Monday, November 3, 2014

Let us think and Act with an open mind to
Develop a Vibrant Democracy Article 17

Introduction: I have identified thirty obstacles which cause a distorted and ineffective democracy and possible solutions for these. Because very few people have time / inclination to read long articles, these are presented in separate brief articles for pointed attention and easier assimilation. I hope this will lead to spreading of awareness and facilitating point by point debate on each of these for saving our sinking democracy.
 (Please keep these articles within easy reach for referring back till the series is completed.)

Upholders of democracy

Before independence, the country had leaders who sacrificed a lot to fight for independence. They were supported by freedom fighters who also joined the fight with a spirit of sacrifice. These freedom fighters                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   were from every walk of life such as lawyers, authors, poets, doctors, cartoonists, actors, farmers, workers, sportsmen  etc. After independence, some of these leaders became politicians and adopted a different role viz., governing the country with a commitment to national interests and welfare of people.  Unfortunately, over time, there has been steady deterioration in the spirit of sacrifice and commitment to national interests and welfare of people among political leaders.  Our President expressed concern and disappointment at the “eroding commitment among the legislators who are expected to be custodians of public interests and rights”.

On the other hand, most of the freedom fighters did not take up any new role. They became complacent because they felt that the country was safe in the hands of the leaders who fought for freedom. Otherwise they would have sought and found a new role as upholders of democracy. Most of them have realized, as years passed by, that the self-sacrificing political leaders were increasingly replaced by self-serving politicians who were more interested in holding on to power and amassing wealth.  They also now realize that such leaders not only do not feel the need for support from spirited groups like “freedom fighters” but also feared that such people can be a hindrance for their selfish endeavours and avoided or even suppressed them. At present, most of the survivors among the freedom fighters have become cynical and disgruntled and suffer from a defeatist mentality. Younger generations of potential upholders of democracy are either confused without proper leadership or have been cleverly side tracked by misinformation.

The above aspects depict the twenty-fifth obstacle which resulted in a distorted and ineffective democracy.

To overcome this obstacle, upholders of democracy (old and potential) should wake up as quickly as possible and organize themselves to save democracy.  Their current cynicism, negative attitude, and defeatist mentality should be replaced with a positive and spirited outlook for fighting for true democracy. They should develop full confidence by following the advice of Margaret Mead: “Never forget that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it is the only way that ever does.” They should also persevere by following an anonymous thinker’s advice that “There can be efforts that fail but there should not be a failure of efforts” and systematically organize a meaningful and peaceful fight for real democracy. An essential first step is to create wide spread awareness among people about the various obstacles which led to the sinking of our democracy. This series of articles can be used to initiate discussions. These discussions and other ideas which arise during the process of creating awareness should be used for wider debates.

Without entering politics, upholders of democracy (old and potential)  should peacefully fight for reforming the democratic system by utilizing their talents and influence as lawyers, authors, poets, doctors, cartoonists, actors, farmers, workers, sportsmen etc. as their predecessors had done in the fight for independence. For a start, they should create awareness among the people, mobilize their support and provide them leadership to fight for a truly vibrant democracy.  

Most educated people are members of some associations or clubs. They should frequently discuss in their meetings the problems faced by our sinking democracy - firstly to create awareness of these problems and then debate on possible solutions for these problems. These discussions ought to lead to development of many leaders all over the country for a peaceful fight for true democracy. These new leaders should organize public debates to reach a consensus about the reformed system of true democracy. They should select regional and national leaders to strengthen the peaceful movement for true democracy.

The upholders of democracy should also approach and request celebrities in different fields such as film stars, musicians, authors, doctors, lawyers, poets, cricketers, cultural and religious groups etc., who have lot of influence on people, to help to create awareness about the failures in our democracy and thereby help to form a true democracy on sound lines. Some celebrities can also be persuaded to take up non-political leadership of the peaceful movement for true democracy.

To make meaningful efforts, old and potential upholders of democracy and their new leaders should dare to think and act for securing welfare of the people. They have to awaken and motivate people particularly the youth to act peacefully without fear and with patience to achieve the goal of a truly vibrant democracy. They should be prepared for a long peaceful fight against powerful vested interests who will give threats and play lot of tricks to prevent any meaningful reform of democracy.


You can help to save our sinking democracy by making as many people as possible aware of these obstacles and possible solutions, through personal group discussions, newspaper articles, e-mail and social media like face book and twitter so that we can have healthy debates and arrive at some innovative ideas to save our sinking democracy.

Comments (especially those which point out errors or deficiencies, if any, in this article and thereby help to improve it) and suggestions to overcome this very serious obstacle are welcome. Please send these to I shall make use of all befitting suggestions to prepare the last two articles of this series – Articled 23 will spell out the basic principles which will guide formulation of the revised system of democracy and Article 24 will outline the revised system of democracy for public debate to arrive at a consensus.

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