Democracy and people’s power

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Democracy is the finest example of people power. In any democracy, representatives who govern countries and states are directly elected by the citizens themselves. Democracy is government by the people, of the people and for the people. India is considered the largest democracy in the world.

Therefore, people who govern, ie, members of legislature, members of Parliament, or councillors are elected by direct voting by citizens. Indirectly, it means that the common people rule and govern through the MPs, MLAs and councillors. Every citizen of India, irrespective of caste, gender, race, religion, and economic status are eligible to vote and thus have a role to play in electing governments.

Having said so, presently, Arunachal Pradesh is witnessing a different form of people’s power through proactive activism. Common citizens, different organisations and groups are coming out on the streets and protesting against alleged malpractices, wrong policies, nepotism and corruption. These organisations and groups of citizens are raising issues and protesting through dharnas, street marches, hunger strikes, or by enforcing bandhs.

Democracies allow peaceful forms of protests, dharnas, etc. There are also other legal avenues like filing complaints, court cases, PILs, etc. However, presently, judicial processes are plagued by inordinate delays and conform to the adage of ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. When citizens are denied fairness and justice, they end up taking the way of enforcing bandhs to show their protests.

While protests against malpractices, wrong policies, nepotism and corruption may be justified, total bandhs tend to disturb the common citizens like daily wage earners, vegetable vendors, commuters, students, official, medical cases, etc. During bandhs, occasionally, unwanted elements infiltrate and instigate large-scale violence and arson, leading to damages to public and private properties, and cause bodily harm, which leads to loss of innocent lives also.

Instead of enforcing total bandhs, an alternative method could be in the form of office picketing, wherein offices are picketed/closed as a form of protest while not disturbing the common citizens by keeping markets, hospitals, schools and businesses open.

The common citizens take to the streets when elected representatives indulge in blatant malpractices, nepotism and corruption. This could also occur in unequal societies wherein the gap between the haves and the have nots increase exponentially. It may also not be wrong to say that sometimes these protests are instigated and inflamed by vested groups with ulterior motives.

Whatever may be the reason, we should not support violence, arson, looting, damages to public property and loss of human lives.

Firstly, the common citizens elect the MLAs, MPs and councillors, and then come out on the streets protesting against them. If our elected representatives are unable to deliver fairness and justice, or are unable to govern properly, citizens should exercise the ultimate power bestowed on them by voting them out. Are common citizens ready and strong enough to exercise this ultimate power vested on them? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)