nation? Why did they not migrate? Is it not a fact that India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world only after Indonesia and Pakistan? 

Perhaps they felt that their lives were and will be more safe and secured with their freedom of living being protected well in this Heritage Nation of Bharat because of its liberal and secular outlook enshrined in their Holy books and practiced under SANATANA DHARMA.

India is a Heritage country. A conserted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally makes us who we are”. We shall not hide our identity and  obliterate as to who we are. Our culture, our heritage, our identity, that’s what make us unique. It is our lineage that distinguishes us from others.

Every country has its own culture, ethics and values which are to be preserved and propagated throughout History to create a distinctive identity of the respective country and their citizens which can be termed as their civilizational identity. Scanning the pages of history an interesting and an undeniable feature can be found that when all of the ancient civilizations came up and perished, the Indic Civilization which is the oldest of all the civilizations survived the test of time and is the oldest living civilization of the world based on the Hindu Dharmic concept of SANATANA DHARMA, the oldest ancient wisdom and a way of life learned through the Hindu holy books of VEDAS, UPANISHADS, BHAGAVAD GITA and a host other holy Hindu SHASTRAS whose origins are not yet conclusively arrived at and the Vedas being the oldest of all existing religious texts dating back nearly to 5000 years. This fact cannot be denied nor can it be erased.   

That raises the point as to what is the basis of our culture and civilizational identity.Can it be related to an alien identity or a mixed identity? No and not at all. The civilizational identity of India that is Bharat can only be related to the VEDAS, UPANISHADS, BHAGAVAD GITA and other HINDU Holy books based on which SANATANA DHARMA has been evolved. This identity cannot be manipulated and changed. It is well entrenched in our civilization.

The greatness of our civilisation and its propagandists are that there is no single prophet as seen in Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam and there are no dogmas which preaches that their religion is the only religion worth practicing. Besides, there is no room for blasphemy under SANATANA DHARMA. The Islamic “Shahadah: (Testimony of Faith) states, “The first tenet, which is also the most important, is a declaration in which one verbally proclaims that Allah is the one and only true God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger”. Christianity also is monotheistic and preaches that through their beliefs only one can attain salvation.

But Hinduism is the only major non- monotheistic religion that accepts the universality and human brotherhood of all humanity which teaches “Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” (May the entire universe ever be filled with peace, joy, love and light), Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone Triumphs), Vasudeva Kudumbakam (World of one family), āno bhadrāḥ kratavo yantu viśvato (Let noble thoughts come to us from all directions) and more such divine sermons for the welfare of humanity. Hinduism adopts, assimilates and absorbs all wise teachings from any sides. In fact the various principles of Hinduism and SANATANA DHARMA represent the purest form of SECULARISM AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

But when the fundamental foundation of Hinduism with its culture, ethics, values and ethos of our heritage nation are subverted, debauched and deliberately mocked and undermined in the name of secularism and freedom of speech, it leads to anarchism and vandalism making our nation vulnerable to outside sabotage and destabilization of our very existence by a certain section of vested interested people of our society with the connivance of outside powers who are interested and involved to keep our nation under perpetual chaos and conflicts, the backlash cannot be overlooked.

The only hope that we can cherish is what history has taught us that when other ancient civilizations of the world perished, our Indic civilization stood firmly and survived the test of its times and we have to make our resolve that we will survive and triumph in all our endeavors to preserve our unity, integrity and national interest and so also our democracy keeping alive the idea of India that is Bharat with its glory, heritage, Indic cultural identity, Bharatiya ethos and values intact. The only way we can achieve the glory of our heritage status is through the rediscovering and restoration of our religious believes, culture, ethics, values and ethos of our heritage nation without infringement into others’ faiths.

Last but not the least, an attempt should be made to initiate a reconciliation process to help and heal the country and bring about a reconciliation among the people of this nation by uncovering the truth about the unprecedented, horrific and unimaginable acts of vandalism and destructions of our Civilizational identities, cultural values, ethics, ethos of this Heritage Nation that is Bharat, underwent during the period of Islamic invasions and British rule spanning over nearly thousand years by appointing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission so as to assuage the ill feelings and remove the mistrust prevailing between two major religious groups of India to pave the way for understanding and amity between them for peaceful co-existence ensuring progress and development of the nation and preserving the national integrity and security of this heritage nation.

I quote what Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest Presidents of United States who abolished slavery, said, “It is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters who choose to vote, that constitute political power”. That is a message worth upholding which determines the course of our democracy.   


T. R. Radhakrishnan

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