Democracy’s Noblest MomentDr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (March 11, 2014)


Democracy’s Noblest Moment

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Universal adult franchise is the cornerstone of democracy. It is not restricted or conditional “democracy” like the one where franchise is limited to only propertied classes as it was sometimes in pre-Independence India, or the sham “shoora democracy” as operative in some Muslim countries, the consultative body (shoora) being only decorative.

It is not so-called “theo-democracy” either, which is “democracy” only for the followers one religion. It is neither a male only project. Adult franchise, that is operational in India, gives a fuller play to people’s will–all people: rich and poor, man and woman, big and small–having one vote each of equal value. It is a great equaliser, a remarkable instrument of empowerment.

Those who live in a genuine democracy generally do not realise the kind of power they enjoy or what those living under non-democratic systems miss. To be able to have a measure of influence in deciding who is going to represent you in legislature and government is immensely empowering.

Although a single individual voter, or a single group of voters, large or small, does not finally decide the composition of the new state assembly or parliament, or government, but individuals and groups come together to actually have the legislature and the government they deserve and desire. Thus, the moment we cast the ballot is undoubtedly democracy’s finest moment, the moment that decides the quality of our public life for the next five years, or less, in certain circumstances.

Happily, that moment is drawing close once again to allow us our moment of glory and our say in the future of our nation.

We have always to remember that such a great privilege comes with extraordinary responsibility. We must cast our vote with great care and caution, wisdom and forethought. Our vote must never empower the crook or the communalist, the corrupt or the crime don.

People with dubious character spend crores of rupees on propaganda to create a false, misleading image of themselves in public mind. Newspaper and magazine space is bought for this purpose as is prime time slot on TV channels. Amid such large-scale brainwashing day in day out, 24x7, it is no wonder many of us have been misled to cast our vote for crooks. In such a situation, it is only natural to have large number of MLAs and MPs with a criminal background sitting in our state and national legislatures.

There are groups in this country that stage communal violence to polarise people on religious lines. Such polarisation has never failed to benefit them politically. In other words, this criminal act is invariably rewarded with vote. Sadly, many of us do not seem to realise that violence is to be punished, not rewarded. Such voting is irresponsible, an endorsement of criminal behaviour.

Be responsible in democracy’s noblest moment. It is not the ballot paper that is in your hand. it is the country’s future.  g

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