February 27, 2007

Democracy and Society.

Free exercise of dissent and standing up for one's own interests are key to healthy democracy. However reading things like Andhra Pradesh says it is neglected in rail budget leaves a bad taste. One can attempt to interpret this as a sign of active participation in the democratic process, but it is difficult to deny that the real motives behind such statements are not so pure. In the existing circumstances it is easy to denounce these maneuvers as meaningless vote grabbing ploys.

More interesting is the question of whether any democratic system, where winning popular vote is the ultimate litmus test, will end up being like the one we have in India now. Though it might appear that the answer must be a sad yes, I am more inclined to think otherwise. At the risk of sounding passe, I will say that political leaders are not made out of thin air. The health of the democratic system is not independent of the overall health of a country or society. On the contrary, quality of the political leaders and the health of the democratic system are determined largely by the health of the society. If we accept that our democratic system is sick, it is only a highly visible symptom of a more fundamental and insidious sickness, that of the wider society. A careful scrutiny reveals ample evidence to support this diagnosis.

The question then translates to whether sickness is the eventual plight of all societies. The answer is of course an obvious no. Sickness is a frequent but temporary condition. So however dire the situation might seem, it is not permanent.

Symptoms serve a useful purpose: they direct our attention to the real problems, provided we look beyond the symptoms. Treating symptoms will only give temporary relief. Lasting solutions require tackling the causes of the symptoms.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]