Thursday, June 13, 2019
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Last week I attended a lecture by noted American political philosopher and author Francis Fukuyama in London. The celebrity author was speaking on “Exploring Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition”. It was a ticketed event but the hall was packed largely with young people but a fair amount of senior elderly academics and a few wanderers like me had also found their way to the venue. We all wanted to listen to one of the most eminent political thinkers of our times. For me, it was a rare privilege to listen to Professor Fukuyama in person whose all books I have read religiously and often followed his lectures on You Tube.
Friday, September 28, 2018
September 28, 2018
Amidst ongoing debate on the
crisis of democracy, it becomes pertinent to pose a question: what
differentiates a good democracy from the rest of the political systems? All
democracies have not attained the same level of maturity and hence there would
be multiple answers. Nevertheless, some of the essential features that
differentiate advanced democracies from the evolving ones are the security of
physical and social spaces and supportive or helpful approach of the
functionaries of the state. In a democracy, people enjoy a higher degree of
sense of psychological security that the state would treat them fairly and
justly. Ironically, this trust has not gained much ground in most of the
democracies in the developing world or at best this has been inconsistent.
Another aspect of an
advanced or good democracy is the higher degree of trust enjoyed by elected
representatives and un-elected state functionaries that they would act fairly,
with integrity and to the best of their capability to protect all legitimate
interests of the people as a whole or society or state. It’s a different matter
that such trust quotient has started declining even in some of the most
established democracies, which is a key challenge today. Authoritarian systems, despite providing
certain efficient public services fail to offer this sense of security to their
people that a) the State would act with fairness; b) the due process of law would be observed;
c) their dignity, life and liberty are secure; and d) they can vent their
criticism of functionaries of the state or express their views on any political
issue. Today, many of these aspects are getting increasingly compromised subtly
even in some of the advanced democracies and missing in varying degrees in most
of the democracies in the developing world. If such a trend continues, there is
a serious possibility that we could soon come to a stage where the difference
between democracy and non-democracy could be reduced only in degree but not in
Different watchdogs and
similar institutions in different parts of the world, committed to the idea of
upholding, promoting and building democracy, have been measuring and evaluating
the quality of democracy and freedom in different parts of the world based on
well-devised criteria. Many of these are fairly good indicators of prevailing
levels of freedom and democracy in the societies they have surveyed. However,
if the challenge is building high-quality democracy or enhancing capacities of
democracies to provide optimal quality of governance, such evaluations or
measurement of democracies offer very limited perspective. Basic freedom and
rights of individuals and a high degree of media freedom, administered by an
independent judiciary, are critical but not adequate or strong enough in
themselves to sustain democracy. Democracy requires building such conditions
and institutions which can thrive and evolve on their own to provide optimal
conditions of life by mobilizing the collective energies of people. Optimal
conditions of life include round security - including personal, economic,
social and collective, apart from the dignity and equitable access to
Hence, Democracy, at its
most advanced stage of evolution, implies not merely selection of their
representatives through popular choice but also a right to select the most
suitable incumbents who can work without fear or hindrance in the collective
interests of the entire citizenry. The spirit and objectives of democracy get
defeated if people cannot select optimally good candidates who in turn are not
able to create optimally good institutions.
political processes are expected to throw up wise men and women with integrity
and commitment to represent people to optimise overall governance capacity of
their society. Societies that have moved in this direction are certainly doing
better than the rest. Political leadership requires not merely capacity,
skills, and commitment to building institutions, but also broader acceptability
and credibility to lead. In fragmented societies, where people divided based on
their identities - ethnic, linguistic, religious or social etc- probably it
will be nearly impossible to have broadly acceptable leaders. If the objective
of democracy is to provide optimum choices to people to select the best
possible government, the very mobilisation of opinion in politics on these
lines strikes at the roots of democracy, undermining their overall governance
output. Hence, the threat to democracy from populism is something that can
potentially destroy institutions and create space for another form fascism or
Further, any society can
grow and evolve optimally only to the extent that they synergise individual
liberty, freedom and initiative with larger social or group interests. This has
been one of the key strengths of democracy that drove societies in the
developed Western countries to higher levels of economic, educational and
scientific advancements. Authoritarian systems suppress individual liberties of
an overwhelming majority of the people for the so-called larger social or
collective interests, democracies trust individuals to exercise their freedom
in a manner that contributes to larger social interests while preserving their
In the contemporary era, human sensibilities
disapprove of the idea of tyranny of the majority over the minority or
vice-versa. Hence, democracy is expected to envision the larger interests of
people as indivisible for purposes of governance. If multiple groups start
vying for promoting their respective identity and interests at the cost of
others, democracy may appear a war among contending groups through non-violent
means. In reality, it is difficult to define peoples’ interests in indivisible
terms, especially in larger heterogeneous societies. Issues like rule of law,
good criminal justice system and good regulatory and enabling capacity of
states in certain basic areas like healthcare, education, civic services etc
are something that cuts across requirements of people across all dividing
lines. Beyond these, people in different categories are indeed different and
equity warrants that they are treated accordingly.
