How can something which does not exist, decline?

Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

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Can we call Indian ‘democracy’ rule ‘of the people, by the people, for the people?

DD Mishra’s articleDeclining democracy and dawn of dictatorial India‘ published in presumes that there was democracy in India.

In my opinion this presumption is ill founded, and what existed in India right since our independence in 1947 was not democracy but a scarecrow of democracy.

Just as a scarecrow is put up to deceive animals, our ‘democracy’ was meant to deceive the Indian people that they were ruling themselves.

There never was any real democracy in India. So how can a thing which never existed decline?

No doubt the Indian Constitution proclaims India a democracy, and we have had elections in India. But a Constitution is just a piece of paper, and the ground reality is very different.

canAbraham Lincoln defined democracy as rule ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ (see Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address). But parliamentary democracy in India runs largely on the basis of caste and communal vote banks, and our politicians are experts in polarising society and inciting caste and religious hatred to keep a hold on these vote banks.

Can we call Indian ‘democracy’ rule of the people?

If the people of India were ruling the country would they tolerate such horrible poverty, record unemployment, appalling level of child malnourishment, almost total lack of proper healthcare, skyrocketing prices, widespread corruption, etc?


Would they have tolerated a state of affairs where 7 individuals in India own as much wealth as the bottom half of our 1350 million people?

Can we call Indian ‘democracy’ rule by the people?


Everyone knows we are being ruled by selfish politicians (aided by mostly corrupt bureaucrats) who have least interest in the public welfare, but are only interested in power and pelf.

Can we call Indian ‘democracy’ rule for the people?

If there was rule for the people would there be such huge unemployment and price rise of essential commodities in India?

Would there have been 350,000-400,000 farmers suicides in the last 25 years? Would 50% of our children be malnourished and stunted ( see Global Hunger Index ), and 50% of our women anaemic?

No doubt there are elections to parliament, state legislatures, etc in India. But are these not just to befool the gullible Indian people into thinking they have freedom?


Indira Gandhi gave the slogan ‘gharibi hatao’, and our naive people voted for the Congress thinking that now poverty will be abolished.

Modi gave the slogan of ‘vikas’, and promised to create 2 crore jobs annually, and our people were taken in by this. So any Pied Piper can take our simpletons for a ride.

Real democracy presumes and requires an educated citizenry, who do rational thinking, and cannot be befooled by their leaders.


Unfortunately most Indians are still very backward, full of casteism, communalism, and superstitions, and can easily be befooled.

The Indian Constitution created a Shangri-la and illusion of democracy and freedom (to pacify the Indian people so that they do not revolt against their horrible conditions), but this was just a mirage.

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Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India.

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