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Barely noticed by the world, yesterday was an important day for democracy!
The world’s biggest democracy, which came under the threat of being usurped by populist and anarchists, aided by the frustrations of an urban middle class and hyped by eyeballs hungry media, showed the first signs of its inherent parliamentary strength and democratic will to fight back. After the cool breeze of Arab Spring, the tabling of the Lokpal bill in the Indian parliament turned out to be a respite for democracy shaken by the tremors of a harsh Indian summer!

In a year widely reckoned as a year of Gandhian struggle, the Anna Hazare movement of 2011, which had all the trappings of a Gandhian agitation, turned out to be testing time for democratic values and process in India. Totally un-Gandhian, the agitation had the harsh and moralistic premise of being able to stop corruption by punishing and sending the corrupt to the jail and not by finding and eliminating the causes in the first place. Anna and his coterie dictated and insisted that it is the only way, even if it meant destabilising the nation’s democratic process and established law and order set up and paving way to oligarchy and anarchy by appointing an all powerful Lokpal as per their terms.

The Indian parliament representing 1.3 billion voters and comprising of 543 elected members was brought to its knees in the summer by Anna Hazare and a combine of self proclaimed moralists demanding an ombudsman with powers to punish corrupt politicians, judiciary and civil servants, effectively a super cop to oversee the three pillars of democracy. They were able to  do this by stage managing a fast by  Anna Hazare, carefully choosing a festive weekend when thousands of city dwellers, frustrated by the widely media hyped 2 g scam and outsiders transported by extreme religious groups were drawn to the event in a show of support. A government, already weakened by accusation of corruption by a coalition partner and repeated stalling tactic of the opposition in the parliament simply chose the path of non confrontation, by accepting the demand to pass a bill in the winter session

However, the parliament has regained its senses and collective wisdom about the need, usefulness and consequences and above all the practicality of appointing a Lokpal as, hitherto silent members have expressed their views on tabling of a bill by the government.

That, the government was determined and was able to table a bill despite the repeated insinuations and threats of agitation by the Anna Hazare team, the efforts for which were started forty years back, in itself is proof that the democratic government can function under pressure and duress.

That, the Indian parliament is able to resist the intimidation by unelected moralists and orchestrated populism and can openly and bravely question the infringement of its democratic rights and duties is a lot more heartening to anyone who can’t breathe in anything but a democratic society.

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