One of the charges that is constantly laid against this column is that it doesn’t tackle any serious subject. It’s all fluff and frippery. You know, it’s all on music, technological gadgets, movies and other silly stuff that don’t call for intellectual rigour, one longtime reader wrote to us recently.
In deference to him and many others like him who have been wanting this coulmn to take on what they classify as weighty matters, this week’s column is devoted to the various gears and shafts that make democracy up and running in this country.
Democracy has some pitfalls especially because it gives room to use the lines ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. So, as we get down to explain democracy in this country, we give you the assurance that we will not use anywhere in this column the line ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.
By using the said lines two times already, we are only proving that democracy is always what it is not. The whole attempt here is to be lucid and not get too technical, by which we mean that the entire thing will be devoid of facts but high on fiction that is the true hallmark of any democracy. (The usage of ‘we’ in place of ‘I’ is to establish that this is democracy, and in the event of defamation both of ‘us’ are in it).
This is the Bhagwad Gita of the country, except the fact that you can’t say so because the country is secular, which is otherwise defined as the state of being in confusion over religions. The country’s founding fathers decided to remain equidistance (exactly seventy metres) from all religions because their knowledge of basic arithmetic was poor and hence couldn’t come to terms with unequal distances.
Secularism means, if Amar, Akbar and Anthony went with a problem to the government, the government would not see Amar as Hindu, Akbar as Muslim and Anthony as Christian. The government, in fact, would not even see them as individuals due to the fact Amar, Akbar and Anthony are not the names of persons, but the title of a popular Hindi movie of the 80s. The founding fathers, needless to say, were great ones for entertainment.
The Constitution contains roughly several hundreds of Articles, Amendments and Sections, and exactly one sentence that a normal human mind can understand. In terms of language, the Constitution has been written in a manner that the person to crack what is meant in there will be terminally bald and spectacled.
The Constitution is a carefully laid out manual to keep the nuts and bolts of government well-oiled and constantly working, in the context when ‘working’ means to pay salaries every month to several hundreds of thousands of workers and officials, who then go on to strike for more pay as the right to strike is guaranteed by the Constitution. It is not just this. The right to spit paan juices in the open and park the vehicle anywhere on the road, all flow from the empowerment that flow from the Constitution. It is also a fact that the Constitution unequivocally guarantees its reader the sovereign right to fall asleep within two pages.
This is the evolved tool in democracy by which the multitudes of masses of the land assert themselves, which is by enjoying a full-day’s holiday in front of the TV on the voting day. This is called the dance of democracy, no doubt alluding to the fact the TV programmes are full of dances and songs.
Elections are held every five years to the Lok Sabha, to the State Legislature, to the Municipal Corporation, to the Town Council, to the Village Panchayats, to the public toilet. So if a citizen voted in all these elections, the indelible ink on the forefinger would by now have grown to the size of malignant tumour.
Those elected to Parliament, State Legislatures and other institutions are called people’s representatives based on the proven scientific principle that some illusions are impossible to alter.
Elections are the true test of democracy. We in India pass them in many-splendoured flying colours.
Otherwise described as the seat of democracy, this is where the elected representatives from all corners of the country, dropping all the work in their constituencies, gather from time to time and discuss the various issues confronting the nation and its people, chief of which is indubitably higher allowances and pay perks for the elected representatives.
Once the MPs agree to allot higher sums for themselves, they, in the true spirit of democracy that allows dissent to flourish, create chaos and pandemonium wholly with the noble intention that the media will have something to report on. If the MPs were to orderly discuss Jawahar Rozgar Yojna and agricultural inputs for sugarcane farming, then reading media reports on them would tantamount to reading the Constitution itself with its enshrined guarantee for sleep.
The affairs of the Lok Sabha in session are run by the Speaker, who is chosen for his sagacity and impartiality to plead helplessness in the face of repeated interruptions and walkouts.
Every party has a Whip, whose chief virtue is that it is the most unlikely name for a party post.
If Lok Sabha reflects people’s aspirations and yearnings, Rajya Sabha symbolises the true ambitions of the ruling class: To have an exclusive club for fun and recreation. The Rajya Sabha is an eclectic institution created to ensure that those who even if they can’t get elected even to their apartment residents associations, can still make it to Parliament as the country’s Prime Minister.
Rajya Sabha has an important constitutional role to play, which is to give some work for the Vice-President, who otherwise can spend his entire tenure without even bothering to shave and change his clothes, as nobody will have noticed.
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha together make for Parliament and run the affairs of the country, described as events that have no earthly connection to everyday human living. But the hardy members of Parliament do not let this minor quibble to come in the way of performing their constitutional duties of using the government-funded, siren-fitted white SUVs to wherever they are going, including toilet.
Parliament, in general, comprises benign and forgiving individuals who are not unduly bothered that even those who had made bold to attack them with guns and bombs are still scot-free.
As you can see, democracy has its pitfalls, like having to read this article as Constitution has obligated the Freedom of Expression. Well, all things, considered this is a small price to enjoy democracy. For everything else, well, there is Mastercard.