‘Division of country on the basis of communal awareness'
The representative institutions of India's democracy have, over the years, seen an erosion in their credibility. What is often spoken about in glowing terms is a ‘formal' democracy and not an ideal one, historian K.N. Panikkar said here on Monday.
He was delivering the first Dr. M. Bhaskaran Nair memorial lecture on ‘Possible Direction of Indian Politics' at a programme organised by the Centre for Electoral Studies.
Rich MPs, poor people
At a time when a good percentage of people in metro cities live on the footpath, the Indian Parliament has about 125 multi-millionaires. The rest of the MPs too are very close to being millionaires. Can these MPs be said to represent the common man of India? Worse, more than 100 MPs have criminal records.
On the secularism front, it is very clear that almost all political parties in the country have an undercurrent of communalism or casteism. A communal consciousness seems to have taken over society at large. There is a division of the country on the basis of a communal awareness.
The strength of the Indian polity lies in its federal character. Over the years, however, there has been decline of federal principles and a consequent centralisation of authority. This is evident in the attempt to create a National Commission for Higher Education and Research and in the anti-terror bill being piloted by the Centre.
Fact of the matter is, socialism was given the go by even during the time of Nehru himself. Save the Left, all political parties have accepted globalism and the ways of global capital. The latter has become a byword for modernisation. However, the kind of development that is being ushered in by global capital is pushing more and more Indians below the poverty line, Dr. Panikkar pointed out.
There are three major contradictions in Indian polity today — between imperialism and nationalism, between secularism and communalism and between capitalism and socialism.
Civil society must push for a political formation which would fight these contradictions. Only then can India's democracy, federalism and secularism can be saved, he added.