In a country where we have Election Management firms to peddle lies and propaganda using every method written and some prohibited ones to make their client win, we are only making a mockery out of democracy and proving the fears of Socrates right.
We Indians like any other democratic nations have started thinking of democracy by birth very highly without understanding what it brings with it when not handled with care. One of the greatest philosophers of ancient Greece, Socrates was not a fan of democracy by birth rather he fantasized about a democracy where people will vote rationally by thinking what is good for them and what is bad for them in the long term. They will not seek for any favour in return rather the development of the nation altogether.
He did not like the whole idea of people choosing anyone because they speak the words people want to listen. In the book The Republic VI, Plato describes Socrates as inherently pessimistic when it comes to democracy. Socrates once while discussing democracy asked Adeimantus, that if you are in a ship whom will you prefer to sail the ship, one who is more wanted or one who is more qualified. Adeimantus replied, obviously the latter.
Socrates thought that voting in an election is a skill and like any other skill, it needs to be taught systematically. Allowing everyone to vote without proper education is like sailing in the high storm while you do not even know how to row in silent waters. Socrates was not an elitist who thought that only a few shall vote. On the contrary, he thought that everyone who thought of voting business rationally, shall be allowed to vote. He advocated for intellectual democracy, not a democracy by birth as the former will be more fruitful to all.
Socrates knew exactly where it would lead us if we continue allowing everyone to vote, a system of demagoguery. We have given the right to vote for everyone without connecting it with wisdom. He knew that people will exploit our desires for easy answers. He asked to take an example of a sweet shop owner and a doctor. If you are allowed to choose between a sweet shop owner, who provides you with all the mouth-watering delicacies and a doctor, about whom you know that he gives you bitter potions and stops you from eating what you want. The true answer is that if the doctor would say that I cause you to hurt and go against your desire to help you would cause an uproar in voters. We gave started thinking of democracy as the best and an only good thing bout any democracy will be as effective as the education system is. Education surrounds democracy. As a result, we have elected many sweet shop owners and very few doctors.
Indian democracy has become an epitome of what Socrates feared. 1.35 billion people out of which almost 900 million are eligible voters. A country which has been caught in frequent racial, casteist or religious riots does not hold the moral right to be a democracy as people would not forget these things and will vote as per the inclinations. India is a country where we have political parties working exclusively for religion, caste, language and race. Law of land understands that people can be provoked to riot and disrupt the harmony but the same law does not understand that people can be provoked to vote for someone incompetent by using money, power and sweet words.
How ironic it is that we do not trust people that they can decide for themselves when it comes to protecting free speech, but we trust their decision when it comes to selecting a person, who might be an accused of the most heinous of the crimes, to the highest office. In a country where we have Election Management firms to peddle lies and propaganda using every method written and some prohibited ones to make their client winner, we are only making a mockery out of democracy and proving the fears of Socrates right.
Democracy in its actual term will only be won when the voters are not persuaded by the politicians to vote for them, on the contrary, they are educated every day by the election conducting body about all the doctors and all the sweet sellers.