DemoNOcracy is Here – Readers offer ways out

The article “Democracy turns into DemoNOcracy!!” authored by Prof. Bal Ram Singh published on 22nd May, 2019. The title itself of the article said a lot about Prof. Singh’s view. According to Singh the purpose of the piece was not exactly to provide road map and solutions, rather raise the consciousness of intellectuals towards the problem. Therefore, VedicWAVES blog sought response from the readers of the blog.

(Source of Image: https://mastergolflivestream.com/image/democracy-clipart-government-bill/459473.html#gal_post_480_democracy-clipart-government-bill-7.jpg )

Readers were requested to consider the following questions: 

1. Whether readers are agree with the observation. 

2. What maybe the reason? 

3. What can be done from Vedic view?

Below are the short responses received –

Prof. Girish Nath Jha, Dean, School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Agree with your observation. In fact, just yesterday I was wondering [if] someone [had] compiled all the invectives used in this election. It would be a good linguistics resource for research.

The reason why politicians are using these into quickly to hone their message in a very short time. The audience would perhaps remember these more than plain talk.

The Vedic way of sound democratic ways is not possible today. The closest that we can go would be to promote leadership with Tyāga and general wellbeing of others as the guiding principles.

Dr. Pandita Indrani Rampersad, Trinidad and Tobago

I agree for a code of ethics for politicians on the campaign trail. Leaders should show restraint in speech and conduct. I found nothing wrong with the ‘termite’ metaphor because of what a termite does – it works silently from within and before you know it, your entire house falls down like a pack of cards. It is an appropriate metaphor for campaign rhetoric.

Political speech is not in the realm of religious or academic discourse. There is the element of ‘warring opponents’ – nothing wrong with that. However, while being feisty, the campaign rhetoric should aim not to injure and hurt the personhood of the ‘other’ – stick to the issues not personalities. The subtle, artistic, bringing down of your opponent with words is to be enjoyed as the art of debating. It should not descend into ridicule and slander.

Sumit Ganguly’s analysis is from a leftist perspective and nationalism for these folks is not a welcome concept. I disagree with their consistent recourse to demonization of minorities. It’s simply not true. Minorities in India have greater privileges and protections than many other parts of the world and are used by leftist activists seeking favours in foreign countries. Uplift of the economically disadvantaged is more pressing than identity politics in India. Chandra Bhan Prasad’s comment is puerile.

Criminalization in Indian politics is a real issue. Remove goondas and corruption.

India needs a vision to manage its great diversity and the socio-economic and spiritual development of its citizens. India is the spiritual capital of the world. A return to the principles of Rām Rājya is mandatory. Let the state provide the social and economic conditions for development so that people may actualize their highest goals of spirituality. 

India has to be constantly vigilant about external cultural, economic and political forces that see it citizens as ideal consumers. India has to be constantly vigilant about the constant threat to its sovereignty, for near and far, especially its neighbours.

Dr. Raju Chidambaram, USA

Democracy is a basically good concept, perhaps the second best one can have other than a Rāmraj led by a dhārmic monarch.

The problem is the Party system that plagues all democracies. Cooperation (the Yajña spirit of Gīta) needed for progress is not possible in a party-based democracy.

How do we enforce parties to cooperate? Every two years in the US the election should be about the entire House of Representatives. Instead of choosing individuals, the people should decide “Has the House worked for the people in the last 2 years? If so, all of them return for the next 2 years. If not none of them will be allowed to run for re-election and every seat filled with a new comer”. Drastic idea, maybe, but it might force all representatives to cooperate for the good of the country in order to stay elected.

Sh. Rishi Pal Chauhan, Jiva Institute, Faridabad.

I agree with your observations. Earlier social workers used to join politics. They not only used to understand the culture of the nation but lived that in their day to day life. Their life was for nation.

In seventies people started keeping muscle man. In eighties muscle man started join politics. Now people with money power and criminal record join politics.

There should be basic qualification for a politician. He should submit his achievement about the knowledge of the culture of India and the record of social work practically achieved in his constituency He should submit his individual plan for five years. There should be review of his work after every year. He or she did not achieve as per the satisfaction of people he should get grading. There should be basic qualification of voter also.

Sh. Lallan Prasad Pandey, Former Income Tax Officer, Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Yes I agree with the observations made in the write up, given above. 

I think that people see the power politics an opportunity to make money and enjoy power as this was previous trend.

Democratic system of India has provisions and institutions for check and balance. But now a days there needs to come forward the learned and right thinking people to observe the conduct of Parliamentarians and issue public warnings of their observations. Some proper learning courses may be conducted for new members.

