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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Colonial lords have been replaced by babus, netas: Prakash Jha

Prakash Jha, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 26, 2013
First Published: 16:18 IST(26/1/2013) | Last Updated: 17:26 IST(26/1/2013)

India is the largest democracy in the world. It is a living, breathing, functioning democracy of 1.2 billion people. But look closer and you wonder, how democratic is the Indian democracy? Democracy in India is defined most clearly by the process of elections. However, it seems that the electoral process is the only democratic thing about India’s democracy. Does it extend beyond elections? People vote for candidates. Leaders are elected. Democracy over. There is little accountability that elected leaders and governments have towards the people. Rather, the elected leader becomes the ‘ruler’ of the people with little inclination toward serving them.

A new democracy The people, having cast their votes, now have no more say in how their country is governed. They have no say in how the money they pay as taxes is spent. They have no right even to expect that any kind of service or infrastructure will be provided to them.

The egalitarian ideas embedded in the constitution remain mere words. Rights like the right to education remain empty dreams of the future. The Indian citizen has been deeply conditioned, through years of bad governance and ‘democracy’ to not expect anything from the elected leaders. The colonial lords have merely been replaced by ‘netas and babus.’ Cut to the post-liberalisation generation. They are the new, young Indians. Subservience and apathy is not in their genetic make-up. They have a certain freshness, a confidence. They expect things from democracy. They expect things from their governments. They cannot be shooed away. Youth of the nation After the generation of freedom fighters, this is probably the first generation of youngsters that is willing to rise in protest. Just like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, India had its very own protest movement led by Anna Hazare. But the youth soon grew weary of the agenda of the likes of Anna and Arvind Kejriwal.

In Dece-mber, when we saw them come out on the streets in Delhi and elsewhere, they were sans leaders and NGOs and parties. They just wanted to be heard and demanded action. The people of India are not begging for action from their elected leaders. They are demanding it. They are saying that the government is accountable to the people. The government is here to serve the people. The government exists for the people, not to just live off the masses.

On the big screen Democracy is seeking to make itself more real. Democracy is moving beyond the paper stamp of elections. But this new kind of democracy demands that immediate action be taken. It demands that the people lead the government, not the other way around. In fact, my next project, Satyagraha, examines the dynamics of a democracy that is changing, through the lives of three characters. Democracy is being redefined in the film. The old concept of democracy is under fire. This fire and fury that is building in the hearts of Indians today is what my film Satyagraha is all about.

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