“Government of the people, by the people’-this is a patent and ubiquitous definition of democracy. The other two alternative forms of equal universal validity are oligarchy and aristocracy. Out of the three, democracy is by far the best and most popular, although it is not an unmixed blessing.
Yet all said, democracy is the best form of government, as it guards the interests of men in general. It avoids the evils and demerits of both aristocracies which empowers a privileged section of society to run the state and of oligarchy in which only a few men or groups of men arrogate to themselves the right to rule over others. It is elective, representative and broad-based.
In the earlier days of the European civilisation, the roman republic was founded on popular voice. It was a crude form of democracy. The popular or mass opinion is a fickle phenomenon, as it can be swayed in one’s favour by the legerdemain of arguments. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has revealed this truth in the speech of Mark Antony who banished all love of Brutus by an artful play of Sentiments.
Modern democracy is decidedly more solid and well thought out. In it the constitution is supreme. It may be a written constitution like in India or an unwritten constitution as in Britain. Our preamble of the constitution grants even an ordinary man some fundamental rights.: the right to vote is given to all after an age of 18 and the affairs of the state are run by the people of the country. The laws are framed towards the attainments of a welfare state. The neglected section of the society, its underdogs, so to say are given certain privileges so that they are able to catch up with the rest.
One remembers the hoary days of independence. Independence, the Five Year Plans, the illustrious cadres of service that was defined as the Steel-Frame of Administration. One remembers the devoted band of social workers, the Congress, the CPI or CPIM, the SSP that functioned in tandem; and one remembers the healthy bourgeois culture, pluralistic, tolerant soaked on brotherly feelings.
But today the country faces a crisis-ridden with intolerance, doubt, lies to shield power, bribes where money changes hands to protect covert crimes. Entrenched power runs havoc with a massacre of values, honesty and integrity. The nation’s political fabric is a ragbag of opportunism. personal convenience nepotism and what not. The parliament, that was once a cynosure for the ordinary men is today a hothouse of disreputable personae mostly. In a republic like the USA one ‘bugging scandals’ could cause the stepping down its President and in Japan one core could bring down its Prime Minister. But here such scandals are worth only casual attention.
In view of the above scenario ‘democracy’ as it obtains in our country lives only as a platitude with our leaders to befool is during elections. Our constitution is the greatest casualty in the hands of the power that can be. Free thinking, freedom of information, meed o labour -/to wish privileges that form the bedrock of a democratic government is but to live in a fool’s paradise! The high court and the Supreme Court run the administration.