Thailand, Cambodia and Egypt and Russia
Is India a full-fledged democracy? Some hard questions of our times!
Indian democracy is the largest and the most populous.1.21 billion people. A democracy has survived and even we can say (why not?) flourished in India for the last67 years. Is this not a remarkable achievement?
It is. But then, in politics there is no rest. No finality of things. Time and tide wait for none! Also we have to note and even say loudly that “miracle happens only in politics!”.This literally true, not just any metaphorical statement. Why? See what is happening in many nearby countries, India’s neighbouring countries. In Bangladesh there is turmoil, inspite of a recent election. The opposition parties don’t easily reconcile to the electoral verdict. See what happened in the Male islands.
In Nepal. In the other neighbours, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai was here in India and what he spoke about the plight of his people, the American drone attacks were deeply moving.”America doesn’t trust us, we don’t trust America!”
A friendly neighbour comes to India and takes the Indian people in confidence and says this so openly. Why? May be, we feel he felt confident that only in India he would get a sympathetic response.
Yes, we, the Indian people really felt that Afghanistan was no stranger to Indian sentiments, just some 100 and odd years ago Afghanistan was part of Indian Territory. Afghanistan has a proud history and legacy. Every other city ruler, be it Ghazni or Herat and Kabul, they all came to India and conquered us! Mohammad Ghazni is a household name; his name is on the lips of every Indian school child! Of course, Babur and the great Moghul and the long history of the Moghul rule.
Only in the late 1980s, the last Anglo-Afghan war, Afghanistan became a free and independent country. In fact, the time has come for Indians to read about the Afghanistan history in a new perspective.
So too the other countries. Leaving out Pakistan for the moment, we have to reach out to the people of Tibet whose spiritual leader is a welcome guest in India.
Then comes the Myanmar history. How very recent time ago Burma, the then name, was part of India!
And down the South East Asian countries. Thailand where we were recently. There was turbulence as we were landing in Thailand, the Thai police was everywhere. There were protests.
It is a pity. There have been military coups, this is a frequent recurrence and yet there is a democratically elected government under Ms.Yungluck Shinawatea.
There is a demand articulated by one former deputy prime minister asking for a “non-elected council”.
How to explain this demand?
There is a much-revered monarchy; the monarch is very well rated. Yet, the military is also very active. We were in Cambodia for a visit. There is so much sadness in the country, after the notorious Poll Pot and after a long and hard struggle there came a Vietnam invasion and saved the people from the Poll Pot massacre.
Yet, for the last 35 years there is only one ruler, the present incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen.
There is now restlessness. There are troubles, police firing. Even when we were passing through the central part of the city, Phnom Penh, in the Freedom Park the military police were concentrated. On enquiry we found there were police firing, some 5 persons killed, many injured, and many fled the city. Cambodia is also having a monarchy.
But it is nowhere in the scheme of things. The present monarch’s father, the long-lasted, Prince Norodon Shihanuk, was such an international face of Cambodia and we went through is vast palace complex and studied his great many contributions to his people.
Yet, there was this tinge of sadness about the tragedy that befell the people of Cambodia on whose face I saw so much sadness and unhappiness.
People fear to talk about their government, about their own plight.
How sad, how disappointing. In this age of Internet, universal access to knowledge and information people in one country can live such a deprived life. Deprived of so much development potential, so much freedoms in the world, yet here is one country that feels left out of this universal sense of brotherhood.
And now, Egypt and Russia.
In Egypt, it is inexplicable that after the much-talked about Arab Spring, now wees some perversity. A democratically elected President is ousted by violence and military takeover, a new Constitution is written and the very same youth voted overwhelmingly in favour of a military dictator taking over as an elected President! Now, there are reports that the very same former dictator, Hosni Mubarak’s old network of power, the middle men, brokers etc are back in supporting the new military dictator.
Now in Russia, a very India friendly country, not moving forward in any rational way. A former President becomes Prime Minister and then back to President. What sort of democracy is this? Jails to Opponents, jails to even harmless punk rock star ladies!
Is the land of Tolstoy and Boris Pasternak? The long line of thinkers and writers, once the cultural centre of the world!
Time for serious thought and introspection!