Most of us, born and brought up in the Independent India, take the "democracy" as a part and parcel of living. In fact, there are some, I know of, who even crib that we have "too much of democracy"... (though, I am not sure what that exactly means, since democracy - the right to voice your choice - is either/or; it is not a matter of degree...)
But the fact that India remained a democratic country - the largest democracy, in fact - is something of a wonder/miracle. The only post-colonial country that could maintain this record in the world...
...Back then, there were many who always remained sceptical about India's will to remain a democratic country. In 1960s, Selig Harrison, an American scholor-journalist had predicted:
"The odds are wholly against suvival of freedom and ... the issue is, in fact, whether the Indian state can survive at all."
In 1967, The Time carried out a series of articles entitled "India's Disintegrating Democracy" authored by one Neville Maxwell. A quote:
"The great experiment of developing India within a democratic framework has failed."
And yet, the India, as a democratic country, almost 4 decades on, has trudged along... Perhaps not very efficiently. But in spite of all its complexities, failures (and successes), ups-and-downs. After all it was a democratic process in 1977, that ended a dictatorial era of the "Emergency", - and it was the same process that enabled a party, which got 2 seats in parliament in 1985, to form a government in mid-90s, and then get replaced by the "original incumbent" in 2004...
All these instance are a homage to the spirit of a people...
Often, what gets missed in the mind-space of the common man (and the educated intelligentia and the middle-class) is the logistical nightmare that goes into keeping the country "democratic".
The last national elections in 2004:
(there were so many "Independent" candidates that the Election Commission ran out of the 128 symbols - those tiny line-drawings of everything from apples, to lanterns, to bangles, boats, pillows, combs, bananas, and computers... - in a country largely populated by people who can't read and write, the "election symbol" - a picture - is the only mode of making a choice)
(that spread across more that 640,000 villages, including the 35 in Andaman-Nicobar Islands that spread across some 600 sq miles)
But this was also the 1st National Election, anywhere in the world, that was
In its typical modern-primitive ways, this is how the Electronic Voting Machines were transported to different polling booths across the sub-continent:
But perhaps, the greatest insight I ever got about why and how Indian Democracy survived (and will continue to do so) was this small news item that I picked up from a local newspaper... I scanned it, and cherish it:
We live in a critical time in history, when the "indigenous" democracy is getting usurped/arm-twisted by the "exported" one..
A Very Happy Independence Day to All!!!