Strengthening Indian democracy – What can we do?

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.image

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 mis­sionimprov­ing 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)

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  • Mahen­dra

    It is impor­tant to be scep­ti­cal but equal­ly, if not more, impor­tant to NOT be cyn­i­cal. If every­one did one impor­tant thing in the advance­ment of a more trans­par­ent, respon­si­ble and col­lec­tive soci­ety, well, that is a bil­lion actions in India. Pret­ty pow­er­ful if you think about it. More pow­er­ful if some can be direct­ed in a cohe­sive direc­tion. Our future is ours to shape, no mat­ter where we are.

    Thanks for writ­ing an action ori­ent­ed post.