IN April and May, your door will be knocked on by prospective Lok Sabha candidates for your endorsement to the 16th Lok Sabha. Your decision to vote for a particular candidate or party will make a lot of difference in the governance of India as in a democracy, this is the only weapon that the common man has, the only time when he is the master of the rulers. When you vote, have you ever thought, why you vote for a specific candidate or a party? Are you fully convinced that your vote will make a change for the better in the nation or your constituency? Has any political party consulted any voter, society, group, or community, while drafting its so-called election manifesto. The answer is no. So, the voter will have to vote as per a manifesto fabricated to serve political masters or corporate interests. The text will, of course, be disguised in a lingo that promises to ameliorate the condition of millions in India. What a paradox! This is a fact of the Indian democracy. It may sound cynical, but civil society has to ponder over how to have a better political system for good governance.
This issue of gfiles focuses on the elections for the 16th Lok Sabha. We have not analysed candidates, parties or possible results and, instead, have made this issue more thought provoking by reporting on where the road-map of democracy is looking like. MG Devasahayam writes in his column that the First Republic is fast becoming a ‘failed state’, with all the characteristics described by Robert Rotberg in his book, ‘When States Fail: Causes and Consequences’: “Failed states offer unparalleled economic opportunity only for a privileged few.
Those around the ruling oligarchy grow richer while their less fortunate brethren starve… The privilege of making immense profits and fortune, when everything else is deteriorating, is confined to clients of the ruling elite… The nation-state’s responsibility to maximise the well-being and prosperity of all its citizens is conspicuously absent… and, escalating levels of venal corruption mark failed states.” Our Associate Editor Neeraj Mahajan is worried when he writes, “one of the easiest ways of making money is to float a political party and play the role of mediator. As compared to just 53 political parties in the first general elections, today there are over 5,000 political parties in almost every street corner of India. Almost 1,600 of these parties are registered with the Election Commission, but some of them have never even contested one election.” After 66 years of Independence, why is the Election Commission not empowered enough to check the antecedents of parties and candidates and the flow of money, given the mushrooming of political parties. India is awakening; the voter too is awakening to the games played by candidates and political parties. How long will dirty tricks pave the way to Parliament? Solutions have to be discovered, evolved and implemented by the people of India as these parties and leaders will not identify, nor endorse, a way which can catch them red handed.
Still, there is hope; the President of India Pranab Mukherjee is well aware of the rot and his responsibility to remedy it. In his acceptance speech as the 13th President of the Republic, he said: “Corruption is an evil that can depress the nation’s mood and sap its progress. We cannot allow our progress to be hijacked by the greed of a few”. He went on to add that the principal responsibility of his office is to function as the guardian of our Constitution. “I will strive, as I said on oath, to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, not just in word but also in spirit.” Let the spirit prevail.