democracies, from developed to developing world, do extend special support to
identified vulnerable groups varying from economically and physically
challenged to other special groups like the aboriginal or tribal population to
socially vulnerable groups. However, the extension of privileges or special
status based on religious, ethnic or linguistic identity, rather than any
need-based welfare objective identified with the welfare state, is a different
issue. In many of the evolving democracies in both Africa and Asia, such
discrimination seems a reality in practice. These puncture the idea of
indivisibility of collective identity and interests of people as a whole for
political gains. Freedom House, V-Dem or other institutions, which are
committed to studying, evaluation or promotion of democracy, do consider it an aberration
or a form of political corruption or vote-buying. Mature democracies have done
better in reconciling such conflicting group identities and eliminating space
for political exploitation of such identity-based discrimination. Strong
institutional safeguards further help them in this direction, which remains a
challenge in many of the evolving democracies, where at times institutions
appear mute spectators to different forms of political gerrymandering,
undermining both the quality of freedom and governance in these democracies.
The counter-narrative to this proposition is forwarded by those who claim that
most of the established democracies are fairly homogeneous societies, where
smaller minority groups just didn’t matter in elections.
Democracy’s another strength,
at least on paper, lays in its ability to build up the high quality of human
resources and throw up equally high-quality leaders in every field. The principle of egalitarianism in the era of
welfare state empowers people by giving them a fair and equitable opportunity
to grow and evolve. If this process is genuinely strong and sturdy, with an
element of fair competition, then both the quality of population and quality of
incumbents in leadership roles improves. This should automatically push up the
very trajectory of all-round growth or progress of democratic societies to a
much higher level compared to those in the authoritarian societies. At least,
in theory, there are greater incentives and opportunities for people to excel
in a democracy compared to non-democracies. However, one of the prime
challenges confronting democracy at this stage is the saturation of some of its
existing practices and procedures to take democracy to a higher level of
“Democracy” has travelled a long way from its medieval era ideals of minimal government interference and natural rights espoused by ‘social contract’ philosophers like Hobbes, Locke or Rousseau. Libertarian goals of freedom of speech, thought and expression as espoused by John Stuart Mill and others or the Bentham’s concept of ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ or so many similar ideas on democracy and Justice explained philosophers like Tocqueville, Rawls, Schumpeter or Putnam etc cannot explain contemporary understanding of Democracy entirely. Even Abraham Lincoln's description of democracy as ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’ appears inadequate to describe democracy in our times or at least the popular expectations from it. The idea of democracy has gradually evolved to a stage, at least in the model societies, where people expect their government, elected through a process of free and fair polls on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and supported by a large number of professionally managed autonomous institutions, to provide an optimally secure, egalitarian society with equitable access to economic opportunities and uniform access to ‘Rule of Law’. Democracies in different parts of the world are able to provide these to varying extents, depending upon the level of their evolution and maturity. At the same time, most democracies, both in developed and developing world, are struggling to address different forms of distortions and challenges, which threaten the very future of democracy as the most desirable form of government.
Individual initiatives, ideas and leaderships have played crucial role in evolution of Democracy to its current stage. However, it has not been a unilinear, consistent and well-defined process. Democracy has come to this form of elaborate structures of representative institutions through an exercise of continuous trial and refinement and yet we cannot say with certainty whether the existing structures and formats of Democracy, anywhere in the world, have reached their optimum capacity or these are adequate to meet popular aspirations. Further, contemporary representative democracy, despite all its common essential features, also has certain distinct traits in almost every region and every part of the world. These have been shaped by local contexts including socio-economic and cultural realities. Consequently, in certain societies or socio-cultural milieu, democracy has advanced to provide a higher level of governance as well as social harmony, whereas in many others, it is still struggling to take firm roots. Those from democratic societies shall always find representative government with free press, individual freedom and autonomous judiciary as the most credible form of Government. Its imperfections and flaws may appear only as aberrations requiring remedial measures. Hence, it is important to analyse understanding of democracy in contemporary context.
