Yes, the petrol prices are getting out of hand. No I am not an economist so I am not going to argue about how the energy costs are going up globally and how our fiscal deficit will be affected if our energy rates be forcefully reduced. It is not the issue itself with which I have issues. It is the manner of dealing with them.
There is a very competent set of people that we have chosen to run our country. And to ensure that they do not become autocratic, we have chosen a set of people we call the opposition. Now, both these sets of knowledgeable and opinionated people are given a place and a time to debate on matters such as this called the Parliament. The Indian Parliament is not just a pretty building (and it IS a pretty building), it is the citizen’s charter to the government to discuss, debate and decide on matters that affect the common man.
What does damage democracy though is when this exercise is abused. I hang my head in shame when I witness Parliamentary sessions where people shout like shepherds and start throwing chairs and microphones to display their dissent. If they did that at home, they would probably have been given one whack by their mothers, thus displaying their serious need for babysitting.
But what angers me even more is when these very people abuse democracy and make it into one big show. A Bharat Bandh used to be a tool used in extreme cases like the British Raj or to protest the emergency. It was about voicing an opinion. It has now been reduced to a ticket to vandalism. Who are these people who think they can dictate whether a billion people in India should work on a specific day? Who are they who have the audacity to burn busses and public property and then demand that it is the government’s treasury that should pay for the damage? And who are these sadly illiterate people who assume that the common man is so dumb as to not understand the difference between the right to voice one’s opinion and the removal of the fundamental rights of all citizens for one day.
I protest. Not against dissent but against the assumption that we are cattle who will approve of this. If you have the guts, sit on a round table with the economists of the government, the Prime Minister being one of them, suggest ways of tackling the problem of reducing the burden on the citizen while ensuring that the burden doesn’t bend our economy too much. And if you don’t have the courage or the intellect to do so, kindly stop wasting our time. We have miles to go before we sleep.