We have adopted the system of governance, prevailing across the seven seas, without understanding the possible pit-falls, writes Prof. H C Pande
Every reputed drug company,along with every drug,supplies the information,as to it’s dosage & effects of overdose,it’s the possible side-effects,its contra-indications and the precautions to be undertaken.Doctors do assimilate the information while prescribing the drug,but the intelligent patient always scans it as well,to make sure that any of the directions have not been overlooked.
Plato did the same when he came up with the system of governance called democracy more than 2000 years ago.He warned that excess of its dosage would lead to the downfall of governance,the side effect would be that the elected leaders in charge of governance would get intoxicated with power and fall for loaves & fishes of office.He also made it clear,that for the rulers in democracy,possession of property,money,gold & luxury goods are contra indicated.As to the precautions,Plato could only advise that methods should be devised of barring incompetence and knavery from public office and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good.
It was unfortunate that the whole army of India’s socio-political leaders did not heed the instructions of Plato,or,may be,did not even care to read them,resulting in the current social and political mess.
First of all, democracy is not unlimited individual or class freedom.The dose of freedom is clearly prescribed.If your freedom leads to restrictions for someone else then it is an overdose,which is not permitted.Today,in the name of freedom of speech & expression, individuals mouth obscenities,slap unfounded charges,circulate fake news,indulge in character assassination,and,tell lies of every color,whenever they like,and,wherever they like.Unions,even of essential services,go on strike at will,disrupting train services,disturbing hospital care,discontinuing electricity and water supply and so on.Political parties block offices & roads,students boycott classes as do teachers.,all in the name of democracy.And for some reason,unknown to Plato,the right to engineer riots & create public disturbance,is now considered an essential part of democratic freedoms.This is lethal overdose,enough to kill the patient several times over.
As to the side effects of democratic governance in India,,one come across only a handful of persons,elected by the people,to any of the high offices,who remain sober and are not drunk with authority.All soon imbibe,Aqua Auctoritas 200 proof,and,are busy munching away every available loaf in sight and hooking every fish within their reach.Appointments,Contracts,deals and jobs are given to the chosen people,chosen by the powers-that-be,without caring for the rules in force,exemplifying that power corrupts,the unavoidable side effect of democracy.In the name of heritage,legacy, precedence,or whatever,the ruling class,has reserved for it-self,all the comforts,privileges, and honors enjoyed by the rulers of yesteryear.
Plato’s advice on precautions has been followed,more in breach than in observance,
by creating a system which effectively allows people with shady past and shady present to contest the elections and get elected to any public office.Once elected, such representatives of the people,put public interest in the shade and ensure that their own interests bloom in the sun-shine of power.
We have adopted the system of governance, prevailing across the seven seas, without understanding the possible pit-falls.We imported the drug and administered it,single shot,ignoring the instructions and have a case of an overdosed patient.The recovery is still possible.Firstly,from overdose,the drug has to be brought down to normal levels and we should be prepared to handle the withdrawal reactions.Secondly we have to carefully watch the side effects and ensure their being within limits.Finally,and,most importantly,the treatment has to be carried out by a competent medical team.
In terms of analogy,the last requirement means,that,for the democratic system of governance,incompetence and knavery,has to be barred from public office.This is where we have failed and democracy has gone crazy.
(Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus , BITS, Mesra)