The country’s picture isn’t so rosy

For revival of the Constitutional democracy and the rule of law based system of governance, people will have to join hands to fight out the forces of darkness, writes MY SIDDIQUI

India on completion of 74 years of the Independence from the British colonial rule on August 15, 1947 projects a very grim picture with all the public institutions corroded, hollowed out and dashed from within so much so that they cannot stand up to provide the needed checks and balances on the democratically elected Union Government much less safeguard people’s fundamental rights enshrined in the rule of law based Constitutional democratic governance. Government today is more ruthless and repressive than the pre-Independence era, police mostly corrupt, partisan and oppressive, justice for general public elusive, unemployment, poverty, hunger, ill-health, mal nutrition, starvation remaining all time high and endemic. Fundamental rights to life, right to privacy of data, right to Internet, right to freedom, right to liberty, democratic rights, human rights are all decimated. Seemingly, government is out to make India a surveillance state.

Open communalism, aggressive hate crimes, extraordinary nationalism, unholy nexus between state surveillance and unauthorized surveillance, Pegasus surveillance are a consistent pattern to control every independent institution to subvert them so that they are under control of the ruling party government. Democratically elected government avoids public debates on issues facing the nation. Parliament has been made irrelevant and bills passed without debates, scrutiny and consensus. Council of Union Ministers has been rendered a mere democratic formalities with no autonomy and made to function as lackey to the fascist. Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) takes all decisions including individual Ministries in respect of the areas under their respective charge, making collective responsibility a casualty. Given such authoritarian arbitrary decisions broadly known as one-man rule, one wonders that why need a new Parliament building at massive public costs when parliamentary democracy has been subverted.

The government has ignored its democratic responsibility to inform the people about Chinese aggression along the LAC. Institutional democratic mechanism of consultations and consensus has been dispensed with. Government continues to be arbitrary, authoritarian. Decision taken is without forethought, without pre planning. Governance authority is centralized in one individual who is all time fascistic.  All structural facades of democracy, though apparent, stand emasculated and the Constitution of India castrated. Judiciary has been blackmailed covertly to hand out favourable judgments in recent past emboldening the fascist to be more and more arbitrary and authoritarian.. But with a strong Chief Justice of India now, people have begun exuding confidence that it will stand out as sentinel of democracy and safeguard people’s rights. Government is not responsive to civil society, students, farmers, workers, retired civil servants dubbing them all anti national, worth being hauled up under the non-bailable dreaded sedition and anti-terror laws. Any one questioning the government using his/her democratic rights is dubbed  anti-national.

Disastrous policies and mismanagement of the Covid-19 induced pandemic left countless people gasping for breathing for want of oxygen, lack of medicines, shortages of hospital beds.  Crematoriums and graveyards were unable to cope with countless bodies for their last rites. Prohibitive costs forced the poor to dispose of dead bodies of their loved ones in deep rivers like the Ganga, engrave them in shallow sandy ditches, leaving such bodies to be eaten by carnivorous animals like dogs, vultures etc., the government denying all that and busy in image building of the PM, could only happen in dictatorship, not in democracy. Millions were pushed below poverty, poor to starvations, many committed suicides. And the sops came too late with the intervention of the Supreme Court of India. Elected government watched that sadistically, so much for democracy.

Economy is in shambles with crores (millions) having lost jobs, public savings dipped with people having lost faith in the security of their hard earned lifetime savings. Majority of the total 140 bills enacted since 2014 favour select few corporates close to the dictator. In addition, 23-profit making

Central Public Enterprises were privatized to the corporate favourites against the policy since 1991 globalisation of Indian economy to privatize only loss making public enterprises. Government garnered approximately rupees 10 lakh crores out of privatization during the over last seven years. This has reduced employment avenue considerably. This government has not built any public assets. Foreign policy is in tatters with all our neighbours turning hostile. Foreign media report adversely on

India about its growing open communalism, aggressive hate crimes indulged in by ruling Sangh Pariwar and other fissures of communal and castes divides,  most likely making the nation not the right destination for investments. Schools and institutes of higher learnings remain shut with inequality and digital divide ever widening, education budget reduced year on year since 2014, our women folks remain under fear of insecurity, unemployment, growing violence, increasing crimes and lurking threats to their modesty. Such scenario cannot be thought of in a democracy.

Much touted cooperative federalism is subverted with weakened States having lost their financial autonomy, with the Government of India not consulting them in keeping with the Constitutional norms of Centre-States relations. Government is avoiding dialogue with people except through ads, paid news and captive media with no freedom of diverse information. Vast network of private media has been silenced with coercive and palliative measures. Hindutwa’s oft repeated political slogan, “Jai Shree Ram” in place of traditional “Jai Sia Ram” or “Jai Sita Ram” has been weaponised and become coercive for people perceived not on the same page notwithstanding that Lord Ram is revered by all communities as a perfect divine icon. No wonder, poet Iqbal called Him “Imam e Hind.” He wrote the famous all time relevant National Song, “Sar e Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamaara….” Divisive Hindutwa forces have resurrected the historical faultlines of Savarna versus non-Savarna, tribals versus non-tribals apart from Hindu-Muslim having fraying communal harmony, coexistence and unity in diversity of our long cherished Oneness of People and Oneness of Nation as conceived of and postulated by the Constitution.

Given the foregoings, one can say with conviction our democracy has been reduced as a mere election centric and in the present scenario democracy is dead for all practical purposes. The “Tryst with Destiny” envisioned by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru after hoisting the National Flag at midnight of August 15, 1947 from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Delhi for Justice, Equality, Liberty and Fraternity for all citizens equally and alike and together with the harmonious whole nation stand thoroughly shattered with the rise of BJP in the current form since 2014. For revival of the Constitutional democracy and the rule of law based system of governance, people will have to join hands together to fight out the forces of darkness at the next general elections. The Constitution of India broadly provides for liberal values ensuring enduring mechanism for resolutions of all problems for assured peace and progress of the country!

The views expressed are author’s own