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  • Raghav Sand

Democracy: We Rise Together

The general elections in India, an event that takes place every five years, is an opportunity to elect members of Parliament. These 543 individuals have the authority and privilege to shape the policies and laws of the land. Past governments have done some good work, but with changing times and economic trajectory, the nation needs fresh thinking and a dynamic blueprint.

We have come a long way from the miserable economic situation right after independence. As citizens of India, we should take some pride in what has been done. There will always be room for more. And, an awakened nation has finally seen glimpses of its potential in the past three decades. The nation has slowly and steadily become self-reliant in agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare.

The Time is Now

For those of you who do not know yet, we are in the year 2024. Shouldn’t we talk about things which are relevant today or will become pressing issues in the coming decades. The level of discourse in the election campaign has been disappointing to say the least. I am not one of those who will pay attention to rude, hostile and divisive comments.

I neither belong to a camp which has one for all and all for one remark to everything that is happening in India - ‘is desh ka kuch bhala nahi ho sakta’ or nothing good can happen in this country. I believe in India and its industrious, well-meaning people. No party or individual shared a road map for the future. On one hand, a set of people who have formed an opportunistic, non-ideology based alliance want to rule by dividing people and distributing wealth as if it was their own. While on the other hand, we have a political machinery which needs some basic training in communication and setting the narrative.

The ‘R’ Word

Religion is an extremely emotive subject in India. Yet, no one seems to approach this delicate subject with an iota of sensibility. When individuals get away with statements that promise preferential treatment or isolation of a religious group, this is not just distasteful but pure evil. People start taking sides and those sitting on the fence start to feel clueless.

Whether by default or design, the divisive noises get a good chunk of individuals to divert their attention from elections. Such individuals may skip the candidate screening exercise, or worse, they may skip the election process altogether. People follow religion because they derive mental peace and healing and the power to take on the challenges of life. Let people be.

Caste is Vast

Discrimination of any kind is wrong. India has innumerable castes and given the fact that we have caste-based reservation, there is an urge to get on the reservation train. Reservations, I  believe, were devised as a tool for social and economic upliftment. Down the years, it has not lost political relevance and remains a very controversial topic. People do not voice their opinion about it with free spirit as it is seen as a taboo topic.

No one talks about the timeline of its withdrawal or any status report showing what impact has been made on the ground. The chances of an open-minded conversation on the topic are hard to come by. No one seems to have the courage to spell out the problems or how we can do justice to everyone. By delaying the inevitable, we are shying away from difficult but essential conversations. We may not get all the answers at the outset, but a start has to be made. Politicians see people of different castes and change their tune according to the audience. Such myopic outlook is doing more harm than good.

Duration and Dullness

The general elections in India last way too long. Close to three months of policy paralysis is the worst form of self harm we can inflict on ourselves at this point in our development story. Nevertheless, until we develop a more robust technology ecosystem and build greater trust in our processes and ourselves, we may have to live with such lengthy election campaigns for the foreseeable future.

Regions which are affected by internal and external insurgency do require special attention, but for everywhere else we have gone too far because of lack of trust in the state security apparatus. For the sake of our collective future, let us voice our opinions for all encompassing police, administrative and judicial reforms. Believe me, everything adds up. Small but incremental changes to our ways have the potential to make a profound impact on the overall scheme of things.

India and the P.O.P. Culture

With my limited understanding, I would like to make an humble remark - Indians know nothing about the P.O.P. culture. When I say P.O.P. culture, almost all of you may think that I am talking about the popular culture - which includes the fashion trends, fads, colloquial lingo etc. But my full form for P.O.P. culture is the power of parliament culture. I am certain that most people do not know the power and limitations of the parliament. Although, some Indian citizens would be aware of the power of parliament to allocate budget for operational and capital expenditure in the country.

It takes dedication and honesty to educate the common citizen about the ways of our democracy. The civil society could have done it but they got lost somewhere. Journalists could have done it, but they got lost in television rating points (TRPs),  mindless flattery and outright hatred. Corporates could have done it, but they do not want to be on the wrong side of things. Obviously billions of dollars are far more valuable than a billion plus lives. And, more importantly, no one wants to go solo in such pursuits. The vindictive nature of our politics disheartens the common folk to a great extent.

It takes character and morals to stay the course in public life. The minutest of inducements can puncture the resolve of someone who thought they will be the change maker. The people in public life are having a ball because industrious, skilled, and patriotic citizens think way too much or way too less about taking action. The sweet spot to usher in an era of change lies somewhere in the middle and begins at the bottom of the democratic pyramid.

How many of you know the name of your local municipality or village representative? Do you have any idea what amount was allocated to your ward for development projects? Did you ever go and meet those charged with governance in your locality? What stopped you from being inquisitive? The internet has been a game changer when it comes to information dissemination, yet most people choose not to hop on the knowledge train. Everything is available on the internet. Take out the time to read and comprehend how the nation runs. I am certain that your mindset will expand for the better.

Democracy is Alive and Kicking

A democracy always works for those who participate in it. Voting is just one way to show that you exist in a democracy. If you can read this article, I am sure you can figure out a way to make a list of issues that affect your daily life, and then go and at least present a small memorandum to your elected representative. Democracy is not the problem in itself but it is the method that can help us solve our actual and perceived problems.

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