Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Democracy Revisted

After the uninterrupted journey of Indian democracy for almost last 60 years, we can see the fruits of democracy. We have better education, health and overall standard of living for all in this 50 years. But, the negatives are also visible. Let me discuss a few negatives in Indian context produced by democracy as a continuation of Manas' blog.

The first argument against democracy is widely visible - the tyranny of majorities towards minorities. The majority and minority are generally distinguished based on ethnicity, religion or language. But how should we draw the division? What is the line between majority and minority? The boundary based on ethnicity and religion are output of democracy or they were pre-existing? In fact these boundaries are not at all resultant of democracy, rather democracy has asked for opinions to each and every people, not to communities and weighed them according to the share of the population the community had. It is the failure of the people that they drawn boundaries based on their ethnical, religious or linguistic grounds.

The biggest falacy of democracy is the same as the biggest strength of it. The rule of the majority. Hence, if someone is minority, he'll try to get to the end of minority - by any means. The means used are often beyond the interest of the people. Due to the lack of knowledge, people often step into the traps and one trap leads to another. The media emerges as a champion tool on manipulating popular opinion and drawing up invisible lines between once united people. As human inability to verify all facts around him, it is now to see how long the democratic system brings good output to human society.

The Indian case is little bit complicated one. Indians are divided on many different fronts, language, caste, ethnicity and religion. A mixture of all these four parameters could not determine a fixed majority throughout the country. A clear boundary is yet to be drawn. That's the only reason democracy is still floating in India - not due to the greatness of Indian leaders.

Whom should I point out as minority in India? Muslims, Christians and other non-Hindus can claim that they are minorities on religious ground. But, are Hindus a single monolith? All the reservation battle was fought between multiple castes of Hindus. The recent ULFA massacre points to a linguistic division in Asom despite they are all Hindus. It is difficult to see any cultural similarities between a Malayali and a Bengali Muslim. Only Sikhs are a little bit exception on this, as they were rooted only a few regions in India. In India, the minority is non-existent. It is a fact to the grass-roots of India. But, the falacies of democracy has at last catching India on the wrong-foot. Internal and external sources are engaged in draw up invisible majority-minority line. As I said, a clear majority-minority distinction is non-existent in India. Hence, it came up as a linguistic line in Asom and Maharastra; religious line in UP, Gujarat and Kashmir and ethnical line in Manipur and Nagaland.

A recent case of industrialization of West Bengal also should be remembered in this context. The State of West Bengal needs industrialization. So, the popular opinion is in favour of it. Unlike many other states, West Bengal has only 1% of unused land. Hence, it requires agrarian land to be acquired. Whenever a piece of land is declared to be acquired - the opinion splits between the population within and outside the land. The popular opinion says, the inhabitants of that land should amicably shift out of that land, even with a meagre compensation. The population of the land tries to gain as much compensation as possible as their future is insecured. An invisible line is drawn and the rest is visible today.

The last strength in Democracy is that it is opinion based. If people do really understand that the dividing lines are not helping them, they'll revert to the unbiased opinion. In that sense it's self-corrective. The correctiveness of popular opinion entirely depends on literacy and education of people. Only education of people can guide India to achieve the goal. We should remember that democracy is only a process and a process needs proper implementation to ensure output. Education should emphasize on the human-bonding and that should diminish the lines. Let's hope that we implement our system properly and achieve a borderless society.

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