Kerala State Assembly was in news headlines recently. Uproar created by opposition and the reluctance of ruling party ultimately resulted in total chaos. Chair of Speaker was witnessed flying in air having been uprooted in the ongoing chaos (yes, you heard me correct!). But if I am correct the venue of entire episode was our Temple of Democracy i.e. Legislative House and the actors of conflict were none other than our honorable elected MLAs. This is just one small example with multiple other incidents on even larger scale occurring across our country. Is that how democracy was supposed to function? Whether this represents a characteristic of democratic society functioning or is it just about the state to which our society has denigrated to? This article represents an attempt on my part to understand the functioning of democratic societies and way ahead.
# How Democracy functions?
Without going into technical terminologies of elections, democracy can be basically understood as supremacy of people. It is “we the people of India” who finally decides the end result. A parliament disruption is just a miniscule manifestation of larger picture. In words of “Amartya Sen: The Argumentative Indian”, interactions between two individuals give rise to arguments which decides the final outcome. Thus the final result is an outcome of consensus established between multiple actors. (Wait a minute did I really say that!)How can consensus be ever established when so many interest groups are involved in deliberation? Whether that does not indicates the technical error on entire methodology? However closer examination does suggest that this practice has been the basis of our existence.
If single actor is given predominance and allowed to run the entire country without taking other stakeholders on board, we might move towards rapid development but the same will not be an inclusive one. Inclusion of Rajya Sabha in Parliamentary functioning was based on similar premise i.e. to allow states to present their concerns under mainstream discussion. Thus we represent the small tortoise that has to move slowly, consistently but with final aim towards progress/development/or what we call it as Good Governance.
# Relevance in current context
I did not indulge in writing this article just out of curiosity to present a new entry on my blog. It represents my stand on democratic functioning of our society. Having heard criticism as mentioned in introductory paragraph and multiple others stating the poor states of developmental affairs in India, I remain a firm critic of the same. We are not failing but we are fairing forward!
Ongoing deliberation on Land Acquisition Issue manifests the entire scenario. One thing which no civil society activist can negate is the fact that we need land for development. We cannot forever be engaged in agriculture as our prime occupation. But then why this vociferous opposition against current BJP led govt. Answer lies in functioning of democracy itself. Once a benchmark is established as was under the 2013 Act then there is no going back. As stated in 2015 Economic Survey that radical reforms are possible only at the time of crisis. Present govt. might have come under full majority but short of strength in RS has made it taste the worse opposition.
Ongoing tussle between Ruling party and opposition alliance represents the strength of Indian democratic functioning. It prevents any radical shift in our policies and allows greater political discussion. What remains the point of concern is the manner of deliberation. Evolving code of ethics for parliamentarians remains the need of hour for rectifying the same.
I would like to end the article on an optimistic note that we are not failing. As Howard Zinn said “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.” We need protest but we also need code of conduct to guide that protest. We need disruption but we also need healthy discussion. Thus we must appreciate the efforts of our Constitution Makers and try to see the positive aspect of ongoing disruptions.