Citizens' Issues
It’s time to save democracy from oligarchy

The biggest problem with Indian democracy is that it has been hijacked by a few families and groups who have converted parties into their fiefdoms. Consequently, democracy has slowly dissipated, giving way to oligarchy. This must change for better governance

Hisar might become a milestone in Indian democracy for very peculiar reasons. The by-election on 13 October 2011 has been preceded by unique aggressive campaigning by a non-contesting, non-political civil society group that had no direct stake at the hustings.

Anna Hazare had given a call to the electorate to ‘defeat Congress because the Party heading the UPA Government at the Centre is dithering on the Lokpal Bill’. Claiming to be wholly ‘apolitical’ and above party politics, Team Anna has avoided extending support to any of the contestants in the fray. If the Congress loses this election, Team Anna’s tactics might emerge as a potent threat to party-based polity, because political parties have ceased to represent the people and turned into self-serving, domineering gangs.  

Whereas there has been unanimity of views all through the 42-year debate on the desirability of having an effective Ombudsman (Lokpal), the political establishment has willy-nilly let eight Bills lapse. The ninth attempt is now on in the Lok Sabha. Lots of lip service and no concrete action to have it enacted into a law, has exposed the absence of political will in the ruling alliance and the Opposition alike. Whenever there had been a political will, Bills were passed in exemplary swiftness without much debate like the MPs’ Salary Bill. This stance of the political parties has led to frustration among the masses. Anna’s call to rouse the people against the Congress should therefore be seen as a public response to political arrogance.

Questions are often asked whether it is democratic for civil society groups to incite people to vote against a particular party, stage dharnas, fasts and Satyagraha with a view to ‘coercing’ the government to comply with their demands. The counter question, however, is how else will people make the unwilling government act to realise their aspirations and cherished national goals? The underlying problem is that democracy in India has been hijacked by a few families and groups who converted parties into their fiefdoms. Consequently, democracy has slowly dissipated giving way to oligarchy. Here are the facts that prove this contention.

Dynastic Control: Except perhaps the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Leftist parties, almost all other political parties have a Family in control. The party functionaries in such parties are favourites of the ‘Family’ rather than ‘choice’ of the people they are ‘assigned to represent’. Come election season and we find aspiring sycophants jostling, quarrelling and crying over nomination and party tickets for the ensuing polls. Honest individuals rising on their own merit from the grass-roots are viewed as potential threats as, having strong mass backing, such individuals might not hesitate to question the party high command’s policies which is not acceptable to the all-powerful High Command used to reigning supreme in unquestioned environs as is so often experienced. If criticise you must, it would be okay to find faults with ministers and even the Prime Minister but who dare criticise Madam Supreme and Rahul Gandhi? This style of party-government functioning has destroyed Constitutional institutions and reduced even the Prime Minister to a mere titular figure-heard while the power centre in New Delhi has shifted from South Block or 7, Race Course Road to 10 Janpath. The absence of Mrs Sonia Gandhi from Delhi during Anna Hazare’s fast left the Indian Government so headless that the decision-making process became a mockery bringing the country to a near chaotic situation.

‘Whip’–an Undemocratic Diktat: It has become a routine practice for the political parties to issue a ‘whip’, a mechanism devised to force their respective MPs to vote for or against a particular Bill. In the case of the Lok Sabha where there are 543 MPs, issue of whip from the Party bosses of the major parties decides the fate of a Bill. This means there are only 3-4 persons deciding matters crucial in running the nation! Conscience of individual MPs or people’s demands has no standing. Their wisdom or the opinion & mandate of the people they represent have no meaning in this farce of a democracy where the boss dictates how thou shalt vote. And what’s more, this voting culture runs against the Constitutional grain of our democracy where citizen’s individual opinion is respected and guarded through secret ballot free from all influences. Why not follow the same principle inside the House of the People, the Lok Sabha?

Inner Party Autocracy: Constitutionally, the Chief Ministers of States are required to be elected by the elected MLAs of the majority party or single-largest party. In practice, however, these ‘leaders of the legislative party’ are nominated by the party high commands in New Delhi. Likewise, ministers resigning should submit their resignations to the Chief Minister in the States and Prime Minister at the Centre; but a practice has gained currency in which they submit resignations to the Party President. A culture of sycophancy has thus mushroomed that has disoriented the democratic outlook of our polity in which favours and fears looming from the top overrun common public interests in utter disregard to people’s aspirations.

