August 8, 2016:The Times of India
Since Independence, we have had governments that were supposed to have been established on the constitutional principle -by the people, of the people and for the people. The public is unconcerned whether a government has been by or of the people. Legitimacy of a government is best tested by the question whether it has been for the people?
Father of the Constitution Dr B R Ambedkar had weighed this question and asserted that it would continue to be relevant as long as democracy survived in India. He had said this in the concluding session of the Constituent Assembly debate, "By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame except ourselves. There is great danger of things going wrong. Times are fast changing. People including our own are being moved by new ideologies. They are getting tired of government by the people. They are prepared to have governments for the people and are indifferent whether it is government of the people and by the people."
But have we found a ruling political party in recent times accept blame for a heinous, hair-raising crime? Instead, it travels into the past to dig out examples to allege that similar crimes happened when the accusing political party ,levelling charges of gaps in law and order, was in power.
Even rape of a woman and her minor daughter gets mired in politics. A chief mini ster heartlessly terms the desperate views of the assaulted women as "political tutoring". Have politicians lost their emotional connect with people? Every crime is an assault on the freedom of a citizen. Why do political parties see crime through caste or political prisms?
When "we the people of India" set out to make our country into a "sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic", we had resolved to grant each of us social, economic and political justice along with liberty and equality.
After seven decades of governments by the people, of the people and for the people, we are still struggling to mend the cracks in society caused by caste division. In fact, we have widened those cracks for narrow political gains at the cost of the nation.Caste-based vote bank has become an important political tool to browbeat the law and order machinery .
Ambedkar's view on this is an eye-opener: "In India there are castes. The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life.They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality. For fraternity can be a fact only when there is a nation. Without fraternity , equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint."
The mess in the country is also because of criminalisation of politics and the omnipresence of corruption. Casteism, corruption, criminalisation and politicisation of the wings of governance have significantly eroded their integrity , efficiency and efficacy . The governments are elected by the people, but very few work for the people.
Years back, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had written an article `Whither Accountability' in a newspaper, calling for a national debate on all possible alternatives for systematic changes to cleanse our democratic governing system of its mess.
Vajpayee had expressed dissatisfaction that neither Parliament nor state Vidhan Sabhas were doing, with any degree of competence or commitment, what they were primarily meant to do -legislative function.
According to him, barring exceptions, those who got elected to these democratic institutions were neither trained, formally or informally , in lawmaking nor did they seem to have an inclination to develop the necessary knowledge and competence in their profession.
Vajpayee had indicated that corruption in governing structures had corroded the very core of elective democracy.
The certainty of scope of corruption in the governing structure has heightened opportunism and unscrupulousness among political parties, causing them to marry and divorce one another at will, seek opportunistic alliances and coalitions often without popular mandate. Yet, they capture and survive in power due to inherent systematic flaws.
He further said that casteism, corruption and politicisation had eroded the integrity and efficacy of our civil service structure also.
The manifestos, policies and programmes of political parties have lost meaning in the present system of governance due to lack of accountability. Elections every five years have failed to achieve the test of accountability . We the people have to devise a better system of accountability and fasten it on the political class, especially those in power.
Social and non-governmental groups, if they rise above their partisan bias, can play a vital role in fastening accountability on every organ of governance. Maintaining a "for the people" scorecard for executive, judiciary and legislature would indicate the level of people's satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the authority concerned.
In 2001, the Supreme Court in 'Association for Democratic Reforms' case had made it mandatory for each candidate contesting elections to file an affidavit declaring his wealth, educational qualification and criminal antecedents. Time has come for candidates, especially those who seek re-election, to file affidavits detailing the work they did on the ground during the last five years.
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