By Elton Gomes
Hinting at the presence of disillusionment with governance and functioning of institutions, former president Pranab Mukherjee Friday said that India’s institutions are a mirror of national character and must strive to win the people’s trust so that India’s democracy can be saved.
Mukherjee was speaking at the inauguration of a national conference on “Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to transformation” in Delhi. The former president highlighted the need for maintaining the delicate power balance between institutions and the state.
On India’s institutions
“Our Constitution provides a delicate balance of power between various institutions of the state. This balance has to be maintained,” Mukherjee said at the event organised by the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation and the Centre for Research in Rural Development (CRRID), as per PTI report.
Mukherjee said that India, in its last 70 years, has established a successful parliamentary democracy, an independent judiciary, and strong institutions such as the Election Commission, Comptroller, and Auditor General, Central Vigilance Commission, and the Central Information Commission – these institutions sustain and support India’s democracy.
Mukherjee emphasised on the need for debates in parliament. He said that India needs a parliament that debates, discusses, and decides, and not disrupt; it requires a judiciary that gives justice without delay and a leadership that is committed to the nation and those values that made us a great civilization.
“In the recent past, these institutions have come under severe strain and their credibility is being questioned. There is widespread cynicism and disillusionment with the governance and functioning of these institutions. To restore this credibility, the correctives have to come from within,” Mukherjee said, PTI reported.
“Institutions are a mirror of national character. To save our democracy, these institutions must win back the trust of the people, without any delay,” he said. Mukherjee’s remarks come in the wake of the recent strain between the Reserve Bank of India and the government.
The former president expressed concern over rising intolerance and violation of human rights, along with a widening gulf between the rich and poor with top one percent rich having a lion’s share of the country’s wealth.
“The land which gave the world the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam‘ and the civilisational ethos of tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness, is now in news for rising levels of intolerance, manifestations of rage and infringement of human rights,” Mukherjee said, IANS reported.
He added that peace and harmony can only exist when pluralism is practiced. “Peace and harmony prevails when a nation celebrates pluralism, practices tolerance, and promotes goodwill among diverse communities and when we purge the toxin of hatred, envy, jealousy and aggression from our everyday lives,” he said.
He further said that “happiness is higher in countries that ensure their inhabitants basic amenities and resources, greater security, autonomy and freedom as well as sufficient educational opportunities and access to information.
People are manifestly happier in countries where personal freedoms are guaranteed and democracy is secured,” as per the IANS report.
On policy implementation
Stressing on the need for proper implementation of public policy, Mukherjee said an inclusive public policy with poor implementation is of little value to society and the nation.
He said the country’s bureaucratic system “tends to work in silos leading to poor coordination and lack of teamwork”. Though policy formulation is critical, it is also essential to focus attention on policy implementation, he said.
“In the light of these facts, we all – the politicians, the academicians, the thought leaders, the opinion makers, the intellectuals and the civil society have to work together, to carve-out the path for a violence free transformation of the society towards peace, harmony and happiness,” Mukherjee said, as per a report in News18.
Murli Manohar Joshi’s comments
Former union minister and BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi also spoke on the occasion, and emphasised on the transformation towards creating a peaceful, harmonious, and happy society.
Joshi said that the concept of a holistic universe where science and spirituality converge can lead to a better understanding of human relationships. Such a holistic mindset can lead to the fulfillment of goals of creating a peaceful, egalitarian, inclusive, non-violent, and progressive world.
“Mankind today is, therefore, unhappy, more turbulent, more violent, more fundamentalist, and more alienated than ever before”, Joshi said, IANS reported. The veteran leader added that the root cause of this “out of balance world” needs to be investigated.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius