THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART The Society DEMOCRACY – The people in power

DEMOCRACY – The people in power


In a hostel canteen, they served upma for breakfast every day. Most of the students got sick  of that upma and raised the issue to the warden and asked to change the dish. However there were 20 out of 100 students who never ever tasted anything else than upma and they were scared of a change.

Warden gave a list of dishes for breakfast and upma was one of the choices. And asked students to vote. Those 20 people religiously chose upma and didn’t even bother to look other options.

Now remaining 80 people didn’t coordinate well,
18 people chose dosa,
16 people chose roti,
14 people chose idly,
12 people chose bread & butter,
10 people chose pongal and,
10 people chose noodles.

Guess what?

Upma is the breakfast now in the canteen again.

It is election – time and political bells will be ringing in every nook and corner of the country. Election candidates will be literally touching our feet, embracing us and envisioning the glory days of future. Let us not be fooled with rosy pictures of future, but should use our judgement while casting our valuable vote. Electing only on the basis of whims and fancies will only keep us stranded amidst our problems for the next five years while the party in power will only run away with our votes. Indian politics has come a long way from using muscle power for gaining political dividends to actual scorecard of hard work by dedicated politicians which is there for our voters to be seen. We as voters, should analyze these scorecards and then decide upon the fate of these candidates, instead of going merely by their promises. Gone are the days, when politics was a lifetime guaranteed pension–plan for the elected representatives. ‘Work hard or perish’ is the new mantra of New India, and the infusion of young blood in Indian politics has only reinforced our faith in democracy. The power that we as a common citizen have in our hands is way too big than even the VVIPs, for if used judiciously, can be turned into a lethal weapon against erring politicians. Young India now can expect a career in politics and the likes of the politicians from varied disciplines  including Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers and even MBA holders that too all in their 20s and 30s age group have aided in the cause. Today, India requires an influx of more young legs in the political bastion of old horses in order to carry it forward. The number of youngsters entering mainstream politics is on a rise for the past several years and some of them have already made a mark on the national front.

Sharad Joshi’s (Padma Shree, 1990) political dissidence against anything unethical was quite unique in its own way – a harsh tone with a pinch of humour. He once said that we had elected not a Prime Minister, but a world leader. What he meant was that the role of a Prime Minister is diverse, wherein the issues and challenges both at home and abroad needs to be looked into. Quite satirically, he says that our constitutional limitation allows us to choose only one Prime Minister and had we got the opportunity to choose four or five, we could have at least deputed one to specifically look into the internal issues corroding our nation. Knowing very well that this is not possible, we will be needing able hands which can carry on with the load and responsibilities that come with an elected representative. As has been quite aptly written in one of the blog by Brahma Kumaris that the statecraft and statesmen are the sine qua non of a civilized society. There is, however, need for raising the moral standards. Then only the eventuality of the whole class getting defamed because of the criminal acts of some politicians can be stopped and the slander by the media will cease. There is no other method of cleansing the public life except through the recourse to Values and Meditation. The role of politicians is crucial to the job of conducting the affairs of the State or for running the government and for ministering the polity. There is no alternative to it in a democracy. Democracy in India, as Jawaharlal Nehru said, in 1952, while addressing the college students and the intelligentsia at Gwalior, is not the best form of government but best available form of government. This would show how important is the work of the politicians and how great are the responsibilities of politicians! The Statecraft and Statesmen are, no doubt, the sine qua non of a modern civilised society, particularly one that has a democratic form of government. It is but imperative upon us that we as voters elect the right candidate for the job, and if need be rectify with the strictest of measures possible.

Children are virtually taught from their cradle that they only have rights and they should only demand. They have no duties to their fellow citizens, their local communities, their Governments and their country, so much so that after six decades of independence, a century old civilisation has to enact laws binding its citizens not only to look after their aged parents but also pay salaries to their wives. Mahatma Gandhi had long back stated, “In swaraj based on ahimsa, people need not know their rights, but it is necessary for them to know their duties. There is no duty but creates a corresponding right, and those are true rights which flow from  a due performance of one’s duties”. “True swaraj comes only from performance by individuals of their duty as citizens. In it no one thinks of his rights.” When any political  party talks about a vision for the nation, it should not just be about roads, infrastructure, industrial growth or agricultural productivity. It also has to be about the intellectual and spiritual growth of the nation. The manifold problems of the country cannot be solved single handedly by any Government. It has to be a power-people partnership model. The Government can at best stop smoking at public places and even impose fines, but it cannot prevent people from smoking. In his letter to the scientist Julian Huxley, written three months before his assassination, Mahatma Gandhi had said, “I learned from my illiterate, but wise, mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved come from a duty well done.” In a monarchy, it is Yatha raja, tatha praja, but in a democracy, it would be the other way round. Only an enlightened citizenship can pave the way for an enlightened leadership.

It was to duty that Swami Vivekananda referred to when he said, “so long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every person a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them”. After all, democracy is not just for the people and by the people but also of the people.

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