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Democratic Responsibility


Not a day passes when an atrocious comment is not heard from so called political leaders, even those who have managed to get elected to Parliament and the state legislatures. They obviously represent significant sections of society otherwise they would not be where they are. Quite obviously, it will have required sabotaging the electoral process with use of money, muscle-power, etc., but, even so, people still have to vote for them. The fault, obviously, lies not so much with them as with those who cannot see the harm their wrong choices cause to society and the nation.

Those who wish to see an improvement in the quality of leaders have to work at the grassroots so that people become aware of their responsibilities in shaping a better society. There are enough number of persons, especially among the youth, who believe it is cool to be uninvolved in politics and the voting process. They do get involved in high profile causes such as the environment, human rights, etc., but only to the extent they don’t have to get their hands dirty (except during photo opportunities). Not having hands on experience of any movement for change, they tend to take extreme and impractical stands on issues. Given the disproportionate clout their status provides them, they succeed only in distorting the argument and discrediting the cause in the eyes of the common people. It is only natural that they rarely if ever test their credibility with the people through the EVM.

As a result, ‘professional’ politicians have a free run as they exploit people’s baser instincts. Society has to pay an increasingly heavy price for even the façade of democracy. All these complications can be overcome by people’s direct involvement in everyday politics through grassroots level activism. It should be second nature for people to question, organise and participate. Even individuals should have the habit of standing up for what they feel is right and not just for grand causes like global warming. They should take a stand even on littering, misuse of public space, anti-social behaviour, etc. It should be done with the required sophistication in a positive and helpful manner. One cannot expect people to take a stand on important issues if they are in the habit of accepting bullying behaviour on an everyday basis from anti-social elements. People have to deliver democracy, not have it delivered to them as they sit complacently at home.