Democratic Institutions: In the age of Market Sovereignty By M. Saidullah

Democratic institutions are important organs for successful functioning of system in the interest of people.  Democracy which is popularly known as ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’ is, nowadays, in hot public debate and Joseph Stieglitz, eminent economist, has said it as: “government of the, by the , for the .”  We see, people have been feeling helpless and gets frustration by the functioning style of the democratic institution.    This concern is amply demonstrated from the lecture delivered by the then Hon’ble Chief Justice of India in the Supreme Court’s Bar Association on the occasion of ‘Law Day’ on 26th day of November, 2011 when he said:
            “Today the crisis of confidence in human institutions has come to the forefront.  The deficiency of every institution in tackling the growing and complicated social problems has become a common feature.  It is a challenge for every institution.  Every democratic institution needs to meet this challenge”
It is matter of common knowledge that democracy, which is founded upon rule of law, is result of constant historical struggle to free the man from exploitation, discrimination and unjust treatment.  Democracy has replaced the ‘Kingship’ which was governed by divine right theory of the origin of the state.  It (democracy) presupposes social contract, (social contract theory of the origin of the state) between rulers and ruled, thus the authority acquired through political process is trust in the hand of person holding power in the democratic setup. “We, the People”.. in the preamble of the Indian Constitution confirms the concept of people’s consensus in the origin of the state.
Historical background
The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia changed the course of history and the canvas of the world.  U.S.S.R. introduced public ownership over the natural resources and pursued the policy in the interest of general mass.  It was challenge to the capitalism, and the growing popularity of this model compelled the capitalist states to pursue welfare measure in order to give impression that even in capitalist system the maximum benefit to the people is possible.  It was advocated that needs of man with personal freedom is available in capitalism while the communist state is totalitarian state.  But soon with the fall of U.S.S.R. in 1991, the capitalist states threw out all the pretension of welfare state and switched over to naked capitalism, which was once known as ‘Laisses faire’ policy of the state.  New capitalist order targeted the state control and started advocating that it is the state control which is the main hurdle in the development and it was required to do away with.  With easing the state control, the ‘Laisses faire’ era re-surfaced and now it is uncontrolled horse.
On the other hand, Latin American countries are experimenting with the socialist ideology and have been converting private ownership of natural resources into public ownership and it has been becoming popular. Chaves who said “I have never failed you, and I have never lied you” during his recent election campaign has been believed by the people and he won the election for the fourth consecutive term with comfortable majority.  This development has snatched the sound sleep of the leaders of capitalist states who are busy with smashing of the entire structure of the welfare state in the developing countries including India, in order to complicate the way of transformation in the public interest.
Area of relevancy
The scope of this article is very much limited to the impact of market on the democratic institution and accordingly, I refrain from going into any further detail of history and philosophy of democracy.  The market is driven by profit motive and it has nothing to do with welfare of the people.  The protagonists of the market, however, argued that full voltage functioning of the market would sort out the need of the people and make the human life happier and worthy of living.  This claim of marketists does not convince anyone even the people of America, who have been coming out on the road to protest the system.  I further like to narrow down the scope of the article by examination of the functioning of the democratic bodies with which we are in daily touch.
How the person in authority is elected?
The formation of political parties is more or less on the caste equation.  The media during election period made forecast on basis of religious and caste affiliation of the voters.  In the real life caste and religion is a relevant factor to get power and to lose power, but constitutionally it is not permitted. The society is caste-ridden and caste is an easy instrument to get political power.  The religion is another identity invariably used to gather support in of formation of democratic institutions.
At the national level and also at the local level a new trend has been developed to get assembled the supporters in isolated place and paraded them at the time of trial of strength (election).  The elected representative preferred to be in confinement for no other reasons save and except matrieal benefit.
How the democratic institution functions?
The functioning of the democratic institution in India is now open secret.  The Election Commission, at the time of T. N. Seshan made it known to the government that it was independent body and separate constitutional authority, then it was made multi-membered commission.  Now, the Auditor General whose findings were not comfortable to government is under consideration to be changed into multi-member authority.  The 2G spectrum scandal, sought to be manipulated with the opinion of the Supreme Court.  Coalgate, the coal allotments scandal is further justified by attacking the approach of the Auditor General.  One Constitutional Authority is attacking the others Constitutional Authority.  This phenomenon in the medical science is known as auto-immune reaction.  It creates serious biological problem in human life.  So, likewise, auto-immune reaction in the constitutional system is bound to destroy the system itself.  Practically, no project and policy of the government is scandal free.  It appears that one can say the Indian democracy as scamocracy. 
