India as a democracy is one of the largest and most vibrant in existence. Of late however the four pillars on which it stands are being pounded to the point of crumbling. And that is not a good thing. No democracy can function properly if even one of the four develops a crack.
The first and most easily vilified of these pillars is the Legislature. Yes, we all know that they are corrupt and shameless and a whole lot of other things but are we not the very ones, who give them power over us. We complain and yet approach them for individual favors, time and again which in turn makes them approbate for themselves a cloak of omnipotence.
What about the Executive? They are the executors of Law and responsible for the daily administration of the entire country. They tend to be portrayed as mindless lambs meekly following the dictates of their political heads. The truth of it is that Ministers change every few years but the bureaucrats stay. They are the ones running the system and nothing can be done or undone without their knowledge and participation.
The Judiciary must uphold the Law and mostly they are good at it. For objective reasons however, Law is blind. And that is where its greatness strength also becomes its greatest weakness. Because such objectivity is mostly a pipedream since as humans, we find it hard to be so. A look at various judgments pronounced in recent times will reveal the truth of this.
Finally we have the sacrosanct Media, self-proclaimed custodians of the nation’s conscience. With the evolution of television and the internet, most media but predominately television is gradually evolving into a repugnant entity that is less concerned with accurate representation of facts and more with sensational eyeball pulling attacks on the other pillars while resisting its own accountability. Can they get any more “holier than thou”?
What is the role of the citizen in this great whirlpool of democracy? Is it just to be a thumb pusher every five years or is it much more?
‘With great power comes great responsibility’ said Voltaire and the greatest responsibility a citizen can have is to choose good leaders. That tiny drop of India Ink on one’s finger is the greatest testament to one’s freedom and the power to choose the nations destiny. If you do not use your vote, no one will hear you.
The Legislature and the Executive work for the people. It behoves them to listen to our opinions and needs. Most people are afraid to ask for their services when they go to government offices or meet elected representatives. When in need, communicate that need by writing letters, making phone calls or even speaking at meetings. We must let officials know what are thinking about the work they do.
Volunteer to make your community a better place. It doesn’t have to be a lot. May be just keeping the surroundings clean by not littering, following traffic rules even when no one’s looking, paying ones taxes for the upkeep of the nation. By volunteering you give something back by doing your part in making a positive difference to the community.
Our democracy is vibrant and participative but it needs active citizens faithfully engaging in the existing frameworks laid down by the Constitution in order to work at its optimum best.
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. – ROBERT HUTCHINS