We are in a Participatory Democracy

What Do We Want ? Firstly, democracy is a method of ordering human relations in a civilised way, so as not to allow the brute force of one person or several of them to dominate the persons in the society. We have adopted the method of governance by the Representatives elected periodically by the people, who make laws which rule all of us, including the Representatives. The process would see that ultimately the Absolute Power vests with the people and that they could effectively exercise it. To implement that objective, firstly, the Power which remains a monopoly of the state should be decentralised into several layers of governance, and be de-concentrated into several institutions in the society, so as to facilitate the participation of all residents. Secondly, democracy in human relations ultimately implies not only handling political power by the government but also democracy in social relations in order to get rid of static and feudal social relations and to promote harmony and social progress among all residents. Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, is also of the same opinion while speaking at the 82nd All-India Presiding Officers’ Conference in Shimla on 17th November, 21: “Democracy is not just a system for India, but an intrinsic part of its nature and life.” In order to make it a part of our nature, we do not want to go by the Chinese way where a political party controls the state, the government, the army, the Police, the economy and also tries to dominate the entire society as well. Neither are we favourable to a few religious heads controlling both the state and the society. Thirdly, in a democracy, the governance is self-governance with the participation of all residents in all aspects of the society, not only political but also social, economic, religious and cultural. Hence, social democracy means no charismatic leader, caste group or religious institution or employer in the society, not even a government should arbitrarily exercise any kind of power over the individuals in a way that affects his or her human dignity and freedom to evolve or grow physically and mentally. In other words, everybody in society should promote the human development of everybody. Our constitutional values fully endorse the above democratic traits. 

But, What Is Happening ? We have abolished the past monarchs and installed peoples' Representatives to assure good governance. But, that was the 19th-century solution. Meanwhile, human life has become more sophisticated and social transformations are so complex that a generalist representing a piece of territory and a haphazard number of masses is not able to do justice to his task. We see in practice that most of the present Representatives proposed by the political parties are not performing efficiently to fulfill all the promises that they are generously making, probably sincerely, to win elections. Politicians are forming a distinct class in society working full-time and life-long with a pathological obsession to capture Power and enjoy it. As a consequence, the political power is not only not able to promote better human relations for peace and development, but, on the contrary, the political struggles among the parties are exhausting human energies and creating further divisions, hatred, violence, conflicts and civil wars among the people who are living together in the same country. People are also adopting this political culture in their relations with others, as a way of life. This systemic failure is visible in most of the developing countries also in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This is because the citizens are voting only once in five years in a spectacular and ceremonial event, where a vast majority of the voters are tempted to vote for their short-term interests of gifts, bribes and liqueur, and in favour of their caste, religion and region. When they vote, they vote for symbols and not individuals. The urban voters are not very enthusiastic to go and vote. Candidates with specialised knowledge and experience or social skills and professional achievements are absent from parties’ lists. The contestants are already plain Representatives of the political parties before trying to become the peoples’ Representatives. Thus, the Absolute Power is being enjoyed by the winning political party, whose internal democracy is mostly symbolic. It should be noted that it is deliberately that the political parties have not been given any role in our original Constitution. The present political leaders are not devoting enough of their own time, energies and tax money to the above grand projects. Public expenditure is not fully transparent and efficient. The laws and rules made are not assessed before hand for their impact on the ease of doing business or simply on ease of living. 

What You & I Can and Should Do ? Fortunately, in our present-day society, we are not obliged to remain passive and helpless victims anymore. Under these circumstances, the remedy is more democracy; more active and direct Citizen Participation. Economically India is shining, because the private sector is producing wealth. Similarly, all residents, especially the urban residents should participate not only in political matters but also in many social transformations that are taking place: for better education, faster scientific and technological knowledge, more creativity, innovations and aesthetic skills for a better living, better understanding of the precious human body and brain, exploration of the mysteries of the vast cosmos, arranging a universal social security system and to provide leisure for cultural activities for all residents. As concerned residents, we should use more and more the available electronic technologies for information and communications among ourselves and with the authorities. For example, Social Media is permitting every human being to have a dialogue to influence each other in society directly without depending upon the established political, bureaucratic and media channels. It is a fundamental human right. We have already enough professional, civil and non-governmental organisations and institutions,like RWAs accessible in the neighbourhood to join in and to pursue the above transformations. We have many means to interfere in the functioning of all the public authorities to bring in more democratic reforms, as frequently as we want. Since now we are living in a global society, we should have more international exchanges with other democratic countries, thanks to our Non-Resident Indians abroad. 
Good Government or Bad Government, Social Development should continue.

Rao VBJ Chelikani

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