Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.
– Babasaheb Ambedkar in his book Annihilation of Caste
Theoretically, the expected trajectory of parliamentary democracy is the transfer of power to the people. In the past few years, India has witnessed an increase in violence which has become the new accepted normal. A negation of citizenship rights of the poor by denial of basic services, caste atrocities and violence on minorities has become commonplace and a means of ‘showing people their place’ as secondary citizens. A narrative which when repeated gains currency even among those marginalized by these narratives.
Democracy that upholds the values of equity, secularism and justice and culminates in the creation of a humane society is a work in progress. There is a need to promote behavioural changes in the society as a whole where acceptance of diversity, dissent, tolerance, collective decision making and participative institution-building are seen as essential components of democratic functioning. We, not only citizens but institutions of governance need to be schooled into democracy in our everyday lives to be able to build systems, organisations, and a politics that is democratic.
Centre for Promoting Democracy (CPD) is an organization dedicated towards achieving this goal through engagement with people, civil society, organizations, academia, media and institutions of democracy.