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Democracy doesn't accept extreme positions

Democracy survives and thrives in a society which believes in the middle path. Extreme positions are the antithesis of the idea of democracy

Post by on Thursday, January 6, 2022

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 FRAGRNACE OF IDEAS

 

 The civilized world accepts democracy as the best form of governance. It is considered as the idealistic form of government because of the fact that in democracy, people have the right to choose their rulers. If rulers do not work well, people won't generally elect them in the next elections. Democracy has more freedom of speech than any other forms of government. It has been described as a system of government with some key elements, i.e. a system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the individual and the human rights of all citizens; and a rule of law in the society. The notion of democracy has evolved over a long period of time considerably. The original form of democracy was a direct democracy. The most common form of democracy today is the representative democracy in which the people elect the government to govern on their behalf such as in a parliamentary or presidential democracy.

 

In ancient India, there were institutions that upheld democratic values. Janpads, Pratinidhi Sabhas, Gram-Panchayats, Sarpanch & Panchs, and Nagar-Parishads were the common established platforms in this context. However, when India got freedom from the Britishers in 1947, the founding fathers of our constitution were well versed with the past history of India, current requirements, democratic principles and art and practice of governance. Thus they adopted parliamentary system of governance in the Indian constitution.

 

In addition to this, they were also in knowledge of the fact of the United Nations General Assembly's action regarding adoption of the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights post World War II. Both these historical resolutions were adopted by the UN on 9th and 10th December 1948, well before the adoption of the constitution of India by the Constituent Assembly. In fact the scheme of fundamental rights in the Indian constitution for all citizens irrespective of creed, colour, sex, region and religion are inspired by the concept of human rights and the well established doctrine of Indian Ethos that every individual is born free and accordingly should enjoy freedom of every sort without harming other's right to freedom.

 

These principles of democracy together with fundamental and human rights have a great value for the citizens of India. However, there have to be certain restrictions to the freedom and democracy as well in order to enjoy the full menu of democracy. Democracy survives and thrives in a society which believes in the middle path. Extreme positions are the antithesis of the idea of democracy. We have witnessed in India democracy getting derailed in challenging situations guided by some extreme thoughts and practices many a time as an aberration. These thoughts and practices whether pertaining to extreme right or extreme left or otherwise couldn't survive for a long time through the democratic way of functioning. There are a number of examples available in this connection.

 

The most dominant factors in politics in India were usually based upon the caste and language issues. A number of big states particularly Bihar, UP, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were swept by this sort of political thinking for decades. In UP and Bihar in particular, the caste based politics installed and brought down a number of governments for decades. There was a hatred created by the activities of the political parties against the so-called upper castes. Likewise, in Tamil Nadu, caste and language played havoc with the political scenario. With the passage of time, these extreme views in politics got receded and lost their charm. The irony is that the caste based political groups are now engaged in wooing the upper castes estranged by them due to their extreme position taken against them earlier.

 

The idea of Naxalism, sprouted initially in Naxalbadi in West Bengal, was/is also an extreme position in politics. It along with Marxism had its practical impact on the political scenario of five or six states in India like, West Bengal, Tripura, Bihar, Kerala, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh besides its impact on a few intellectuals, writers and artists in urban India. With the onset of the middle path politics afresh, Marxisim and Naxalism have a minimalist impact on the socio-political scenario in these states now. In fact, the Communists have now been left with only one state to govern, i e. Kerala. Their impact and influence have got terribly shrunken over the last more than a decade all over India which is a substantial shift in the political scenario at an all India level.

 

Declaration of internal emergency by the central government due to the then opposition's agitation in 1975 against the government was also an unacceptable decision which people resisted. The uncalled for amendment to the constitution through 42nd Amenment Bill was later on reversed by the new government in 1977. The preamble of the constitution was also damaged through an amendment by the Congress government during Emergency.

 

Introduction of Article 306A (latterly Article 370) in the Indian constitution was also an extreme position taken by a few influential and powerful members of the then Constituent Assembly. Their premise was that in order to save the so-called identity of Jammu and Kashmir and in particular the Kashmir valley, the Article would help. Later it became a big issue of political controversy when Article 35A was also introduced by the government of India surreptitiously without taking Parliament into confidence. The Constitution of India amply clarifies that the current parliament of India would take over the role of the Constituent Assembly when need be. However, in case of Article 35A, it was not adhered to. Article 370 and 35A were both gender biased and discriminatory towards women, refugees of 1947, Valmiki samaj, Gurkha samaj living in J&K and to all citizens of India but the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. It was definitely an extreme position in democracy which created a state within a state and a wall of hatred. The actions of 5th August 2019 brought things at par and thus created and paved a level field in all spheres in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

 

 

The theory pursued by the ultras, separatist elements and some politico-religious groups in Kashmir valley leading to ideas of the so-called self-determination, terrorism, violence, death and destruction is an extreme position yet again unacceptable in a democracy. It can't bring any kind of solace and succor to any part of the society. Moreover, when the hand of Pakistan is stark, real and proven in this mayhem in Kashmir valley, it will straightaway be rejected by any government, state institution and the society at large.

 

Political parties in J&K reacted to the proposals of the Delimitation Commission in accordance with their political stand and known past. Though the reactions were on expected lines yet the stand seem to be extreme when some threaten with retirements from active politics and some claiming disassociation with the process in future. Any sort of boycott to the political process or elections is also an extreme position which hasn't benefitted the society anyway, anytime. Political parties in J&K and especially the Kashmir centric parties need to explain to the people as to why the earlier delimitations of the Assembly and the Parliamentary constituencies were accepted by them unilaterally. Was it because the delimitations done in the past were done as per their taste and necessity..!

 

Moreover, the delimitation exercises earlier were mostly done as a one way traffic leaving very brittle chance for the other political school of thought any chance to push their point of view. Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995 earlier also. Consequent upon the introduction of the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019, delimitation had become inevitable since the number of the seats was raised to 90, which otherwise had reduced to 83 because of the bifurcation of the state. It would be advisable to renounce these extreme policies and positions in politics and walk the middle path to bring the desired peace and tranquility in the region.

 

As long as democracy and democratic system of governance are the people's first choice, the extreme positions will remain unacceptable prepositions in the long run. Therefore, it is expected that better sense prevails upon all to remain committed to the mainstream political position and narrative always.

 

(The author is a senior BJP & KP leader and Incharge, Deptt of Political Feedback, BJP-J&K and can be reached at ashwanikc2012@gmail.com)

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