Democracy is increasingly in peril in almost the entire world today . Constitutionally, India’s is a modern democratic republic. Herein sovereignty resides in citizens who are all equal .  Our post-Independence rulers are supposed to serve their master citizens first . Regrettably , they have ,by and large, cared little to comply with this fundamental moral-constitutional obligation on their part.

This has resulted in the perpetuation of widespread poverty, squalor, illiteracy and  gender discrimination across the country . Sixty-seven years after we became a Republic, an average citizen of India continues to suffer on almost all fronts in life. We have not been able to protect our territorial integrity too.

The successive dispensations at our Centre and in provinces may have arranged their favourite officials and intellectuals to script success stories about Indian  economy . But the scene continues to remain grim.  Only the few privileged have benefited from whatever economic growth has taken place in the country so far  .  The  majority of our population —particularly, women, the dalits, the adivasis, farmers and unorganized sector workers—have continued to languish on something like one-thirds of an American dollar  a day.  

According to authentic estimates, more than 528 million (52.8 crore) Indians are poor today . India has its 194 million citizens deprived of food. There are  over 70 million households below the poverty line . The average income per agricultural household is just Rs. 6,426/- per month.  An unskilled worker’s minimum wage is Rs. 9,724 per month. Semi-skilled and skilled workers get Rs. 10,764 and Rs. 11,830 per month respectively. 

Out of every 100 children , only 32 finish school education age-appropriately. Out of India's 217 million (21.7crore) children, 49.9 per cent are multi-dimensionally poor. Medicare is missing across the country. The poor don’t get a bed in our government  hospitals. Countless people die  before they reach hospitals. Only about 14 per cent of deaths are accounted for . Of them , only 20 per cent are medically certified.  

Due to the prevalence of poverty, over 12,000 farmers have committed suicide  every year since 2013. In 2015,  12,602 persons involved in the farming sector committed suicide. The total number of suicide cases that year was 133,623 .  In the defence sector , around 100 people commit suicide every year mainly due to their inhuman conditions of work .

The freedom of ordinary mortals , religious and ethnic minorities in particular , is at stake . The post-colonial elites’  approach has led to a frequent occurrence of various types of violence, including Islamist and Maoist terrorism , communalism and casteism ,  against our citizens’ right to life, the most fundamental of all human rights. We all know what communalism did to minorities Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in Delhi, Kashmir and Gujarat in the eighties , nineties and 2002 respectively. 

Studies say Islamist terrorism  claimed over 1, 50, 000 lives between 1980 and 2008 alone.  Maoist violence claimed over 12,000 lives in the last decade. Between 2005 and 2017, it  claimed the lives of  1,910 security personnel in India. Since 1953, crimes like murder have increased by 250 per cent, rape by 873 per cent and kidnapping and abduction by 749 per cent in India.

Experts have suggested various intelligence and security measures from time to time to combat  violence . Our political leadership must implement them . Simultaneously, it must focus on ensuring good governance and all-inclusive multifaceted development policies and programmes . It should see that the ongoing economic carnage of the masses, especially in rural /tribal  areas,  stops at once .

Besides, our post-colonial elites must cease to lead feudal and colonial life styles. In the post-Independence landscape they have occupied  the palaces and bungalows of the colonial masters. They are having a privileged treatment for themselves and allies in all walks of life. They treat the public exchequer somewhat as their personal assets and take huge sums out of it as their salaries and allowances .

All such aberrations must stop for the sake of a meaningful democracy. Our rulers, including the Opposition,  must live as our representatives, not masters . Having such a high level of poverty, India must  take care of our citizens first. There are many ways we can save our wealth and serve the masses better.  Institutions, such as Indian presidency and provincial governors, serve little purpose and are a drain on our resources. We need to amend our Constitution to abolish them .

The public exchequer in a democratic state is to be held in the spirit of trusteeship. The political elites must not manipulate a particular legal procedure to draw from it whatever they wish . They must think honestly about their share in the exchequer. Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi rightly guided us to keep the ‘last man,’ the poorest of the poor , in mind while taking any state decision .

 

Our courts may direct the rulers to function in the spirit of our Constitution . The Constitution requires our citizens to adhere to the values of justice, liberty and equality. Many allegedly criminal, feudal, communal , casteist elements--- aligned with certain corporate giants – have over the years come to manipulate our electoral system and occupy the seats of power and authority .  The courts may  deprive these negative elements of Indian citizenship for the sake of democracy.  

 

 


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