Skip to main content

Political leaders' actions are causing decontextualisation of democracy

By Harasankar Adhikari

In India, does democracy become a matter of prescription, i.e., to follow the footpath left? Isn't it, in some ways, the adoption of certain prescribed procedures and mechanisms, such as timely election and populist schemes for the poor, etc.? In some cases, acts of government and governance turn democracy into a myth. It is full of political party-based agendas.
This continuous hegemonic practise creates a conditional situation for the people of India. People elect their representatives who are not their representatives. They are only representatives of a particular political party that nominated them in the election. Democratic decentralisation of power is undoubtedly a unique step towards the grass roots. But a Panchayat member has no free will to act without the party’s instruction and approval.
Michael Saward, a political philosopher, defines democracy as a matter of correspondence in state-society relationships. But India’s parliamentary democracy is unable to establish liberal democracy due to its hegemonic position. The liberal democracy ‘endorses the maximisation of individual freedom to pursue his/her interests in order to achieve what he or she perceives as the good life.
In this regard, the state’s intervention is expected to be minimal as any state’s intervention is considered to potentially infringe on an individual's freedom. This situation leads to two trajectories of democracy : one with specific objections and the second, an outright rejection of the idea of democracy. The former indicates the need to specify the application of democracy in specific historical moments, while the latter indicates disillusionment with democracy as an effective mode of governing public matters in a polity’.
Therefore, the notion of ‘good governance’ and ‘democratic governance’ is only a mouthful of a slogan. And two fundamental democratic principles, liberty and equality, have taken on theoretical dimensions. The continuous tension between equality and liberty, that is, between individual freedom to pursue their interests and the collective pursuit of the common good, becomes more apparent in present day democracy, characterised by a multiplication of demands and identifications hardly reducible into the conventional surface of democracy.’
The state-society relationship has transformed into a consumable product, which is usually determined at the time of the election. Multiple promises are restricted and limited within some populist schemes. This is to make the gap wider between the poor and the rich. The poor have no liberty and equity. At least a democratic government has failed to establish it after about seventy five years of independence. Here, people have to work to meet their hunger on Independence Day and Republic Day. But the government presses its report of progress in the colourful celebration.
In fact, schemes like MGNEGRA are an example of exploitation of the poor because they have to be satisfied with 100 days of work in a year with less than minimum wages (even if the government does follow the norms of the Minimum Wages Act). So, where is the equality among the people of India? It indicates the government has no ability to provide jobs for all and has failed to ensure the basic right to live. Some of the states, particularly the government of West Bengal, feel pride as the highest achievers of this scheme. But the government denies it as a shame to all. It never strengthens the face value of the government.
Is religious identity a prime issue in a secular democratic nation? But it has become an issue of much consideration. Hunger, unemployment, and other basic issues do not get priority from the government. In addition to this, the price hike is not an issue. The heads of governments have come from another planet. They have no lack of aristocratic life because they are the elected representatives and they have some extra qualities for which they enjoy a good life on the revenue of a beggar. Price hikes and financial emergencies are not getting priority.
Corruption has become a right for political leaders and their associates (even officials of different hierarchies). Here, we refer to the state of West Bengal. Corruption has entered into all wings of society. However, the TMC-led government regards it as merely a political conspiracy.
Political leaders and their actions are the causes of the decontextualisation of democracy. Will they be attentive to strengthening the state-society relationship?



'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Tribals from 60 villages observe seed festival to 'protect' diversity of indigenous seeds

By Bharat Dogra*  Nearly sixty villagers are sitting on an open floor covered by a roof for shade but otherwise open on all sides. Women and men are present in equal numbers but the visibility of women is higher because of their colorful dresses.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says.