Viva Democracy!

Extortion, Threats using democracy!

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Democracy is supposed to be the better among the many forms of governments that we have world over. It gives freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of thought process. In democracy, sometimes both sides are right! We tend to forget this point. We sometimes think that when I am right other side is wrong and that needs to be corrected. This thinking needs to be reformed as sometimes these things lead to bitter disputes, agitations, and many avoidable confrontations.

This struck me, when I read about controversy during ceremony to give national awards for film personalities, at the hand of the President of India, Mr. Kovind. It appears that he remains present for such occasions for not more than one hour. His office had already communicated this to the concerned ministry. When the stipulated one hour got over, he excused himself and left the function. There was a big uproar after he left and many of the artists who were yet to receive the awards, made big noise. The awards then were presented by the minister concerned. Many of the artists who were in the queue for the awards, decided to boycott the ceremony. They said that they will receive the awards at the hands of the President and no one else. Finally, many of them left the ceremony, without awards. My question is why the big uproar? I have seen many such functions where the chief guests, give say about 10 % of the awards, all others are given by someone else. I have seen this when degrees are conferred at the convocations too! I am sure it would have been a good feeling to get the award at the hands of President of India. But five years down the line, it is important that you have the award and not WHO gave you the award. But this event has created unnecessary scenes and bitterness involving highest office in our country, though it had nothing to do with the President.

This year India did quite well in the Common Wealth Games in Australia. Athletes from Haryana did very well in various categories. Government of Haryana declared a prize of Rs.15 million each, i e Rs 1.5/ crore, for gold medalist and so on. A substantial sum by any standards. They put one rider. Many athletes had already taken jobs in railways and such national organizations. They were getting a lot of support for training and otherwise from their respective organizations. These government organizations had declared their own prizes, for gold medalist Rs.50/ lacs or five million and so on. Government of Haryana felt that all the winners should get the equal amount as gift hence they declared that if athletes are already getting cash gift from their employers, then that amount will be deducted from the from prize declared by Haryana government. The athletes felt that government was cheating them; they wanted additional money. Government in all fairness thought that all should get the same amount as gift! Athletes decided to boycott the ceremony. Government said thank you, closed the subject. Again it shows the greedy character of our people. It was a gift being offered, it was not your right to get the money! Substantial amounts were offered by government as prize but athletes were not satisfied. It shows the character of our general populace.

Pune University is an old institution with a new name. Recently there was an issue going on. Students from post graduate course in English were on strike. Their demand was to postpone the exams, have a replacement teacher and change the Head Of Department! But what was the story? This was basically rural/city divide. The students from city background had none of these issues. They appeared for the exam on specified date. The problem of rural students was that teacher did not explain them in vernacular language, Marathi! Really? For post graduate students who have basic degree B A in English, wanted subject to be explained in Marathi! When you select a subject at post graduate level, that too English,  you should not expect teaching medium to be Marathi or special explanation in Marathi. The real problem I hear is that these students from rural background take admissions to post graduate courses, one after another, as they are studying to appear for government competitive exams. Admissions to these courses gives them staying place in hostels, in Pune, at a very low cost. In the democracy, placing various demands is the right of the students. But University authorities have acceded to their demands to remove the teacher, though there was nothing criminal against the teacher, students simply wanted him removed! Can you believe that? Or is this dictatorship by students? This sort of soft giving up, will lead to many such acts in future!

A farmer in Maharashtra committed suicide as he could not repay his loans. He owned nine acres of land. There has been big drive from government to give subsidies to poor farmers by way of loan waivers. I am not sure about details of this case, but to me this individual did not fall under any subsidy scheme as he owned 9 acres of land. When this unfortunate event occurred, his family concocted a suicide note purportedly written by the farmer, blaming the government for his suicide. When Police asked them why they brought the note so late, they had no answer. It was obviously a fraud. Then the family declared that they will not receive the dead body unless two conditions were met. First was Mr. Modi should visit the family and second was Maharashtra government should pay the family Rs. One crores! Ten million! This is plain extortion. Obviously, there was some backing from political people, but government handled this very deftly and ignored their demands. If a farmer does not make income with nine acres of land then who can help him.

Disparity in incomes is leading to a big divide in the society. Aspirations of people are going up. Better solutions for such issues is hard work and some support from governments. Poor and backward people need support. But is this correct to go on hunger strikes, or try some methods of extortion, at the drop of a hat? People try and convert each and every event into a circus. Is it the right way? Is this what democracy is for? Friends, share your thoughts with me!