Indian Politics and Society – Could this be a Democracy?

September 6, 2018

Indian Politics and Society – Could this be a Democracy?

Padmini Arhant

Indian political class is representative of only three segments – the corrupt political establishment which is the incumbent and opposition alike, the industrialists and celebrities amassing illegitimate power, wealth and fame.

The so-called world’s largest democracy is hostage to corrupt, criminal and crony celebrity worship where political parties desperately depend on celebrities from entertainment industry during election campaign to mislead voters with big and small screen fictional heroes and fake heroines to sell fairy tales. They are also the preferred candidates for members in both the lower and upper house of the Indian parliament. Both BJP and Congress governments never fail to confer civil awards to Bollywood actors and actresses regardless of many among them being undeserving and unworthy of such honor. This is nothing more than bribery to retain relations between politics and entertainment industry.

There is a pact to have each other’s back and accordingly they exchange favors to benefit one another. The Bollywood actor and actress engaged in hit and run manslaughter from drunken driving and excess speed respectively resulting in loss of lives of innocent mainstream citizens are exempt from law that is otherwise applicable to average citizen in society. Prime Minister Modi government had gone out of their way and intercepted the criminal charge brought on the actor and actress with the latter being BJP’s lower house MP and the former recruited for 2019 election campaign.

Furthermore, in February 2018 a Bollywood actress passed away from alcoholism, the BJP government in the State of Maharashtra with Central authorities’ approval bid farewell to her with a state honor and national flag wrapped around the coffin falsely suggesting martyrdom. Notwithstanding denigration of the national flag and importantly those genuine martyrs, the true patriots responsible for the flag and national independence.

Ironically, the current BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi fictitious claims on random citizens quoting disrespect to national flag subsequent to the above-mentioned fanfare to Bollywood actress despite the circumstances of her demise and the misuse of national flag is hardly a matter of insolence to the flag or freedom fighters per government definition of patriotism and behavior pattern.

In comparison, the seventeen-year-old high school girl student in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu falls victim to targeted sniper attack in the peaceful protest for environment protection, her family is denied possession of slain body to perform last rites making them plead for nearly two days since fatal shooting.

Likewise, the ordinary female citizen in Delhi is a gang rape victim and Congress President Sonia Gandhi intervenes between the doctor and patient forcing the critically ill patient transportation overseas against physician advise causing patient’s death. To add insult to injury to her traumatized parents and other family members, the state together with political opposition at foreign authorities’ behest withheld her name again in violation of both the patient and her parents’ will.

Contrarily, the politics fueled social issues based on caste and religion aimed at marginalized demography and violence experienced by citizens in different states from deployment of troops or public funded law enforcement routinely produce casualties sparking reaction amongst members in civil society.

Those who dare to raise voices and express concern over these flagrant incidents are framed anti-nationals with arrest warrants issued witnessed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s latest action. Indian governments in power at any time displaying zero tolerance to constructive criticism and fair analysis is a serious blow to the idea of democracy. The heads of state at the national and regional level assume position of authority to the extreme undermining civil rights to question abuse of power in the absence of transparency and accountability.

Yet another political maneuver is using caste, minorities and disenfranchised segments as vote banks for political mileage. Both BJP and Congress along with their coalitions in different states continue to exploit these groups for political advantage ignoring the social and economic repercussions lasting generations among these population. The caste classifications as scheduled caste and scheduled tribe not excluding Dalits are maintained under the pretext of reservations or quota and preference only to polarize society. In return, drawing attention to such manipulation is rebutted as seditious accusing the fact presenter.

The trend has been exhausted and reached saturation with clashes erupting from other castes for not having equal opportunity to compete on meritocracy though the policy is deceptively dubbed inclusive. In fact, the contrast is evident with the Home Minister Raj Nath Singh in his latest press conference confirming caste census for citizens to specify their caste made mandatory and expected to be implemented by PM Modi government rather than moving towards abolishing caste system and placing all citizens and territories for due economic development increasing prospects for financial and social progress.

Indian electorate rejecting celebrity-oriented election rallies and candidacies together with objection to massive campaign funding from all sources without limits enabling political parties to buy votes from economically vulnerable voters are preliminary steps towards freeing the society from affluent dominance. Additionally, demanding political parties to adhere to democratic process holding primary election allowing people to choose Prime Minister candidates instead of imposing incumbent and opponent from either party as the only choice leaving the electorate at the national parties mercy is fundamental to free and fair election.

In terms of privileges and immunity on crimes, the celebrities, politicians and industrialists are entitled to tax evasions, embezzlement and various nefarious unscrupulous dealings not barring illegal arms trade, drug trafficking including elimination of anyone regarded an obstacle through contractual killings are not uncommon.

The politics owned media, press and communication outlets are inundated with propaganda to muzzle objective evaluation of the government policies and programs having negative impact on overwhelming majority in the country.  The freedom of speech is curtailed to a large extent with hardline approach exercised by all political parties to remain in power. The broadband access is also stifled to contain free flow of information even during state or national crisis related to government crackdown on citizens seeking solutions to problems arising from dereliction of public servants duty.

In the course of corruption scandals or major investigations involving government entities and their relatives in sensitive issues like drug and flesh trade as well as other matter, the investigating officials with incriminating evidence leading towards indictment are invariably transferred at the nick of time and alternatively they are compelled to quit job ending the probe there and then to shield members in politics, entertainment and other industry.

The political situation is toxic and deteriorating with Prime Minister Modi and administration exerting extra judicial power considering the blanket order on dissent and activism on human rights violations coded anti-nationalism. The other being embankment defending prevalent silent emergency rule to mute credible and legitimate opposition. The predecessor Congress were no different in their effort to quell opinion and smudge data on mountainous scandals that ousted them from power.

Not surprisingly, the independent organization Transparency International in Europe has categorized India nearly close to Somalia in corruption among the worst corrupt nations in the world.

These actions without a shadow of doubt endanger democracy and set precedence for mass subjugation. The tradition misinterpreting people’s mandate for governance to address relevant and significant issues confronting them and national interests diverted to empowerment of selective class in society would definitively lead to undesirable outcome.

Change must begin at the top to trickle down to bottom. Indian electorate have the right and power to enforce the long overdue evolution through ballot, the non-violent and peaceful means to bring about positive effect.

Padmini Arhant

Author & Presenter







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