I saw an NDTV video that showed an elderly lady touching Jyotirao Scindia’s feet while he was campaigning in his constituency. I saw that video and thought, shouldnt it be the other way around ? Shouldnt a young, aspiring politician who believes in Indian values touch the feet of an elderly lady. But Indian values aside, in a representative democracy shouldnt the representative feel grateful for the support and adoration of his constituents rather than the constituents feel grateful for him/her being their ‘member’ in parliament ?
In America, both the members of the legislative assemblies and the media refer to themselves as ‘representatives’ not ‘MPs’. Even I, a non-American have been getting emails from ‘my’ new representative in Congress ! I dont want to make any generalist comments, but I feel this reflects a fundamental differnce in how Indian ‘MPs’ and American ‘reps’ perceive themselves. I suspect more often than not Indian legislators think of themselves as members of some exclusive club who can dole out patronage to their constituents as they wish. Whereas American legislators think of themselves as the people’s representatives, who are accountable to their constituents and have to represent their interests in Parliament.
The Indian masses have done their bit to reverse this attitude, the infamous anti-incumbency phenomena in Indian states is evidence enough. Unfortunately they do not have the time and resources to actually hold their reps accountable. However, India’s middle class can, today more then ever. First by voting and actually doing their part in choosing their member of parliament. Then using their organizational skills, their access to media, the courts, legislation like the RTI to make sure this member actually is a representative.
Jai Ho !