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National Issues/ Economy/ Politics

Participatory democracy will only expedite our country’s progress !

kejriwal-sketch

‘The first weekly (every Saturday) “Janata Darbar” of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers today had a chaotic start after thousands thronged the venue, forcing the AAP leader to leave the scene to avoid a possible stampede. An estimated 5,000 people poured into the open space outside the Delhi Secretariat since early morning, eager to pour out their woes to Kejriwal and his ministers. But the crowds were so overwhelming that Kejriwal had to retreat to his room in about 45 minutes at the suggestion of Delhi Police. The chief minister apologized for the poor arrangements, and said later that such was the rush that some over-enthusiastic complainants climbed on his desk and the chairs around him. Some people broke the barricades meant to keep the crowds in check. “If I had not left the place, there was a possibility of a stampede. Everybody wanted to meet me,” he said, admitting that he didn’t anticipate such crowds. (Photo courtesy/ Source : After chaos, Arvind Kejriwal promises better ‘Janata Darbar’– DNA Newspaper Dt Jan 11, 2014)

This incident stands testimony to the fact that .. the people of our country want their problems to be heard, understood and solved ! Heard by the politicians, ministers, and bureaucrats !! ‘Swaraj’ is just another word for participatory democracy. What Arvind Kejriwal wants to achieve has been successfully tried in developed countries too. A partial example of ‘participatory democracy’ that happened in the USA is with drawing up the plans to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with thousands of ordinary citizens involved with drafting and approving the plan. In our country, the age-old ‘Panchayati Raj’ system in most of the villages, takes into account the public opinion and the need of local governance, so as to arrive at people-friendly ‘on time, every time’ solutions that subscribe to achievement of common men’s welfare. Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities.

This participatory process is ‘the need of the hour’, especially during present times of great strife that is experienced by the young aspiring population of India. And the internet and social networking has made ‘Press & Media’ much stronger than ever before. Nothing is hidden from the Indian electorate any longer. And, there is no justifiable reason I can think of .. why were the electricity charges in Delhi can be halved overnight ? Does it mean we were being ‘charged double’ all the while in the past because we were indifferent ? Why corruption is institutionalized in India, so much so .. that nothing gets done unless we grease the palms of those with discretionary powers in the Indian government ? Why and How Kejriwal could manage to supply free water to the common men (aam aadmi) while his predecessors were only increasing the water utility charges ?? Why ?

Why there is a ‘declining’ birth rate of our female population .. so much so .. that it has become increasingly difficult to find a match for eligible boys to marry ? Why there is so much apathy and helplessness among people of a democratic society who have supposedly elected ‘who’ should govern them ? As if in our country, the common man cannot do anything to get what he or she wants ! In India, we aspire to get whatever a citizen of a developed country has .. but we don’t even vote in our ‘crucial’ Elections, we don’t educate our girl child, we don’t insist on having roads free from pot-holes, we don’t stop rape incidents, we don’t stop crime, we don’t work harder, we don’t pay income-tax or excise duty unless we are forced to .. this list can go on ! That’s changing now, at least we are getting where we should be !

Arvind Kejriwal is right ! Janata Darbar is only the first step to actualize participatory democracy in practice. An Anti-corruption help-line and citizen-driven ‘Sting’ operations to punish the corrupt will eventually change the mind-set of general public ( I refer to .. the bribe takers as well as the bribe givers) and it will change the Indian electorate’s attitude that has chosen to be blind, deaf and dumb. You got a pair of Eyes, a pair of Ears and a Mouth, right ? SWARAJ is coaxing you to use them effectively to take care of yourself. If you do not take care of yourself, Who else will ? Just migrating to a developed country is not a solution. Because .. that is not your home anyway ! Now, you cannot run away from your problems any longer. Arvind Kejriwal will not let you run away !!

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About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.

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