Can Direct Democracy work in India?

When we were in schools, may be from third or fourth standard onwards; my dad introduced a rule. We were couple of kids growing up in a joint family. And the source of income was limited. So, though we all needed books, pens, shoes and socks at the same time, it was not possible to fulfill all of them at the same time. So, the rule set by him was you people sit together and decide which one is more important. He used to keep a tab on us: we were not allowed to go out of control.

And strangely enough, when I look back now, I found it really worked. We learnt to prioritize needs, understand each other and learned to be empathetic. We learned how to make budget and make even a small budget work for managing the need of all of us.

Now, for those who are telling that direct democracy as proposed by Arvind Kejriwal will not work in India, I know this is a too simplistic and naïve example. But I truly believe it works if you can make people understand the value of democracy and make them empathetic towards others. It’s a tough job but not an impossible one.

In direct democracy, you are entitled to decide what you need and how you want to get it. For example, there would be a mohalla sabha where people of the locality will meet and decide what they need. Like, is it a new school, a cardiac surgeon in the local hospital or a renovation of the road. They’d know the total budget and will decide the priority accordingly. Now a general perception is people will decide driven by their own petty interest, or worse, they’d not be able to decide at all as they would not be able to reach to any consensus. But I dont quite believe that. People will learn to decide what is most required for them and also for others if you give them power and engage properly.

But it would not work if you can’t behave in utmost transparent way. People will never be empathetic to another bunch of people who don’t care the fact that the other bunch is giving their hard earned money for the development of them and they need to behave responsible with that money. Simply adding up numbers in family recklessly will not make things easy. You cannot convince a person to be empathetic towards a fellow countryman who doesn’t understand the value of his fellow countryman’s hard earned  money.

Next step is to engage people. In the current system, we are not engaged at all or rather negatively engaged in the democratic processes. Nobody bothers to ask us whether we want to buy some product from wallmart or not, forget about what should be the price of rice or dal. If we are actively engaged in whether I need to have a school for my kid in my locality or do we need more buses to ply, who will not take interest in democratic process?


But it’s not that easy. Years of apathy has not born out of the blue. It came from people being kept out from the process for hundreds of years. The first job is to show them that they can. They can not only make kings, they can themselves become kings. They can make schools, hospitals and their roads. They can decide the price of commodities and their pension amount. And all they need to do is to give their effort and energy to build it.

It is even tougher in a nation like us: a multi-ethnic nation with burden of reservation in its worst form. You can divide people easily and make them work against each other. We have to, we a handful few have to live our life and show the rest how to live. We have to have exemplary people, dedicating and sacrificing their lives for the ideal we believe in. And then only people will believe that it can happen. It sounds too idealistic. But it can happen. When Subhas Bose escaped from his Kolkata home, nobody could believe he would travel through half the world to make INA and enter through Imphal to free mother India. If you put me in that scenario even right now, I’d also not believe that it can happen. But he did it. And showed that impossible can be done. When Gandhiji told I’ll take all the beatings but will never revert back, nobody believed that taking beating from an alien govt can bring in freedom. When Bhagat Singh told dropping a bomb in assembly in such a way that it will not kill anybody will awaken the country, who could have believed it? But all these things happened.


So, why can’t we? I know it’s tough. But in all the ages, through all times, it has been proved in the world that if something can happen, it is THE IMPOSSIBLE. So, let’s just dream the impossible. And make it happen.

Let the punchline of Indian youth for the coming years be “Martyrs needed, apply within.”


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Apoorv
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 08:45:29

    good one..
    Democracy was a new concept for us in 1947. Not anymore..
    i was wondering, if i pick up a gun and decide to shoot some one, is any part of our system going to stop me? After shooting, if i disappear in the hills of kokan, will the police ever manage to find me? No chance..!
    With such an efficient system, Why haven’t we turned into an anarchy then? What is it that still holds up together and allows the society to fuction just as good as any other country’s society?
    We are an ancient civilisation. The oldest there is… If we can live with each other inspite of a non-functional state, we can surely be a part of decision making process. We are mature enough…


  2. debasree0112
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 09:20:28

    Well, as of now, we r not. But we have to make things better. It is a huge job and would require huge conviction. But people are getting ready for it. Chaps like you. And things will change.


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