Indian civilization dates back several millennia. As a result of this antiquity, social systems of Indian civilization are highly complex and evolved. Glorious fables about ponderous riches attracted many invaders to India, all of who made a lasting impact on its society, polity and economy.
Social organizations in India have assimilated the alien values imposed by invaders in varying degrees. However, the core of Hindu society still functions in ways that are virtually undiluted since ancient times, despite almost a thousand years of subjugation by alien cultures.
At the time of independence, Indian leadership adopted a political system that was left over by the British colonial masters. A prime example of this was the adoption of Indian constitution, which was quite similar to and based upon the Government of India Act of 1935.
A constitution based on the erstwhile British laws enforced upon the Indian society, not only British style of law and legal practice, but also imported unwanted alien ethos into the Indian polity and society.
In the present times, it is felt that there is a sense of discordance and dissonance between India’s Polity and society, which reflects in almost every sphere of public life. People of India do not seem to own their laws, in fact it seems the other way round, as if laws own the people.
A critical sense of harmony that is so required for a smooth functioning of a modern democracy seems to be very weak indeed. The following example may illustrate.
In an ordinary village of India, Ramlal steals Shyamlal’s cow. The matter could be dealt with by Shyamlal in two ways.
Obvious course of action would be for Shyamlal to approach the local police station to register a complaint. The police station is situated 20 km away. Shyamlal spends an entire day reaching and sitting at the police station. The police officials ask for a bribe to register the case. Once the investigation process is completed after several months, they ask for more bribes, to file the charge report. Thereafter, the matter is transferred to a court of law. Poor Syamlal will have to engage a lawyer to pursue his case, which is likely to cost a few thousand rupees. Even if all facts are established, it may take up to 20 years, scores of visits to the local town headquarter and much expenditure before the case is finalized.
The other alternative is that Shyamlal goes to the local community Panchayat. The Panch-Patel calls for Ramlal. The matter is enquired into, and it is established on account of witness’s testimony that Ramlal has indeed stolen the cow. The Panchayat gives its verdict, asking Ramlal to return the cow and also fines the accused heavily. The matter is settled expeditiously.
It is not difficult to see, what method would the poor Shyamlal adopt?
This example illustrates the discordance between the reality of society and political system in present day India.
It is reported that a total of 30 million cases are pending in various courts of law across the country. A court case may take up to 20 years to decide. There are scores of avenues for appeals and counter appeals. It is a well-known fact that the judicial process in India is highly complex, cumbersome and frustrating.
As the system of dispute redressal is so overburdened, taking ages to settle disputes, the entire machinery of adjudication seems to be rendered tiresome and inefficient.
It thus seems that the discordance between Indian society and its political system based on alien ethos is generating an immense amount of friction borne out of a dysfunctional system.
Critical energy of the people and the State, a resource so precious, which should be focused and utilized in resolving developmental issues seems to be getting frittered away, even as India’s problems continue to soar at an alarming rate.
Are political leaders of India mindful of this discordance and dissonance? Or has the political class deluded itself into believing that they are doing a wonderful job and all is well in India?
Meanwhile the Shyamlals continue to be ground to pulp even as the Ramlals of India continue to make merry?
It may seem to be an opportune moment in the glorious history of the nation that appropriate steps may be initiated to bring about a fundamental change. Discordance between the political system and society, based on alien ethos, needs to be publicly debated and the system needs to be brought in harmony and sync with the social reality of India.