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Democracy dreams crumbling, needs people's participation: Patkar

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 25 (UNI) Decrying the waning 'aura' of democracy and decline of the common man's voice in the overall governance of the country, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar called upon 'one and all' to come forward in preserving natural resources for posterity and join the 'revolution' which would retain India's pristine structure and banish the ugly monster of ''corporate development''.

Delivering the 8th D S Borkar Memorial Lecture on 'My Vision of India 2047' last evening, Ms Patkar said while the democratic fora was palpable in our country the psyche and the mindset remained otherwise which was evident in the absence of 'village republics' -- envisaged by the founding fathers of the Constitution.

''The very basis of participatory democracy was being consciously marginalised by the tech-advanced new rulers by depriving various communities the right to develop, plan and govern the resources they have been living with for ages.'' Village republics were being killed in the name of development and profit not welfare was becoming the new mantra of governance, she said.

Recalling the large-scale suicide by farmers in an agrarian economy like ours, where the peasantry was not just losing its land but also dignity faced as it was with the crude onslaught of market economy, she said, this was the nadir of governance and the heights of ignorance which exposed the tall claims of ''democratic functioning''.

''I doubt the big dream of ''largest democracy'' would survive till 2047 until the adivasis, farmers and labourers are brought in the loop of ''decentralised management'' and ''participatory functioning''. I fear the dream may not just remain a dream, going by the present governance style.'' Calling the nouveau theory of ''percolation'', where the GDP takes care of ''everything'' and money and market dominates, as grossly flawed, the NBA leader said it was ironical that resources instead of being used to fulfil basic needs were being exploited to cater to the needs of crass commercial and developmental uses.

''Economy, economics and lifestyles are being talked of but why isn't self reliance being discussed ever,'' she queried adding ''Is this where the road to 2047 leads? Is it profit alone we crave for and not soverignity and self sufficiency?'' Calling on people to ''act now'', when the nation was standing at crossroads, Ms Patkar said, ''We need to take a stand and ought to have a public debate with mass participation, not in the form of referendum but community consultation, because the time is now.

Tomorrow it would be too late for an India of our in 2047.'' Chairing the lecture, parliamentarian Sitaram Yechury said ''Vision 2047'' calls for ''growth within the realms of equity'' where the benefits reach all and the gap between the haves and havenots was lessened.

''The objective was a society where not profit but 'benefit to all' was the focus of governance, where control of resources was in the hands of people and not corporates and where the masses were masters of their fate.'' Unless empowering of the people was there, where does the dream of a secular, democratic republic go, Mr Yechury queried while stressing that though emancipation of humanity remained the common, broader goal of all what was needed was man-nature dialectic to bring about harmony in the society.

''This was important if the "dream 2047" had to turn into 'vision 2047' -- which was not disconnect from reality.'' UNI AN SI VV1516

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