DailyPost 1804

Democracies have been functional and vibrant and you may call them even robust, from the point of view of the representative functioning they bring to law making and the government. Universal Adult Franchise is one of the core elements. Free and fair elections is another great element of democracy. All groups are represented in the manner decided by the constitution and the laws. Smooth democratic transition of power is touchstone of democracy. The parliamentary debates generally make sense. All quorum, legislative committees and oversight requirements are met with. Free media, the watchdog, plays its role. How vigilant is it is open to scrutiny? The final arbiter courts / judicial administration runs operationally fine, commanding the  faith of the citizens.

All this sound likes a checklist. If the ticks in all the squares guaranteed a democracy not getting dysfunctional, the world have been a much better place to live in. Then best test for non – dysfunctional democracy is the depth of learning of the political executive. How many of them picked the expertise of their job in their long years being in the political executive? Is a fifth time minister better than a first time one. Do they pick up expertise in any of the ministries / departments they hold charge of? Is a CM in his fifth-year better than in his first year or in his 15th or the 20th year? What is the method of decision making, are the experts having a say or is politics taking the better of everything?

How audacious the politicians are, is another indicator towards getting dysfunctional. Are they ready be of held accountable as any other professional? Unaccountability can never be functional. Are democratic deliberations intensive ones? Or lots of things are being decided just on the fly? Are laws are passed as Good Morning messages? Positions of power in democracy are punctuated by *protocols, ceremonies, travel, summits, declarations, travel, public functions and large number of people scurrying for favors; political to business and what not. Legislative sessions add to the rigmarole and the huge amount of time also gets wasted in wanton political activities or floor management. Then populating the social media to its brim is a serious proposition now.  Controversies, enquiries, investigations and once in a while impeachment proceedings have become the sine qua non of democracies globally.

This is democracy in motion. Democracy is a government where most of the resources are at the command of the political and bureaucratic elite. In whose favour has it worked, doesn’t need any serious thought. Countries have suffered on this count. Political ploys are tantamount to a dysfunctional democracy.  Once you are the leader, whims and fancies run amok, where is the democratic process then. How many heads of democratic governments decide true to the word and spirit of democracy. Do legislative whips manifest dysfunctional democracy? BREXIT saga was an eye opener of the dysfunctional nature of democracy. Now you have a pull out after twenty years of war like engagement, successful decision making and concrete policy implementation, as we always believed, to have finally become an epitome of dysfunctional democracy.


Sanjay Sahay

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