From my newspaper reading of the past week, one line stuck in my mind: “The plain fact is that democratic government — which is systemically better than all other forms of government — inevitably panders to narrow but powerful interests to gather votes.”
While it was from an interesting piece by Dhiraj Nayyar in The Indian Express on What ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ can tell us about the virtues of free market capitalism, it was related to an email from a friend that has been lying in my Inbox for the past couple of months. My friend is associated with FRNV, and was writing about a National Conference on Electoral and Political Process Reforms. With me struggling to get free time away from my two-year old, the least I could do in response to my friend’s sincere exhortation was write about it here!
Many educated Indians today know that politicians contesting elections in India are required to submit details of their financial assets, educational qualifications, and any criminal cases pending against them. How did this come about? It was an NGO that filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that led to this landmark step forward. This NGO is the Association for Democratic Reforms.
I was planning to provide some statistics in this context, but a like-minded blogger has already done it very well – please take a look if, as an Indian, you want to feel terribly insecure about living in a country led by a motley crowd including a bunch of hooligans).
Want a better India for your children? Can ordinary Indians help in any way? Here’s what you can do. There are various ways ordinary Indians can get involved and support ADR’s mission — improving and strengthening democracy in India:
- Volunteer for Election Watches: We need people for various activities during election watches, like: data entry, interacting with election officers, etc.
- Answer the helpline: Answer the questions coming from states going to polls on candidates based on the affidavits filed by them.
- Design work: Create pamplets banners to support the Election Watch teams in states. The pamplets are based on current events and findings.
- Web site updates: Our website needs to be updated on a regular basis, with lot of content, a lot of which comes from different states. You can help us with updates to the website.
- Blogging site: Monitor and contribute to the blogging site
- Public dissemination: There are a lot of election watch public dissemination activities going in all states. You can participate in these activities.
- Media Watch: We have a media watch program going on. You can participate in the media watch program
- Translation Activities: A lot of our press releases, newsletter etc. need to be translated into local languages. You can help in these translations.
Disclosure: I do become cynical at times, thinking that none of this is really going to help or bring about significant change, that Indians will remain ‘like that only’, and the present is one of those times. But I’m trying to shrug myself out of that cynicism and hence decided to at least write about it. That’s the very least I ought to do.
(Credits: ADR Logo, copyright ADR)