So we are citizens of the world’s largest democracy. Though democracy as a concept is a Greek innovation, but I am sure like all world-changing inventions- the discovery of zero, Ayurveda and Kama Sutra- democracy too was discovered in India. Since we were children, we Indians have been taught about how democratic we are.
Why did the Mughals settle in India? Because Indians were democratic. We have Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Jews all co-existing without being after each others’ blood all the time? How are we a melting pot of cultures and religions? Because we are democratic. As Indians, democracy runs in our blood.
It is frequently claimed that Winston Churchill once said, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”, paraphrasing, is great in theory but one of the worst systems of governing in real life.
What is being democratic? Everybody speaking their mind? Or everybody believing that they have a right to speak their mind? We Indians never cow down from speaking our minds. From asserting our views, no matter how obnoxious and abominable our mindset may be, we believe we have full right to express ourselves-because that’s what our constitution guarantees.
Once in a while a film comes along in Bollywood that makes us laugh and still believe in our democratic-ness. In a cramped 1.5 hours Jai Ho Democracy captures the essence of democracy. Both its pros and cons.
The film starts with a chef in the lowest ranks of the Indian army following a hen into the no-man’s land on the India-Pakistan Line of Control. The situation may turn into a war between the two countries and bill is required to be passed within a few hours by a committee to allow the Indian Army to take action on the border. What follow are all the shenanigans of being a democracy of 1.2 billion people
Often democracy becomes about appeasement in the guise of equality. There is a hilarious sequence about Om Puri violating some archaic, nonsensical law and the session being hung for hours on end while an “ordinary soldier” toils without food and water in no man’s land.
Indian and Pakistani soldiers across the LOC-one of the militarised zones in the world, can let humanity win over duty, maybe just for one night may only happen in a film and never in real life. Yet, Jai Ho Democracy reminds us that as a democracy we Indians are empowered to solve our own problems. So next you encounter an issue for which you blame the government, take a step back and think about how you can solve it yourself and with the help of the community around you.
Ultimately, democracy is about the common man. That’s what Jai Ho Democracy restores your faith in. Corrupt elections, biased politicians, blood sucking leaders are a part and parcel of democracy. But ultimately it is the common man who triumphs because a democracy empowers him. It is only a democracy which enables a common man to determine his own fate, not depend on bills passed by politicians who don’t give a damn and thus Jai Ho Democracy!