The BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about to complete its tenure at the Centre. As expected, government is drumming up its achievements, and rightfully so. But at the same time, there is deliberate silence about the targets that could not be achieved, and things that did not improve during this tenure. And what is more disconcerting is that in government’s celebrations and oppositions’ denouncements of the same, nobody seems to be bothered by the general rot that has crept into the polity of the country. Despite boastful claims about being the world’s largest democracy (of course only in terms numbers owing to India’s mammoth population) nobody seems to be bothered about the fate of democracy in the country, which of course should have been a major concern for everybody.
In India, if one evaluates what has happened to the democracy, it will be safe to conclude that here also democracy has only been accepted intellectually while as emotionally it stands rejected. This is so because today not many politicians actually believe in the supremacy of the people and have faith in them. “The powerful few (governments) fear many (masses), and the many distrust one another.” To use the words of Saul Alinsky, “personal opportunism and greedy exploitation link the precinct captain”, the mayor, the governor, legislators, ministers and bureaucrats into “one cynical family”. It is difficult to find the “faintest flicker of faith in man”, whether one scours the pronouncedly pro-right BJP and its far right siblings, or the so-called secular Congress, or one scrutinizes the decayed reactionaries of far left – the Communists. On the contrary, it will be found that with few exceptions all of these leaders, regardless of their party labels or affiliations, share in common a deep fear and suspicion of the masses of people. “Let the masses remain inert, unthinking; do not disturb them, do not arouse them; do not get them moving, for if you do you are an agitator, a trouble-maker…”
This is exactly how it is here. Modi-government may have no doubt launched many an initiatives like ‘Beti Bacheo’, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ et. al., but it has also ensured that people’s participation in these initiatives remains largely limited to their own self. That it does not progress beyond a point to take shape of the movement. Because once the people are on the move, then they could practically be steered into any direction to bring about any and every change whichever is possible using the ‘people’s power’. So while government stakes claim for credit of its various initiatives, it also shares blame for not having allowed these initiatives to become real public movements which could have not only ensured better success of these initiatives but also increased people’s participation in the government.
As has been pointed out above, the unfortunate reality of the democracy in this part of the world is that the governments fear the people. These masses of people which are the substance of the society are deliberately and by design kept inarticulate. And as long as they remain “apathetic, disinterested, forlorn and alone in their abysmal anonymity” they do not pose any serious challenge and threat to the political and economic haves.
Modi’s “Achhe Din Aayenge” was a beautiful catchphrase that really caught the popular imagination a five years back, but today with almost a full term of his rule in hindsight, it remains to be seen as to how many people have actually witnessed dawn of “better days” and how many still nurse the hope of better days ahead.