A Political Forum was organised by Lok Raj Sangaan entitled, “Balance Sheet of Indian Democracy; Do People have Political Power?” on 28 May 2017 in New Delhi. Many organisations, activists and students, including a large number of students studying Law and Human Rights from various colleges and universities across India who are currently pursuing their internships in Delhi, attended this Forum and actively took part in it. Apart from the President of LRS, others who spoke in the Forum included Shri Inamur Rehman of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Comrade Sheomangal Siddhantkar of the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (New Proletarian), Shri Harminder Singh of the United Sikh Mission and many young activists and students.
The discussion centred around the fact that people don’t have the power to take important decisions in our democracy. During the Great Ghadar of 1857, our people declared that they themselves are the masters of this country, that after the British were driven out, people themselves will decide what kind of rule will be established. In exact opposition to this idea, the British propagated the view that Indians were incapable of ruling and needed to be ruled by the “white man”. Over a period of time they co-opted a minority of Indians into colonial power. These Indians were educated in western institutions and imbued with Eurocentric ideas. The British colonialists made laws that legalised the plunder of the land and labour of India and outlawed any opposition to their rule. Tatas, Birlas and other collaborators prospered in their rule whereas toilers and tillers faced repeated famines and devastation.
Existing system of democracy in India is a continuation of the system established by the British. All institutions, apparatuses and laws of colonial rule have been continued in essence after 1947. The Indian Constitution borrows heavily from the colonial 1935 Government of India Act. There are emergency provisions in the Indian Constitution that suspend all fundamental rights of citizens. There are provisions to declare any area as disturbed and apply AFSPA and other draconian laws. Even under normal situations, all fundamental rights are curtailed using “reasonable restrictions” clause. The result of almost seven decades of this democracy is that our society is divided by a great chasm between the rulers and the ruled. One percent of the population (belonging to the monopoly houses) own more than half the wealth of India. About 150 monopoly business houses determine the economic orientation of the country.
The electoral process is designed to marginalise the people and ensure that the rule of a tiny minority can continue. Candidates are thrust by established parties of the elite, who make all sorts of promises during elections campaign, whereas people have no right to select the candidates in order to ensure that the elected representatives will be accountable to them. Waves are created for this or that party on the basis of money power and monopoly control over media and when one of the parties comes to power, it is called janadesh. Did our people give janadesh for having hungry children and unemployment? or did Kashmiris give janadesh for being suppressed? Did farmers give janadesh to getting economically ruined?
It is obvious that democracy needs to be renewed on the basis of modern definitions of rights. We need to build the broadest political unity of the people to fight for a society where human, democratic and national rights of all constituents are guaranteed. For this it is essential that people are mobilised into people’s empowerment committees in all areas of the country. The meeting concluded with the determination to take this discussion everywhere – in our homes and places of work, to residential colonies, colleges and universities and organise people’s committees everywhere in defence of rights and for building support for democratic renewal of India.