डा राजकुमारी त्रिखा, पूर्व अध्यापिका, संस्कृत, मैत्रेयी महाविद्यालय, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय, दिल्ली

डॉक्टर बलराम सिंह ने बहुत सुंदर विश्लेषण करके भारतीय राजनीति की तस्वीर प्रस्तुत की है। यह सच है कि हमारे राजनेताओं ने इलेक्शन के दौरान अनेक प्रकार के आरोप-प्रत्यारोप एक दूसरे पर लगाए, जो कि हमारी संस्कृति और नैतिकता के विरुद्ध है ।

जहां तक अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का प्रश्न है , कुछ बोलने से पहले यह सोचना जरूरी है कि हमारी बातें नैतिकता के विरूद्ध न हों। हमें अपनी डेमोक्रेसी को डेमोनोक्रेसी बनने से रोकना होगा, जो कि गिरते हुए नैतिक स्तर के कारण लगभग असंभव सा लगता है। भ्रष्टाचार में आकंठ डूबी अधिकांश जनता और भ्रष्ट विरोधी पार्टियों से भरे हुए देश में डेमोक्रेसी फेल है। यहां तो समुचित और त्वरित दंड व्यवस्था, और सीमित राजतंत्र वाली ऐसी शासन पद्धति होनी चाहिये जैसी महाभारत में बताई गई है। वहां मंत्रिमंडल का कार्य था राज्य के हित को देखते हुए कानून, नियम बनाना और राजा का कार्य था उन कानूनों और नियमों को जनता में सख्ती से लागू करना। कानून के विरुद्ध आचरण करनेवाले को अपराधानुकूल निष्पक्ष दण्ड देना। यदि राजा अपने इस कार्य में असफल होता था, तो उसे गति सिंहासन से उतारा भी जा सकता था। यही उचित राजधर्म है।  महाभारत में इसी व्यवस्था को आदर्श शासन पद्धति कहा गया है। परंतु दुख की बात है कि भ्रष्टाचारी जनता और विरोधी पार्टियों के रहते हुए इस तरह का परिवर्तन संभव प्रतीत नहीं होता। फिर भी ईश्वर से प्रार्थना है कि वह हमारे नेताओं को सद्बुद्धि दे और भारत को नैतिक दृष्टि से भी समृद्ध राष्ट्र बनायें।

Prof. R.P. Singh, Professor, Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

In Vedas, Asuras were not demonized. Demonization started in the Purānas and Epics. Since then it has been happening in one way or another. Britishers were called as mylekshas (म्लेच्छ). There is a lack public morality and predominance of civil society over the State. It will give rise to the State to become authoritative. I appreciate the paper through and through nostalgic.

Mrs. Shagufa Afzal, Principal, Kuruom Vidyalaya, Kuruown, Uttar Pradesh

First of all Sir, the content is mind blowing and is the true scene of our prevailing so called democracy. I truly agree with it. There’s no more the taste of democracy, instead every leader now just puts each other’s name down which really gives a bad impression to everyone.

According to me the reason is selfishness of political leaders. Now what has become the point that everyone somehow or the other just wants the rule …politicians instead of serving nation, they have developed the mentality of serving their pockets. Development has become a faraway point. They just put each other’s name down to move ahead.

Lastly, according to me as in each n every competition certain education is necessary, likewise it should be made mandatory for politicians as well to be qualified because its education which can mentality and bring in good leaders to the show!!

Sh.Yogendra Bhardwaj, Research Scholar, Sanskrit, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Nice thought by you (Prof.Singh)

राजनीति में मतभेद होना संभव है, किन्तु मतभेद नहीं होना चाहिए। भारतीय संस्कृति में राजनीति के अंतर्गत ऐसी नीतियों के निर्धारण का मार्ग प्रशस्त होता है, जिसका अंतिम लक्ष्य “लोककल्याण” होता है।

Ms.Ami Shah, Corporate Legal Expert, Mumbai

Yes totally agree with the observation… The demon of politics is clearly visible now… The status has gone down significantly.

Today the scenario is such that they want to win at any cost. Losing is not am option as their fake reputation is at stake and for that they can go to any extent even if they gave to lose your moral values. They attack at personal levels… They attack your family and your morals. They attack at your weakest links. It has become a battle with no rules, just win at any cost.

In my opinion the best way to improve the practice of democracy is to conduct elections every five year plus conducting voting out every year… This will be an added responsibility and fear of getting removed in the minds of those who are elected. They won’t take their positions for granted. Introducing e-voting system to implement this. Apart from this education is a must to improve the practice of democracy.

Our View

The responders are unanimous in holding politicians responsible for the deterioration of the discourse of democracy to demonocracy. The reasons range from selfishness, no rules of engagements, criminalization of the politics, lack of public morality, power politics and money, party-based democracy, and expedient short term political gains

It is interesting that most of the readers feel that there should be some level of accountability and a provision to recall and/or the elected representatives for lack of progress on promises made. Education and training of politicians are needed, and perhaps principles of sacrifice for public good, following dhārmic principles need to be introduced and  encouraged. The concept of Rāmrajya needs to be invoked.

We feel intellectuals and policy makers need to look at the history of governance in India for inspiration of a system that can serve India’s diverse population without creating acrimony and divisiveness currently being practiced. It is important to be willing to storm out of a system that is becoming detrimental to the nation.

Editorial Team, Vedic WAVES

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Democracy turns into DemoNOcracy!!

