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Durable Link to this BlogSaturday, January 9, 2010

Musings on the 60th Anniversary of Indian Republic

India became a free nation on the 15th August 1947. Thereafter legal luminaries and scholars of administrative and constitutional method, drafted a constitution suited to this pluralistic and tradition-bound country. Due importance was given to adult franchise so that Indians could elect their own representatives who will administer the land at the state and national levels. India at the time was divided into thirteen British - run territories, and more than five hundred principalities, big and small ruled by royals. It was left to the astute statesmanship and iron will of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950), to coax, convince and at times threaten the princes of India to join the Indian Union. India Emerged as a Sovereign Democratic Republic on 26th January 1950, exactly sixty years ago.

Much water has flowed through Ganga river during these sixty long years. With several gnawing problems like poverty, illiteracy, mismanagement of resources, natural as well as artificial, can proudly proclaim that India as a republic has succeeded. As world"s biggest democracy of more than hundred million people, there is no match to India in the process of electing its representatives every five years. Dictatorships military or otherwise, are a legion in the world, in the garb of republic. Pakistan, born on the same day, India became free, calls itself, "Islamic Republic of Pakistan". So called "republics" exist in different parts of the world.

Threat of India becoming a dictator-run country or attaining totalitarian form of government is a remote possibility. The Emergency years of Indira Gandhi's rule (1975-77) have proved that Indians do not take kindly to government curbs on press, institutions and individuals in the name of discipline. Indira was defeated by, until then unknown town-politician in her prestigious constituency, when she declared elections, being sure of a cake-walk to victory!

The real threat to Indian Democracy is from within. Several fissiparous tendencies are cropping up. In earlier years, agitation was on for creation of linguistic states. Given that there was demand for states for tribal regions, which was also granted. Of late agitation is going on for the bifurcation of linguistic states as well! The demand is going on for dividing Andhra Pradesh, one of the bigger states in Indian Union, into Telengana and Andhra. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh the biggest state is demanding the division in three parts. The Gorkhas, originally from Nepal are making a demand for a state in Indian territory! Other smaller divisions are also making claim for separate states.

Most disturbing thoughts are that the agitators are taking to streets. At times public property is damaged and police are attacked for silly reasons in the land of Gandhi and nonviolence. Elected representatives are attacked, microphones damaged by their brethren in the assemblies of elected representatives as it happened in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka when session was just to start. Mobs are provoked by power-hungry politicians for petty things. Main object of the several so-called "leaders" is to grab power, make money by all corrupt means, and stay in power. Mutual mud-slinging is very common and the media called the fourth estate (fourth power in any free country after Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary in representing public opinion in self-rule) has forgotten its role in free India, of educating the masses. Its eye is on sensational matters, at times not caring for authenticity.

Sixty years are long enough to learn the importance of right to vote and mandatory powers of the elected government. But Indians have not much choice when elections are declared. Only money-power matters and those so-called "leaders" who have amassed money by questionable means, get tickets from different political parties. It is Hobson's Choice! People who have no love or concern for their country, get elected only by "purchasing" votes through the huge unaccounted amount.

In Gandhian Era, best and selfless brains were attracted to politics, from all strata. Now the political scene of India has completely changed. In spite of the best efforts of Election Commission of India, reputed for impartiality, there is corroding effect on Indian Democracy, due to lack of National Commitment and discipline on the part of political parties. India as a country, had evolved self-rule at the village level five thousand years ago. But has yet to prove that it is the best ruled republic. Only when the public at large, fully realizes the importance of their voting in the formation of the government and its role in the welfare of the country, things will improve. It needs special efforts to educate masses of India's size, in such matters.

Amma's Column by Jyotsna Kamat

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.



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