Opportunism killing Ethics: Very tempting manifestoes are publicised by all parties prior to general elections, which are hyped to display the Party’s pro-people dedication and resolve. Like marketing gimmicks, these manifestoes or promised programmes are dumped in trashcans the moment polling is over, never to be talked about for the next five years. Legislatures and governments thus are a consequence of lies and cheating. Parties that contest elections criticising the very philosophy, policies and ethos of opponent parties—often trading abuses and serious allegations on character and deeds of party leadership—show no qualms about making a sudden turnabout from their tirade, and forming alliances and governments for mutual comfort and shared exploits. Coalitions formed on the basis of shared common minimum programmes prior to the elections are visible to the electorate which is led to believe or disbelieve in the joint philosophies of such alliances. Therefore, governments formed by pre-poll coalitions have the approval of the electorate. But post-poll coming together of the erstwhile bitter enemies would be plain betrayal of the voters’ mandate. Likewise, midstream withdrawal from the coalition by member groups or parties would also betray this mandate. Therefore, there is a case for the Election Commission to examine and create a mechanism to fortify the people’s mandate by treating post-poll making or un-making of alliances as defection. Parties planning a shift in their pre-poll declared positions must seek a fresh mandate for their proposed plans.

High Offices–Prestige and Credibility Compromised: It is Constitutionally mandatory that only non-partisan, apolitical personalities of high calibre, integrity and merit should be elected/nominated to hold high Constitutional offices like the President of India, Governors and other Constitutional bodies. Wary of independent opinion and wisdom of meritorious citizens of eminence from ‘apolitical’ backgrounds, the political parties have systematically circumvented the Constitutional mandate and established a convention whereby persons of negotiable integrity, low calibre and doubtful credentials have held high offices of national prestige including the Office of the President of India, governors and other institutions. Individuals who have been active members of political parties do not become ‘apolitical’ overnight just by resigning their party memberships. Every now and then, we find State Governors getting involved in unseemly controversies involving their partisan behaviour, Gujarat and Karnataka being some of the most recent examples. What portrays the country’s highest office in a pitiable form is that even the President of India cannot say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on matters as simple as mercy petitions that keep lying for his/her consideration for years and decades. And this is when every such case has been thoroughly detailed, considered and passed through comprehensive legal process including review by the Supreme Court—the country’s most revered ultimate legal authority. One of the Presidents was so obsequious that he is on record having said that ‘I would sweep the room if Indiraji ever asked me to do so’.  We need to restore the honour and dignity due to the nation’s highest office. But how?

Interestingly, India’s Constitution does not specify the necessity of political parties and its Founding Fathers certainly did not dream of how Democracy would be devoured by Oligarchy centring on family-controlled political parties. A question arises: Is it time for India to go for a ‘party-less democracy’?  

(The writer is a military veteran who commanded an Infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second in command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard (NSG.)  He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages).



Raj Srinivasan

5 years ago

Karbh's comments are timely
Oligarchy is at the root and comes from the unholy combination of business politics civil service and media .Almost all oligarchy swears by democracy. It is a convenient ladder for them to slide into dynasty.No wonder the adjectives secular socialist democratic before the noun republic in the Preamble have been adjudicated more than once but on the true import of republic there is stunning silence!!72VSB

Shama Zaidi

5 years ago

we have 3 mainstream parties ; the monarchic congress party, the stalinist communist party marxist, and the facist bharatiya janata party controlled by a cabal of rightwing uppercaste hind fanatics in the rashtriya swayamsevak sangh. then we have the warlord factions(calling them parties is quite a joke). These consist of one supreme leader and his or her family and close advisors and an army of organised goons who display their street-power whenever required. this is oligarchy redefined in the indian context.


5 years ago

strong hold over a party per se isnt bad. Moreso for a country like india where votes have been so fragmented that 1% swing this way or that means loss of power. decision making is bound to be slow in coalition govt as ministries become fiefdoms of ministers looking to make the most of thier king maker status. the constitution is flawed and we need to reform the constitution so that we can move faster as the solutions are known and there are right thinking people but there is no headroom for reform. and one must ackowledge india is in the most disturbed neighbourhood and is a multi religion democracy and its difficult to balance sentiments of such diverse people when power is subject to 1% votes. the industrialists come in and subvert the system to their advantage as they know that the ministers need greasing . while we may bash congress HC or BJP HC, to me both have good people but they are working in a flawed system. china is run by a close group of people. yet media writes highly about chinese achievements. conclusion - unless we give our leaders a fair chance , niether atalji nor manmohan nor sonia can really do much as the pawars and the rajas and the marans and mulayams and the lalus are vested with disproportionately high leverage thanks to their kingmaker status. infact the regional satraps within the two national parties have become internal rajas and marans capable of making the HC dance. example jagan and janardhan reddy. the nuclear deal with USA couldn be dealyed till 2009 elections. national security cant wait for better mandate. if HC doesnt have iron grip over these regional boys, even congress could be going the BJP way . PC pranab infighting is litmus test for congress.

Eros International, Red Chillies tie-up for Ra.One

The marketing spends on Ra.One have been subsidised considerably through major brand tie-ups in excess of 25 brands

Integrated film studio Eros International Media Ltd and Red Chillies Entertainment are set to release Shah Rukh Khan’s most ambitious project Ra.One on 26 October 2011. The countdown to the film’s release marks the culmination of one of the biggest marketing blitzkrieg for any Indian film ever, embarked upon by Eros and Shah Rukh Khan with brand tie-ups to the tune of Rs52 crore.

