In 1979, famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad ‘Faiz’ wrote a poem as a medium of protest against Zia ul-Haq’s oppressive regime, popularly known as ‘Ham Dekhenge’, the original title of this nazm was ‘Wa Yabqa Wajhu Rabbika’, an Arabic phrase that means ‘The Face of your Lord’. Here, Faiz has emphatically used ‘your lord’ to refer to the Armed Forces of Pakistan as a god created by the people of Pakistan. This title was itself, a taunt to pro-military sentiments in the country that paved the way for the imposition of military rule and Praetorians. In this article, we shall discuss the gods created by the people of India.
Since India attained independence and the first general elections took place in 1952, we have always professed of being the largest democracy. But no one has ever realised the need of the question: Are we a democracy? More than 75% of our voters have their predetermined political parties whom they vote for regardless of anything, they don’t care if that party or politician has discharged his duties while being in power or what have they promised in their manifesto or if they have fulfilled promises they made in the last elections. Wouldn’t be exaggerating if I call their support for their parties blind faith. So, the majority of voters are still practically enslaved by a particular political party.
Another reason for Indian democracy being paralysed is the role of Casteism, Regionalism and Religionism. Terms like ‘Social Engineering’ ‘Bangali Asmita’, ‘Marathi Asmita’, ‘Brahmanwaad’ and ‘Muslim Vote Bank’ are shamelessly being used in elections even after more than seven decades have passed since independence.
India is still one of the worst-hit countries with the Coronavirus Pandemic. Our health system collapsed in the initial days of the spread of the pandemic itself. We have seen people dying outside hospitals. Conditions are enough to convey that our health infrastructure has not developed as it should have been. Yet, if you look at manifestos and common issues raised in elections of different state assemblies recently, public health was not among them.
Public health failed to be a decisive electoral issue when it is indubitable that our administration has mishandled the pandemic. Let’s have a brief look at the stats of the Indian health system. According to a report released by the Health Ministry about 10 million doctors are practising in India, assuming the population of the country to be 1.35 billion, there is one doctor for about 1400 people, however, according to the World Health Organisation, there must be one doctor per one thousand of population. Talking about government hospitals there is one doctor per eleven thousand of the population according to the Centre for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy. These are figures for only registered MBBS graduates, several experts are way below this.
Not only public health, but you may also substitute ‘Doctors in Hospitals’ with ‘Professors in Universities’ or ‘Teachers in Primary Education’ conditions are almost identical. Still, elections in our country are contested over which party is more compassionate towards Muslims or which can establish Hindu Rashtra.
One of the most typical examples of Indians’ blind faith for the party they support is when we see people begging for oxygen beds, hospitalization and other Covid resources, drugs like Fabi-flu, Solu-medrol and Clexane have vanished from the market, people are forced to pay an extra amount of thirty-thousand for one vial of Remdesivir, the head of the central government is organising rallies for his party and surprisingly there is still a section of the population who are portraying the current government as victims.
I agree that weak health infrastructure is the result of years of ignorance and cannot be fixed within two or three months but this government could have shown some sensitivity towards the helpless voters. Our Administration efficiently takes action against a vendor selling vegetable during lockdown for his livelihood but can’t see people dying in their hospitals. This is clear that the system is not blind it just sees what it wants to see and it has turned its eyes towards people’s suffering.
The final nail to the coffin of India’s ineffective democracy is the lack of accountability in our leaders. We Indians, never question our leader. After Indira Gandhi had called for ‘Garibi Hatao’ in 1971, no one ever questioned her why ‘Garibi Hatao’ turned into ‘Loktantra Hatao’. And, yet, after more than two years of oppressive Emergency, she won the 1980 general elections. When Rajiv Gandhi altered the Supreme Court’s verdict through his Muslim Woman Protection of Rights Act, no one asked him how that was relevant to our nation’s growth? The same attitude of Indians continues today.
Every time we try to become citizens we are somehow turned into voters by these politicians. Voters who don’t have the right to question, voters whose only duty is to legitimise their autocracy. For our so-called leaders, we are only figures which they evaluate while choosing their candidate.
So, next time before you want to support any party or candidate based on their caste or religious beliefs, remember there was a father in Maharashtra who watched his son dying slowly and couldn’t do anything, there was a son in UP who watched his mother suffocate to death because the government of one of the countries’ biggest state couldn’t arrange oxygen for her. And all this because our leaders have never been held accountable by us. And, conclusively, this is the time for Indians to identify the real Face of their Lord.
Syed Mohammad Ali is a student pursuing Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.