Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Indian democracy stands out as a landmark in this part of the Asian continent. It has crossed the half century mark and it is going strong with the passage of time. Contrast this with military juntas in some of the neighboring countries.

However, democracy without discipline is like body without a soul. If there is no discipline, democracy degenerates into a mobocracy. Democracy is a liberal form of governance a system of government by the whole population, through elected representation a true form of self-rule. Lack of discipline in democracy can justify Plato's criticism that democracy is the divine right of ignorant people to rule ignorantly.

It is true that democracy is based on the freewill of the people who are supreme and sovereign. There is a wrong notion that in democracy there are only rights and no duties. The fact remains that rights and duties go hand in hand together.

In a democracy there are fair elections and you can exercise your franchise freely. There is freedom of expression and the press is freely. There is freedom of expression and the press is free too. Grievances are redressed through constitutional and not-violent means. Violence has no place in a democratic setup.

Everything is fair in love and war but it is not so in a democracy. Democracy calls for a high degree of discipline, respect for the views of others and full faith in equality, fairplay and justice. Politics has to be spiritualized by inculcating moral discipline. This is what Gandhi emphasized. If the people wish to enjoy their rights, must be prepared to perform as well.

In the world only those countries whose people are disciplined have made progress. The economies of Japan and West Germany were completely shattered during the Second World War, yet they were able to rebuild owing to dedicated work of disciplined citizens. They have achieved phenomenal success in science and technology and industry. Both Japan and West Germany are democratic countries.

On the other hand, if a country lacks discipline and decorum, it is bound to be overtaken by dictatorship. Military dictators are another name of one-man rule. The people suffer and there is no progress. Only the dictator and his coterie benefit personally. People have no say in the country's governance.

In contrast, citizens can enjoy the fruits of democracy. For instance, in Switzerland, people are so disciplined and hardworking that they have made their country synonymous with democracy. The people have become prosperous by dint of their industrious temperament. Size of the country does not matter.

We in India have opted for a democratic form of government. We have to prove that we are competent of self-rule which calls for imbibing the spirit of discipline with a view to making a success of the mode of management that we have given to ourselves.

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