in our times has different meanings in different contexts or societies for
different people. In many parts of the developing world, it may just be a
process of election and some degree of media freedom with some semblance of
rule of law like mechanism, which need not be consistently and uniformly
upheld. Whereas in some of the advanced democracies, it may be a comprehensive
charter of obligations to ensure universal access to optimally good conditions
for life. Financial elite in most countries, may interpret democracy as freedom
to pursue their business and commercial interests with minimum interference, or
if possible all the support from state
apparatus both within and beyond the country. In certain cases, it may be
simply be opportunity to navigate their way to greater wealth by. For political
elite it seems all the opportunity to pursue
political power, or if possible, unbridled power without any institutional interference.
For media and civil society groups, it may mean anything depending upon their
orientation, from influence, name, clout or in certain societies even easy
wealth. Masses may different expectations. From economic security to
transparent public services. However, the lowest common denominator would be
all round security to live with dignity where state defends individuals from
both internal and external threats besides providing fair and reasonable
opportunities. Elections and public
accountability appear the best route to ensure such a system and hence these
are integral features of democracy which are now upheld through elaborate
structures of representative government.
post second world-war era, when most of the post-colonial countries were
adopting democracy, and in many of these places, democracy is still struggling
to take firm roots, some of the advanced
nations of the West were transitioning to a welfare centric model with highly transparent
and efficient public services, at least in most parts of the Western Europe, and
particularly Nordic countries, North America, Japan and New Zealand etc. Consequently,
all political systems - democracies or otherwise- have been under varying
degrees of pressure to replicate citizen-centric welfare model, with efficient
public services. It’s a different issue that most of them have been struggling to varying extents
of resource crunch or deficient institutions or pressure from alternative
forces who wield far direct or indirect clout and derive their strength or
power or influence from perpetuation of weak institutions. Nevertheless, most of
the democracies even in the developing world have made varying degrees of
attempts to move in the direction of welfare state model. However, their
success has been limited. For example, all larger stable democracies like India, Indonesia, South
Africa and Brazil etc have introduced different forms of social security or
financial assistance or unemployment subsidy or old age pension to their
vulnerable population in respective categories.
Nevertheless, these are not comparable with the quality of impact that
their counterpart schemes have made in advanced democracies. State support in
social and healthcare sectors has come under pressure even in the advanced
countries. A large majority of democracies in the developing world are
struggling to provide universal access to some of the basic necessities of life
like nutrition, healthcare, quality education, consistent and uniform access to
even rule of law or rights guaranteed on paper etc. At the same time, they are
also struggling to establish credibility of even their electoral processes and
democratic political order derives strength from its society, its wider social
values and of course quality of leaders.
Hence, the quality of democracy in any society is directly dependent
upon the extent to which the values like social harmony, individual liberty,
individual integrity, industriousness and enterprise are shared and respected
by people. Their incorporation in the structures and processes of governance
institutions also depends on quality of leaders. Brilliance and follies of
leaders also play a significant role.
Without stellar contributions from Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln,
Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and of course Martin Luther King, the United
States of America may not have been able to achieve what it has. Similarly,
without the rise of Mahatma Gandhi and unwavering commitment of founding
fathers of independent India, the shape of the world’s biggest democracy may
have been difficult to visualise. Leaders can sometimes persuade people. Hence,
it is always a combination of large number of factors that contribute to rise
or absence of democracy in certain societies. This also explains uneven and at
times inconsistent evolution of democracy, at times in the same region among
people of same socio-cultural and economic background.
We shall continue our discussion more regularly and I do request champions of democracy to put across their views and suggestions.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Victory of opposition candidate Ibu Solih in the recent Presidential election in Maldives must be hailed as one of the remarkable events in the history of democracy in our times. We are passing through an era, when democracy has been receding in most parts of the world and watchdogs of Democracy like 'Freedom House' to 'V-Dem' have been expressing concern over decline in civil liberties and political freedom at a wider scale. Under these circumstances, electoral outcome in Maldives is a certainly a boost for democracy. Sadly, certain sections of our own media have hailed the electoral outcome as major boost for India, given pro-China inclinations of incumbent President Yameen. I feel that the world, and particularly we Indians, need to see the development more from the perspective of aspirations of Maldivian people. We need to salute the brave people of Maldives who have endured everything and yet asserted in no uncertain terms that they stood for democracy, freedom and individual liberty. It is no longer possible for any autocrat to take them back to regressive era by hoodwinking them in the name of Islam or whipping up national jingoism.
