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Responsiveness and Responsibility of India’s Representative Democracy

In a representative democracy like India, political parties serve basically two functions – i) responsiveness through ‘listening to and voicing citizens’ opinions in the policy making process,’ and ii) responsibility through formation of government ‘in a prudent and consistent manner, following accepted procedural norms and practices.’  So, responsiveness refers to the representative role of parties, and responsibility relates to the governing role of parties’  “from a sense of duty and moral responsibility,” But there is always a dilemma between these two because of ‘changes in the operating environment of governing parties and secondly ‘parties “as organizations” and their ever-weaker relationship with society.’   Political parties in representative democracy fail to respond to voter preference and there is also an ‘inability to persuade voters to align behind their policies.’ Further, ideological differences between the parties, some party policy platforms, etc. also closely connect with the overall system.

This dilemma of responsiveness and responsibility has been yielded a political competition among the political parties in a representative democracy. Populist policy reveals as an illusion to the voters. We see that the political party puts effort to shape voter attitude and preferences to their advantage. In fact, it limits the offer on certain issues and it influences defining “the compatibility among different offers,” and convincing (some) voters of “good or lesser packages of offers” that bundle distinct issue.  It is an effort to bridge the policy seeking (party supporters) and the electorate at large (vote seeking).  It is an unclear and transforming strategy to resolve any problem of the majority.  Further, it removes ‘the issue tacitly from the political agenda, and displacing the issue from the domain of politically legitimized decision-making.’

From the lockdown 4.0 to unlock 4.0, etc. where is the government’s responsiveness and responsibility towards its citizen to protect from the pandemic? The government only plays its authoritarian role through imposing lockdown with a set of rules. It has no strategic analysis length and breadth to tackle the overall impact. It does not work “from a sense of duty and moral responsibility”. Due to lack of responsiveness and responsibility, it creates a lot of chaos and it has been pushed all major sectors to an unexpected situation.

For an example, due to unplanned lockdown, migrant workers faced major problems (hunger to death). They were locked strictly in their working places where there was no or little survival support. Thereafter, during lockdown government transported them into their native places. So, infection spreads through along from city to remote villages and from hotpots/contaminated zone to a green/clean zone. From unlock 1.0, the infection rate is rapidly increasing and within short period India took1st place in the world. Surprisingly, the  government has not taken any effective measure to take care and treatment of ‘the would’ be infected. Till date people of India are facing tremendous problem, and they are worried to save themselves and their families from infection. It has imposed to use a mask and sanitizers at own cost. It has unable to provide these at free of cost. But the government is taking this opportunity to generate revenue, when it has been taken GST @18% from sanitizer item. Therefore, government has no responsibility to save the lives of its citizen. It is the citizen’s own responsibility to protect themselves from corona virus.

Is this the responsiveness and responsibility of a democratic government towards its democratic citizen? Government is nothing but a rule of the political party and people are victims of only politics. It is Indian politicians and their politicking.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by Harasankar

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