Yes, but then is Indian democracy winning?
This year’s Nobel Prizes for Literature and Peace!
They are to vindicate democracy and democratic values in the modern times.
So, every country calling itself democracy or a modern nation has to ask some tough questions.In India we seem to take pride in our democracy.
Fine. But then how do we see our democracy?
Winning power through the General Elections, a herculean task by any standards is a success for us, for the citizens of India.
But then winning elections by use of big money, very much like that of the US election practices, have also led to easily undermine democrative values and practices.
Indian democracy on the one had seems winning. But then power is seen as brutal power, riding rough-shod over established institutions and why, even turning things upside down. This is seen happening in India.
Outside India Mr.Modi seems to have hit upon making a splash over the Indian disaspora, more so in the USA where the well-educated Indians are settled.
But will the outside world applaud all what Mr.Modi is doing to win friends and influence people?
In our opinion, here Mr.Modi is clearly short-sighted.You have to win the minds and souls of people, the intellectual and the elite classes everywhere would be only too sceptical about Mr.Modi’s roadshows, so to say.
Anyway, here are some thoughts for the elite and the general public alike.President of India, Pranab Mukerjee, has called for India sticking to India’s core values. What are India’s core values? This question had been asked many times and by many people. And answers to have been many depending upon who gives the answers.
If we are to take the present leaders of the ruling party, namely, BJP and more in particular the Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi, even here the answers tumble out of unspecifid situations, events and even some emerging crises time to time, as it happens especially in politics.
Can we say that we are running a democracy, a well-defined one or one that can be interpreted as we like depending on the occasion. Take the Bihar election campaign. The Bihar campaign saw with star campaigners like Modi himself, besides the veterans like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar.
In fact, it was the wordy duel between Modi and Lalu that saw new words, new coinages and in the hands of Lalu, no less with Modi, we saw all sorts of verbal battles. Election rhetoric a new high.
But in this word war, it is the truth that was the causality.
This year’s two Nobel Prizes, for Literature and for Peace asserted one world reality.
The Literature Prize went clearly to the Belarus writer of journalism and literature that the Swedish Academy said the writer mapped the Soviet Soul and it mirrored her version of the exercise of authoritarian political power, first under the Soviet Union, later as an independent nation by the Belarus dictatorship. Ironically as we write these lines the Belarus Presidential elections are about to take place and as of now, as the Nobel write said the President of her country had not yet responded to the award and the President had not congratulated his country’s now famed citizen!
Also, this year’s Nobel for Peace had gone to the Tunisian four civil society groups that had successfully participated in restoring democracy in Tunisia. This Tunisian achievement is of much greater significance when we see the 2010 Arab Spring protests in other Arab nations like Egypt in fact led to the reversal of democratic process and led to re-establishment of dictatorships.
So, there is a strong message in this year’s Nobel awards.
The world is changing; new nations like China, Japan and Turkey, among others, the citizens of these nations also went on to win the coveted Nobels.
Also, in the wider world there are also new developments. The democratic nations like the USA and other EU countries are almost silent on the IS crisis in Syria while the Russian President, Putin, is sending his missiles into Syria.
We have to remind ourselves that Russia is not a democracy we know it.
While India is also a democracy, the recent events, the Dadri massacre and other developments have led to much heart-burn and worry among the thinking sections of India.
In a significant development writers like the Nehruvian ideologue( I think we can call her so considering the huge contributions she had made)had returned her Sahitya Academic award and following her example other luminaries like the famed Hindi poet, Ashok Vajpei, one more Sahitya award winner and now latest Sashi Despande also had returned their awards.
Of course, there is still not any strong protest again Mr.Modi’s very many contradictory behaviour.
We, Indians, are known for our character deficiencies. We usually don’t go against the current, rather we try to sail with the wind.
So, there is a question mark on the horizon. Is the Indian democracy on the progressive ascent? Or, is it on the descent? We are failing arrest from the standards we have learnt to be our own, our own Indian democratic standards.
Secularism, plurality, toelrance and the co-existence of dissent and debate. India has to rise up in the comity of nations that we have something to contribute by way of new ideas and bold innovations to take the democratic values to a new high.
Unlike as we see even in the USA, currently shown as our role model to imitate, both by the reigning leaders of the two countries and also by the much-feted Indian disaspora.Mr.Narednra Modi might not be taken very seriously. His priorities are different from what the genuine Indian concerns are.
Or, unlike some of the American practices like lack of civility in the police administration, lax gun control and the latest widely perceived racial discrimination in admissions to the Ivy League universities and also in jobs in higher levels.
The point here is that America is no more a destination for millions of Indians who dream of an American Dream.
At that distance, there looms a not so beautiful a dream. The ugly realities, it is time to take note of. It is the duty of Indian thinkers to outline out own critical observations of America, American democratic values.
Compare and also contrast what strengths Indian democratic institutions have and what needs to be done here.
The time for submissive surrender to foreign intellectual manipulations, either from the USA or from other countries. India has been for long a colony. This colonial bondage still hangs heavy on the Indian minds.
My view is that to improve our democratic standards we need new ideas, bold ideas and these new ideas won’t come from the government alone. It often doesn’t take place. Ruling politicians, the political elite, seized as they are with their own frenzied enthusiasm, throw overboard even what little refinements we had practised so far.
Many institutions like, for instance, Lokayukta, are downgraded or weakened. There are so many such deviations.
Indian intellectuals speak out
So, intellectuals and experts, those committed to higher values, must stand up and speak out.
Let us draw inspirations from this year’s Nobel awards. India must become a mature society and our democracy a mature one.