The Credibility Problem of Democracy


This is part 2 of our post on ‘The credibility problem of democracy..In part 1 we have seen how the cases of Mumbai Police, Hathras, Dr Sudhir Gupta etc are diluting the credibility if our system..In this post we propose certain solutions for the same.
Part 2: Some suggested Solutions to make the democracy more credible and strong: Strange case of Dr Sudhir Gupta and The Credibility Problem of Politicians, media and Institutes ! Where does it lead us ?
While we have adopted the democratic system of governance; we have been unable to maintain the proper functioning of the same. No democracy can work without active participation of citizens, citizen groups and an active law and order situation. here we will outline a few suggestions that we think will help in bolstering the fragile democracy in the country.
1. Enact proper ACTS: We need a very proactive and vigilant judiciary, parliamentarians and law and order system in the country. All the democratic nations across the globe are going through a period of crisis. Newer books are coming that points to this crisis. Yashca Mounk professor at Harvard university talks about this crisis in his book ‘ People and Democracy’ in no uncertain terms. He lists countries from western Europe to North America besides others to demonstrate his point. The author points out that citizens must come out on the street as often to protest and it seems that the recent ‘Black lives matters’ as well as anti CAA protests might have been inspired from his book mainly supporting liberal democracy.
But we think that democracies around the world need better laws and regulations to maintain the minimum credibility that the vulnerable democracies are looking for. Unlike autocracies, democracies cannot work in isolation. They need the support of people and institutions. Institutions can be made by the government but strengthened by parliamentarians for the benefit of citizens. Therefore the role of parliamentarians remains central to a strong democracy.
Unfortunately in our country we waste a lot of time and energy not to speak of money over non issues. While the Modi govt has done well to bring some professionalism in passing the bills , the quality of parliamentarians and the debate is far from satisfying. There is a dilution in quality everywhere which is the biggest threat to democracy while lagging in enacting appropriate laws for a fast changing society, social values and a changing world.
Freedom House founded in 1941 in the USA is an organization that works to strengthen democracy. It has made an excellent report for the same that we recommend strongly to our policy makers (…
The report covers issues from social media , foreign donations, corruption, businesses, human rights, civic education, foreign influence over govt officials, and many other laws to strengthen US democracy. The report also lists various issues facing the Indian democracy and rates them on a scale of 4. Though one would have liked them to be more diligent on certain issues nevertheless the report by and large seems to be quite fair. (). It seems that western organizations and media are not duly informed by the government and there is a lot of work required to do on this front to make the country’s image better overseas.
While the whistleblower act and RTI have indeed empowered the citizens and democracy they are not sufficient on their own. The increasing case of rapes and sexual assault need to be tackled with strong will power and not just laws. This is a social problem that has to be also handled socially because no matter how many laws one enact such crimes will continue to happen.
2. Form more institutes and commissions:The government can empower Women commission and may form other commissions to look after cases of women in the country more actively and fast justice. Media must be made accountable with strict penalties like automatic cancellation of channel license for a day or a week maximum, This will act as a deterrence.
3. Protect the Honest before punishing the Guilty: There is also a need to protect honest officers while punishing the corrupts. The example of Mumbai police is a case in point which appears to be acting in a very partisan manner. This requires Police and law and order to be free of political pressures. Another solution that we have proposed earlier also is to make all the Metros be declared as Union territories (UT). The case of Dr Sudhir Chaudhary, Cooper hospital etc also need to be taken more seriously to deter further deterioration of the medical practices in the country.
4. Police reforms are most urgent: finally it all boils down to a fair and just Police and law and order system. While HM Amit Shah has proved to be one of the most efficient ministers and home minister that the country has may be after Sardar Patel, his work will not be complete unless he addresses the police reforms. All governments have used the police department to nurse their own interests.
5. The Bureaucratic and Political system: No one is more powerful in the country than the bureaucrats and politicians. At times I wonder who is more powerful and have not reached any conclusion so far ( yes I mean it if one takes a 360 view) . The Bureaucrats are not rewarded to take initiatives which is a big bug in the system. A bureaucrat is not open to invite citizen participation in policy decisions and actions. Why the citizens are made to be subservient to politicians. Let us not forget that It is by the people and for the people democracy and unless we fulfill the basics , democracy cannot be strengthened.
job6. Educate the Politicians and corporators : One of the that NIti Aayog has to do is to educate the politicians and especially the corporators These people are required to lead by example. However the present state of affairs is highly depressing. We don’t wish to point any particular part for the same. But why cant Niti aayog be empowered to educate these people on ethics and inspiring stories from across the world ( see our post on urban management a few days back). There are many inspiring stories that happen everywhere. PM Modi started the NIti Aayog lecture series which we liked very much. I think Niti Aaayog can play a much bigger role and it must be unleashed.
think on a widercanvass7. The Sangh and NGOs: As we know sangh and many other organizations and think tanks are doing excellent jobs in the country. But as we see that is not enough. Sangh has to and it has to work towards strengthening democracy by educating mla, Mps and corporators . The BJP under HM Amit Shah started this Practice when he was the party president. This has to be continued. Sangh must involve the parliamentarians for its Shiksha varga which can be tailor made for them. Think Tanks needs to be encouraged to participate in govt policies.
We have tried to propose some suggestions for the policy maker and the government. It is important that such subjects are discussed more passionately. Democracy cannot work in isolation but need support of one and all including opposition, but in a much more constructive and positive manner. Opposition parties must not work just for vested interests but must see the national interest first. We hope that all these points will be duly considered by one and all.

Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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