Thursday, December 21, 2006

The last issue of the Time magazine every year features the person of the year. Its one of the most prestigious of yearly awards internationally and Presidents, business tycoons, athletes, celebrities of all hues and colours want to be on the year end cover of Time. This time around Time decided on a rather strange entity as its Person of the Year.

It selected YOU. Yes, the cover had a picture of a computer with a silver foil in place of the screen.

Pretty neat. The Time argued that with the recent surge in activities on the internet through the use of words, pictures and videos the power had finally beenreturned to where it should always have been. To the PEOPLE.

It is true however that this use of the media has been much more marked in the developed countries like the USA or the nations of western Europe. These have always been places where the public has always been a very important part of the decision making.

However it would be a true year of the people when the voices of the laymen in countries with dictatorships like Cuba or Pakistan is heard and feared by those on the steering wheel. In countries like China and Iran theres a huge level of censorship on the media and what reaches the people. These have to go. Even in countries like India, supposedly the largest democracy of the world, the voice of the common man is barely heard. However things are surely changing.

It would be easier to talk of these changes with a few examples. I will stick to India because that where I am originally from and the I know more of the following examples than I would be if i wrote about something that I had just read on the internet.

The first was the verdict of the Delhi High Court in the Jessica Lall murder case. Jessica Lall was shot dead while she was bartending at Tamarind Court on the evening of April 29, 1999. The chief accused was Manu Sharma, son of Venod Sharma a Minister in Harayana. He was accompanied with amongst others by Vikas Yadav, son of D P Yadav, a minister in UP. The case was initially tried in the trial court of S L Bhayana.

All the accused were acquitted.

Here is where the story usually ends for crimes committed by politicians or their kins. Thats what they thought. They made one simple miscalculation. The power of the people. The verdict outraged the people. The media fuelled the emotions and the people wanted justice. The power of sms, blogs, phones and the communication system as a whole came into full force as a country united to make sure that justice was served. The Delhi police under tremendous public pressure filed appeal against the decision in Delhi High court.

Result, Manu Sharma was awarded life sentence.

Power to the people.....

It would have been really good news but still would not have caused a change the way we look at our judicial system if it was just a one off case. No it was not.

In a series of recent judicial activity there have been some hope. Shibu Soren sentenced for life for killing an aide. Another case was the death sentence to Santosh Kumar Singh, the son of a Police Inspector-General for the rape and murder of Priyadarshani Mattoo.

Not only through the judicial system, but through the electoral process itself, the people of India have made their voices heard. Lalloo Prasad Yadav lost in Bihar which was pretty much unthinkable.

The only other instance that i would like to mention did not happen in India. The people of Nepal rose up in arms to bring down a dictatorship and to setup a democratic process of their own. Yet another time when the fate of a country was decided by the vast majority of its citizens.

Its the best thing to happen. The people have risen, and they mean business.

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