Why is Republic day celebrated?
On 26th January 1950 the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state and a totally republican unit.
What is a republic?
A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated representative rather than a monarch.
Let’s dissect this definition:
1. A state in which supreme power is held by the people:
Is it true? Do we hold the supreme power here in India? Well, technically yes. Every Indian gets “The right to vote” as a birthright, using which we can make or break governments. This again gives way to a volley of questions:
a. Do we really exercise the power?
The sad truth is that many of us don’t vote. There is a set of people who are oblivious to the political developments around them. If I were to query the Facebook database and find out how many have put “Apolitical/Not Interested in Politics”, the revelations will be startling. Supreme power can be held by people only when people are interested in the politics of their country. Then there are people who are genuinely interested in politics and are internet activists of sorts. On the Election Day, they prefer to chill out and not vote. All their knowledge and expertise goes for a toss.
b. Do we intelligently exercise the power?
The answer is no. We, as Indians believe in favoritism. We can talk about the collective good but at the time of voting we never rise beyond the shallow mindset of caste, religion, community and color. On the Election Day instead of voting we become votes. Each one us is a vote for a leader representing a particular faction. Then there is a vast majority who believe in idealism, romanticism and utopia. They fall for populist gimmicks and are brainwashed by the national media. So is the supreme power in the hands of people? No, unless they start using their brains.
2. Their elected representatives:
Almost every political party indulges in nepotism and lineage based politics. The surnames become brands and we are a brand crazy nation. We vote for the brands, we never look into the representative profiles. We never do our calculations and end up choosing somebody who is not fit to represent a block, a village, a town, a city, state or country. Many of them are criminals, rapists, supporters of Maoist ideology, pro separatists but we end up choosing them. Do they represent us – The common Frustrated Indian? NO. Not at all.
3. Rather than a Monarch:
Monarchies by definition are generally authoritarian. They generally have absolute power over the state and government. They can impose any kinds of taxes, make, remove or amend laws based on their own whims and fancies. Also the succession is based on heredity. Here in India we don’t have that. Or at least we think we don’t have that.
Look at the different “representatives” India has had since independence and you’d get to know how many came from a single family. This nation has seen curfews, Section 144 and even national emergencies since then. The election time is the time for new bills to be tabled and most of them are populist gimmicks which again are intended for the purpose of appeasing a certain section of the society. Food Security Bill and Communal Violence bill are recent examples and glaring ones at that. The taxes have always seen a northward trend. So the succession is based on heredity, the laws are being made or removed based on their whims and fancies and we still believe, we are being governed by a democratic form of government. In books yes, in reality not really.
What is the solution then?
The solution lies in the empowerment of an average voter. We must renounce the life of a vote and we must become a thinking, reasonable, intelligent voter. We must think about the collective good before individual interests. When it comes to a marriage in the family, the parents do all sorts of background checks but during the time of electing a representative of their own, the process of background checks and verifications and validations cease to exist.
I understand it is your Delhi, My Maharashtra, His Orissa, and their Sikkim but together we constitute this nation called India. The day an average voter comes back from the vacation he seems to have taken, the system in this country will wake up from its slumber. And that will be the day when we’ll be truly democratic.
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