With independence we adopted the British Parliamentary system. Along with it we borrowed the norms evolved by them. But we did not observe them. For example, many British ministers resigned when they differed on matters of principle. In India in the past thirty years only Mr V.V. Giri resigned on the issue of unilateral revision of Bank Awards. Similarly election manifestos are meant for cheating, the people and not an enunciation of policy. In India sticking to- power has become the norm-retention of power primary whereas implementation of policies secondary.
There is floor crossing. Every politician says that defections- are ethically unjustified but encourage defections they say that defector should resign to seek re-election but so far only one M.L.A. from Assam resigned his seat when he wanted to change his party.
Double loyalty has become a cardinal policy of Indian politics. Socialists, backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes are carefully cultivated to retain power. Everybody agrees privately but cannot grow out of double loyalty. This has prevented growth of loyalty to principles, which should be the be all and end all of political parties. It it of this reason that ministers of all India political parties feel no normal qualms in compromising with regional parties and principles.
Moreover the norm of personal loyalty is a peculiar phenomenon of Indian democracy and can be found only in countries under dictatorship. Caste slogans are preferred because a double loyalty operates. Whereas for economic slogans the parties have to work very hard as no double loyalty operates. By secularism they encourage the minorities, discourage the majority and oppose the principle of equality of Gandhiji.
Similarly we mould democracy to suit the purposes of the parties. Congress (I) wants to regulate human action and behavior by state power and Janta Party by individual whims but both avoid the development of the sense of responsibility and self regulation on which the democratic societies of the west are built. We have evolved a system of political non-accountability. When Mr. Thatcher won with labor votes and formed the conservative government she went ahead to dilute the public sector and reduce tax. This is application of principles. In India Marxist party governs West Bengal but nothing is done for the labor.
As the parties win by taking financial help from capitalists they dare not go against them. Even when pro-labor laws are passed, pro-poor policies are announced they are sabotaged in implementation. How much success have abolition of bonded labor and minimum labor to agricultural labor achieved. Similarly if a minister wants to pass the Industrial Relations Bill some of his colleagues want to sabotage it.
Self seeking without principles is tending to establish the norm of selfishness for the whole country. If self-government, irrespective of moral considerations is justified at the top why should it not be felt justified for all ? The ministers use extra-constitutional authority in the shape of sons, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law to get economic gains. This is new norm of Indian democracy. And succession to it and it becomes monarchy. This norm of self-seeking is- tending to spirit the moral binding of society. That is why man in the street is justified for going in for dacoities and murders, doctors- feel justified in fleecing the patients.
How far Indian democracy will absorb these shocks is a moot question. Current practices tend to become norms by perpetuating themselves. They are more dynamic than principles particularly in the power game. These in-built norms are a destabilizing factor. Des- stabilization is corrected normally authoritarianism. Democracy is a way of life. Norms at the top percolate to the bottom and norms at the bottom influence the top. Our moral base is rocking will, the superstructure remain?