Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Nov 2017 11:17:48


Srinivasan Rangachary,

Chanakya, the original master of statecraft and  policy in India, said in the Arthashastra (Economics): “The foremost duty of a ruler is to keep his people happy and contented. The people are his biggest asset as well as the source of peril. They will not support a weak administration and a corrupt government”.

FREE India was born on August 15, 1947. The nation had chosen democracy as the means to govern itself and fulfill the aspirations of the people. This is what Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said: Today, we may deride many of the Nehruvian thoughts and policies, but the freedom to do so is given to us by the same belief -- democracy. 

Indian democracy granted voting rights to all adults, male or female without any discrimination right from the first elections. That was a great step forward by an infant nation.
Even in USA, women and African Americans were denied voting rights for many years. People of India kept their faith in democracy at all times. From the famines and food shortages of the early years of Independence to the Green Revolution, wars caused due to aggression by the neighbouring countries, from a fight against illiteracy to the present software technology leadership, it is the democratic ethos which has kept the dreams of the nation alive. It is accepted that progress in democracy is slower, but it is the progress achieved by the people, not imposed upon them by the whims of a dictator. In a democracy people are the masters. Indian public have shown it time and again though our politicians do not learn their lessons.

In 1977, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was voted out of power mainly because of her dictatorial attitude which had led to imposition of Internal Emergency in 1975. In 1980, the same public voted out Janata Party and brought back Indira Gandhi to power. Whenever the people felt that the governments had failed to deliver, changes have occurred.
All these changes have happened in a smooth and nice manner befitting a mature democracy. We as citizens enjoy the right to property, freedom of speech and many other benefits of democracy which are denied to millions of people all over the world. We should be proud of our democracy. There are problems, constraints in implementation of programmes and policies for the benefit of the people, corruption in politics and government, divisive issues like reservations and gender right but which system does not have problems?

Democracy gives us a right to express our views. Solutions found through democratic means are better and long lasting. Like we accept our own body with all its blemishes and ailments and are responsible for keeping it functioning, it is same with democracy. Rather than complaining and wondering about what ails our democracy, let us work to solve a little issue and do our part.  Our part could be highlighting an issue by writing about it, taking it to the administration and political leadership. We have a wonderful law Right to Information Act, use it judiciously to propagate your moves. There are people who are actively doing this and succeeding. We should be grateful for their efforts. If democracy fails, it is we the people who have failed. Is democracy a dead cat the West wants to sell for good money?

According to one of the greatest strategists of the 20th century, that would be more or less correct. In the words of Lee Kuan Yew, the late Singapore strongman, “The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development.”  The West treats democracy as religion – a form of government so sacred that it will bomb countries into the Stone Age in order to sow the seeds of democracy in those places. But in Lee’s view, “Democratic procedures have no intrinsic value. What matters is good government.”

The Singapore strongman believed the government’s primary duty is to create a “stable and orderly society” where “people are well cared for, their food, housing, employment, health”. Lee concluded: “Democracy is one way of getting the job done, but if non-electoral procedures are more conducive to the attainment of valued ends, then I’m against democracy. Nothing is morally at stake in the choice of procedures.” That democracy can drag down nations is best exemplified in India’s case. India is a nation of unfulfilled greatness. Its potential has lain fallow, underused.” Furthermore, populist democracy makes Indian policies less consistent, with regular changes in ruling parties. And yet in the western view, “God was in his heaven and everything was right with the world.”

In western democracy the party or candidate that gets the most votes is the winner. Such a system may seem fair but in reality can create terrible outcomes. For instance, a large number of candidates can divide votes so that a totally unpopular candidate can squirm his way to power. This has happened most starkly in India where the Congress party ruled India for over six decades despite not getting the majority of the votes.

In the US, western democracy could not prevent the theft of the 2000 Presidential elections where Al Gore got more votes than George W. Bush and still lost, leading to the 2003 Iraq War. Around 2300- years ago, Chanakya, the original master of statecraft and policy in India, said in the Arthashastra (Economics): “The foremost duty of a ruler is to keep his people happy and contented. The people are his biggest asset as well as the source of peril. They will not support a weak administration and a corrupt government.”