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Lately, I have come across many Indians who want to make India better. Some of them reside in India and some in other countries. These are well educated people, mostly from middle class families, who have a simple hope that someday they will live in an ‘Ideal India’ of their dreams.

An Ideal India where they will not have to pay petty bribes to government clerks, officials, or anyone else just to get their work done, a place where they or their sisters and daughters will be able to cross a street without being subjected to harassment, a place where ‘education for all’ is a reality, a place where people will someday learn that India is their country, that they belong here, and they need to help keep it filth-free, a place where all human life is valued, a place where unborn fetuses aren’t aborted just because they are females. An Ideal India where elected officials understand their responsibilities; a country where citizens recognize their rights and their duties.

These Indians who dream of an Ideal India are against the rampant forces deterring democracy today, such as- corruption, inaction against illiteracy, racial prejudices, inhumanity- that lead to the problems mentioned above. They despise the lack of morality and ethics prevalent in our society today. They would love to see the marginalised kids and youth getting educated, they would like to volunteer for social work, they want to devote their lives (or at least a portion thereof) for a cause; and most of them are working towards these goals one way or another.

Wouldn’t it be great if a few of these people led our country today? Wouldn’t it bring a sea change if just a handful of such people became policy makers, politicians, MPs and MLAs? After all, we are a democracy. Constitutionally, anyone can run for elections, anyone can join or create a political party and campaign for it. According to the ‘Election Commission of India’ website – “Any Indian citizen who is registered as a voter and is over 25 years of age is allowed to contest elections to the Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assemblies.” But, really?

It’s an unfortunate reality that the well-wishing Indians I have met recently will certainly never contest for elections, even though they qualify. Given the present tumultuous conditions, even if they tried, they would in all probability be shot down, may be literally. Thanks to the underworld connections of our current politicians and the goons that they hire to keep their parties clean of clean people. No wonder we have MPs and MLAs that have criminal charges pending against them, political parties that buy votes, and candidates that have no spine, whatsoever. Corruption and crime is deep-rooted in the Indian electoral process, we all know that.

Constitutionally, we are a democracy; but in reality are we? ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’, really, who are we kidding?

Our country in in shambles. We need new leaders, new political parties, new ideas; and we sure can’t have them unless we have an overhauling electoral reform! Why are candidates with criminal charges pending allowed to contest? Why is there no strict accountability for campaign spending? How in the world are parties able to buy votes? How democratic is all that? Electoral reform is not a new thought. There have been talks and discussions in the past about how badly we need a reform. Even the Election Commission agrees. But, lawmakers won’t do a thing about it and people who want to will never become lawmakers! It’s a vicious circle. It feeds itself. Corruption, illiteracy, ignorance, poverty- our prevalent problems fuel it and the circle grows everyday. It’s growing at an overwhelming pace and may become so imbalanced one day that it may burst- and destroy our freedom with it.

Can the citizens do anything about it? What choices do we have? How do we change this vicious circle to a virtuous circle?

Any ideas? Please share.