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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Democracy by P R Sarkar-Problems of the Day


Democracy by P R Sarkar-Problems of the Day

As a system of government, democracy cannot be accepted as the highest and best. Among all the systems human beings have been able to devise so far, democracy can be considered to be the best of a bad lot. If human beings can devise a better system in future, it will be proper to accept it wholeheartedly. Many defects in democracy have been discovered by human beings who have already started rectifying them.

In a democratic system securing the highest number of votes is proof of a person’s eligibility. However this eligibility is not adequately examined in all cases. In my opinion the popularity of a candidate securing the highest number of votes needs to be tested again if he or she polls less than half the total number of votes cast. In this test arrangements will have to be made so that people can vote either for or against the candidate. If the candidate polls more favourable votes, only then will he or she be declared elected.

No candidate should be declared elected without a contest. Rich and influential people can compel other candidates, by financial inducements or intimidation, to withdraw their nomination papers. So in cases where it is found that there is only one candidate, the popularity of the candidate will have to be tested. If the candidate fails in this test, the candidate and all those who withdrew their nomination papers will forfeit the right to contest the subsequent by-election for that constituency. This means that they will have to wait until the next election.

Although the system of seat reservation(11) is against democratic principles, temporary arrangements for seat reservation, if desired, may be permitted for backward communities.(12) But generally it is found that among the representatives of backward communities, the number of competent persons is very few. Hence the right to contest reserved seats should not be limited to those belonging to a particular community. At the time of the primary election of the candidates for the reserved seat, however, only those belonging to the community for which the seat has been reserved will enjoy the right to vote. That is, two people will be nominated for the one seat in the primary election. Later, either of the two will be finally elected by the vote of the general public. If, in the primary election, only one candidate is nominated – that is, there is no other contestant – in that case his or her popularity must be tested before the general public. Only if a backward or minority community clearly demands seat reservation will it be adopted, otherwise not.

A candidate must declare his or her policies in black and white. After an election, if it is found that a candidate is acting against his or her declared policies and this is proved to be the case in court, his or her election will be cancelled.

The slogan “adult franchise” is, of course, very pleasant to hear, but the fact that voters without political consciousness weaken the governmental machinery cannot be denied. In the interests of the general public, it is desirable that uneducated and less-educated people do not have the right to vote.

Democracy is a mockery in a country of uneducated people. In such a country cunning, fraudulent persons very easily secure or purchase the votes of illiterate people. Moreover, the general public in such a country is easily misled by the propagation of casteism or communalism.

The success of democracy depends upon educated, sensible voters. Hence, in a democratic country, the spread of education is of the highest priority. For the convenience of the general public, the educational system must be free of cost. No overbearing govern- ment pressure should be exerted on the educational system, otherwise the party in power will continue to propagate its ideas through the medium of education. Frequent changes in the government will also result in frequent changes in the educational system, consequently the entire system of education will be jeopardized.

No ism except universalism can be allowed in the educational system. The thirst for knowledge will have to be awakened among students, and reverence, devotion, orderliness and discipline will have to be taught as well. Along with this, a scientific outlook will have to be inculcated. If veneration for science is awakened, superstition will not find any room in the minds of students, nor will high-sounding isms bewilder them. Students will easily acquire the qualities to become sadvipras later in life.

Footnotes:
11) Seat reservation is the practice whereby parliamentary seats (and also administrative posts) are reserved for particular sections of society, usually less-advanced communities or minorities. –Trans.

(12) “Backward communities” refers to those communities which have not had access to social services and education. Generally only the members of such communities have the right to contest reserved seats. (Backward communities should receive preferential treatment from the government until poverty has been eliminated.) –Trans.

P R Sarkar
Problems of the Day

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