The problem with majority mandate

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/10/2019 12:39:08 PM IST

 India today is in a situation where those who received 30% of popular votes are ruling the country with a brute majority and thus, everything that is being done is being justified as the mandate of 130 crore people of the country. Unfortunately, this very idea of ‘majority’ has become an artifact. However it doesn’t exist in reality. The winning party rarely secures a majority of the votes polled, much less the support of the majority of the total voters. The norm of majority is invoked only to legitimise what is necessarily the rule by a handful of individuals. A majority of people have nothing to do with governance. This problem becomes acute in societies where the masses are illiterate and socially and economically depressed. Most citizens believe they are in a democracy and swear by the principle of majority or the finality of numbers. The question still remains, for those who think deeper, whether this majority decision is necessarily right. There have been many instances where the decisions imposed by the majority have been illogical and at times whimsical. In this scenario, democratic regimes are potentially no less tyrannical than authoritarian ones; the tyranny of the many simply replaces the tyranny of the one or the few. In the absence of limits to the power of the masses or of appropriate voting ethics— in the words of Benjamin Constant this time — the “prerogative of the majority is that of the strongest. It is unjust.” However in parliamentary democracy, numbers count. The nadir of intellectual and free discussion and debate is exposed on television, articles in the media, etc. where the media appear to endorse the majority dogma. The Indian media today finds everything right with the winners and everything wrong with the losers. This opportunism on the part of the media is amusing, hypocritical and sycophantic. Media pundits have taken a U-turn and have started seeing everything right with the winning combine. There are noble exceptions, of course. History is replete with many instances of minorities(religious/cultural/ethnic/linguistic) being subjected to many atrocities and oppression by the tyrannical and dictatorial rule of majoritarian class. Wherein majority always tried to impose their will on minority without taking their concerns into account. Enough has been reported and aired in the media. This leads to ask whether what is good for some particular majority sections of society, is necessarily good for every section of society? If those who hold this view, put themselves into others’ shoes and try to look the things from their perspective, then only can they understand as to why they are against majority’s will. The fact is that majority is right only when its claim and will are based on the grounds of rationality and logic rather than any popular belief system which they think as their legacy and inherent right by virtues of being large in numbers and powerful in nature. Unless well meaning, informed and conscientious citizens cleanse this entire process and promote and inspire an educated and upright citizenry, the world’s largest democracy may never have a truly democratic polity, or the rule of law, where every citizen is assured of his/her legitimate right to life and property, and all rights inviolable. This is still a mirage for the vast majority of the people in our country. 


Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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