ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Striking at the Roots of Democracy

The recent amendment to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act giving state legislators powers over the gram sabhas and panchayats not only takes away the latter's right to choose beneficiaries for government-funded programmes but also affects the right of rural voters to participate in local self-government.


I ndia was plunged in political gloom when Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency on June 26, 1975. Our right to dissent and free speech were suspended and those who still refused to keep their own counsel were thrown in jail. Democracy was set aside for authoritarian reign. The reasoning was that democracy was breeding strikes and protests that had paralysed the government and hurt the economy. The arguments in favour of declaring a state of emergency were that the government was hampered in its attempts to administer the state in the face of massive political opposition, desertion and disorder across the country and programmes and funds were lapsing. Many welcomed this. Trains ran on time, corruption was minimal and there were no strikes. However, the price we paid for this was very high our freedom as citizens of the largest democracy in the world.

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