A quiet Saturday night dinner with a group of friends turned sensational when the discussion veered towards politics. NaMo had already seeped in with his heavy breathing and everyday front page ad, Rahul baba managed to do his bit with ‘women empowerment’, Robert Vadra did it just with his pink pants, Arvind Kejriwal made the cut with his ditching in Delhi and dipping in Varanasi, Mulayam Singh went berserk with his wild tongue. The chit chat turned the dinner table into a war zone where everyone, including the plates and cups of my house, had an opinion. One friend dived in Arnab Goswami style and said, “So Ms Soni, India wants an answer. Who do you think can lead our democracy to greater heights?”
I stated a fact that stunned him. “Don’t insult the sacrifices of our politicians by calling our system a democracy. We love autocracy and plate it as democracy. ”
Isn’t it true? We vote; that is the only part where we use our right to topple the government every five years. What happens during those five years is a slap in the face of the system where we continuously look up to that one man or woman on the top to keep giving us baits to nibble on. There are evening shows where Arnab and Rajdeep fight it out for the maximum ratings on the account of these baits. Politicians swing chappals while the smart ones swindle money. The roads remain patchy, the rain water free flowing. We have elected someone to do the job, which is just another peg in the several layers of hierarchy, the layers democracy brings in permanently. It just does away with a single ruler policy for decades to come, allows us the chance to bring in another one as a part of five year plan.
The system has been manufactured with care as we have given them enough evidence that we like being pushed around. Self-containment has always been an issue with us. The truth is that we lack the self-discipline that a democracy demands. We conveniently wrap its absence in the garb of ‘government is not doing anything’, and while saying that put up a permanent paan stain on the wall right next to the man we are talking to.
“Oh! There is so much of filth on the roads”, we cringe our noses feigning disgust and the next moment throw a Lays wrapper out of the car which our dear child has just finished while staring non-stop at the children begging for alms.
“There is so much of chaos”, the morning traffic makes us say that with a disturbing look. The next approaching red light sees us jumping the signal in frustration halting the traffic coming from the other side, doing our bit.
Isn’t it just like expecting fidelity from our partner while performing lap dance to the tune of hundreds?
Hypocrisy at best, democracy at worst.
We always look for somebody to enforce rules on us. If a man clad in khaki stands at the signal, our vision turns 20/20, we notice the zebra crossing as well. We don’t notice the yellow placards with ‘No littering’ but as soon as a law enforcement officer blocks our way, we start looking for dustbins. We enjoy dictators because they put us back in line, doesn’t matter if they take away our freedom of speech, make hierarchy even more prevalent.
Indira Gandhi was one such iron hand. Politically ruthless, believing in centralization of power, she made outstanding economic decisions that gave India autonomy in number of sectors. But when Allahabad high court charged her with dishonest election practices, using government machinery for the party upliftment, she found a way out. Emergency was declared for the following two years, which brought the power solely in her hands. Police was given unlimited powers, her way of dealing with the opposition. Even the Congress workers who had an independent mind were replaced by her loyalists. Media and publications were censored and not allowed to publish anything without the nod of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. She made many constitutional changes bending the democracy to immune the post of Prime Minister from judicial scrutiny. She extended the state of emergency twice until she believed she had crushed her offenders.
The fact of the matter is that we hailed her. It was only when she showed her shrewd, ruthless side during emergency, she lost some of her supporters.
We like being told what to do. Because you have to admit, we are a nation of talkers rather than doers. We discuss things at dinner table but as soon as we are with ourselves, we unleash our uncivilized side, looking for someone to tame us. We like to tell others what to do and not do it ourselves. Marching orders need to be in place for even self -control. We keep arguing, we keep bringing people down, but don’t like to look inside unless someone holds us from our neck and makes us do that. The irony of the situation is we know that. Perhaps, that’s why there is so much of NaMo chant.
Despite having our best chances with some of the progressive, extremely dynamic leaders, we have mostly chosen the ones who dictate the way and make us follow. Because that’s what we know best -follow. At best, we are an autocratic democracy where the emphasis is only on who is going to lead us rather than how.