Anna Hazare & Questions on Democracy (Part 3)

23 Aug

J,
I have been observing your discussions. I have only one question. Is this not anti-democractic? How can somebody who is unelected by the people threaten somebody elected by the people? Can we bring political problems to the streets like this?

Sakthivel

————–
Dear Sakthivel,

I faced this question for the first time in the early 1980s when environmental groups fought to prevent the destruction of Silent Valley in Kerala. At that time, both the ruling and the opposition parties spoke the same language. Magazines allotted pages for the sake of ‘development’.

Environmental groups took to the streets protesting this. It was the culturists who lead this. None of them had ever won an election. The Silent Valley movement was carried out using fasts and Satyagraha. I too participated in it as one among thousands. It was Gandhians who led that movement also.

Those movements were abused using the same words – that its against democracy. That one can raise this in the next elections. That one can contest elections. But it was through that war that Kerala’s forests were saved.

Dr. Sivarama Karanth, social activist, Gandhian and a man of letters had waged more than a hundred cases against the Karnataka Government. He held single man protests in several places. Corrupt politicians like Gundurao and Bangarappa abused him saying that he acts as a government over the elected government. But Karanth’s objective was environmental protection alone. Without him, Karnataka would have been destroyed.

Democracy provided by the constitution yields the right to vote only once every five years. Gandhian measures remain the true means of protest for people to demand for their needs from the elected government.

In reality, all fronts are constantly demanding their objectives from the government. Trade unions, several organisations. But our intellectuals do not see them as against democracy. Why, to them stopping trains for casteist protests appear as democratic activities to be supported. These casteist groups appear as ‘people’ to them. If a few lakh people fast against corruption, it appears anti-democratic.

J

——————–

This is a translation  of a blog post from Tamil writer Jeyamohan’s blog.  This was in response to a letter from a reader.

Translation from: http://www.jeyamohan.in/?p=19989

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