Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Demo CRAZY!!!

This week saw a coalition government in Britain for the first time ever. There was such a lot of hue and cry surrounding it, that people in India were at a loss over why! Since we have had coalition governments since eternity. And two years ago, the most bizarre form of coalition governance was seen in Israel, after every party claimed success! And if we look at all major past British colonies, a funny trend comes up.

The United States has a perfect two party political system with the Republicans and the Democrats. And by and far amongst all the biggies of the developed world, they have maintained this system for the past 234 years! Take Australia. They supposedly have a two party system, but sometimes, they are pushed to a 3 party system calling for coalitions at times. And now, the UK has stepped into the coalition game as well. Canada is another major player in coalition politics.

But look at India. 7 National Parties, 42 regional parties and 730 unrecognized, yet registered parties. So are we an example of democracy gone horribly wrong? True, democracy is precious. Thailand is a glaring example. People are arguing and fighting over the lack of a proper and transparent form of government. I remember Aghanistan, when people first stepped out to cast their votes post the tyrannical Taliban regime, there were luminous smiles on peoples' faces, they suddenly felt so empowered at being given the right to choose their own governments! The right to decide what happens to them as a country. But in India, the world's most populous democracy, the story is a tad bizarre.

Shepherding so many parties is a tough ask. Everyone has an agenda and a local mandate. Aligning these and being able to achieve significant development is a taller ask! And if you have leftist, fiercely communist parties as part of the group, like we did a couple of years ago, all semblance of capitalist development can be kissed goodbye, since they would be fiercely opposed! How we passed the nuclear 123 agreement is a story in itself. And then we have the numbers trading game. Outside support with withdrawal of support at the slightest provocation, a demand for certain ministries and portfolios, bargaining to have charges against someone dropped in order to hold a government together - it all happens.

A change is certainly in order. Outside support, ideologically different parties should not coalesce as per law. Several such changes would be ideal. But how can someone expect a parliament to bring about a constitutional amendment that may be detrimental to the passers themselves? I don't know. But before we begin commenting on how things should change and how government should be reformed, I guess the first thing needed is to do something to increase the voter turnout. For till then, we may call ourselves a democracy, but only one that does not represent the disillusioned, uninterested lot. Which unfortunately makes up the majority of our country!

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