Is it time to revisit Indian parliamentary system of democracy?
Since the evolution of civilization mankind has simultaneously been trying to look for a perfect form of authority (governance) on earth. At present, comparatively better civilized societal order democracy cannot be denied its justifiable place in the system of governance even after possessing several gaps. Any other form of government tried since ages never produced desirable results as a democracy. And as on today no other form of government has been designed that could describe the political and administrative aspirations of people better than democracy. Astute professor of democracy, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at one point of time while defending democracy and point out its shortfalls had to state, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise”. However Abraham Lincoln’s description of democracy, “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” holds relevant even today after more than a century. Over a period of time democracy in the present form has been interpreted and applied differently by different nations. In a Parliamentary democracy, its proponents claim its majoritarian character at all levels. However, at a basic level without some caps and caveats regarding the participation of people, it is nothing but the crafty practice of ‘divide and rule’ in the garb of consensus. Indian multi-party parliamentary system of democracy lacking a definite mechanism for people’s participation and a minimum requirement of people’s vote to qualify for representation makes it the most complex system of representing entire populaces. In 1947 when parliamentary system of democracy was adopted by the Indian nation the then egalitarian Indian leadership never imagined their politics will ever stoop to the level of Winston Churchill’s prediction, “Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power & India will be lost in political squabbles”. A prediction that was made by Churchill in British Parliament during the debate on the Indian independence bill can be brushed aside as an outburst of displeasure against a nation and its leadership seeking complete freedom and empowerment. But C. Rajagopalachari’s apprehensions regarding a post-independence political scenario in India as mentioned in his Vellore jail diary in 1921, as well upholds the present state of Indian polity. Indian politicians over the period of time since independence have lost the love for the sense of nationhood and are more interested in individual political constituencies. Almost all politicians in India with sole agenda of power garnish their political aspirations with caste, communal hatred and regionalism giving a damn to long pending flaws and bottlenecks in practical implementation of democratic system nation adopted after independence. During elections for the last three decades in most parts of India with regional parties having a considerable influence, people’s judgment about governance gets split and at the end of the day, a virtual minority representative sample group gets authorized to represent a large section of people.
Indian constitution envisaged with major characteristics of republican, socialist and secular ideologies cannot ignore or deny the real representation to any of the groups or sub-groups within the populace. With its unique character of heterogeneity in ethnic, religious and linguistic matters of society and with diverse regional mapping India requires a tailor made application of parliamentary democracy where no ethnic or religious group is left out of the system of representation, administration of governance and justice. The political ploy to exploit and polarize the countrymen on religious and other trivial regional issues goes against the secular character of Indian constitution. Indian polity has to come to the rescue of ideologies of onetime tall Indian leaders like Maulana Azad and of that ilk and create an inclusive political mechanism where every group will get its true share. ‘Majority is authority’ can be true but the majority in isolation should not be construed as authority.
Recently, even the President of India stressed for guard against majoritarianism—the defective concept of majority in the present system, when he said, “while electoral verdicts are determined on the basis of ‘Bahumat’ (majority), the states will be governed by the principle of ‘Sarvamat’ (consensus). This is indeed India’s tradition and what the large majority of our people desire to see in action.”