Our constitutional thinkers had incorporated several principles and formulated procedures for the smooth functioning of Parliament. These principles are excellent and the quality of good social legislation is very high, as compared to other democractic setups all over the world. If properly implemented, the common man would have equal rights with the richest, in terms of material wealth in our country. Unfortunately, it is not so and it is obvious to all. Intellectuals all over the world have analyzed our system and found the legislation excellent and we rank amongst the top five nations in the world but in terms of implementation, we are ranked near most underdeveloped and dictatorial countries like Pakistan and Iraq, at the lowest rung.
Our electoral system is totally at fault although our founding fathers are not completely to blame. They had never envisaged that even after half a century, the condition of the common man would become worse than before, that our bureaucracy would be reduced to yes men and spineless self-seekers, that our law and order machinery would be more corrupt than the law breakers, who were supposed to protect the society, and that 60 percent, a majority, of the population would remain illiterate and do not even understand the meaning and functions of the legislature, leave alone the duties of an elected legislator.
The democratic system is based on a strong opposition group in Parliament which acts as the watchdog against vested interests and ensures that laws are properly implemented in their constituency and all over the nation. They are the guiding beacons who argue against wrong or faulty legislation and show the right way when the ruling party falters.
The common, educated class knows this and we have a strong middle class in the country, who are erudite but have no voice. No voice because they are not heard at all and are the worst sufferers regarding violation of fundamental rights. The result is that they are also susceptible to corruption. Everyone is looking for jobs with illegal income on the side. When a father looks for a groom for his daughter, he is not satisfied only with a high paying government job. He wants to know how much the prospective groom earns on the side through illegal gratification.
Why has the country of Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Vallabhabhai Patel and B.R. Ambedkar fallen into this rut? It is because of nepotism at high places. Our system of governance has totally failed and the common man has lost all faith in the system. The percentage of voters’ turnout during elections is an explicit example of this ‘Loss of Faith.’
A country or State with the Prime Minster leading the country or Chief Minister ruling the state and where Ministers are selected from the limited group of elected legislators, has failed to provide good governance. The present scenario where the electoral system eliminates the sincere, the good and honest and elects the corrupt, the mafia backed self seekers to power just because of indulgence of unaccounted money power, has failed to impress.
The forceful speeches by these leaders advising the common man to behave in secularism, discard casteism, rise above linguistic and regional narrow-mindedness and abhor corruption and nepolism for the benefit of the nation, has failed to impress. The citizens see and hear of the corruption in high places and view the legislatures as a meeting place for the most undisciplined and corrupt, hell bent on milching the national economy to fill their own coffers.
The future of our democracy looks bleak, the strengths are there in the good legislations and we have an independent judiciary as our backbone. Our limitation is that laws are not implemented, the fruits are shifted away by middlemen and nothing trickles down to the common man. All this while de jure head of executive- President and de facto head of Judiciary Chief Justice of Supreme Court, look on helplessly.
What sort of an electoral system is ours where the criminals can get elected from jails, where a person who is a dim wit and mentally crippled, has equal voting rights with the educated and knowledgable, just because he is above 18 years of age. How can a village bonded labor, who is not even aware of legislative or even his antecedent, in several cases, be herded to polling booths by their masters and cast his vote. How can we ensure that good, honest persons with integrity be elected to serve the cause of our country?
For all these reasons, our electoral system need to be reformed. A minimum level of education need to be stipulated for voting rights. The antecedents and activities of candidates need to be checked before allowing their candidature. An electoral reform bill was proposed with some amendments but no consensus could be reached regarding criminals because nearly all candidates are backed by criminals whose support is needed for muscle power during elections.
Our Constitution talks of secularism and our politicians join hands with communal and secessionist parties like Muslim League who openly advocated a separate nation to be carved our for Muslims. The nation is already carved up due to a Prime Minister’s self adulation tendencies which resulted in the grievous injury of Mandal Commission. Others are raising the bogey of sharing river waters by different states, as if we are not talking of a one country.
This is the level to which our politicians have been reduced to in the name of democracy. The fact remains that our experiment in democracy has faced innumerable invasions and occupations. Freedom and Independence has been interpreted by these politicians to have the freedom to be corrupt and help others in grabbing real estate, illegal business of mining and logging and influencing the law enfocement machinery to give them covert and even overt support in these criminal activities. Every contract allotted, every loan sanctioned, every license issued has to have their cuts delivered before maturing.
The system has been a total failure and what is needed is an emergency like the one imposed by Indira Gandhi. A period more blamed than evaluated but the only period after Independence when the official machinery worked. Trains ran on time, government officials were attentive and did their man heaved a sigh of relief. That there were some teething problems is accepted and in rare cases, excesses too but overall, it was a golden period.
What does this mean? That we are still obsessed with a slave mentality which ensures that we work only when we see the whip to be lashed with. Have we become totally callous and forgotten our responsibilities as dutiful citizens. The private sector behaves like a bunch of thieves trying to hive of everything, from taxes to custom and excise duties. The efforts at liberalizing the economy has also not delivered the desired results because undue advantage was taken from import of billiard balls and cloth to old woolen rags and under invoiced goods. Payments are made and received through Hawala transactions. Passengers travel on trains mostly without tickets and are spared because they line the pockets of conductors and ticket checkers. Electricity is stolen by using it direct and filling the pockets of staff. How may the government get revenue?
A state like Uttar Pradesh where the exchequer has an empty coffer, sees a jumbo ministry of 90 to 100 ministers with all expenses paid and the sanction to loot instead of doing something constructive. Politics does not mean serving the cause of the nation anymore, it means self-indulgence and ticket to corruption. Is this what democracy is all about?
These are the limitations of the System, at least in the Indian context and obviously we need a System more stringent where upright officers are rewarded instead of suspensions and transfers. That too four times in four months as UP has seen. For this we need a Federal System of governance where the President is elected in a nationwide referendum with the voters having the basic literacy level of understanding the value of their vote and instead of corrupt ministers, the cream of intellectuals with proven competence, are appointed in various fields, to help govern the country.