Kudos to Indian democracy

Kudos to Indian democracy

Democracy in India is more than just resilient; it is fully functional and committed to institutionalising a government of the people by the people for the people.

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Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 23:35 IST

Since the last few years, umpteen editorials and op-eds across foreign media have been drawing hasty conclusions about Indian democracy, which they believe is flawed and presumably on its last legs.

They have reported in column after column about the creeping autocracy, which is bound to sound the mythical death knell for democracy in India sooner than later. However, the general elections of 2024 have proved quite the opposite: that democracy in India is more than just resilient; it is fully functional and committed to institutionalising a government of the people by the people for the people. 

It is a matter of pride for Indians that a significant percentage of the populace has expressed with conviction its unflinching faith in democratic principles and values. 

India achieved a phenomenal turnout of 64.2 crore voters, surpassing the aggregate voters of the G7 nations taken together by 1.5 times. If government data is to be believed, 969 million voters ensured an incident-free election, and 5.5 million electronic voting machines across 1.05 million polling stations achieved a technological triumph, a sterling case study on how to conduct free and fair polls in a country of India’s enormity and diversity. It is heartening to note that all political parties gracefully accepted the verdict and steered clear of making ridiculous allegations about the authenticity of the whole process. 

Above all, the election unleashed people power with resounding conviction, exposing the weak fundamentals of most exit polls that went horribly wrong in their predictions. Unlike what the intelligentsia believes, India’s common people are aware of the incumbent government’s brazen appeasement in the name of religion and caste, lofty promises of economic upliftment, and rampant misuse of authority vested in watchdog organisations with the sole intention to numb the opposition. 

No wonder the poor and bourgeoise have jointly issued an ultimatum in the form of a verdict, rejecting all lofty claims issued by a leadership with totalitarian and dictatorial tendencies. The electorate clearly wants a democratic leadership to serve the larger cause of the nation, not a demagogue to widen parochial differences. 

The common people of India are fighting stifling challenges such as abject poverty and gross inequality, but they are not willing to compromise on make-or-break issues such as freedom of speech and expression, protection of the larger cause of minorities, and health, education, and employment priorities, which for them appear to rank above temples, calls of Hindutva, and the Ram Rajya. 

It’s almost like the Indian populace is reminding the ruling party leadership: We are not Chinese; we are not Russians; we are not Americans; we are Indians with our hearts and minds in the right places. We are democratic at heart. We consciously gave you a long rope based on the vivacity of your promise, but even after 10 long years of optimism, we have been left with no option to exercise our franchise towards demanding political accountability at high places, both at the national and state level. 

This verdict is a clear message to the ruling party: follow the constitution in letter and spirit, beyond the noisy rhetoric and photo opportunities of pre-poll propaganda. Respect all religions, faiths, languages, and castes, and practice humane governance. Practice true inclusivity by serving the interests of marginalised communities. If you sway from your principle duties, you could well be decimated in the next mandate. 

The historic poll verdict has done just what the doctor ordered for democracy. It has given the incumbent government a fair chance to bring the unfinished agenda to fruition in the best interests of the nation while ensuring that a strong opposition will keep them in check at every decisive turn. 

Thanks to the ludicrous system of the US electoral college, Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016 despite winning the maximum number of individual votes across the nation. The political culture of unruly debates and disputes appears to be shrinking pluralism and widening polarisation in the US, shaking the very foundations of democracy. 

Can we ever forget the disgraceful scenes of raucous dissenters storming the coveted seat of the United States Congress in Washington, DC, putting their feet up on the House Speaker’s desk in a shameful bid to overturn poll results? 

Rather than decry our democracy or label us as a developing nation, the US can take a cue from India, which is far more advanced in terms of nurturing a thriving democracy, and seek to repair its flawed legislative process. That will do a world of good for democracy across the globe.

(The writer is the executive chairman of a healthcare


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