Building Democracy is a long and arduous process, which can lose direction at any stage. Maldives had transitioned to multi-party democracy almost a decade back in 2008. It was one of the rare cases where an incumbent President - Abdul Gayoom, who had virtually ruled the country for nearly three decades, agreed to hold multi-party polls and gracefully accepted peoples' verdict to exit from power. The incoming Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) too showed accommodation by refraining from any political revenge against the outgoing President, despite a previous history of acrimonious relationship between the two. However, institutions of democracy had not yet matured and President Nasheed was ousted in 2012 under the most unfortunate circumstances. Following weeks of protest by opposition parties, he had resigned and later alleged that he was made to resign virtually at gun point. Subsequent Maldivian Government pressed terror charges against him forcing him to jump bail and take refuge in the United Kingdom. He was not alone in doing so as many other opposition politicians either fled the country or were put behind bars.
President Yameen has certainly been guilty of pushing this beautiful nation of multiple islands on a course of disaster. He had seriously derailed the process of institution building towards a sustainable and robust democracy. He also vitiated the entire political ambience by virtually forcing all his serious political rivals in to exile or in prison. For this, he interfered with autonomy of judiciary, curtailed political and civil liberties of people. He even undermined professional integrity of civil service and police institutions, by routinely interfering in its processes, used entire might of state to intimidate actual or even potential dissenters. He undermined even integrity of parliament by frequently changing and virtually subverting its procedures to pre-empt any No-Confidence Motion or pushing through parliamentary approval for Free Trade treaty with China in November 2017 with barely 1/3rd members present and voting. It was extremely sad and sorry situation for democracy in the country.
He had started antagonising longstanding friends of people of Maldives to bolster his own political fortunes. Maldivians have been practising a liberal version of Islam with their language Divehi having Sanskritic origins. He sought to introduce more orthodox and somewhat Arabic version of stricter Islam. Worst was his efforts to walk into close embrace of China, ignoring even security sensitivities of India and violating even Indo-Maldivian Friendship Treaty. He was risking long years of relations of trust and goodwill with India that had been assiduously built by President Gayoom and continued by President Nasheed. We must complement the incumbent Indian Foreign Secretary Mr Vijay Gokhale who remained unfazed, even under the gravest provocations and the Indian Government continued to assure all concerned in Maldives of its neutrality in internal matters of the archipelago nation. It must have been little disappointing for certain sections of opposition MDP, who kept demanding an Indian intervention. Right thinking Maldivians would certainly realise now that unlike the extra regional powers, who may just use Maldives for their strategic and military goals, India has a long term and abiding stake in political stability and well being of people of Maldives.
President elect Ibu Solih has a difficult task at hand. Unless he demonstrates mature leadership qualities, the process of democracy building may lose direction once again. He has to rise over personal aspirations and political differences to build rule of law, which must be asserted in no uncertain terms. There is no space for condoning heinous crime but optimum degree of political reconciliation and accommodation can help the process of transition towards an endurable democracy. Maldives would need at least another decade or more to stabilise its democracy and build a governance structure that is more suited to its own requirements. Further, it is a small country with a somewhat egalitarian structure. It is more important for leaders in the Government to preserve and improve upon the quality of social solidarity and avoid temptation of royalty like trappings of power. In such a society, it is difficult to conceal things and hence individual credibility of leaders become important. At the same time, there is need to reduce coercive character of Maldivian police systems. There is negligible amount of crime among Maldivian people. Probably they can take a leaf or two out of the concept of community policing to reduce the very space for crime instead of being used by the incumbents in the government for political purposes. May be creation of strong inbuilt incentives and deterrents for any deviation from rule of law can help. Simultaneous measures to bolster both autonomy and integrity of judicial processes can help prevent recurrence of mistakes committed during President Yameen's era. Issues at stake would probably be building an amiable ambience of trust and goodwill between the ruling party and the opposition to avoid individual or political confrontation.
