DEMOCRACY AND CORRUPT POLITICIANS

The concept of democracy evokes strong feelings. People generally feel that is the best form of governance. A type of governance in which decisions are taken fairly; and in which the people have a feeling that they can make a difference if they want to. One can almost visualize the early beginnings of democracy, long back, during the time when humans were but mere hunter-gatherers, councils being held to decide important decisions; in which the feelings of no one was left out. The concept is simplistically brilliant. Very often mathematicians find that the toughest problems have the easiest solutions. Mathematics very often encapsulates life. The tough problem of how to take decisions may have a simple solution of taking a majority vote. Of course, there are theorists who beg to differ, but well, we cannot satisfy everyone, all six billion plus of them living, simultaneously. Some believe that a single ruler must take decisions for the country at large. They believe that dictatorship is good; and it may be, for the dictator in question at least. Some believe that a permanent group of well-informed people must take decisions on behalf and independent of hoi polloi, but this system too has its disadvantages.

That’s not to say that democracy too does not have its disadvantages. A cumbersome process at best, when the population exceeds one billion, as in India, it will certainly be an extremely difficult task to get the opinion of all the people. It has often been noticed that when a large group of people all vote together on an issue, they have an uncanny, almost eerie knack on making the right decisions. Decisions that help them in the long run. Well, groups of people cannot get much larger than India’s one billion plus people, right? However, even though technology has developed by leaps and bounds, getting the opinion of so many people is well, not possible; at least for now. With the purest form of democracy ruled out due to its overwhelming complexity, a system of parliamentary democracy developed. Parliamentary democracy is defined as “the democratic form of government in which the party (or a coalition of parties) with the greatest representation in the parliament (legislature) forms the government, its leader

becoming prime minister or chancellor”. It started in England and was brought to its many colonies by them. One of the few benefits of being ruled by the British, I suppose. Every cloud has a silver lining, you see.

One of the biggest problems that India has been facing over the years is corruption. Well, corruption is certainly not unique to India, but it has been very destructive to India in particular, because India is rising right now, and thus there is more to plunder for evil, self-centered people. So, India languishes at the 78th spot in Newsweek’s list of World’s best countries. Corruption is often compared to a leech. And it’s not without reason. It sucks the blood of the nation. And what is the blood of the nation? Money, money and money. So our beloved country is not able to rise with its full strength. A series of unfortunate events as Lemony Snicket would have said, right? Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of governance apart from the various ones already tried out. One of the titans of the 20th century, he committed himself and the nation to an all-out war until victory was achieved, and his great eloquence, energy, and indomitable fortitude made him an inspiration to his countrymen, especially in the Battle of Britain. I am saying all this mainly to reinforce the character of the person who spoke the aforementioned words. Well, when such a weighty man spoke such weighty words, what can one such as I do, but concur?

Now, corruption and politicians often go together; in Indian language and contemporary speech anyway. We almost cannot imagine a politician who is not corrupt. This is how bad the situation is. This is what the general belief is anyway, and it is promptly reinforced from time to time by rumours and reports of scams running into untold crores. A shame and a taint on our nation, I must say. Politicians are the most powerful people and I think that they must see more movies. Yes, you got me right, movies. The words “With great power comes great responsibility” were written with them in mind, in all probability. Well, happy endings are for movies only, till now anyway, but it would make a tangible and needed difference if something like that happens in real life too. And an end to all corruption is certainly needed. Well, it looks possible, but certainly improbable right now. Firm steps should be taken, by a firm

leader, either a charismatic one or a brutal one. A Kennedy or a Stalin would suffice; but we all would, of course prefer the former. Are you listening, Rahul Gandhi?

Forums in which decisions are taken, often on issues involving large amounts of money have attracted a large number of leeches, rather blood-thirsty ones, which are intent on spoiling the future of our country. This is one of the disadvantages of democracy, in which people are selected on basis of merit to manage affairs of great importance in the country. Even one rotten apple in a barrel is dangerous and we often find out this the hard way and even more often when there is nothing one can do. Often transparency is an issue and when that happens, things usually go bad. The people who usually handle important portfolios are also unfortunately, in this case anyway, quite clever and know loopholes in the system to exploit, or can just indulge in a simple bit of cheating or money-laundering. Very simple indeed. Too simple actually. That is not to say that the whole barrel is corrupt; rather that there seem to be very few of them. By the way have you heard of the recent news of an IAS couple caught with an inordinate sum of money with them? Probably they were the stupidest or the most reckless. That was about the ‘babus’. And I am not even going to start with the ‘netas’.

So, all in all, it looks as if corruption is almost impossible to eradicate, if only because of the base nature of human character and the trait of greediness that seems to be interwoven with it, held together with the finest links of steel. Somewhere, somehow, it just happens. Maybe I am a bit pessimistic, but it is better to keep all possibilities in mind. The need of the hour seems to be a transparent regulatory mechanism, which does not deteriorate into just another way for politicians to manipulate things for their own good. In India in some states, Lokayuktas have been set up to weed away corruption, and people say that it has been doing a good job. Is it the answer? Nobody can tell right now, but sooner or later things are bound to come out into the light and then we can tell with a fair idea what effect it has had on politics at large. However, as with all things dark, we cannot be totally sure.
PRATHEEK PRAVEEN KUMAR

prytheek@yahoo.com