Monday, March 16, 2009
I celebrate with Pakistanis the announcement by the Prime Minister of Pakistan that the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who had been sacked by erstwhile dictator Musharraf, would be reinstated. This followed the mass demonstrations across the country, led by lawyers.
Indians have much to learn from Pakistanis about keeping democracy alive. Indians have been lulled into slumber by the rituals of democracy in India, devoid of its substance. Thus, the forthcoming parliamentary election in India (April-May) is being billed as the greatest event in the history of democracy... rubbish!
For too long, for an entire generation, Indians have taken their democracy for granted, and been steeped in apathy. And thus rendered our democracy comatose. A democracy is only as good as its citizens' consciousness and activism.
In the state of West Bengal, where I live, the ruling govt committed a crime against humanity in Nandigram exactly 2 years ago - and is still in office! Yes, there were protests, rallies and demonstrations. But the people at large, and especially the "intelligentsia", are great "constitutionalists". The rulers can only be overthrown through the ballot, they say! "Politics" is understood to mean merely party-politics. Not popular consciousness and action! But if 1 million people had converged on Writers' Building (the seat of govt, in Calcutta) and bayed for the blood of the killer govt / ruling party - that would have seen the rulers scurrying out like rats through the drain-pipes.
So, I hope my fellow-countrymen (and women) learn from our dear neighbour, Pakistan. And until then, I doff my topi to Pakistanis and say: Pakistani Zindabad! (Long Live Pakistanis!)
Photo: Courtesy Dawn