India is, of course the biggest democracy in the world. Free and Fair elections are held every five years in governing bodies such as the local governing bodies, the State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha. But my question is, 'Are we a participatory democracy?'
The answer is a big 'no', because no free, fearless and impartial debates are held in any of the governing bodies to sort out the problems facing the nation. Most of the time is wasted in procedural wrangles and frequent interruptions leading to adjournments. Both the Government and the opposition are equally responsible for such situations.
For democracy to be meaningful, it has to be alive and kicking with participatory debates taking place without fear or any kind of partiality. Only then, the democracy can be vibrant and energetic to some extent. First of all, fear of the party whip and the anti-defection law has made it impossible for party members not to toe the party lines but give their independent advice. This fear needs to be removed.
Secondly, any member can represent any constituency, whether he may be from that constituency or not. The outsiders who represent a constituency are hardly aware of the problems faced by the people of that particular constituency. So, it should be laid down in the electoral rules that only a person from the constituency itself can represent that constituency.
Thirdly, one wonders if the views of the weaker sections of the society, the rickshaw puller, the tonga driver, the housewife, the tribal living in remote and inaccessible areas are taken into account. The answer once again falls in the negative. There may be fierce debates on TV channels or aggressive write ups in local newspapers and magazines or the offbeat films reflecting revolutionary ideas but what lies missing is that there is very less participation by the illiterate masses, the weaker sections of the society and the tribals living in remote and inaccessible areas in the formation of opinions.
In a participatory democracy, we have to make these very neglected people of our society as opinion makers so that our policy are shaped on the basis of what people want.
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