On the 22nd of January, I saw a soul steering scene at the New Delhi
railway station which can make everyone stop and think about the
condition of inequality and the apathy through which we are passing
in the present era. I had been there to see my brother off who was
going to our home in Bihar. Because of the fog conditions all the
trains and flights in and out of the capital either were cancelled
or running late and, hence, leading to a chaotic condition at the
When we were waiting for the train, suddenly a train came from the
other end. There was chaos due to the rush of the people to catch
trains and suddenly a person standing near the train fell on the
track being pushed by the crowd and one of his legs was chopped off
his body. Such accidents are a regular occurrence on the railway
stations in our country, but what is more appalling and disgusting
is the irresponsibility and ignorance of the officials towards the
apathy of a common man.
There I saw the whole machinery collapsing as there was not even a
single stretcher to carry that almost dead man to the hospital. And
after 40 minutes of that accident that person was carried to some
hospital by some GRP personnel on a Thela (a local form of Cycle
And now, we are claiming to be a republic of SIXTY YEARS. Is this time
for us to stop and think - are we really ready to accept the challenges
which would test our will as a nation in future?
Indian democratic experiment has always been regarded as being one of
the most successful systems in the world but with some serious flaws.
There is the need of a serious self head scratching. First of all we
have to think about the principles on which the Idea of our republic was
based. Are those ideals still valid? Yes they are absolutely valid, but
are their implementation upto the mark. These are some of the questions
whose answers are needed most at this hour.
It’s really an achievement of our nation to remain united as one nation
in spite of huge diversities within its fold. But there are still many
things which we need to think about.
There is a sense of being ignored or being left behind in our North
Eastern states and their complaints are really valid and the government
cannot behave like an ostrich in sand for long. The Human rights
violation by our security forces in the guise of the laws like AFPSA is
a reality which cannot be ignored. Down the South we have an agitation
for a separate state of Telengana. In the West we have divisionists like
Raj Thackeray who are always in a hurry to exploit regional biases and
issues to score their political brownie points and even the state fears
to take him by his horn. Raj’s MNS never miss a chance to make the
mockery of the state, its law and principles. Sometimes the North
Indians are beaten up, sometimes the Muslims are made target. At times
it seems that the ruling congress is using him to keep his uncle at bay.
The Kashmiris are being exploited since independence, sometimes through
the Human Rights violation by our security forces, sometimes by both the
Governments of India and Pakistan.
At the political front the level of politics has drastically gone down
as compared to the politicians of the yesteryears. Sycophancy is at the
peak as Ramchandra Guha rightly says, ‘India is more a Darbari democracy
rather than a Dynastic democracy’. For our politicians the importance of
the ‘Aam Admi’ – that has only made itself worth to be an election plank
- is only till elections are over and after that no one cares about the
will of the common Man. With our metropolitans gleaming with skyscrapers
and shopping malls and the difference between the have-nots and haves
has increased manifold.
The dalits and tribals are still being exploited and their lands
snatched away by the greedy MNCs and business tycoons in connivance with
the people’s government and, as a result, they are being forced to get
into confrontation with the system. How can we expect a person whose
children are malnourished or dying out of hunger to understand the royal
intricacies of constitution and law? We cannot expect the Naxalite
Movement to come down by constantly exploiting the native tribals and
depriving them of their wealth and rights over the natural resources.
Are we really a rising world power moving ahead to become a super power
in coming 20-25 years? With this situation prevailing, we cannot expect
to be a world power in future which seems to be a fact and reality.
There is a wide gap between ‘Chamakta Bharat’ (Shining India) and
‘Tadapta Bharat’ (Reeling India); and unless this gap is filled nothing
is going to happen. With a 3rd rate education and 5th rate health system
how can we think of becoming a world power? The condition of the
government hospitals keeps getting worse day by day. Even the hospitals
of our metros don’t have state of art facilities needed to deal with
emergency. As far as private hospitals are concerned they have become a
totally business ventures where a poor person cannot even think to get
There have been some black spots in the history of our republic. The
emergency, The Babri Masjid demolition, The 84 anti Sikh riots, so many
communal riots including the post Godhra riot, communal violence in
Kandhamal of Orissa and places of Karnataka, and so many other terrorist
attacks in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad etc. During the 84 riots and Gujarat
riot, the whole state machinery was well behind the marauder and
criminals who having political backing went on tearing apart our secular
credentials with the help of police and administration. And, it’s a
shame that the criminals who were responsible are still roaming free
while thumping their chest. Prime accused of engineering and backing the
Gujarat riots Narender Modi is still there, the Congress politicians
responsible for the 84 anti-Sikh riots are still free as well.
Nearly most of the schemes and issues which should have played a great
role in the upliftment of the underprivileged are practically
benefitting the contractors and middlemen or are being used to score
electoral points. Corruption at the Government places has played a great
negative role in undermining the ideals upon which our Republic has been
based. The delayed justice delivery system sometimes becomes very much
harassing and exploitative for the victims. The best example being the
Ruchika Girhotra case in which after being exploited by a Corrupt and
hypocrite Police officer a promising Tennis player was forced to cut
short her life. Ruchika is just a tip of an ice berg. These type of
cases keep on happening in our hinterlands on a daily basis.
Apart from all these negative aspects our democracy has been a success
story where the people have every right to dismiss or reject someone
whom they do not want to rule. The best examples are the post emergency
defeat of Indira Gandhi and the defeat of the NDA government in 2004
elections. It’s in itself a success story.
As a whole I would rather say that the Idea of India has prevailed but
there are so many problems which should be and must be seen thoroughly
and seriously. Otherwise the condition will get worse. It would not be
bad to say that, our republic is an Orange Republic (Divided from within
but looks united from outside), rather than a Banana one.
In short, if we really want ourselves to become a world power we have to
get empowered ideally (having a sense of ideology on which our republic
is based) from within. We have to ensure the have-nots with their rights
they deserve. Glittering shopping Malls will look good only when a
labourer from our hinterlands who worked day and night in the
construction of that Mall or building feels free to go and buy something
from that Mall also. They have their kids also who really want to live a
life of the ones living in posh colonies of our Metropolis.
(Author is Media and Communication Executive with
Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), New Delhi)