Table of Contents
THE CONTEXT: A fundamental purpose of democracy is to establish processes to negotiate differences among a diverse population that coexist. India’s leadership has put it above other countries in the international scenario but facing certain challenges. In this context, with the upcoming elections near the corner, India needs to set an example for the world to reset and bring back good faith in its politics.
- Behaviour of ruling regime: The ruling regime has recently behaved impatiently in the Parliament even for democratic formalities. It has wielded state power in wholly undemocratic ways to neutralise the Opposition and clampdown on dissent.
- Stand of opposition: There is a section of the Opposition, especially civil society, which has pursued a strategy of embarrassing the government. It is not just that there is ideological opposition to the government but it is very clear that this section refuses to acknowledge the very legitimacy of the government.
- Erosion of faith: Decline of good faith in politics has resulted in a mindless rivalry where only the most partisan can prosper as opposed to those motivated by the public interest. This status quo, if left unaddressed, would be tragic for country.
- Issue of anti-defection law: There is another concern of anti-defection law which subverts representative democracy by constraining legislators to party leadership’s order. There has not been enough discussion on the effects of the anti-defection law on inner party democracy and issue-based mobilisation across parties.
- Lack of intra party transparency: It is a common knowledge that power in all political parties has concentrated in the hands of a few individuals. While political parties are notionally democratic, in-house elections lack transparency.
THE WAY FORWARD:
- Acknowledge the behaviour on both sides: There are a range of behaviours by the government but also those opposed to the government which need to be acknowledged from the both sides. There is no need for more explanation on the government’s misuse of state power, which includes defections, imprisonment, and intimidation.
- Role of individuals: Individuals of all ideological inclinations, who value civility and moderation in the politics, can play a crucial role. Many of these individuals wield influence within politically relevant institutions, either officially or through their networks. This group can play a pivotal role in restoring basic democratic principles in our public life by exerting influence.
- Reform with party system: Though partisanship is an important driver of multi-party democracy but constant demands for a blind, aggressive allegiance will only make partisanship and cynicism worse. Instead, party members must use their influence to restrain their own party’s excesses and reorient focus towards substantive issues.
- Address anti defection: There is a need to develop consensus of individuals across party lines on getting rid of the anti-defection law to limit potential instability in political parties. Also, dispersal of power to party’s elected representatives can create avenues for internal negotiations as well as horizontal issue-based mobilisation.
- Media’s role needs scrutiny: The mass media plays a pivotal role in opinion-making and instead of informing the electorate, the media often contributes to polarisation. It is in the interest of every citizen to promote responsible journalism and rebuild trust in the media. Individuals with influence over their party or media institutions can help create an environment to support a more public-interest media.
India, like many other liberal democracies, is at a similar crossroads of ideological diversities. Therefore, concerned citizens across the ideological divide needs to come together to restore trust in our political institutions and preserve our democratic framework.
UPSC PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS
Q. Parliament’s power to amend the constitution is limited power and it cannot be enlarged into absolute power”. In light of this statement, explain whether parliament under article 368 of the constitution can destroy the basic structure of the constitution by expanding its amending power? (2019)
MAINS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Q. Faith in India’s political institutions seems at its lowest with the erosion of its credibility. Critically examine the statement and suggest ways to restore trust in politics.Spread the Word