The term democracy has taken on two meanings and both of them are disjointed and nowhere near each other. First meaning which is classical in its reach and impact, it is a system where representative are selected and elected from amongst the population who are segregated according to either geography or some type of classification, such that a bunch of representatives standing in for those who have elected them, guide to safeguard their common economics in a manner in which the life of the entire population improves and wherein their common voice is understood to be the voice of the majority numbers amongst the population. The other meaning more modern but narrow in its perception, winning election is more about number games, money, strategies and less about representing the will of the people because people have an inherent obligation to vote even if they can’t align with the will of the candidate, the body of such elected candidates is considered supreme in all decision making within the combined geography of the people that they are no more representative of the people but of themselves. It can be easily inferred that the latter is a crude misrepresentation of the former line of thought. Today in India we are living with the second and inferior form of democracy whether we like it or not. The optimists keep pointing at the fact that people can reject a candidate or its party in five years’ time and therefore they do have real power in their hands. This is a false perception because all political parties have accepted this as a fundamental fact that each party rules for five years at a time. Since elections are held in five years it is possible to fool the people for five years at a time but fear of losing an election is no reason to surrender the power of decision making to serve the good of the maximum. Mark that I have underlined the words rule and serve.
It is my understanding that democracy was never a philosophy that originated or prevailed in this land of India. It is a foreign concept which we have suddenly applied without a discussion and debate under the naïve assumption that it would be the best thing that could happen to us. When one looks at traditions happily or unhappily this land since the age of the Vedas has always been moving through phases of united or fragmented rule of powerful men and women, always a disorganized bunch of autocracies. We the people of this land have always aligned our will to the will of the most powerful person in the locality or region. One was born powerful and therefore power was to be retained or otherwise snatched. It is quite silly for the ordinary people to imagine that they can dictate their will on the most powerful person in the locality or region. Therefore whenever there was a good king who apart from being powerful also looked after the benefits of the weak people, such a king was considered great and remembered with awe, credited with representing a golden period in the time of the locality or region. A good king is praised in our scriptures; duties of a good king are laid down in the scriptures. That is the psyche of the average Indian. It is therefore not a surprise that today the politicians and the industrialists have assumed the mantle of the erstwhile kings, in charge of their small kingdom, controlling their subjects, working hard to expand and preserve their kingdom.
Anna Hazare is a man who is an absolute misfit in the circumstance; he is neither a king because he is without a kingdom and neither a modern leader as we now understand the term because he is sans the election route. That he is loved and accepted by the masses is a mystery to the politicians, they are numbed, unhappy and hurt and like a player against another who breaks the accepted rules, all they can call out is “Foul”. All that Anna Hazare is doing goes against the basic rules of politics and rules of kingdom-hood. For starters he is asking the elected representatives to align themselves with the will of the people who elected them. This however has never been the tradition of this land. Next he is asking the elected representatives to serve the people instead of filling their personal coffers. This again is against the traditions of this land. He says that people are the kings and the elected representatives are their servants, a potentially preposterous and evil thought. He is asking for laws to be enacted that will forever break the strangle hold that the corrupt and the inefficient have established over the governance system. Ludicrous - that will destroy all the apparent benefits of being a modern king. He wants laws that will prevent the moneyed and powerful people from having any nexus with the officials of governance. This man wants to kill all the powerful people in one stroke, why don’t people see through his game? Why do they love him so? Foul, Foul and more Foul.
Anna Harare’s appeal for a strong Lokpal bill has struck a strong cord with the people of this land. There are a few reasons for this. One, having experienced and understood the process of democracy and having seen the eye wash that politicians shell out in the name of democracy, people see him as an opportunity to project their assertiveness. By supporting him, people want to send a message to the rulers that better behavior is envisaged. Second, because of the free flow of information people have become aware of the difference in the standards of living in this country and in the west and the primary reason for that, they are also aware that China which was as good as us fifty years ago during our independence, is now streets ahead of us and that too only because of sensible governance. People see Anna Hazare as a harbinger for better times. People are aware that neither has China or the USA been able to do away with their kings or their modern avatar the Minister’s and the Prime Minister, but they do wish that if our Minister’s and Prime Minister can start applying themselves to their task like their counterparts, India will become a better place to live for everybody and not just the powerful. Our politicians need to wake up. The days of the wicked, irresponsible or inefficient kings are over. The king is now expected to look and learn from his peers in other advanced countries. Anna Hazare today has done enough to ignite a hunger for change. He has single handedly altered the political finger-prints of this land to such an extent that those now playing the game gasp at the change they are required to face.