The democratic slide
- Malaysia signals missing plane carrying 239 including 5 Indians has crashed
- Disquiet in BJP as M M Joshi, Sushma raise questions over selected candidates and seat sharing
- Subrata Roy arrest row: The not-so-beautiful story
- Vajpayee wanted Modi to quit over Gujarat riots, but party said no: Venkaiah Naidu
- Rest in freeze: Is Ashutosh Maharaj 40-day âclinically deadâ or a guru in a very long meditation?
Our politics is becoming home to intolerance, exclusion, sub-democratic solutions
As yet another calendar year comes to an end, two themes are set to dominate public discussions. One is the impending parliamentary election and the other is the economic slide. Incidentally, a decade of UPA rule may also be coming to an end, though an assessment of the last 10 years is not so much about the UPA as it is about the country's democratic institutions and democratic culture.
In a sense, this year represents most of the critical features of political development in the last decade. The inadequacies of the candle-light protests against the December 16 gangrape were thrown into sharp relief as cases of rape continued to be reported. And as if to showcase the plight of women in the public sphere, a former judge of the Supreme Court faces allegations of sexual assault. With half the population constantly facing the threat of indignity and physical insecurity, the country's democratic culture stands deeply flawed. Of course, the political class has dutifully tightened the law pertaining to sexual crimes. But the implementation of laws and, more importantly, the inclusion of women as members of the public remain more remote targets. On the subject of inclusion, can we expect political parties to give more tickets to women candidates this time round or will they hide behind the failure of the women's reservation bill?
It now seems to be a norm that in order to right every wrong, we need a separate law or separate institutional paraphernalia. So, the political establishment has finally brought in the lokpal. Many from this "establishment" resent the use of terms like political class and political establishment, but the way the issue of crime and corruption was handled by politicians only substantiates the claim that there exists a self-serving clique called the political establishment. Parallelly, throughout the year, we saw ministers, former chief ministers and a host of politicians go to jail (and subsequently get bail). The government nearly managed to nullify the court ruling disqualifying elected representatives found guilty by a trial court. And even as the lokpal bill finally became law, the government of the progressive state of Maharashtra "rejected" the report of an inquiry commission that alleged the involvement of a host of politicians and bureaucrats in a scam. So much for fighting corruption.