Wednesday, 20 February 2013

What a democrazy !


We were really worried that nobody in India or in the west talks good or bad about the great Indian Democracy for the last few decades. They simply do not care. Why? Our democracy has become a eventless affair. It was way back in 1975-77 that Indian democracy hogged world media headlines. West was really happy then. They celebrated the collapse of our democratic system and predicted that the very concept of India would also collapse in the near future.

Nothing happened. Everything went against all predictions. The very same person who had turned the nation into a big jail suddenly got fed up and declared elections. Voters sent her honourably to her home to take rest. Did such a thing happen anywhere else in this world? Like magic, democracy came back without shedding blood, without UN intervention and without social media and not a single street demonstration. And, the great Indian people called back the very autocrat who they had sent home on probation for a couple of years, to reoccupy the prime minister's saddle. Where else did such a thing happen in history!

Now, we all must be happy. World again is discussing what a wonderful democracy we have in India now. May be you will wonder what great thing had happened recently to invite this worldwide attention. Two girls were sent to jail, one for posting a comment on FB and the other for liking it. Yes, that is it. No such thing had taken place anywhere else in the civilised world. What did one write? ' It is wrong to close down the whole city to mourn the death of a leader'- A very dangerous provocative comment! Writing that she quietly went to bed. The next day she found herself in jail. The other girl who liked the comment was also jailed, may be just to give company! Gangs attacked one of the girl's relative's shop. Unbelievable. These are the followers of the same cartoonist who began his life as a newspaper cartoonist and had ridiculed the national leaders of the period. He joined politics to clean up public life. He has very well cleaned it up. Thank god. This man's influence was limited to the borders of Mumbai. If it had extended to the whole of India, more people would have been jailed than those sleeping in their houses.

Yes, it was Shiv Sainiks who went insane on hearing about the facebook post and filed complaints with the police. But, it was not the Shiv Sainiks who went and arrested the girls. It was the police of the state ruled by a secular, democratic, gandhian alliance. And mind you, the most heinous thing was done by a judicial officer who is said to be a law graduate. As if the police had produced before him two women accused of murder or dacoity, he remanded the girls without asking a single question.

Do you think all that the Shiv Sainiks and police did was illegal and unconstitutional? No. A bill was brought before the parliament four years back. It was named the Information Technology Act. May be honourable representatives of the people found it a boring subject. What, its about computers?

Why worry? May be they went to sleep or went to canteen, as usual, nobody cared. The bill was passed without discussion. Nothing unusual in it. This parliament holds the world record for passing 42 bills in 12 minutes! There were people outside the parliament who warned of the consequences of a badly drafted act which contained several undemocratic provisions in it. Parliament members thought e mails and Internet are technology in which very few are interested. In four years, majority of the educated people stopped posting letters, they were posting on FB. It is hard to expect much foresight from our leaders.

Not that all our representatives in parliament are ignorant, not all ! These Kabils and Sibals had the brains to know that Internet is going to be the media of the coming generations. There are innumerable tricks and trades to bring round the conventional media. But nothing can be done to discipline the crowd on the streets or the unruly mob in the social media. The readership of English newspapers remained at seven million or so, Facebook has six crore visits a month. Maybe it was to frighten the social media crowd that these sort of unheard provisions were included in the IT act.
Who said leaders have no foresight?

Section 66A of the IT Act can jail you for three years if you post, 'information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character'. And who decides what is grossly offensive and has menacing character? It is the complainant himself or the policemen who he can bring along. You will immediately be arrested and jailed. If such a provision was made applicable to all who write in the media and all who speak in public, freedom of expression and democracy would have gone to the drains. Still, our government argued in the supreme court that there is nothing wrong with the provisions of the IT Act.

Remember the heading of a top English Newspaper on the bandh day observed to pay homage to Bal Thackeray ? It read 'Thackeray, in death as in life, shuts down Mumbai'. But, this nice critical heading was reserved for the non-Mumbai editions, may be because they did not want to further provoke the already provoked Shiv Sainiks. Of course there are enough Shiv Sainiks outside Mumbai too, for whom the 'information is grossly offensive or of menacing character' and they are capable of putting all the TOI offices on fire. But they hesitated, did not even file a complaint with the police as they did against the two innocent girls.

Crazy are the ways of democrazy ! A politician who started his 'service' way back in the 60s by looting and offending the 'madrasees' in Bombay and who through venom-filled speeches created so much hatred in the city that ended up butchering thousands of people, who paid scant regard to the niceties of democratic functioning, who never was even a panchayat president - his body draped in the national flag when taken to the cremation ground ! An offence grave enough to attract provisions of The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971.

Keep calm...we had the courage to put those two girls in jail, that is enough !!