How unanimity arrived at? 
The unity in decision on important point is arrived at in peculiar manner.  It is the personal or political interest of the constituents which matters and interest of institution is not at all of any relevance.  The interest of institution is read out or spelt out from the decision arrived at for completely other reasons or motive.  To illustrate this point I would refer the decision of the Bihar State Bar Council on the point of taking cognizance in connection with embezzlement of more crore of rupee committed by the Special Committee during its tenure.  The Bar Council took unanimous decision to take cognizance when 21 members were present.  Again the same decision was diluted by the same strength of house and this time by division of votes. The Council had to elect Chairman and Vice-Chairman for its second terms under the rules.  The uninimity was cultured by this process.  First of all the five Brahmin members sat together and then five Kayathas members sat together and finally some others added and the tally 14 in 26 member house secured.  There was no discussion for the efficient running of the Council and people were floating slogan for change.  One of the Hon’ble member approached me and solicited my opinion for change. I put to him a question: “Change for what?  He abruptly answered chage for worst or for anything.  Hon’ble member Ajit Kumar Singh in his lecture at Danapur on 10th of November, 2012, attributed the degradation of democratic institutions to ‘Neo-consumerism’ in the society.  The institution is fully under the control of market after 1991 in India.  The Hon’ble Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has constantly been chanting the market mantra, even at the cost of losing confidence vote in the Parliament.
What are the directions of the decisional process?
Constitutionally, religion, race, caste, are anathema to the constitutional values, but in the real life it has got loco-motional force of unprecedented momentum.  The winability and non-winability of the candidate by the political parties is decided on the basis of percentage of caste-men of the candidate in the particular constituency.  No one can deny that had there being no Mandal there would had not been Kamandal and demolition of Babari Masjid. The Indian Socialist re-emerged with the slogan that ‘Sansopa ne bandhi ganth, Pichhra paye sau mein saath’. To them, caste division is constitutional and to the extreme rightist forces religious division is national and constitutional both.  The neutrality of Election Commission and Judiciary has accorded defacto constitutionality to this non-egalitarian idea.
Market at the helm of the affairs
The perception of status changed, a man is known by his wealth, thus the race to accumulate wealth set in.  There cannot be equality of status in between corporate bosses and its employees especially when the rule of ‘hire and fire’ is there.  There is no service security.  The retention in service (means of livelihood) is on arbitrary choice of employer. The contractualisation and casualisation of employment lowered the dignity of employee before the employer.  Labour laws and trade union rights are obnoxious things. What we are seeing is that there is marriage between market and evils of the society i.e. casteism & creedism etc. The political power was must for the economic benefit and to get political power all the evils are set into service. When it comes to political power everything is just and fair as it is said in relation to ‘love and love’.  The 8 billion dollar election of the American president leaves no doubt of the importance of money power, that is, market sovereignty.  The number crore-pati in Indian Parliament, Chinese Parliament and American Congress is eye-opener. This has been possible by downfall of democratic values and uprising of Money power.
The historical achievement of human race to free from autocracy is in extreme danger at the hands of market.  The fellow citizen and especially the intellectual owes obligation towards the democratic society.  One needs unreserved commitment to democracy, democratic principles, and democratic values. The institutions through which system function needs our protection.  Feudal mindset would kill the democracy and rule of law.  Nature does not have tendency to keep void, either progressive idea or the regressive idea would hold the field. ‘Jan tantra’ is required to be saved from ‘dhantantra’. I would like to conclude it with the statement of Hon’ble S. H. Kapadia the then Chief Justice of India “When an Institution No Longer matters.  We no Longer matter”
End notes: (Material consulted)
(1) ‘Follow the money, Find the Leader’ P. Sainath. The Hindu, Oct. 18, 2012
(2)  ‘Prabhat Khabar’ daily hindi newspaper, dt. 6th Nov. 2012
(3) S. H. Kapadia Hon’ble Chief Justice of India in the SCBA on the occasion of ‘Law Day’ on 26th day of November, 2011
(4) Indira Sawhney and Others vs. Union of India (1993) AIR 477 SC
(5)  Ashok Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India and Others (2006) A.I.R. S.C. 266
(6) R. Y. Prabhoo vs. P. K. Kunte A.I.R. 1996 S.C. 1113 (Hindutva, meaning of)
(7)  Supreme Court Judgment: a blow to secular democracy. By V. M. Tarkunde Jan. 19, 1996 [on line]
(8) ‘Turning Points’ by Ex.President  of India A.P.J. Kalam , 2012 Edition
(9) ‘Liberation’ mouth-organ of C.P.I.-M.L. Oct. 2012

[M. Saidullah is Member, Bihar State Bar Council. He can be contacted on Email: [email protected]]

Post a Comment