“Indian democracy has been an outstanding success by any standard in the world. 16th Lok Sabha is going on. In the 15th Lok Sabha, many veterans lost and won, those who won may be sent to pavilion and those who lost may have a chance to come back. This is a very big achievement of our democracy. In politics whoever win or lose, voters and democracy ultimately win.” grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, eminent scholar, thinker and former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Sunday said in Patna.
Mr. Gandhi on Sunday was speaking in a lecture on ‘Contemporary Challenges to India’s democracy’ organised by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in association with Takshila at Adhiveshan Bhawan in Patna.
“In our neighbourhood, army has ruled, army intervenes in government, however, in India it has never happened,” he added.
Referring to win of Mr. Nehru, he said Nehru won in three consecutive Lok Sabha elections – 1952, 1957 and 1962. He won first two elections with heavy margin but in 1962 Lok Sabha election he won with comparatively less margin. In 1967, Indira won by even much less margin compared to Nehru’s last win. 1971 was a different scene. It was time of war. In emergency time, democracy was hurt which nobody had imagined. The same Indira Gandhi who had won elections faced a defeat later. This is all about history,” he said explaining the privilege of democracy in India.
Indian voters today excel globally in exercising their democratic franchisee. He or she may be poor, he or she may be illiterate but at the polling booths he or she is emperor or empress of democracy. We should be proud of this.
The way our elections are conducted by our election commissions is not only appreciable or imitable but it is phenomenal. However, democracy is not about numbers of elections we have conducted. It is not about repeated successfully conducted elections. It is about quality of elections.
Democracy and republic are two different things. We became a democracy in 1947 but republic in 1950. Being republican is more important than being democratic. In a republic world, every individual is important, every individual is special. In a our republic, every Indian is as much special as the president of India.
“Not the village, not the district, but individuality of an individual is our constitution,” he quoted Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar citing importance of every individual in the eyes of our constitution framers.
Bahujan Hitaay, Bahujan Sukhaay is a very good verse. It means Benefit of the majority is the happiness of the majority. It is democracy. However, in a republic, every one’s benefit counts. A republic is one that honours every individual’s welfare. It is one that safeguards every individual’s happiness. Today, our republic in India is in trouble. I would not say it a crisis. We have seen many crises and also overcome those.
“In India, we are a majority of minorities. Our status of being minority and majority changes in miles in India. Those who are living in Patna are minority in Kolkata. Minority and majority constantly shift their places in India,” the grandson of mahatma further said.
Our constitution does not talk about party. An individual who gets support of parliamentarians becomes our leader.
Referring to the event of shooting at an effigy by Hindu Mahasabha leader, he said those who do such acts are actually afraid of soul of Gandhi even after 70 years of his assassination. They know that soul of Gandhi is so much engrossed with that of India’s that they can never succeed in dividing us. This is what India is.
“Violence, money, muscle power, manipulation of emotions to win elections and cynicism about politics are five challenges to democracy,” he said.
In a covert message to Modi government, Mr. Gandhi said that emotions are manipulated to create divides in the society. Hatred among people of India is infused to win elections. This is a serious threat to democracy.
“However, Prakash (Light) of Jay Prakash and Soul of Gandhi will never let India down. In spite of all these challenges Indian democracy will go strength to strength to make India a stronger republic in coming days. The good will always be stronger than the bad,” Mr. Gandhi concluded.