Dalit Voice, May 2009
Bangalore: At the April 2, 2009 G-20 summit in London, whenever the BBC referred to India it was called the “world’s largest democracy”. BBC like all Western institutions is also anti-China. And to spite China, they praise India. May be they get a vicarious pleasure out of it. Fine.
But we the Untouchables of India (20%) know what type of democracy is practised here.
The recent parliament election in April — and the periodical elections to state legislatures and other sundry elections — are India’s only argument to claim that India is a democracy.
Caste As Sole Criterion
Elections have become a big business. We have many elections to a variety of bodies: zilla parishad, panchayat, taluk board, legislative council, Rajya Sabha, cooperative institutions etc.
We found a very sound argument to discredit Indian elections as a barometer of democracy in the just published book, Wars, Guns & Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, by Paul Collier, an academic economist (Harper Collins, 2009, pp.277, $30).
The recent parliament elections proved that every party selected candidates only on the basis of caste which became the sole criterion for selection, plus the candidate’s ability to spend money. Can this be called democracy?
Many parliament elections have been held — one worse than the other. Genuine people’s representatives can never get elected. They lack the right jati and the strength of money. Plus the right political connections.
Our Khatri Sikh PM, Manmohan Singh, is called a “good man” by the upper caste rulers. But even such a “good man” cannot get elected even to the country’s lowest elected post: a panchayat. The masses of people of India simply do not know him.
Even if you have the right jati and the Big Money, when your supporters go to the polling booth, your votes are already cast by the rowdies employed by your opponent.
In the words of G.K. Galbraith India is a “functioning anarchy”. It is not a functioning democracy.
Permanent Upper Caste Rule
In Karnataka, the Lingayats and Vokkaligas — the two dominant upper castes — permanently rule. The overwhelming majority of “lower castes” have no say.
“If democracy means little more than elections, it is damaging to the reform process”, Paul Collier says. He is right. Elections in India is nothing but caste power and money power — plus gangsterism. Such elections can retard rather than advance a country’s progress, he warns.
The worst sufferers are the Muslims (15%) and Christians (2.5%) who can never get elected. These two sections have suffered under this great Indian “democracy”.
Dalit representatives can get elected only from the “reserved constituencies” in which only the puppet of an upper caste landlord is set up. A Dalit who challenges the upper caste hegemony will never be selected. And if he contests as an independent he will be put down.
Every candidate, irrespective of his party, concentrates his attention mainly on the densely populated urban slums — where the poorest Indians, Dalits and Muslims live — but always ignore the fashionable upper caste localities. But once a candidate gets elected he never visits the slums but always found in the company of upper caste rich who never go to vote. How can this be democracy?
Indian electoral system is totally corrupt and loaded against the over 85% of the oppressed castes and communities.
Still India is praised as the “world’s largest democracy” to spite China which has better democracy than what it is in India, according to Jaya Prakash Narayan (JP).