Three pitfalls of democracy

Mar 16 2014, 03:08 IST
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SummaryIndia, the world’s most populous democracy, never converges to nation building.

India, the world’s most populous democracy, never converges to nation building. A 2013 UN report stated that a third of the world’s poorest people live in India.

Democratic pitfalls in politics: In our democracy, anybody can get a political party ticket to be a member of the legislative assembly or member of Parliament and wield power. Even a murderous criminal, slapped with court cases, can become an electoral candidate, as also a jailbird who can pull strings to emerge on bail. Political parties are ferreting out silver screen personalities to woo as candidates to gloriously pull in their fan base. They mostly win whether through popularity or arm-twisting the public is not clear. 

In empowering retired film stars as politicians, their on-screen fame gets transferred to political power. What can a film star deliver to the country? Indian film audiences particularly favour fantasy and theatrical plots, so that has become the standard output from Bollywood and regional cinema. Short on real social relevance, these films do not project new ideas nor futuristic social or technology trends. Their history documentation does not help the public to learn something beyond the obvious. Through cinematography, film personalities like Charles Chaplin, Orson Wells, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Meryl Streep, Georges Lucas, Luis Bunuel, Ingmar Bergman, Vittorio Gassman, among others, have incited a paradigm shift in people’s ideation, inspired invention and shown different dimensions that combine art, socio-cultural change and philosophical debates.

India’s film personalities are yet to be credited with having brought in newness that has changed society for the better. Their popularity is based on their professional talent of dancing, acting and dramatic off-screen love affairs. Most Bollywoodians live in a paradisiacal world; they provide low-cost entertainment, particularly to the poor. Nowadays, non-resident Indians (NRI) worldwide also lap up these films of unbelievable, mythical or ideal social life stories not seen in western society.

Can filmy people solve administrative or development issues through politics? Do they understand the requirements of the poor, of employment, of city infrastructure? Poverty-striken voters who have no choice in the way they live imagine that these film personalities who create miracles in cinema may also create fantasy in politics. They like the idea of unreachable stars being physically visible now. Political parties use stars to camouflage what is unsavoury. It’s almost like FMCG products using film stars in advertisements or as brand ambassadors to gloss

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