Democracy in its purest or most ideal form would be a society in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.
A number of words in the singlet strike me hard, causing a hodgepodge of political views and personal beliefs and the actual reality. The part that I, in particular, can’t take my eyes off is this—”…in its purest or most ideal form would be…”
“Would be”—but it isn’t. In its purest form—which, again, it isn’t. You see what I meant when I said “the actual reality”?
Quite recently here, people were strewn into two, or rather three, debating parties. One, that supported one Anna Hazare’s Anti-Corruption Movement. Two, who didn’t support… Anna’s team and its fight, that is, not the cause of being anti-to-corruption. And three, obviously, who either didn’t have a say or weren’t sure or didn’t care to have a say.
Anyway, so people worshiped them like devotees, at least initially they definitely did. For the supporters, every word by Anna/Team was etched on the stone. Anti-Anna people were, in fact, looked down upon as traitors. Well, not exactly; take it in a figure-of-speech manner and you’ll get it. Anna kept fighting (read “fasting”). The first protest was a widely popular one: hefty rains in Delhi and a multitude of people waiting to welcome Anna—also considered by many as “another Gandhi”—outside jail, to later join him at the fasting venue, undeterred. People and the media roared, that this is how the public can make governments squirm in their seats, this is what a democracy can do… so on.
And thus, all that happened. But, it kept happening! People soon grew tired. Fasts, fasts and fasts. Brawls and issues within Anna’s team, the government’s own version of the much-debated Lokpal Bill (called the “Ombudsman” elsewhere) plus new questions being raised on its ingenuity and old people backing out from the revolt and the whole thing being seen as a sham being used by opponent parties and heck, what not!… all this further added to the doubts as to what the hell was going on. Suddenly, just SUDDENLY, it wasn’t so cool to shout “I am Anna”; suddenly the picture was fading out. Fading to callous oblivion that had existed before the hype built up.
When the whole hysteria ended—which was only recently—I had a new opinion of my own: Eliminate all traces of intellect from “Democracy” and you arrive at the concept of “Mobocracy”—exactly what we are.
You know why? Because a country whose governance relies on its people is democratic, no doubt, but tends to be stupid just as well. Stupid, to say the least. Here’s why: “People”, in the real sense of the word, comprises a faceless crowd of individuals. And crowds move either east or west, they don’t, and can’t, settle for a middle-path, even if it is the correct one. What else do you think extremism is?
And so, be it an Anna Hazare suddenly propping up with a resolve to eliminate corruption by FAST means or something else, a change—any change—in a country like ours is bound to stir up things, but only for a while, only as long as it sounds “sensational”. And thus comes into the picture the forever dwindling public, the janta—a long lost kin of one of Gandhiji’s monkeys, perhaps. Except that at any point of time it either talks OR stays deaf OR becomes blind and so on. So when it talks, it just talks, without thinking, without looking and without understanding. And when it is quiet, nothing can move it. All in all, dumbness is a key characteristic of the public!
Why all this talk? you may ask. I tell you why, because the question is: what does democracy mean to me? And the answer is similar to that of Wikipedia. It means a lot to me, BUT, only in its ideal, pure form. All adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives—what could be more reliable? More responsible? More fair? But, idealism is idealism because it isn’t the practicality. Ditto for the concept of Democracy—at least here, in India.
And thus I arrive at the concept of Mobocracy. If Democracy is the fantastic beauty, Mobocracy is its unintelligent alter ego, and also the stark reality. There is a reason why politics in India has dirtied itself and the system badly, a reason why good leadership is missing, a reason why corruption is fast seeping into the very roots of our foundation, a reason why, let’s admit, we still don’t seem to care enough. There is a reason why nothing is right about the “World’s Largest Democracy”.
You know what the reason is? I’ll tell you what I feel: that we aren’t a democracy anymore, no matter how much we claim it, we are, actually, being ruled by the mob. Mobocracy.
So, the gazillion political parties here have just one aim in mind—to please the mob, or at least, a majority of it. Votes matter, but the sad thing is, they are the only thing that seem to matter. Not development, not welfare, not progress; just votes. So if the mob has suddenly risen in support of the cause of a certain Bill, the government cannot dare to say a flat no. It’ll rather say a yes and then, when the dumb mob has gotten confused enough out of its wits, pass their own version of it. For the people, with the people, by the people redefined.
And to make it worse, the mob doesn’t want to think. A part of it has an opinion, right, but nobody really has the time to figure out what needs to be done and then freaking do it! Forget everything else, this is India, where 80% of the youth doesn’t even go cast a vote! We’ll sit at home, talk articulately about how this country is heading to nowhere (the way I am doing right now, yes, you can say so) and so on. Further, our patriotism and junoon shall remain dormant for as long as possible UNTIL one sheep decides to take the lead, for us to simply follow it… BLINDLY. That, my friend, is another facet of Mobocracy—the herd mentality.
I can croon for as long as I want to. I can complain as much as I want. But the truth is, while doing so, there is nothing fruitful that I’m leading to, doing nothing new. So I’ll conclude with my final words on the topic “What does democracy mean to me?”
Like I said, democracy, in its ideal form means a lot to me, brings a lot of hope and somewhere, also looks like the only fair way of governance we can have; yet, the way its real picture comes out is dismal, to say the least. It comes with its own drawbacks, yes, but then… can we imagine being ruled by dictators? Can we imagine being enslaved by another nation, just because it happens to be more “powerful”? Can we imagine having a king who has to be worshipped, has to be appeased and whose word has to be considered the final word just because he happens to come from a “royal lineage”? NO! There is a reason why all this came to an end, a reason why people stood up against it, a reason why nations saw lives aplenty being sacrificed to become democratic, to become a country that is ruled by its people and not a handful of individuals, to become an entity where the leaders are under the people… all in all, to become nations run by PEOPLE. Just WHEN will we realise this? Just WHEN will we realise the power of our vote? Just WHEN will we try to find out who deserves to be our leader and who doesn’t? Just WHEN will we have the heart to step in the dirt and wipe it off, instead of playing sidelined spectators? JUST WHEN WILL WE WAKE UP?
(The author first published this on her blog Thoughts in Play)