The 60th anniversary of India becoming a republic has come and gone. Fireworks, salutes to the tiranga, distribution of awards, parades, display of our military might and what not. But the real issue amid the festivities seems to have been lost somewhere. We boast that we have been a democracy for six decades — and point out that the same is not true of our neighbours — but are we truly democratic? Have we lived up to the ideals cherished in the Constitution?
Our foreign policy changes according to the dictates of Washington; education has been commercialised; there is too much privatisation; there has been a decline in vital subsidies; we have blatantly failed to instil confidence among the minorities and are yet to fulfil the people’s regional aspirations. We can, at best, celebrate Republic Day as yet another festival.
Democracy has helped only our politicians. Many of them got an opportunity to become billionaires after a decade or so in politics. Our criminal justice system is all but ineffective in curbing corruption, which starts with the ballot box and ends in Swiss banks.
Politicians have mastered the technique of purchasing the illiterate masses on the eve of elections and use state funds to market their party to the same masses by offering freebies. Those who can change the system refrain from voting due to frustration and, in some cases, fear. Our democracy is the best bet for Swiss banks.
The annual Republic Day parade is an occasion to showcase the country’s achievements in the military, cultural and economic fields. But it is also true that enormous resources in terms of money and manpower are spent in organising the occasion. This is particularly true in the current security scenario when such functions have to be organised under the shadow of possible terrorist attacks. In view of this, we should seriously consider having such huge celebrations at intervals of three-four years.