Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reflections on Indian Democracy

Indian elections are over in five phases, within a month’s time. The largest democracy in the world has elected its leaders. All their names and votes are hidden in the electronic boxes that will reveal the number of votes each of the candidates belonging to different parties have got. Since the transit from the ballot based (paper votes) voting system to electronic voting machines, the Indian Election Commission has not seen even a single “bad” vote. No chad, no double imprint, no torn paper… All votes count, for one candidate or the other. In a democracy that is filled with illiterates and semi-literates, it is a remarkable achievement to get about 60% of entire electorate to vote. For the starters, Indian electorate (people with franchise) is above 670 million! Different States voted on different dates to elect 547 representatives from all over India, who will ultimately choose the Prime Minister and other Council of Ministers.

Recently, Indian democracy is showing signs of decline. That is only natural, because the Indian democratic system has many inherent flaws. To start with, how can one expect 600 million illiterates and semi-literates, who in any case are of average or low in intelligence to make intelligent decisions by choosing over 500 intelligent and knowledgable people? The second problem with Indian democracy is the quality of leadership that is promoted. Whereas even for a job of a peon in an office, there is a minimum educational standard prescribed, there are oral and written exams, with interviews and group-discussions…, people who are supposed to lead millions of people in their constituencies, people who are to take intelligent decisions that would affect the present and future of the country, the nations policies within and outside. No IQ tests. And we end up with more criminals, with lesser IQs, chosen on the basis of muscle power, man-power and money-power.

There is a third failure of the democratic process. Today, the Indian electorate chooses people with lesser emotional quotient (EQ), people who are not in touch with the real issues of the people, people who throw things into tantrums at their whims and fancies, and emotionally imbalanced enough to project trivial issues into major issues--putting temples ahead of poverty-alleviation, placing emotions before education, taking up communal issues before communication.  Simply to say, we cannot expect people of lower intelligence to take intelligent decisions. People of lower wisdom cannot be expected take wiser decisions. People of lesser understanding cannot distinguish people with higher level of understanding. Somewhere, someone needs to take a decision. Somewhere someone needs to rectify this process. Somewhere sometime soon we must make space for intelligent decisions. Or else, this democracy is bound to fail.

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