Mob-o-crazy or Democracy

There is a difference between mob-ocracy or anarchy, as Kejriwal prefers to call it and democracy. Mob-o-cracy is rule by the mob, such as the mob is. Democracy means that we elect our representatives, not necessarily people just like us, but those we would wish to represent us– people with hopefully wide learning and exposure, with maturity, with an informed opinion – to do the best thing for us. If that were not the case, 18 year olds would only vote for 18 year olds, women would vote for women and we would have the world’s youngest cabinet, 48% female to boot. If that were not the case, a Cambridge-educated lawyer called Nehru would never have become Prime Minister in one of the world’s most illiterate nations.

If mob-o-cracy had been the governing principle that shaped us as a nation, we would never have a Constitution that guarantees civil liberties and equality to all Indians. Instead we would have had the caste and hierarchy system enshrined in a constitution that reflected the current thinking of that time, and who knows, that reflects even today’s thinking by the masses. Freedom of speech, equal right to vote, inter-caste or intercommunity marriages certainly would not be constitutionally permissible in a country in which Khap panchayats or kangaroo courts still hold sway over a large part.

Given that mob-ocracy cannot be the founding principle of a country, it ill behooves anyone from AAP to try and justify the raid on Khirki village under the guise of what the people wanted. It is a fact that India is a deeply racist country, especially discriminatory towards those of a dark colour. In Mumbai some years ago, bars forbade the entry of African visitors. I still remember the time we shot with a handsome African gentleman for a World car campaign and the client protested “Aapne to hupshiyon ko shoot kiya hua hai!”, as if that fact disqualified the model from claiming to be a citizen of the world. Just the other day I saw a quote from one Khirki resident who stated that ‘these people are all criminals or loose women. They roam around in skimpy clothes’. Here’s something thathappened to a friend of mine who happened to live there for a time for the crime of leading a different lifestyle than the average resident thereof.

What the people want may be very different from what they should be able to have, particularly if what they want militates against the principles of equality and fair play. If what they want is paramount, then colonies in Mumbai are well within their rights to refuse to rent an apartment to people from other religions, as they often do. If what people want is paramount, then 3/4ths of the country’s population is right in believing that a family’s honour lies between its women’s legs and that death is preferable to dishonor. If what people want is paramount, ‘lower castes’ should be beaten up and taught their place.

In a democracy, the key rules are equality and fair play – by design and intent, even if they don’t always play out in execution. Given that, the people complained about should have been heard out, as much as the complainants, before any action was taken. The hearing should have taken place in a non-partisan fashion rather than with a mob baying for appeasement. Kejriwal may well be right in describing himself as an anarchist – so far he has not risen above the mob-o-cracy. And the fact that so many people think of him as India’s big new hope – that’s scary!

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