Politicians and the Downfall of Democracy

Democracy is slowly getting what it deserves. It is a slow death.

Do people deserve democracy? Big question mark.

Do people who elect corrupt and dishonest politicians ever stop to think what they have done? Do these people really care about the huge negative impact of their votes on the rest of the population, their country as a whole and democracy as such?

India is the largest test bed for democracy in the world. It has the largest population of any nation on earth under a democratic form of government. It has the largest number of electoral voters in any one single country of the world. It has, by and large, succeeded in negating any other form of government, but for the sad experience of 2 years 1975 – 77, when emergency rule was imposed on the country.

However, unfortunately for India, its ranking on corruption and many other “good country” indices has always been bad. Despite all the shenanigans by the current political masters and cabinet ministers, corruption has not reduced a wee bit in India – it just continues its pernicious journey, destroying the foundations of hard-fought independence and democracy. There should be no credit given to any government which has run the country these past six decades, as each and every one of them have institutionalized the corruption mechanism, even determining a price for almost anything one can think of to get done.

There have been many sting operations in the country which have exposed corruption in high places – both by TV Channels and News magazines. What I read in India Today magazine recently beats most of the previously aired shocking revelations: on 3rd June 2016, India Today published an interview with a politician from the State of Karnataka, and a previous Prime Minister of India. In this interview, he admits that there is no problem if corruption exists – he says that “what if my MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) ask for money to sell their votes in favour of candidates who are contesting in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House of Parliament elections”. This only means horse trading in politics is common across India and is practised by all parties, and the corruption money transacted is simply huge with high stakes. He goes on to say “in this country, politics itself involves corruption”.

Well, well, I am not surprised. He is only stating what is evidently the truth in Indian Politics. This has been going on for ages, and over the past few years the media has been involved in setting up politicians and catching them red-handed. The media is doing their job, and the politicians continue to do their job – they need to get elected, and once elected they need to make money. Even to get elected, one needs lot of money, right?

India is now at an inflection point. Except for start-ups, every other political, business and economic matter has a taint on it. What about education? Is it not common knowledge that students have to pay for getting a medical seat? How about post-graduate admissions? What is the going rate? Which other country will believe in our education system? Well, I do not want to hear at this point about IITs and IIMs. And, how our students (even those who paid bribes to get through medical education) are shining overseas.

One can compare India with the Philippines. Both are large democracies, though Philippines is not even one-tenth of India in terms of population. Both are noisy. Both are chaotic. Both have media domination.

And, both have corruption.

There are many such comparisons between corrupt nations of the world.

But does India wish to be in that company? The unfortunate problem is that India is also the largest democratic country in the world, in which the chance of a change to the government system is rather remote. There is an excellent balance between the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. Should we not leverage the advantages in such a system for the future benefit of the country and outright ban corruption? Should we not de-register all politicians who are proven to be corrupt by the judicial system from contesting any more elections?

Corruption in simply destructive to democracy. It has to be killed and eliminated completely.

Think about it and do not pay bribes even for the smallest thing. Do not think you don’t have time to waste, and so you are going to bribe to take the easy way out.

Otherwise, democracy will continue to die a slow death in India, and there will eventually be a change in the form of government if the youth get frustrated totally. Beware!


Vijay Srinivasan

5th June 2016






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