Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Punjab Elections and the Crimes against Democracy

The local government (zila parishad and panchayat samiti) elections in Punjab yesterday were scarred by widespread violence unusual in this part of the India. Media has reported, and obviously under-reported, organized acts of intimidation, booth capturing and physical assault (often with weapons), not to speak of mute witness-bearing by a spineless government machinery. How much worse will be the Panchayat elections scheduled to take place in the coming days is anybody guess.

Are we watching a new phase of politics? A kind of postpolitical politics? Politics is supposed to be founded on the ethics of the 'polis', on debate, dialogue, public interest, civility of conduct, and so on. But what do we have here?

It appears that the last thin veils of democracy on the ugly reality of this part of India's body politic have finally been torn to shreds and cast away. And what we are watching is the naked reality of money and muscle and other forms of 'legitimised' power.

Democracy does not inhere primarily in institutions and books of law. It inheres in practices. We have the institutions of democracy but the practices of an entrenched criminal aristocracy that shamelessly displays its vulgar greed.

Do we have any mechanisms to bring to justice those who commit crimes against democracy? Why, if not?


3 comments:

Deep Inder said...

In my opionion, education (including spirituality) is the only long-term solution to this problem of violence (political or otherwise). No doubt it is a process that will take years, perhaps generations, but the fruit will be worth the hard work. Perhaps, to begin with, we could have meditation in all schools and encourage children to develop hobbies like reading and music to enable them to think and calm their nerves.

Rajesh Kumar Sharma said...

You're right. Yet this presupposes that all children get education, which is not the case. Education can be a vehicle for change in those who are in it. How to ensure education for all, that is what matters more perhaps. At least for now.

S. S. Deol said...

The violence let loose during the Punjab elections is a blot on the democracy in the state.The elections in such circumstances have little meaning in terms of free participation of the masses in electing their represetatives. It is particularly important as these are elections for local governance. The acts of violence have pushed the state into a gunda raj.