India is a democracy. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, the country has a “government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” But Indians have to understand that most of India’s maladies are a consequence of their abdication of the responsibility that necessarily accompanies the rights Indians have in a democratic system. Democracy is not just about voting but rather informed voting. Citizens have to act collectively against those who have brought ignominy and shame to the country. They have the responsibility to clean up the corruption. This they can do most effectively by refusing to vote for criminals.
The news is not all bad. Citizen groups are springing up that seek to address the problem of corruption. It is a collective problem that can only be solved through the mobilization of informed voters. Among many others, one such nascent group, called “United Voters of India,” is an association of people who agree to vote only for candidates who are capable and clean.
Our problems have to be solved within the system through the democratic process. The good news is that advances in information and telecommunications technologies have shifted the balance of power from the government to the people. People now have the means to inform themselves and collectively organize to force reform on the system. The telecom scam should serve as a wake-up call to all Indians that it is time to take action. If it does that, perhaps the scam will have served a positive purpose after all.