How democratic is our democracy?

India is the most populous democracy in the world, a fact we are proud of, no not the populous part. But how much of a democracy we really are?

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens are meant to participate equally – either directly or, through elected representatives, indirectly – in the proposal, development and establishment of the laws by which their society is run- Wikipedia

India is the most populous democracy in the world, a fact we are proud of, no not the populous part. But how much of a democracy we really are?

We vote, people get elected to either the Lok Sabha, or the Rajya Sabha, and then, they are nowhere to be seen for the next five, or six years, whichever applies to them. I will not comment on the choices we are presented with; most of the times representatives are shifted from one constituency to the next hoping that people will not research on their past records, which we do not. What I am interested in is the way they rule, yes rule us, they’re not supposed to do that are they? They are supposed to serve but they don’t.

I’m not sure how democracies around the world function, but this can’t be it! The participation of people should not end with the vote they give. I mean there should be some sort of continuance, some form of participation by the citizens in the decision-making process, after all it is our money which is being used up.

A democracy with an absent feedback mechanism, or one where the only feedback can be provided in terms of voting the incumbents out can not be a healthy one. The state of politics in India has for a long time has been one where nobody looks for feed-backs. All are interested in running a closed system. But closed systems are not beneficial for either parties, us or them. In that direction, some recent steps taken by parties, like AAP‘s Mohalla Sabhas, and the GoI’s are welcome steps. I have not yet attended the Mohall Sabha, because well, AAP does not conduct them here, and I concede that there might be some issues yet with how they do what they do; but it is a step in the correct direction. I have been to though, and even though it too is in a nascent stage, and would require further iterations, but just the fact that citizens have a portal to communicate with the Prime Minister, however symbolic it may be, is quite frankly awesome.

Like everything else, there is a not-so-awesome-side to this too. Most of the population is not interested in how the country is run. Most of us, are interested in local issues, the issues which directly affect us. A student might be interested in what the government’s attitude is towards reservations, a factory worker in labour reforms, most of us though, are interested in the money we make, and the ways in which that money can sustain us, our families. We have voted for the people, who are supposed to be on our side, when issues that matter to us are up for discussion/debate in the power circles. I mean if I was supposed to run the country, then why the politicians? If they are not going to make any decisions, then why the politicians?

I guess all we need, is a balance. Sure I don’t want them consulting me on every trivial issue, but it would be nice if they asked me about some of the important stuff, because believe it or not some bright people do function outside of bureaucracy, and they do have some interesting ideas regarding the nation.

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