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Is the idea of democracy being translated into action?

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By Vishakha Mathur

Photo Credit: http://blogs.thenews.com.pk
Photo Credit: http://blogs.thenews.com.pk

“…man was born free, but he is everywhere in chains”– Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote in ‘The Social Contract.’

India is the largest democracy in the world. Nearly 123 out of 192 countries have democratic governments. This makes us ponder as to what democracy actually means and the answer can be found by tracing it back to its origins.

The very basic idea behind democracy is to ensure that people get their rights, whether it is through the documentation of social contract as written by Locke, or by ensuring liberty as listed by Aristotle.

All of the ideas in the nascent stage of democracy talked about giving power to the people, enabling them to take decisions for themselves rather than subjecting them to dictating terms.

Political theories regarding democracy have evolved to inculcate various news dimensions of the government, to make it more representative and answerable to people. The underlying idea is to empower the people. Whether this is through direct democracy or its representative form, what democracy as an ideology desires to do is enable its people to enjoy their liberty while at the same time take decisions that benefit the population at large.

Though the society has transformed since the early days of democracy, basic tenants of the ideology remain the same. However one can question the extent to which these principles are applied in modern democracies. Do the modern governments follow the complete philosophy behind democracy, or have they just taken parts from it to satisfy the people?

As we see the blatant disregard of the parliamentary sessions today, it only raises the question of whether this whole system was intended to be like this or was it supposed to be something different. The politics in India seems to be revolving around what the majority wants. This in principle is something that was intended to occur in democracy according its exponents, but when one looks at the nitty-gritties of these statements, one begins to question if at all it is the majority that is ruling or are they being manipulated by shrewd power hungry politicians.

What this means is that, are the majority really making the decisions? Or is it specific cleavages of society that have overwhelming say in these issues? If you look at it objectively, only 20% of India’s youth was enrolled as voters before the 2014 elections and the instances of espousing religious sentiments during rallies has become a common occurrence. Not only that, there are several parties associated with a single religious ideology undermining the very idea of secularism and equality in the nation.

Photo: http://drunken-peasants-podcast.wikia.com
Photo: http://drunken-peasants-podcast.wikia.com

While one can argue on the lines of the argument suggested by John Locke, stating that decisions should be made based on the consent of the governed, one really needs to analyze if this consent is in fact valid. There are circumstances under which people go to vote, where they are pressurized or simply bribed to vote in one’s favor. This sure wasn’t what Locke intended.

Let’s move on to another aspect of democracy, i.e. separation of powers, as suggested by Montesquieu. The great thinker said that there has to be a separation of powers so as to guarantee the freedom of individuals in the state. While this separation of powers does exist in our society, it seems a bit distorted where the power rests. In the case of India, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha make up the parliament with both the opposition and ruling parties sitting in the same room.

The concept of ‘opposition’ was well thought out by political thinkers like Aristotle and Tocqueville. Their aim was to have a healthy and effective opposition. Since Aristotle advocated direct democracy, he favored opposition to consist of the minority who could amicably convince the majority of its views and demands, so that a holistic decision could be taken.

This is in principle, directly applicable to the Indian system but with the opposition opposing everything that is on the table, raising placards to disrupt the sessions and walking out after suspension of 25 MPs who violated norms of the parliament, the question remains that, whether the opposition is doing its job of constructive criticism or simply opposing every move.

Take the example of the land ordinance bill, it couldn’t be passed in the parliament while the Congress is sitting in the opposition, even though Congress was the one to propose it in the first place. With most of the opposition gone in protest, the ruling party is simply enjoying its tenure in parliament, working on the agendas they wanted to work on for a long time without hindrances.

However, looking at these pitfalls, one begins to imagine if there is anything that is going right. What is being done to save the democratic ethos of the nation? Now looking at the flaws of rallies and campaigns along religious lines, much effort is being made by the election commission of India to increase voter awareness. This is slowly starting to change the scenario, more evidently seen in the 2014 elections where the voter turnout was higher than ever, among which there were almost 80% youth voters. The government now is focusing more on developing agendas and is less vocal about schisms in society.

What is important here is to weigh the pros and cons and see if principles of democracy are still coherent with the initial idea. The initial idea of power to the people forms the linchpin of democracy and there are signs of gradual change showing that Indian society is trying to rise over pitfalls to enter a new era of development. But does the ban on porn, implementation of section 377 etc. have the same implications or is it still a stage in the democratic evolution of India?

That’s a question for time to answer.

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Oracle Witnessing Double-Digit Growth in India For Past 3 Years

The Oracle Autonomous Database now has the capability to automatically scan for security threats and apply security updates while running to help prevent cyberattacks and data theft

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Cloud major Oracle, which is seeing high demand in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), telecom and manufacturing sectors in India, has witnessed double-digit growth in the country for the past three years, a top company executive has said.

Start-ups and small and medium businesses (SMBs) are fast adopting Oracle’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in the country.

“We are seeing double-digit growth (on an average) in the country. In fact, that’s both in our NetSuite business as well as our enterprise business.

“The India Cloud business is really booming. Overall, the double-digit growth has been there for the last three years in the country, which has been the best-performing region in the Asia-Pacific for us,” Shaakun Khanna, India SaaS GTM Lead, Oracle, told IANS in an interview.

The company competes with major Cloud players like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure and provides services such as SaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Data-as-a-Service (DaaS).

According to Oracle, as a corporation, the firm is on track to become the top SaaS company in the world.

The company offers innovative and proven Cloud suite of SaaS applications that enable customers to transform their business with the latest intelligent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

“From a perspective of completeness of our enterprise applications, there’s no one who can compare with us. So, that’s pretty much our objective and vision in India as well,” Khanna added.

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Witnessing double-digit growth in India for past 3 years: Oracle. IANS

According to the company, going “autonomous” gave it an edge over rivals in the country.

Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Oracle, in October unveiled the second generation Oracle Cloud with autonomous capabilities, improved security and upgrades for enterprises at the company’s annual user conference “Oracle Open World 2018” in San Francisco.

According to Khanna, autonomous is probably the biggest thing because, with autonomous, the ability to engage technologies like AI, ML, UI-UX, is there.

“I think the other advantage is our diversity, because if you look at it, we are the only company of our stature in the world that has everything — it’s not just the applications that are ours, the hardware, the infrastructure, the database, everything is Oracle,” Khanna noted.

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The Oracle Autonomous Database now has the capability to automatically scan for security threats and apply security updates while running to help prevent cyberattacks and data theft.

“If you look at the way Oracle built its first set of Cloud infrastructure is very similar to how Google built it, how Amazon built it, how Microsoft built it, almost everyone built it and we are doing exactly the same.

“Larry and the other founders who started Oracle — they were working for a CIA project and then they came out and started Oracle. So we understand security from our DNA,” said Mitesh Agarwal, Vice President, Key Accounts, Oracle India.

“Almost all of our competitors have never managed to move an enterprise workload to the Cloud — not a single one of them. They all have peripheral applications that have moved to the Cloud. That’s still only about 5-6 per cent of the workloads in the world,” Agarwal informed. (IANS)