India and Maldives have shared a strong bond of history, culture and ethnicity. Successive Heads of the Government in Maldives have always been receptive to India's diplomatic and security concerns, barring a brief aberration by President Yameen, who too occasionally reiterated the same stance at least in words. During its early days of pro-democracy movement in Gayoom era, MDP leaders often used to visit Delhi and engaged members of both media and civil society groups. This was the time when Government of India was believed to avoiding any contact with them, given strong relationship with the then President Gayoom. During one of the interactions at India International Centre, the then leader of MDP- Mohammad Latheef - had made it categorical that even though the Government of India was avoiding them, while other non-democracies were willing to engage, MDP was avoiding the latter as they had nothing to offer a pro-democracy movement. He maintained that their group was fighting for democracy and their inspiration was Mahatma Gandhi. Hence, they would wait for Government of India to engage and listen to them, instead of having a truck with non-democracies in the region or beyond.
Political movements can have such liberty but not a state, which has to deal with every entity that can promote or help its interest. Maldives as a nation may have to deal with all concerned who can help its national goals but pragmatism would always require a closer engagement with India and accommodation of the latter's sensitivities and concerns. From the Indian side, the government has always adhered to the norms of political correctness, the problem area has been a few corporate ventures entering the archipelago nation by virtue of bi-lateral diplomatic goodwill. It would be imperative that only those capable of adhering to the highest possible global norms of professionalism get such access. There is no doubt that popular verdict in Maldives has opened up new avenues for both promotion of democratic good governance and stronger Indo-Maldivian bilateral ties. It is time that all concerned join together to build robust institutions that are autonomous and yet uphold principles of 'Rule of Law' and 'Democracy'. India has a moral responsibility to help in the process of building such institutions wherever needed without being partisan or intrusive in any manner. President elect Ibu Solih has a huge responsibility and heavy expectations to handle. Let us hope and wish that he emerges successful. Maldives can potentially emerge as a shining example of victory of democracy in our times.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
In our last post, I had briefly mentioned that the genesis of democratic values and ethos of contemporary India could be traced back to people-centric governance institutions and values of Mauryan era. Of course teachings of Tamil sage Thiruvalluvar around same era also played huge role in building a social culture for a harmonious, pacifist trust based society, where integrity among individuals was emphasised as the biggest virtue. Mauryan polity of ancient era is very often considered as one of the earliest examples where governance principles and processes incorporated principles of collective security as well as welfare of the vulnerable. Even though it was not an elected government, goodwill and support of the masses was one of the most critical foundations on which the entire political system rested. We must remember that the Mauryan polity thrived in an era that was quite close to that of the ancient Greek democracy. The notable distinction was that Greek city states were much smaller in sizes whereas Mauryan empire covered almost entire Indian subcontinent, extending from Afghanistan to Bengal and beyond, barring of course a substantial part of the Southern sub-continent.
When we study available records about Mauryan polity, as offered by Kautilya and Megasthenese as well as other sources, which have been interpreted and analysed by both Indian and Western scholars, it clearly emerges that King did not rule on the basis of divine rights. Kingship might have become hereditary but ‘duties of the King were well defined and he had no discretion to reject advice rendered by the most capable and wise men, who constituted the council of Ministers.’ One of the most well researched works on Mauryan Polity, written by Professor Ramachandra Dikshitar in 1932 for University of Madras, states that the “The views of Council Ministers were not merely an advisory (p 134) but mandatory, the king could lay down his opinion but could not impose and decisions were not taken by majority but by mature decisions implying by consensus.”
Professor Dikshitar identified the following as the principal duties of the political sovereign:
Enforcement of Svadharma, implying members of every profession or sections of society fulfilled their identified professional or otherwise role with integrity;
Administration of Justice;
Protection of citizens from natural Calamities;
Administration of an effective foreign policy to safeguard all round security of the empire.
Promotion of arts and education, health and sanitation, medical aid and relief to the poor, and other charitable acts and deeds including donations and grants to learned men and maintenance of widows, the orphan and the helpless;
Close watch on “Sanyasins”, who were protected and honoured but any impropriety in their conduct was not tolerated.
Professor Dikshitar has also emphasized on progressive taxation followed by the State and special care taken to avoid inconvenience to the people, by instituting safeguards against corruption by officials. At the same time, Sovereign was obligated to spend all its resources wisely and with a degree of austerity. At another level, it indicates a dynamic and somewhat mutually reinforcing equilibrium between the state and society, where both state or sovereign as well as people in general were guided by certain code of conduct to maintain high degree of social harmony and political correctness.
