one thing I know. This paper was sending a powerful message
by repeating the same quote everyday. "Eternal vigilance
is the price of liberty" is something all of us heard,
but too few pay much attention. This paper is telling us that
we should remind ourselves everyday of our rights, and remind
the government of its responsibilities.
have to remind the lawmakers and ourselves, that in a democracy
the citizen is the ultimate sovereign and whatever anybody
does should serve his/her interest. Unfortunately most of
us have taken our responsibility as citizens too casually.
Having elected our representatives we felt that our responsibility
ended there. Maybe we got liberty and democracy too easily
without much struggle. Maybe we didn't know what they actually
meant. Maybe we took our freedom for granted. Whatever be
the reason, when our elected representatives failed to fulfill
their responsibilities; when our public servants started behaving
like our masters; we just did not assume the responsibility
for setting things right.
at last when citizens are asserting and insisting that all
candidates seeking public office should furnish information
regarding their criminal background, if any, and their assets
and liabilities - all political parties are ganging up to
deny us even this basic information. In full violation of
the Constitution and in defiance of the Supreme Court's order,
the government has now promulgated an ordinance that is in
contravention of article 13(2) of the Constitution which explicitly
states that the state shall not make any law which takes away
or abridges the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Instances where the Constitution has been violated are innumerable.
In our own state, elections to the local governments have
been delayed in flagrant violation of the constitutional mandate.
Only by decree of the Court and when left with no choice did
the government reluctantly conduct elections.
even elections could be put off to suit a government's political
convenience or a leader's whim, we can well imagine the sheer
nonchalance with which the rights of ordinary citizens are
trampled upon. And when large amounts of taxpayers' money
are swindled, all we do is wring our hands in despair. This
inaction and apathy is largely a product of a sense of helplessness.
Democracies all over the world flourished only when citizens
took responsibility and resorted to collective action. We
are not alone in being betrayed and victimized by our own
representatives and public servants. It is in the very nature
of power that public office is abused if there are no instruments
of accountability. In a poor country, with largely illiterate
people, and a feudal culture, such kleptocracy is unchecked.
But India of 2002 is no longer what it was 50 years ago. The
bulk of our people are literate and politically aware now.
The informed middle classes are seething with rage. All we
need is for them to realize their power, and get together
to force reform. The nation is on the verge of fundamental
changes. The younger generation is impatient for change. The
communications revolution is bringing us all together, and
building a sense of citizenship and common purpose.
if they are sensible, should sense the mood of the people,
and bring in political reforms quickly. Politics is about
peaceful change. Let the parties and legislators understand
that. Those who believe it will be business as usual will
be swept aside by the rising tide of anger and yearning for