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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : India’s democracy, diminished and declining

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Current events of national importance, democracy, covid, elections etc
  • Mains GS Paper I and II: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, institutions and other measures etc

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • On Republic Day parade this year India showcased the nation’s soft and hard power, sending out a message to the world of India’s arrival on the global scene

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Democracy:

  • Democracy is a form of government in which rulers are elected by the people in a free and fair elections, on universal adult franchise.
  • Fundamental rules: It is governed on the basis of certain fundamental rules like a constitution.
  • Political philosophy: It has been a part of contemporary political philosophy and other social choice theories.
  • Discussions: Democracy is about a government by discussion but that discussion should not divide us into two hard brackets.

 

Instances of diminishing democracy:

  • Recurring reports about constitutional transgressions interrogate the depth and the quality of our democratic engagement.
  • The expunging of parliamentary statements of Opposition leaders, which is questionable
  • The disruption of the Prime Minister’s speech in the Rajya Sabha
  • The disproportionate penalty of suspension imposed on an Opposition MP for recording the proceedings of the House.
  • The suicide of an 18-year-old Dalit student in one of the country’s premier educational institutions because of ‘unbearable distress’ (allegedly on account of caste discrimination)
  • A 16-year-old Dalit student being beaten up by his principal as the boy is said to have drank water from the principal’s water bottle.
  • The conviction and the sentencing by a court in Uttar Pradesh of a sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly (Opposition party) for a two-year jail term in a 15-year-old case for blocking a road is perverse,
  • SC’s decision , at a special sitting on a court holiday, to suspend the bail of a disabled accused who has been charged with sedition.
  • The obscene language by leaders at each other in the parliament have coarsened the fabric of democratic politics.

 

Importance of language in democracy:

  • The language of democracy is one of accommodation anchored in moderated thought and rational persuasion.
    • It is not about hurting sensitivities but respecting them and recognising that political adversaries are not personal enemies to be mocked and crushed.
  • Democracy is not about a strong man imposing his will “over the wreckage of the universe.
    • It is premised on a search for the middle ground and rejection of extremes, an objective best sub-served through elegant communication.
  • The spoken words and speeches of leaders provide the benchmark of democracy.
    • The standing of our public figures is tested through their utterances.

 

Way Forward

  • The political language in present times, steeped in hypocrisy and intense personal animosities reflects the narrowness of our politics and violates the dignitarian promise of the Constitution, and is destructive of the broader social accord.
  • India’s diminished democracy can be resurrected only through an ennobling political discourse defined by civil conversation founded in reason and faith in the power of decency to make a difference.
  • The celebration of the Republic cannot be complete as long as our politics remains limited by narrow partisan perspectives and is driven by those whose projected concern at pervasive injustices is largely suspect, given their obsession with a compulsive pursuit of power for its own sake.
  • The foundations of the Republic are predicated on a just exercise of peoples’ power by ruling dispensations of the day and on the Opposition’s fearless pushback against the abuse of power.
  • The challenge for those who aspire to lead the nation in the fullness of its glory in these momentous times, is to imagine and consolidate a political universe rooted in the collective assertion of our moral judgment that answers the call of good conscience.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. On what grounds a people’s representative can be disqualified under the Representation of People Act, 1951? Also mention the remedies available to such person against his disqualification.(UPSC 2019)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)