Winner all the way

Fri, May 24, 2019

The results of the counting of votes held on May 23 to bring India’s 17th general elections to a close aren’t nearly as important as the nearly two month-long process leading up to it. Pollsters have predicted and soon the analysts will take over, but ultimately they are no more than sideshows as are the politicians and the parties. For these elections have been about the assertion of India’s democratic credentials in a manner that would have been unthinkable less than 50 years ago.
With the successful completion of a largely peaceful election, India realizes Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, in its truest sense: “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives...The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
No matter how often they are abused and used in vain by the very people they usher in, those words still carry the same ring of promise, of freedom, of power for the 550 million Indian voters who can hold their head up in a world where democracy has been in decline for the last seven years in a row, according to Freedom House. While factors such as governance by rule of law and the protection of civil liberties are essential to a fuller manifestation of liberal democracy, they cannot kick in till there is a free and fair method for people to choose their representatives by casting votes. With the largest voting exercise anywhere in the world going off without a major hitch, India stakes its claim to becoming a full democracy. It’s not an easy task. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, which analyses 165 independent countries using five criteria: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture, says only 15% of countries enjoy full democracy.
India isn’t there yet for, as experts have pointed out, democracy isn’t the natural state of human organization or natural order of government. Through history, most nations at most times have not been democracies which points to the difficulties in becoming so. Indeed, the short history of countries in our neighbourhood, indicate how nascent democracies can swiftly descend into authoritarian forms of government. As countries grapple with severe crises, social or economic, the rights of the voters to elect their representatives, seems almost too much of a luxury. One war, a famine, or even an ambitious general, is all it takes to suspend those rights. India has had its fair share of crises. That it has emerged bruised but not bowed is a tribute to the institutions of democracy in which the voters’ right is sacrosanct.
That right comes with all the concomitant freedoms so essential to our identity as humans—the right to equality, to freedom including the freedom of religion, to equality before law. Constitutionally inscribed as these rights are, they are hard won by the conscious exercise of the Indian voter. Dictators and dynasties have been shown their place not by bullets as in so much of the troubled world, but by the ballot.
The success of these elections should also put to rest the age-old argument about whether democracy in India is an alien construct introduced by the British and therefore unlikely to take root in the country’s political fabric. Even if it is a colonial legacy, India’s democracy with all its wrinkles and warts is now a wholly indigenous affair and embedded into the DNA of its body politic.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi