- By Dr. Shubhangi Rathi*
India follows the democratic type of Government. India is a
big country and hence needs to be governed in a proper and an effective
way. Mahatma Gandhi's imagination of the democracy -fully encircled
with non-violence -exists in no nation of the world as up to now. His
ideal is a stateless democracy, in which there is a federation of satyagrahi
village communities, functioning on the basis of voluntary cooperation
and dignified and peaceful co-existence are relevance in the context of
Indian democracy. In the present day democracy, there is a great deal
of centralization and inequality. Gandhian concept of Self Rule means
Swaraj is real democracy, where people's power rests in the individuals
and each one realizes that he or she is the real master of one's
self. These issues are still relevant to what free India is and represent.
The main cause of worry today is intolerance and hatred leading to violence
and it is here the values of Gandhi need to be adhered to with more passion
discussed in this paper. He is relevant not yesterday or today but forever.
Meaning of Democracy:
Democracy is a form of Government which is very popular
and also considered as one the most effective forms. In this form of Government,
the majority of decisions are taken by the representatives that are chosen
by the people. India follows the democratic type of Government. India
is a big country and hence needs to be governed in a proper and an effective
way. The representatives chosen by the people are the ones who take major
decisions pertaining to the development of the country. Democracy is the
best kind of government because one has lot of benefits. India is truly
democratic since one enjoys freedom of speech and expression here. Here
people can voice their opinions openly and straight. In a way democracy
makes sure that equality is maintained. In India all the citizens are
treated equally and have the same set of rights as the others. By true
definition democracy does not differentiate on the basis of religion,
colour, caste and creed. However, there have been instances when the term
democracy has been misused. The main reason for this being ignorance.
The government which runs the country is chosen by the people, for the
Mahatma Gandhi's Thoughts on Democracy:
- Non-violence: Mahatma Gandhi's imagination of the democracy
-fully encircled with non-violence -exists in no nation of the world as
up to now. Democracy of his imagination happens to be one, which does
not have any provision of punishment and even an organization like ‘State'
happens to be obsolete in it. This is because Mahatma Gandhi holds, “…State
is symbolical of centralized and organized violence.” As non-violence
is connected with human soul, man can be non-violent whereas in opposition
to it, “… State is a soul-less machine. On this accord, it
is impossible to get rid of violence. Its very existence depends upon
violence.” Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, non-violence should be
admitted as invariable part of our life and it is on the basis of this
dictum that modem polities must operate.
- Stateless democracy: Gandhi's ideal is a stateless democracy,
in which there is a federation of satyagrahi village communities, functioning
on the basis of voluntary cooperation and dignified and peaceful co-existence.
Non-existence of state as cherished by Mahatma Gandhi is impossible instantly
or in near future. Even then, it is incumbent on the people, who are living
in state organizations, to develop non-violence that is permanently present
in their nature and to enhance it gradually up to adequate level. Along
with that, democratic system should work in direction of development of
non-violence at individual, community, social and national levels. The
atmosphere of fear which we see, the diminution of values in life and
the problems having cropped up vividly cannot be eradicated without developing it.
- Decentralization and equality: While in the present day democracy, there
is a great deal of centralization and inequality. In a stateless democracy
there is decentralization and equality. Non profession and bread labour
should be the ideal of the society. In a stateless democracy every individual
gets the maximum freedom to devote himself to the service of the society
according to his caliber or capacity.
- Village economy:Gandhiji was again highly centralized production
and advocate decentralized production. The idea was not to do away entirely
with machinery as such, but to prevent the concentration of power in the
hand of few rich. He aimed at the eradication of poverty by a revival
of village economy. Emphasis was laid on intensive, small scale, individual
and diversified farming and a cattle based economy.(Pyarelal, Toward New
- Voter's qualification: In the Gandhian democracy will play
an important role. Their members are being directly elected. Voters are
to have the qualification of manual work. Whose importance was always
emphasized by Gandhiji. Village democracy would be decentralized political order.
- Swaraj: Gandhian concept of Self Rule means Swaraj is real democracy,
where people's power rests in the individuals and each one realizes
that he or she is the real master of one's self. Thus people are
sovereign in a democracy but in a parliamentary democracy, party system
has a vital role to play. However, Gandhi was highly critical of the parliamentary
democracy and in his monumental book “Hind Swaraj” (Self Rule
or Home Rule, he has called the British Parliament as a “sterile
women and a prostitute” (Hind Swaraj-Ch-V, p.12), though for him
“good government is no substitute for self-government.” (Tendulkar,
DG, Mahatma, Vol.II, p.24)
- Form of Democracy: There is contradiction in the statement of
Gandhi about parliamentary democracy but while diving deep into the democratic
ideals, he has said, “Democracy, disciplined and enlightened is
the finest things in the world.” (Prabhu, R.K., and Rao, UR,-The
Mind of Mahatma, Oxford University Press, P-130) At the same time, he
also cautions people against a whole-sale copying of the Western Model
of democracy, where there are only nominal democracies. However, he has
highest regards for Democracy and he calls it as “a great institution”
and again conscious people and says, “It is liable to be greatly
abused.”(The Mind of Mahatma-p.345.) Even today, all over the world,
democracy is widely accepted principle of the system of governance and
there is no alternative to democracy.
