Lest we forget…

There is a reason your country is still called a Democracy…and it’s a damn good one

In recent times, good ‘ol democracy has come under attack. Democracy in India, democracy in Pakistan.

Apparently, “We” are not ready for democracy. Democracy, they tell us, requires some sort of nonsense called an enlightened populace, i.e. Switzerland. Others will tell you that ‘pure’ democracies are nonsense anyway, when all you really need are Republics.

Some pompous armchair idiots even go so far as to claim that democracy doesn’t matter to the average Joe (or Ramu) when all he wants is to feed himself and his kids. (Then of course, they conveniently contradict that statement when it goes against their overall bias of hating India, but that of course, is another story).

Then there are the more conventional types of morons – the ones who first say that India was better off under the British, and also who cares about Democracy when you can host Olympic Games, and build flyovers. Besides, aren’t Indians just a bunch of indisciplined louts which need an Iron Hand?

Some people point to the latest atrocity in West Bengal to point out that Democracy is not working in this country at all. The irony is that everything that has happened in Nandigram just goes to show what A GOOD THING it is that India is a democracy, and not anything like China.

Shame. On all of you.

What is it, that makes these people hate democracy so much – especially in their own country? These people, who have the most to benefit from it? Why do they bite the hand that feeds? Of course, some claim to do it under the selfless (and idiotic) notion of ‘The Greater Good’. As in, “The Common Man” would be better off had we had a dictatorship (and then refer nostalgically to the time of Indira Gandhi). It is important to note, that these people didn’t lose their balls during the Emergency like so many others, and nor were they old enough to be jailed for their idiotic excresecent musings.

While India is always teetering on the brink of turning into a country that holds no value for Freedom of Speech, it is the fact that we are democracy that prevents it from permanently descending into the blocking of private TV channels, and censoring newspapers.

Yes Midnight’s Children was banned. Yes, we almost were spared having to watch the boring Da Vinci Code on screen. Yes, we DID lose our blogs for a few days. Yes, we miss seeing boobies and listening to cusswords on TV. But are we quiet about it? Are we shut up for good? Is there absolutely NO recourse, no outlet for dissent?

BUT 

People in Pakistan, don’t have the luxury we do, of being able to surf the web more freely, or watch TV, or even be able to read a trashy rag like Tehelka. They aren’t allowed. The reporters are jailed.

People in China have even less. Oh yes, they do have modern flyovers, they wear suits, they don’t smell bad, and their factories can produce one million units of poisonous dolls, and they stand in lines. Absolutely. But they can’t exercise their independent minds.

I know that seems like no big deal, but I ask all of these bloggers – would they be willing to give up the ability to write WHATEVER they wanted just so they don’t have to walk through a potholed street? Hell, maybe if you spent more time blogging about potholed streets…..

I ask all of you who claim that Democracy in this country is broken, what would have happened at Nandigram, if Nandigram were in China? Do you think you would even know? China has a lot of SEZs as well. In China, when you get booted off the land, you’re gone. There is no Tehelka or Dilip D’souza to blog about your plight. You’re gone. Disappeared. Is that acceptable to you? Is this the way to put food in people’s stomachs? Yes, the situation there is bad. But it is the way it is, because in THIS country, you CAN rebel. Is the rebellion a pretty sight? Is it within the confines of the law? (yea, we all know the answer).

Nowhere, in any definition of Democracy, does it say that something like Nandigram cannot happen. The difference lies in the corrective measures. Yes, the corrective measures. Democracy doesn’t say that we won’t have any Saddam Husseins or Adolf Hitlers. But it sure as hell limits what they can or cannot do with their power. In Germany, for sure, it produced something incendiary. But did it do the same in Australia, New Zealand, America, UK, France, Switzerland, India, Greece, Italy, Turkey? Yes most of these countries are ‘White’ and ‘Anglo-Saxon’. So, the fuck, what?

The fact is that in Democracy, the system allows to be aware of things like Gujarat and Nandigram. Now the onus is on YOU to do something about it. People in Gujarat did what they did. They voted their dictator back in power. But he doesn’t represent the whole country does he? Now we know what is going on in Nandigram – what do you plan on doing about it? Will all of indifferent motherfuckers go out there and vote? Will you? No? Then you claim this country’s democracy doesn’t work? Who broke it? You did.

The truth, it seems, is that people are afraid of freedom. They realize they have the power to change this country – but they are too afraid to use it. And instead choose to hide behind their own cynical anecdotes. “The police over here all corrupt”. “Nothing will change”. Yea, this last paragraph has been reduced to a platitude, the amount of times it’s been repeated in India. Do you know something – the fact that you even CAN repeat that sentence in your country is a luxury that they do not have in China.

People in China are not allowed to say their country sucks. But that’s ok, right, because at least they can sit in Starbucks, and they don’t deal with cows on the street. So maybe their country doesn’t suck. My question is – would you ever find out if it did?

Try this sometime – wander out into a public place – any public place. A market, a street corner, anywhere. Stand there, and shout, at the top of your voice – THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA SUCKS. Say it in Hindi, say it in English, say it in Tamil, say it Bangla. Tell me what happens. It will be one of the following:

  1. People will look at you funny and laugh (This won’t happen in China)
  2. A policeman will start looking at you tentatively expecting something more (This would be just the start of what would happen in China)
  3. If you’re in a village, you may get assaulted by the local goondas. But guess what – you’ll be blogging about it the minute you’ve recovered from your injuries, and you’ll receive a visit from the opposition party’s candidate (and if you die, Dilip D’souza will even give you a glowing tribute) – This doesn’t happen in China.
  4. Absolutely nothing

BTW, #4 is what happened to me, and this is exactly what I did to prove my point to an American friend who was visiting, rambling on about how great China was. I simply asked him if you could do that in China. You only realise how important freedom to do stuff is when you lose it.

 But hey. They have electricity. And poisonous Barbie Dolls. They win. We lose.

There has, of course, been an accusation of India being a ‘Cargo-Cult’ democracy, a sort of ‘Aping of the West’ if you will. What that author is actually complaining about is that we are not enough of a cargo-cult. We don’t have a Ben Franklin or a Bill Clinton. And therefore, we are not worthy. We have Deve Gowdas and Prakash Karats, and trust me, nobody wants to give them a blow job. Not all democracies look alike. Nor do they all produce the same results. But they work.

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