Democracy without debate

(Asian Independent)

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Today farmers all over the country have been protesting against the bills passed in the name of ‘strengthening’ them and giving them ‘free access’ to ‘market.

In the Narmada Valley, about 2400 families from 192 villages are living in tents or tin sheds as they have not been provided any alternative places. Why is this that the government planning has no space for honorable rehabilitation. The Madhya Pradesh government must provide all rehabilitation and in fact seek appropriate compensation from Gujarat as it is they who benefitted from Sardar Sarovar project the maximum. Why dont the big businesses and the government provide land and livelihood to the people. Who will compensate them for their loss of culture and livelihood. It is time, officials must plan things in such a way that the Adivasis, Dalits, OBCs or any other community who face such dislocation need to be provided proper information about their project and their rehabilitation process and the compensation. Can we imagine how much is 2400 families. I can say not less than 20,000 people. It is time, we focus on people centric development and seek their cooperation and not to treat them as pygmies in your developmental projects for the benefit of ‘others’. Why can’t those whose lives are being destroyed get the benefit of profit of these projects ?

The issue of middlemen in the farmer’s crisis is serious but when the government works like supporting the bigger business houses, one does not know how the farmers will be able to get the benefit. Anyway, all such things happen when the government passes the bills in Parliament in the absence of opposition and is not ready to listen an inch to opposition parties and their suggestions as if they are all enemies of the state.

This session passed so many bills which hit at the people, the poor, the labor and the civil society all in the name of ‘ease the business and transparency’. The very unfortunate circumstances around Pandemic have been used to eliminate the public sector and slowly and indirectly hand it over to their well known friends.

At the time when people are fighting for their daily wages, when they have not got any salary, funds or dues during the past six months, the investment of Rs 20,000 crore on rebuilding Parliament and changing the entire beautiful landscape of the historic era is very disturbing.

Things are moving in such a fast way that we are unable to respond because more than standing and responding we are becoming depressed. This is a reality and a growing reality of today’s time. How do you react to things which happen in such a blatant way. Youngsters are being arrested, political leaders and social activists are being charge sheeted while those who fire on unarmed protesters and abuse and threaten are provided Z plus. Those who think that Arnab Goswami kind of person is mad or against journalism are wrong. This is a pattern being promoted. It will continue and there is competition. Now they are not journalists but behave above the law and have the right to enter anywhere. Ofcourse, that right is not given to all the ‘journalists’ but just those who are experts in propaganda. Look at Sudarshan TV and how it is allowed to run a ‘news channel’ with such blatantly vulgar language against minorities and other sections such as Dalits and OBCs. Deeply disturbingly this freedom of expression can not be enjoyed by Sudha Bhardwaj or Anand Teltumbde who have been both activists and scholars of high repute. One may agree and not with their work and writing and it is not our concern here but most of their writings and works have been within the parameters of Indian constitution and laws. An 80 years old Varavara Rao, who is a poet and now in his very old age, is being made to languish in jail.

We have lost so many people this year and the year has not yet ended. It is really depressing and disturbing. Sad to see that it is the sensitive who suffer while those who abuse others enjoy. I know the failure of institutions have cost all democratic societies as ours but I don’t know whether the laws of nature too defend the wrong doers ? How will democracy remain relevant in the absence of debate, discussions and dissent ?

Vidya Bhushan Rawat
September 25th, 2020