- Future of Democracy: Thus it is abundantly clear that for future,
Gandhian concept of democracy is the only hope, where it must be practiced
at the grass–root level, party system to be built up on accepted
principles and not on partisan line, defection should be done away with
and recall of recalcitrant representatives must be adhered to. Defects
and demerits must be removed from the present democratic form of governance.
People's power must be accepted to make democracy safe; otherwise
if the democracy is abused or misused, the future of people is doomed.
- Present Situation of Democracy in India: Democracy Though India
is democratic country, today the definition of the same has changed to
a certain extent, mainly due to the ignorance and unawareness of the masses.
Illiteracy is one reason for this. What we need to thoroughly understand
is that democracy lets us use our freedom and we as citizens have to make
sure that we use it in a constructive way which will help in the development
and progress of the country. India proudly talks of being democratic but
citizens should take special care to see that the term democracy is not
misunderstood and misinterpreted.
- Extraordinary character for Gandhian Democracy: Gandhian ideas
are difficult to be put into practice, unless people are of extraordinary
character, high moral capacity and integrity. Gandhian philosophy really
speaking did not strike deep roots even in India. Most of Gandhi's
followers paid only lip sympathy to it. But they are not owing to Gandhiji's
failure or weaknesses of his thought, but owing to the drawbacks and weakness
in ordinary human being.
- Observation: It shows that democracy is regarded as a best form
of government. At the same time, it is the most difficult form & certain
countries democracy has been a great success, while in others it is a
total failure or walk likes a cripple.
I have stated that polities cannot all of a sudden operate as per expectation
of the Great Mahatma Gandhi. Non-violence cannot be a part of conduct
instantly. But Mahatma Gandhi's suggestion is very important in
this regard. However, the polities must forward certainly in this direction.
Needless to say that non-violence is true, natural, and enemy of fearfulness,
stands at top amongst eternal values including the equality and has been
gradually progressive. It's nice and vital example is before us
in the form of its development unto today, since the inception of human
race-that is since initial human-state. We clearly see that in spite of
differences to whatsoever extent, ultimately there is an innovative desire
for peace. This is because non-violence happens to be in human nature.
Presently a big portion of the world happens to be under Democratic system
of Government. Theoretically, this system stands out to be the best up
to now. This is a truth. Because people are connected with it directly
or indirectly at every level. This provides us maximum opportunities of
progress and development. If we peruse it, we first of all find that there
is non-equal development of the citizens. We subsequently find that these
nations are more or less victimized by regionalism. They have problem
relating to language. They are under clutches of terrorism and communalism.
There is also the problem of negation of human rights in these nations.
There are various other problems akin to mention above and peace is far
away so long as these problems exist. These nations should get themselves
rid of these problems, all citizens of them must have equal development
and they should have communal harmony towards making all citizens collective
and unified partners in progress.
- Democratic system of government should be free from above-mentioned problems.
- It must be capable of ensuring equal development of their all citizens.
- The citizens concerned must march forward on path of progress in unified way along with rendering contribution to world peace.
- His ideology of nonviolence may not succeed, but it opens a world of possibilities and encourages us to think outside the box.
- Truth and Non-violence is not meant for individuals alone but can be applied in global affairs too.
Lastly we can conclude that Gandhi's vision for the
country and his dreams for the community as a whole still hold good for
India. He got the community to assimilate and reflect true values of humanity
and to participate in tasks that would promote the greater good. These
issues are still relevant to what free India is and represents. The main
cause of worry today is intolerance and hatred leading to violence and
it is here the values of Gandhi need to be adhered to with more passion.
He is relevant not yesterday or today but forever!!
- Ideologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a former vice chancellor of CCS University, Meerut [India]; he is the editor of Global Peace International Journal.
- Jai Narain Sharma, “Indian society of Gandhian studies”, Journal of Gandhian studies, Vol. 5, 2007.
- Kapur, Devesh (2010): “The Middle Class in India: A Social Formation or Political Actor” in Julian Go
- Sridharan, E (2008): “The Political Economy of the Middle Classes in Liberalizing India”, ISAS Working Paper.
- Chand Hukam, History of modern India, Anmol Publication Pvt. Ltd (2005)
* Dr. Shubhangi Rathi is a Associate Professor & H.O.D. Poliical Science, Smt. P.K. Kotecha Mahila Mahavidhalaya, Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.