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

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Small Voices of Democracy


The argument in favour of the small voices of democracy might appear to be misplaced for three reasons. First, many may find the argument for small voices incongruent with the framework of modern democracy. This is because democracy, in its theoretical thrust, provides the grounds for equality in the expression of all voices without distinction. This is how we understand the right to free expression that is given in the Constitution. Second, it is considered that the state—again in theoretical terms—speaks on behalf of every citizen of India. It is the collective voice of every citizen of this country. If this is the constitutional position, why does one require to raise the question of small or big voices in the public life of democracy? As a corollary to the second reason, the ruling party is supposed to be the common expression of the voice of everyone, including those who did not vote for it. This should eliminate the distinction between small and big voices. Finally, when the opposition parties and social movements also claim to be the small voices, it should eliminate the need for a voice that is independent of the voice of the opposition. And, yet, we can arguably see in the Indian democracy an independent echo of these voices, both in vocal and mute forms.

Despite democracy’s promise to empower everyone with an equal voice, the voice of the marginalised has become an inevitable expression in the life of democracy. The voices of the Adivasis, Dalits, minorities, and workers are enigmatically small. We often hear the same voices of the same people crying out for justice, equality and dignity across the rule of several governments. These voices in their intensity and repetitive expression are considered cynical; a perennial disgust, as if such voices lack any sound reason. However, it should be noted here that this “designated cynicism” indeed has an internal reason to it inasmuch as it results from the failure of the majority and its government that in theoretical terms is the voice of every citizen of India, which is expected to adequately if not passionately listen to these voices.

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Updated On : 13th Aug, 2019
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