Professor Dikshitar wrote this piece in 1932. Wide range of sources that he has consulted, lends authenticity and integrity to his work. Virtually all eminent historians on the subject, also share such description of governance in Mauryan polity, where royal authority was constrained to pursue welfare of the people as well as security of state and society. Interestingly, even at the time of publication of Professor Dikshitar’s research, neither the idea of modern welfare state (envisaging support for the vulnerable and destitute) nor the idea of national security (enshrining a comprehensive and yet integrated concept of political, military, social, scientific and economic dimensions of governance to optimise strength and security of a state) had gained momentum.
The concept of welfare state gained momentum only after second world war, and many believe that it was in the aftermath of Marxist challenge to capitalist democracies. They argue that western democratic states were compelled to incorporate the principles of welfare and egalitarianism in their governance policies to pre-empt any possible influence of Marxist ideology on the masses. Similarly, the idea of national security as such was first articulated by US Navy Secretary James Forestall during a hearing in the US Senate in August 1945. Forestall had suggested a much ‘wider and comprehensive concept going beyond military strength to include almost everything linked with war-making potential or capacity of state. These included industry, mining, research and manpower and such other activities which also enhanced quality of civilian life’.  The Western discourse on national security also traces origin of this idea only in the aftermath of emergence of modern Westphalian state in 17th Century. It should not be considered an act of audacity when we claim that Mauryan polity seemed to combine both the welfare and national security dimensions of governance way before these ideas germinated in the West.
It would certainly be unfair to scrutinise political structures and social order of Mauryan polity from the prism of 21st Century Scandinavian democracies. Even the techniques and principles of warfare or conduct of foreign policy or collective security of Mauryan polity needs to be studied in its own context rather than comparing it with contemporary era. Subsequently, these systems might have degenerated or subverted or lost their vigour or failed to adapt to changing realities. Nevertheless, these do provide one of the finest example of people-centric governance that combined the highest principles of comprehensive security outlook.
Robustness and vigour of these institutions and their values can be inferred from their ability to provide stability and harmony in an empire that is massive even by contemporary standards. Barring China, most of the advanced civilisations, especially those in the West, during the same time were divided in much smaller city state like entities. Even though some had secured spectacular military victories, they did lack a comprehensive and detailed governance apparatus of a welfare like state. It is unlikely that such a system and values would have emerged suddenly with wisdom of Kautilya and valour of Chandragupta. It is more plausible that the values and processes that Kautilya was able to resurrect and streamline were widely prevalent, or at least known, much before Kautilya himself came on the political scene of the sub-continent. Kautilya may have codified and refined these further. The concept “Dharma” infused a moral obligation both on the ruler and the ruled, enhancing the quality of social or political contract between the two.
If societies lack cohesion and institutions are clumsy, it is easier for smaller network of forces to derail the focus of governance in democracies. In absence of strong regulatory capacity and efficient criminal justice systems, democracy can become an arena for war among competing groups. They may use every possible means, including propaganda, deception and even some degree of violence in pure and simple pursuit of power. Despite an outward facade of democracy, priority shifts from collective interests of entire mass of people to narrow interests of cliques and syndicates. Outwardly, these institutions may still feign commitment to wider popular interest and do a lip service to the same. Governance also seems to be suffering in democracies due to lack of inbuilt incentives, opportunities and support for incumbents, for high quality output with integrity, in different key institutions - like political parties, corporate sector, civil service, judiciary, research institutions, health sector, media etc. Many a times, one finds a gap or a contradiction between institutional goals of these entities and the larger governance objectives.
The idea of democracy is driven by the spirit of channelling collective energies and wisdom of people towards composite well-being of all. As societies are advancing, the idea of composite well-being of the people becomes more complex. Simultaneously, it becomes increasingly difficult to build and manage institutions which can pursue these effectively while adapting and evolving to new realities. Hence, it is not sufficient to have some structures and processes of representation and governance. The underlying spirit of harmony, trust, collaboration and opportunities or incentives for excellence are equally important. Without these, it amounts to having body without soul. We need serious re-focus and re-orientation of institutions of governance in democracies. Mauryan polity does provide an inspiring example in its context. Its structures may not be relevant but its spirit remains worthy of emulation. We need to pose to ourselves: are we ready to move in this direction?
Monday, August 6, 2018
We shall discuss the people-centric welfare dimension of Mauryan State that combined certain critical ingredients of contemporary idea of national security in the next post.
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