In 2024, your country needs YOU!

Democracy is always a work in progress, its upkeep every citizen’s responsibility. What should we do to preserve our democracy and protect our Constitution?

The original Preamble of the Constitution of India (photo: National Herald archives)
The original Preamble of the Constitution of India (photo: National Herald archives)

Sam Pitroda

I worry a lot about the current state of affairs in India.

Under the government of the day, a resplendently diverse India is on its way to becoming an autocratic Hindu rashtra.

All our democratic institutions have been eviscerated, their autonomy severely undermined; civil society is paralysed; mythology is swarming over science; the media, instead of speaking truth to power, has become a mouthpiece of the party in power. Social media too has been weaponised to launch personal attacks on opposition leaders and to spread lies that fuel hate.

Communities are being divided, and large swathes of the population live in mortal fear of being hounded by a vindictive State.

The central investigative agencies have become the government’s weapon of choice, going after the political opposition and noisy dissenters to cow them into submission.

In this environment, the 60 per cent of Indians who did not vote for the ruling party wonder how to respond, how to turn the wheel back.

How does India go back to being an inclusive society, aspiring to keep the unfulfilled promise of opportunities and prosperity for all?

Only through an enlightened expansion of democracy can India bring peace, safety and security to its people, and create the conditions neces- sary to generate jobs and grow businesses, public infrastructure, the economy and trade. Only then is it possible to secure food, health and housing for all.

But democracy is always a work in process, and its upkeep every citizen’s responsibility.

The question, then, is: what should we do to preserve and protect our democracy and our Constitution?

The first step is to recognise the worth of your vote—it must be exercised with discernment and care for the ‘idea of India’ you believe in, the future you want for your children and grandchildren. It means voting for the values you believe in, and not a personality or a party—especially not one that peddles hate, thrives on dividing people and makes false promises without any fear of consequences.

Democracy is at a crossroads in India and only a caring vote can put it back on track.

Get to work if you really care.

Speak up and spread the message—among friends, in your extended family, in local communities. Go door to door, visit colleges and markets, organise meetings and discussions—with a sense of urgency. Hit the streets and meet people wherever possible—there are no shortcuts to public outreach.

Encourage people to think independently and discover the truth, their truth, instead of parroting WhatsApp forwards and TV misinformation. Listen to people with patience and openness, and learn to read their eyes for signs of compassion and empathy—and their truth.

Volunteer for a local candidate with concern for the community and a democratic vision of India. Help and support her with your time, energy and resources.

Be an active participant and an instrument of the change you want to see.

Each one of us can make an impact, so do not underestimate your power. Accept the challenge and heed the call at this critical juncture.

Your country needs you.

SAM PITRODA is an engineer and entrepreneur credited with telecom innovation in India as scientific advisor to former PM Rajiv Gandhi. Views are personal

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