Winston Churchill said, ‘Democracy is not perfect. Alternatives are worse.’
It is becoming clear by the day that the young living in democratic countries are becoming not only disillusioned with democracy but also with parliamentarians. Democracy is surviving, but it is not thriving. Many well educated young men and women openly say, “Democracy is not the solution, democracy is the problem.” They quote George Bernard Shaw, “Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many by the corrupt few.”
Other critics announce that democracy today exhibits arrested development. They proclaim that “We do not want the politics we have but the politics (democracy) we need.”
Should democracy be at the mercy of public opinion? But public opinion tolerates vulgarization and foul language in Parliament, thus lowering drastically the level of democratic discourse. Even in developed countries of North East Asia highly educated Members of Parliament tear each other’s clothes, throw chairs at the Speaker. What passes as debate is little more than spectacle.
There was a time when non-democratic countries outnumbered democratic countries in 1950s—the communist “Empire” extended from Vladivostok to Warsaw, from Ulaanbaatar to Canton and Hanoi. Not too long ago the whole of South America was ruled by dictators. Democracy in Africa, with the exception of half a dozen countries has yet to take root. Elections are rigged.
Now to the United States. Some days ago it was rumoured that if the election results on 4.XI.2020 went against him, i.e., President Donald Trump, he would not accept the results. Even as gossip it harms American democracy. Recently, TV channels in the USA broadcast that Mr Trump would steal the election!! How? Could such irresponsible talk be heard in the time of Roosevelt, Truman or Kennedy? Of course Mr Trump will accept the verdict. America is the greatest democracy in the world. It is second oldest after the United Kingdom. No fundamental innovation in election results will be tolerated. Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is not perfect. Alternatives are worse.”
India’s flawed democracy works. That it works is a miracle. But assaults are being attempted. These will fail. A democrat like Indira Gandhi committed the folly of declaring Emergency in 1975 and permitted her younger son to run riot. She lost her own Lok Sabha seat in the elections of Lok Sabha. She had the good sense to terminate the Emergency in December 1979. By January 1980 she was back as Prime Minister. Indian democracy had won.
Election in Bihar (at one time experts in booth capturing) and other states are due. In no state will the results be challenged. Individuals, here and there will file petitions.
Unfortunately, crores of rupees will be spent in each Vidhan Sabha contest. It is well known where the money will come from. Shame on those who provide the money and shame on those who seek it.
Earlier in the week I read, Portrait of Power by N.K. Singh, a genuine man for all seasons. In his long career he has never been without a job. Among his many gifts is his knack of swiftly spotting amiable, inspired, dedicated, conscientious frauds.
The book is gripping, clear headed, written in excellent but Babu English. I found the first one hundred and seventy five pages immensely riveting. My forte is history. N.K. Singh is an economics and financial expert. In this world, so unfamiliar to me, the author knows everyone worth knowing. Even fellow economist and finance gurus will, I have no doubt, learn a thing or two from the book.
I have been reviewing the books since 1955, when N.K. was fourteen years of age. Long years ago, I took a decision not to review books written by friends (exceptions there have been). I shall not review Portraits of Power, not only because he is a close friend of long standing, but also because our wives are closely related.
Let me quote a scintillating paragraph from the epilogue: “This will be a decisive decade both for India and the World. The ongoing pandemic triggered by COVID-19 has few parallels in history. Apart from inflicting incalculable human misery and death, it has significantly altered, perhaps forever, several important paradigms; the nature of social behaviour, the pattern of economic activity and the acceptance of technology more decisively in the future conduct of our lives. Nations that master these challenges are destined to both guarantee greater prosperity to their people and become important stakeholders in the global recovery process.”