The bed-rock of democratic governance is discipline. And, if the bed-rock, the very foundation, is missing all the structures, the legislature, the executive, and, the judiciary collapse, like a house of cards, with the slightest of tremors. Yes, all the cards come down in a heap with just the jokers standing. The democratic governance is then reduced to a joke, writes Prof H C Pande
Democracy had its birth in Athens, and died within a span of 200 years. Since then it has been taking rebirth over the centuries. Each time, other than the spelling, the form is different. From the Magna Carta to the French revolution, on to the American revolution, the Russian revolution and the Chinese revolution, the proclaimed precepts have ranged, from no one including the King is above the law, to liberty, equality and fraternity, to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, to social equality and public ownership of wealth. The visualisations are different such as Athenian democracy, people’s democracy, basic democracy etc. but the central theme remains, that is, equality before the law and empowering the people to have their say in determining public policy.
The equality of all, the major root of democracy, is, now, no longer absolute but in
it’s down-to-earth form is, in George Orwell’s words “All men are equal but some men are more equal than others”. This is the immutable truth of the human society which may only be negated in college debates or in political rallies and election manifestos. Plato had envisioned, for democratic governance, an ideal situation, in which the ruling class would be capable of material self- denial, and, content, without gold or goods, and would consider it an honour to be of service to the community. Plato’s vision is so ideal as to be non-existent.
In the real world, with real people, the successful functioning of an organisation only depends on the disciplined compliance of the rules and regulations and not on the kind people, whether the compliance is self-imposed, or, enforced, is another matter. Unlike the totalitarian governance where disciplined rulers suffice, successful democratic governance, requires self-imposed discipline on the part of , the rulers, and, the ruled, alike.
We, as people, elected, selected or otherwise, have to understand that the D of democracy does not stand for disorderly debates, disruptive demonstrations, and, dishonest deals, but. rather for disciplined dialogues, disciplined displays and disciplined deeds. The bed-rock of democratic governance is discipline. And, if the bed-rock, the very foundation, is missing all the structures, the legislature, the executive, and, the judiciary collapse, like a house of cards, with the slightest of tremors. Yes, all the cards come down in a heap with just the jokers standing. The democratic governance is then reduced to a joke.
The majestic buildings housing the Legislature,,the Secretariat and the Court are imposing and robust structures and are capable of withstanding any earthquake.However,the structures of,rules of parliamentary procedures,rules of executive business,and,the codes of law,rest on the shifting foundations of indisciplined people which are unable to withstand the tiniest flutter of temptation,be it political or pecuniary or moral,and keep falling all the time.
The code word for dynamic,democratic development is discipline with capital D.
(Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus , BITS, Mesra)