The founding fathers of India had laid down a structure of representative democracy in the constitution in the belief that the elected would be guided by the voice of the common man. India had newly gained independence and, in spite of the slaughter of lakhs of people in the wake of partition, the atmosphere was filled with hope, enthusiasm and expectations. People believed in the politicians who were truly their leaders. They walked amongst the masses and lived like them. There was no reason to suspect that the people would not be truly free or remain as slaves.
Sadly, it turned out otherwise. Our well-intentioned political leaders failed to fathom that the Eastern Bloc inspired socialistic model of governance chosen by them was participatory only in name and would lead to an abyss where a common man is merely a slave and the politicians and bureaucrats are his masters. As a result, they own, control and dictate everything. Citizens are helpless. Moreover, instead of replacing the mechanisms and structures created for enslavement, our brown sahibs continued with them and the entitlements that came along. Citizens’ role in the running of the country was reduced to casting vote once in five years.
Slowly and gradually but surely, this has turned the relationship between the government and the citizens adversarial. Today, a common man has no voice in any affair of governance. Policies are made without consulting people. Major decisions are taken surreptitiously. Democracy has been reduced to slogans such as “सरकार आपके द्वार, स्वराज, जनता दरबार” or inaugurations of publicly funded projects.
This, in the times when technology can facilitate unprecedented levels of participation, dialog and transparency. There is no excuse not to involve people in framing polices, enacting laws, defining rules, and making important decisions. There is no reason why the government cannot lay bare what it is doing and how it is functioning.
We invite suggestions now on how we can all be part of governance and how we can participate in deciding our fate.