Hardly does a day pass without some infraction, irregularity or illegality making breaking news. The treatment meted out to public servants, the belligerence shown to the judiciary and the contempt for civil society demands has become obnoxious. Failure of governance is the conclusion generally drawn by the ordinary as well as elite citizens. In day to day practice, the rule of law stands hijacked by ubiquitous lawlessness. Honest public servants are punished for doing their duty, whereas the law is amended to protect the corrupt. Arbitrariness in delivering interpretation of the law or delivery of public service is visible everywhere. Democracy in India looks compromised, eroded or criminalized. Power of the executive has landed in the hands of demography manipulators. The public is disappointed, stressed and unsure of the fate of democracy in India.
Where has it gone wrong? Better to learn something about the grammar of democracy in India, which may also be universally true. As in grammar, in politics also there are three divisions: first person, second person and third person. The “I” of the first person is the ruling class. “ I” conveys unmatched hubris. The ruling class is so power drunk that they neither observe democratic values nor try to learn them. A ruling conglomerate bereft of values is like a bull in the China shop. They violate every law with impunity. Their lackeys exercise such power on the basis of their clout and muscle power which the first person needs for winning elections.
The funny thing is that the same ruling class demands total enforcement of law and order and values by the next class, the second person, who is addressed contemptuously as “you”. In the local languages, it is used to insult the public servant and citizens publicly. The arrogant member of the executive calls himself the king and claims divine rights earlier enjoyed by the monarchs. It is this class, which is called the middle class by economists, that bears the brunt of the anti democratic practices of the first person. It is so because this class is the producer, provider, supplier and consumer of majority of economic activities in society. They are the generators of jobs, incomes and wealth for themselves as also society. The sheer weight of the statutes is enough to kill an ordinary person; understanding or observing them in toto is rather unimaginable. One instance of coming in conflict is enough to make them feel the heat of enforcement agencies, who act under oral orders of the executive. Unlike prescriptions of the law, the executive is in direct charge of functioning of the agencies. This arrangement is oral and written also. It has produced autocrats in every district and sub-district in the country, who operate in the name of people’s representatives or minister, members of parliament or legislative assemblies. The career, functioning and safety of officers is in the hands of these gangs. They have eliminated officers refusing to do their bidding, harassed many, put under suspension or transferred the incumbent many times in one year. The current public upheaval is about a sub divisional magistrate in NOIDA in Uttar Pradesh , who dared to carry out the orders of her superior and brought to justice offenders guilty of illegal mining of sand from river bed. This illegal activity involved daily profit of more than a million rupees. The result was on expected lines, she has been placed under suspension. Such officers deserve civil service award not punishment. TV channels have shown visuals of scores of trucks and tractors filled with sand. Such practice makes the ordinary second person confused. She of the middle class, is expected to uphold values, law and democracy, but made to learn quickly the modus operandi to continue to receive protection of the first person.
The biggest sufferer is the third person: she, representing the common man. She is subjected to all kinds of exploitation by the first person. He does not treat her more than a vote, which he would like to purchase for a bottle of local brew, money or some promise of a job etc. to be forgotten immediately after the polling. This person enjoys freedom of speech and expression. She is guaranteed all fundamental rights. She has all human rights. Can she aspire to transfer the power to herself i.e. the common man? Democracy is not meant to do that. It is the power of demography that makes the ruling class, which treats others lower than itself. It looks down upon others beneath it.
The first person considers himself the best, the second person as mediocre and the third person the lowliest of all. That is the grammar of democracy in India: I+you+She. We can be proud of such a democracy if we choose to do so or fail to change this decadent moribund order. We have yet to prove ourselves capable of self-rule. For the moment it is a period of gross mis-rule!