It's been a sanguine summer for democracy globally. What about India?
Our average accomplishment has been one step ahead of Pakistan; I am sure we can do better as a democracy
After ruling Zimbabwe for nearly four decades, Robert Mugabe's resignation last year prompted a number of reactions. People were happy with expectations of the end of autocracy with Mugabe's departure executed by the army, but it also precipitated a political chaos in the country. Amid hurly-burly of Mugabe's fate, the army came forward and quenched the thirst of questions surrounding the regime. It relived the rank and file for it was not a coup for establishing another dictator but democracy.
His ousting followed a crackdown on his aides who were accused of corruption. His allies were shocked and so was Mugabe in the turn of events. His wife, Grace, who was often chastised for her economic profligacy, has been a ball and chain anyway for the ousted president, with allegations ranging from poaching ivory, to thrashing a woman for partying with sons to breaching constitution.
Zimbabwe went to polls last Monday which resulted in Emmerson Manangagwa winning the election with nearly 51% of the votes cast. People have given their verdict.
Last month, Pakistan saw a rare moment in an elected government transferring power to another chosen by the electoral process. People who went to polls knew they had nothing to lose for they had tried dictators, conservatives, military and corrupt establishments in the past.
Imran Khan, the poster boy of cricket suddenly came to life after more than two decades of political hibernation. His supporters credit farsightedness and development work being the main stay of his victory, however, one cannot deny the turn of tide in his favour. Nawaz Sharif's decision to go back to Pakistan, surrender and project his brother as the next PM proved to be shooting in the foot.
In one of my previous articles, I raised questions about his deliverability which would be tested in due course. Would he be given a carte blanche by the army is yet to be seen but what can't be contested is his image, background and exposure. He is different in many ways from the people who have run the country so far. He is an orthodox who went to Oxford, speaks English fluently and talks about a new Pakistan. At least he talks about democracy. That could be fresh for a state which is on the verge of imploding.
Now let's come to India. How has the summer been for largest proponent of democracy in the world? People were killed in Karnataka for protesting against a corporate giant whose presence was polluting the area. It opened a can of worms for the government as nobody could explain what went wrong. What happened to the right to life, protest and basic needs?
The state election in Karnataka was toe curling for many but certainly not for the opportunist bedfellows of politics. No single party missed the chance of being questioned by the standards of practising a constitutional democracy. Suddenly representing the will of the people turned into a war of manoeuvre. Needless to say, the media was nothing but a joker in the ring whose act was unfunny.
The coalition collapse in Jammu and Kashmir and the following contemptuous politicisation of the rape only marked the downhill route of democracy. Latest is the accusations of clamping down media/journalists who speak against the government. This is the problem why has someone to be "against" the government? Why can't be non-partisan? Is the only way out is the George W. Bush's principle that if you are not with us, you are with them?
However, I am not surprised as India is just one position above Pakistan according to World Press Freedom Index Report 2018. Always one step ahead of Pakistan has been our average accomplishment. I am sure we can do better as a democracy. Will the hotheaded system cool off and allow the clouds of diversity drizzle the drops of soothing democracy? Am I imagining a cloud cuckoo land? Looking forward to the next summer!