Death of Indian Democracy?
When our Consitution was adopted in 1950, the people of India solemnly resolved to consitute our Motherland into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, and to secure to our Citizens, Justice, Liberty, Equality and promote among them Fraternity. We also assured that the dignity of the individual and the Unity and Integrity of the Nation would be preserved. What we find after 63 years of self-governance is dismal. People are beginning to wonder if we are travelling in the wrong train.
Swami Ranganathananda used to say that while, during the British days, gentlemen walked the streets and thieves hid behind walls, to-day thieves are ruling the streets and the gentle ones are hidden in shelters.
It is a matter of utter shame that even the mainstream political parties have resolved that only criminals and money-bags have winnability in elections
Service-mindedness and criminality of the mind are anti-thetical. They rarely co-exist. Yes, a criminal may wholly transform himself like a Valmiki did or a Pawan Aahari Baba. It is in this context that one has to look at what kind of people should be let into the Parliament in India.
The service-minded, if he wants to sit in Parliament faces many hurdles. He needs financial support, should find the time and should be facilitated by the system. This is a far-cry in India, at least for now. Cost of electioneering is massive, the system is anything but facilitative. The entire election system is so engineered topsy-turvy, that is why all political parties want "winnability" as a first requisite. And "winnability" is no longer a practised virtue, it can be bought by any one, if he has rich resources. So, the contest is limited to those with huge resources, mostly ill-gotten and by resource to corruption, theft and other crimes including murder. In this situation, no self-respecting gentleman - even if service-minded - would or could volunteer. As for parties who nominate candidates, it has been confirmed by the beneficiaries themselves that they bought or bribed their seats in Parliament. This is a catch - 22 situation.
The Supreme Court Judgment is a damper on this situation. It stipulates conditions whereby, criminals and their like will be shut-out at the threshold itself by the voters who will refuse to elect any of the candidates on offer. The other judgment whereby convicted criminals are shut out addresses a limited but sensitive area. He can no longer sit in Parliament after conviction by a court, until he has cleared himself. The first judgment addresses the 'genus' and the second one the 'specie'. Together, therefore, they should be construed as a first attempt to stream-line and cleanse the Indian electoral system and do a purificatory ceremony for our democracy.
Look at the vulgur hurry with which even highly educated Indians like Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal conjured up an ordinance to save the situation for hardened criminals to continue to sit in Parliuament. If anything, it is shocking, and indicative of the death of Indian democracy. Winston Churchil should be laughing in his grave finding his predictions about our congenital inability to govern ourselves coming true.
The next elections are a touch-stone for our country. If it failed to rectify the demonstrated defects, we shall all be doomed for ever. Our youth, who are in a majority and of whom Rahul Gandhi, Rajesh Pilot, Scindia are all specimens, hold the key to the future. Would they be saviours or would they go with a whimper?