The country’s biggest brand SRK and leading film studio Eros have come together, jointly exploiting the film’s potential and additional revenue streams making Ra.One the first of its kind landmark film. The marketing spends on Ra.One have been subsidised considerably through major brand tie-ups in excess of 25 brands. These include Sony PlayStation, YouTube, Nerolac, McDonald’s, Western Union Money Transfer, UTV Indiagames, Videocon, Nokia, Coke, ESPN Star Sports and Cinthol amongst others.

Eros International and Red Chillies have already recovered a major portion of their investments through in-film branding, media endorsements and through pre-licensing cable and satellite rights, music and other rights. Eros International is planning a very wide release for the super hero action packed film in 2D and 3D formats in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu with over 3500 screens worldwide, out of which around 500 screens are expected to be in 3D in India and approximately 50 plus 3D screens overseas.

In the late afternoon, Eros International Media Ltd was trading at around Rs259.90 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 3.16% up from the previous close.





5 years ago

They will do anything to promote there movie , Any publicity stunt , don't get
worried about sharukh , he will recover the cost or he can earn it buy dancing for
few minutes in some ones marriage , advertisement , or in inauguration or brand
ambassadorial for some products , he will earn that money in few days or much more
then that , think about our country , inflation , corruption , black money ,
politicians looting us , Anna hazare who is the real hero fighting for country ,
According to Swiss bank reports :money stashed I swiss banks belongs to
politicians , Bollywood Stars, Now u know why do the picturization or shooting of
most Indian songs take place in Switzerland , yes they r enjoying with hard earn
money of common man who pays taxes for every thing and they enjoy on that money
that's too tax free in turn we make them more rich by watching their movies in
theaters , and also paying entertainment taxes which is about 50% we making them
more rich , they have sold RA-1 rights to television for rs more then 40 crore so
it will be obviously on TV , so why don't to watch free ON tv instead of spending
our hard earned money and make them rich , why we should be always loyal and don't
watch pirated versions, why only common man is expected to be loyal Yes he will
make lot of money and much money , he will be much richer because there r many
fools to watch his movies and fill his pocket and make him more richer and we have
to fight for month to earn thousand of rupees and from which we will spend on his
movie to make him more richer , They Blocked my video from you tube because they
got worried.
RA-1 Very Bad special effects Made by child, and they say very expensive movie,
money only given to stars for parties m why to watch this low budget action film ,
Ramsey films better, Spend high cost is sham , a gimmick to give hype to the
movie, effects taken from X-men, fantastic 4 etc but r of inferior quality sp I
down loaded on my face book many ideas r taken from Robot too.
SEE the below scene of RA-one copied from where -

RA-one has copied bit from here and there even from Tamil films like Robot.
Every bit is copied from here and there see. It has even copied the posters from
Hollywood films at least they must show some creativity.

very poor special effects-proof.

now the stars OF RA-1 will appear every where ON TELEVISION to promote the RA-1 in
shows like Little champs, dance India dance and many serial to promote there movie
, otherwise they don't , just watch U WILL FIND THEM ON UR TELEVISION, ok they
appear in serial and do publicity stunts.
he is marketing his film VERY good marketer , A good wrapper to attracts fools
like us and waste their money. in theaters
why not better watch it on television as it has sold its rights to television for
40 crore so it will be obviously on TV. You every body saw how The movie RASCAL
created a hype buy marketing and earned lots of money in its first shows, buy
fooling people , its way of pulling more and more public to watch movie on first
day to recover as much money it can.
Other copies from famous Film Bodyguard.

"Teri meri, meri teri" is a copied song buy himesh from foreign song Salman Khans
See the proof.

the original song:
Bollywood is pirated version of Foreign movies and content And they publicly Say
yes they r Copies even slman , So if copying is not wrong then why watching
pirated movies r wrong they too saying they copy (so it is same as pirated
versions of foreign movies) then what's wrong in watching pirated movies.
Watch pirated movies or u r fool.

Inflation to come down to 7% by March-end: Govt

“I expect around 7% (inflation) by March-end. It (current inflation) is too high from comfort level,” economic affairs secretary R Gopalan told reporters

New Delhi: Describing the present level of inflation as too high for comfort, the finance ministry today said it would come down to 7% by end-March 2012, reports PTI.

“I expect around 7% (inflation) by March-end. It (current inflation) is too high from comfort level,” economic affairs secretary R Gopalan told reporters here.

Overall inflation increased to 9.72% in September 2011 from 8.98% in the year-ago period, as prices of food and manufactured items continued to escalate.

However, general inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was marginally lower than the 9.78% figure recorded for August.

The year-on-year rise in inflation has raised the prospects of another rate hike by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) later this month. The central bank has already hiked rates 12 times since March 2010 to tame inflation, which is hovering stubbornly near double-digit levels.

The RBI has already said that controlling inflation is its main priority and a change in its tight monetary policy stance would depend upon softening of prices.


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