Some thoughts on democracy after reading George’s Orville’s Animal Farm.
Obama just arrived in Mumbai yesterday & everyone is gripped with a bad case of Obamamania. (Yes, that is a word. If it wasn’t, I just coined it).
Anyway, all the news papers & channels are talking about how he could learn something from his visit to India, especially since India & USA are the world’s two largest democracies. And that got me thinking… mostly about the word democracy.
I actually first started thinking about it when I read the book Animal Farm by George Orwell as part of my English literature course in college. I must admit that at first I dismissed the book as slightly silly. Big Mistake. For those of you who haven’t read the book yet, it is awesome. If I had to recommend just ten must-read books, this would be on the list.
Plot summary: It’s about animals on a farm, ruled over by a cruel & despotic farmer names Jones. They decide to have a revolution & overthrow him. For a while they are truly & genuinely happy & satisfied, but slowly one pig from the farm itself takes over leadership, convincing the animal through an excellent orator that everything he did was for ‘their own good’. Slowly he & the other pigs live in more & more luxury while the less intelligent animals do all the work. And in the end the pigs become as bad as, if not worse than the farmer Jones that they overthrew, yet the foolish animals think they are ‘free’. Moral of the story? Communism is a great ideal but can never really be effectively put into practice due to the one thing that corrupts any man: Power. For more information go here.
I then remembered this one thing our professor said in class. She said that for a (corrupt) government to be successful, the people they rule have to be under the impression that they have control over the government. Deception is key. And then suddenly it all made sense… India is the largest democracy in the world. I know that there are two forms of democracy, direct democracy & representative democracy. And that India is obviously a form of representative democracy. Just think, hypothetically, whether it would ever be possible to implement any form of direct democracy in the country. Not only is India so populous, but a very large percentage of that population is illiterate, hence very easily swayed by bribery & other political propaganda. And without mincing words, 99% of the population is completely oblivious to any political going ons & would not be able to make any decisions regarding an entire country. So obviously there is absolutely no way direct democracy could ever be implemented. So we have representative democracy. We are encouraged to do be a responsible citizen by voting. And most of us do that. But what exactly are our options? Choose the lesser of all the evils. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t vote. We all have to do our bit to keep the extremist, hateful parties out of power. Yet, even whichever party you may term as the least corrupt party in our country is without a doubt corrupt to a very large extent. And what about the people who really do want to make a difference and not be corrupt while joining politics? They are reduced to being corporators in their city itself. If they want to go any further in politics, they have to join a political party. (We all know where that will lead!)
Can you blame me for having a very idealized view of democracy, thanks to this quote:
And am I also to blame because since I don’t have any political aspirations whatsoever, my only choice is to watch this political circus with disgust? That now I represent the cynics in society à la Benjamin from Animal Farm?
Now this situation isn’t all bad. When politicians get caught in very ugly scandals, they usually resign or are thrown out by their parties. I can think of five other countries within 30 seconds where there isn’t even a farce of democracy, where there are just the cruel, corrupt despots & people who are jailed & killed on a daily basis just because they demonstrate/ask too many questions/write negative things regarding the government. So obviously we are much better off.
After I present all these facts to you, do you still think India is a free country?
So what is the solution to this sorry state of political affairs in the world largest democracy? I have absolutely no clue. But I hope I at least gave you something to think about. x