Prof.Bal Ram Singh

There have much talk about the demonization of republicans and democrats in the United States especially since Donald Trump became candidate for the position of President. He called his opponent as crooked Hillary, and Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters as basket of deplorables.

But Indian leaders, perhaps taking some cue from the politicians of the oldest democracy, yet certainly adding their own ugly flavors to it.

“There are remarkable parallels in terms of this kind of highly prejudicial and extremely parochial nationalism that both Modi and Trump have promoted and have sought to demonize minorities.”, said Sumit Ganguly, a leftist and Tagore Chair Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Indiana University at Bloomington in an interview on April 9, 2019 with Council of Foreign Relations).

Some examples of low level stench are given below:

Modi while campaigning in Himachal Pradesh for Assembly Election, branded the main opposition party Congress as termites and called the electorates to wipe them out: “There should not be one polling booth where this termite called Congress be allowed to thrive.”

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Kejriwal had recently called Modi “a Coward and a psychopath” (Outlook India, 06 November 2017)

In 2007 campaign for the Gujarat assembly election, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had indirectly accused Modi and his government as “merchants of death” (Oulook India, 06 NOVEMBER 2017)

In an article on May 20, 2019 The New York Times wrote several disturbing statements on democracy in view of the Indian elections.

“In Hungary, Viktor Orban demonized immigrants and secured an expansion of his power. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan purged his enemies and won a new term. In Australia, Scott Morrison shrugged off calls for tougher carbon-emissions rules and was unexpectedly kept on as leader.

And in India, where the world’s biggest parliamentary election appears to be boiling down to a binary choice — Yes or No on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “

“Trump and Modi are twins separated by continents,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a well-known political commentator, and dalit activist. “Both are against knowledge, they consider the past as the golden period, they consider themselves the center of gravity.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India during a roadshow in Varanasi, India, April, 2019 – credit Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Observers are looking at this people polarizing trend with disdain. 

“…the social media cells of the BJP and the INC seem to be projecting their star campaigners as populist leaders, demonising each other’s parties and supporters, and polarising the voters along religious lines.”, wrote Dr. Sangeeta Mahapatra, LSE Blog, January 11, 2019

“He can’t take care of his wife, he will take care of Indians?,” Mamata Banerjee said during a rally in Bishnupur. (India Today, New Delhi, May 6, 2019). She refused to even take a call from the Prime Minister to discuss the relief work on the cyclone, saying she did not recognize him as the Prime Minister of India!

“Who knew you (Modi) before you became the Prime Minister? Even now, nobody knows the name of your father. (Former Union minister Vilasrao Muttemwar, November 25, 2018).

At one time a BJP MLA, Heeralal Regar, declared his intention to “strip” Sonia and Rahul and transport them to Italy

BJP minister “Sadhvi” Niranjan Jyoti asked a gathering to choose between “Ramzaadon (followers of Lord Ram)” and “haramzaadon (illegitimately born)”

Mani Shankar Aiyar discovered Modi to be a “neech kism ka aadmi (a lowly person)”.

In 2014, a video of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal went viral, where he could be seen openly threatening to rape women members of the opposition (India Today, July 20, 2016).

“I am from Chandannagar. Leaders are created by workers. I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you have the guts, then stop me… If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won’t spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape,” Pal said.

SP leader Mualayam Singh Yadav had shocked the nation’s conscience when he wondered aloud (about BSP leader Mayawati): “Is she so beautiful that anyone should want to rape her?

“Smriti Irani sits beside leaders like Nitin Gadkari and talks about changing the Constitution. Let me tell you a thing about Smriti Irani. She wears a big ‘bindi’ on her forehead and someone told me that when a woman changes her husbands frequently, the size of her ‘bindi’ keeps growing,” (Jaydeep Kawade, a leader from Maharashtra-based People’s Republican Party).

Insey bada kayar, insey kamjor Pradhan Mantri main jeevan me nahi dekha, (I haven’t seen a more coward and weaker PM than him in my life).” (Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, May 9, 2019)

Chowkidar (Modi) chor hai”  a phrase invented by Rahul Gandhi for 2019 elections, with nearly no truth in it as asserted by the Supreme Court of India when it made Rahul Gandhi apologize for justifying the phrase by attributing it to the honorable court.

While these utterances may have been said in the heat of political campaigns, the fact that one has to come down to this level reveals the true nature of democracy which can in fact be very dangerous in places like India with unparallel history, philosophy, continuing culture, diversity of nature, humans, languages, and freedom of thoughts.

On the other hand, when Sadhvi Pragya Singh said that she had cursed Hemant Karkare, the police officer who had supervised her torture in jail, she was banned from campaigning for three days by India’s Election Commission. This is the situation in so called free India where a person is not allowed to even moan for the extreme torture meted out to her physically and mentally!

Such a deterioration in discourses can (and perhaps meant to) be divisive and destructive to a society. In other words, democracy has become demonocracy!!

As a silver lining, it may in fact provide a pause to think of an alternative system of governance, at least for India, if not the entire world.  

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA & Board Member, WAVES-International