Democracy and democratic traditions must be defended by all means and upheld much more extensively. Today, both inside India as well as in the outside world, the cause of democracy is not having a positive environment. The so-called big powers are not shining examples of a vigorous. Democratic world, far from it, there is a distorted picture of a world in turmoil. See the great democratic country like the USA with its well-defined features.
An elected President is held up at the doors, so to say, by a loser with his own ego and much else. This is a great shame to the entire world that pins hopes on a world open to multi-cultures and very enriched democratic traditions and history. And see the US has a written, rather well-written constitution and yet the one who wins a popular mandate must be gracefully welcome by the one who loses the mandate. See what Donald Trump is doing!
As for other big powers, in Russia and China and for that matter others who are middle level countries, in the Middle East and elsewhere, there are many deficiencies in terms of what we would call the very many democratic traditions and values.
In India, we have a very strange scenario of contradictions and very many discomforts too. See, the Indian Prime Minister on the occasion of laying the foundation stone for a new Parliament complex, what should be a very appreciative tones from many sections, we have a prolonged farmers agitation going on and the very foundation stone ceremony is marked with a Supreme Court stay order and the injunction that no physical alteration can take place before the apex court gives its final verdict.
Of course this is a discordant note and also the Opposition parties’ criticisms are far from complimentary. The PM has observed that India is the mother of democracy, fine! It requires a more thought-out observation that would have made a wider appeal.
India is of course a great democracy. It has the largest written Constitution and also, it has incorporated the best features of values and documents from other countries and a secular democracy. Why bring in the Hindu priests in the ceremonies and give a rather less than full robust secular feature?
Exercise of power
Exercise of power is a very tricky affair. Running a State is not an easy option. The office of the Prime Minister in a democracy and that too in the size of Indian democracy to put it bluntly has never been practised before in any other country and that too in a country under an elaborate Constitution like that of India has no precedence in history. We are a new country with just less than a century of actual practice of democracy. The last 70 odd years of Independence, now looking back we can say with some confidence is far from satisfactory seen from several points of view.
Pandit Nehru perhaps was fairly successful to uphold and even taught in a way many aspects of Parliament behaviour. But after Nehru’s things went out of hands and Indira Gandhi most destroyed the very fabric of democratic norms, arbitrary exercise of power took the fairly democratic foundations off the track and since then we have been not proceeding on any sound path with coalitions intervening. We have also to note very seriously the damage done by the great nationalist party, the Indian National Congress which starting from Indira Gandhi to her successors, from dynastic heirs to other cronies had the unfortunate impact of further destroying the democratic values and leading the very apparatus of the party and the government machinery into the unforeseen path of further ossification of both the party and the government institutions.
This is also very critical for any further efforts for the revival of the institutions. So we have to accept the harsh fact that in the eyes of the outside world, wherever democracy and democratic values are upheld the deficiencies of Indian democratic institutions would be seen critically and we have to introspect seriously the short-comings in our democratic practices.
Democracy has many more meanings, liberal atmosphere is the first condition for an open society. Today we don’t find any such atmosphere. There is a pervasive fear everywhere, at many levels.
The critical feature of democracy is an open debate and a free criticism in the media. We have to also refer to the many deficiencies in the media freedom, there is the phenomenon of social media restrictions, fake news and an atmosphere of aggressive polarization of issues, many other social and religious issues.
India is not only the world’s largest democracy with the largest population, India is also a very large economy, the world’s fifth largest. So, Indian economy’s performance matters a great deal not only for signing the living standards of the Indian people, we have one of the largest poor people, malnutrition and the socio-economic condition of the largest number of people is of serious concern.
How is the Indian economy performing?
Considering India also has a peculiar distinction of a large professional economists population fortunately or unfortunately most of these clever population have now migrated and we don’t have the expertise of such high nature are settled in the USA and they at best make periodical visit to their mother country and give sporadic advice and thus we are deprived of some of the high quality expertise.
We have poorly viewed this pool of abundant talents and one of the suggestions here is that our Prime Minister must sit with the experts who might not support the new ideology of Hindutva and so we have to make special efforts to get this talent to serve the country.
Surely, professional economists alone won’t suffice but we have to go beyond the current practice of slogan-based catch phrases to pull the economy out of the present negative GDP growth paradigm. Economic growth is not as straight, as we find the pronouncements of the government functionaries.
The world is much more integrated and economic growth of any country is tied to the wider world. And no one country alone can prosper at the cost of others, big or small. See the current negotiations between the European Union chief executive and the British Prime Minister, World economic growth is interdependent. And India is luckily poised for a balanced all round growth and our resources, land, water and geographical spread the regions are so favourable that India could be a large world agriculture economy. We are first in agri exports, especially rice and milk products and so we have much stake in agricultural reforms.
In all these issues, we need greater consensus building, more democratic. The consultations with various stake-holders would only produce good outcomes. Based as we are in the South, we confess we don’t know the ground realities. As we see on the 18th day of protests continuing, there is now politics in the goals of the on-going agitations and so we need more patience and more negotiations.
Also engage the leaders of public opinion, genuine independent experts from sciences and technology and also the IT experts and progressive experts from medicine, entrepreneurship and other fields to pull the education sector that is now hijacked by the brutal exploiters of the education Sector. Education for a country like India needs some very radical thinking. Already, the education sector is out living its current utility. In the engineering sector there is wasteful excess capacity. In the Management Education there again wishful investment.
We have to reverse the current trend of Indian students migrating to the USA and UK. The few these areas very unacceptable, each Indian student pays 40-50 lakhs for a three year undergraduate course that is not needed in the first place.
We offer to list with the planners, bureaucrats and like to share our inputs. We have travelled recently twice to Oxford University and found out how therein UK too, there is quota for State Schools and so the quality of education for the Indian students is far from world class.
So, education, economy and economics, there is a very urgent need to think beyond the routine courses. One more final word on farm reforms. You see the average Indian farmers are not earning any net surplus. This is not a great discovery.
All these issues are complex and we request the Central government functionaries to consult the really qualified experts and draw inputs from a wide spectrum of society.
In Tamil Nadu we see the admissions for the capitation-fee-driven.
We at Vadamalai Media have a long commitment to education sector and for the half a century we are publishing an English language journal, School Education Unique Journal and we don’t like to divert here from the main issues of farmers’ agitation. But education reform also can’t wait. Anyone and given the Prime Minister’s capacity for radical reforms of now, how many of the Indian educators know. That India is losing out about 2-3 billion dollars annually by way of high education fees charged by both the UK and US education sector?