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Monday, September 14, 2009

Justice and Democracy

The seed of post was sown when Joie de vivre commented in mine recent post that we live in the country where Logon ko democracy ka D bhi nai pata. She was absolutely right that Indians have a long way to go to understand the values of rights and duties of citizen. Personally, I don't have very strong belief in democracy but have a faith in swift and vigilant justice. Yet democracy seems to me as best way of giving voices to myself and the people. This is my naive attempt to understand the complex relationship of justice and democracy.

Democracy is ethically right but intellectually void.-- Max Kislanski

I once asked my father why people rate parliament above supreme court running on constitution. He replied me that constitution is made for serving the people not the vice-versa. When representative of people at Parliament veto supreme court verdict, they are abiding the rule of people only. I was silenced then. After many years, this memory resurfaces in studying Shahbano Case. I got my reply that while voting in Parliament just supports majority, it may or may not be the right voice. A wrong decision by majority may lead to injustice and may provoke decay of values and law in the society.

Justice is wisdom on merit and democracy is the choice to take different opinion. Too much democracy is like free market without any control. This is what Fareed Zakaria (former editor Newsweek) calls the tyranny of the majority. He argues that democracy, overwhelmingly, has had wonderful consequences. But the construction of a rich, diverse and complex social order needs a multitude of ideas to flourish. Democracy as a single ideology across politics, society, arts and business is akin to religious dogmatism where faith dictates every aspect of life. This is a very important argument. Democracy has proven itself to be the most acceptable form of political governance where the will of majority forms the basis for legislature. Still mindless ‘majorityism’ is dangerous. A journalist and novelist Pankaj Mishra points out this flaw of democracy ---

"When last week in Ha'aretz the Israeli historian Tom Segev judged Israeli "apathy" towards the massacre in Gaza as "chilling and shameful", he brought on deja vu among Indians. In 2002 the Hindu nationalist government of Gujarat supervised the killing of more than two thousand Muslims. The state's chief minister, Narendra Modi, who green-lighted the mass murder, seemed a monstrous figure to many Indians; they then watched aghast as the citizens of Gujarat - better-educated and more prosperous than most Indians - re-elected Modi by a landslide after the pogrom. In 2007, a few months after the magazine Tehelka taped Hindu nationalists in Gujarat boasting how they raped and dismembered Muslims, Modi again won elections with contemptuous ease. Though prohibited from entering the US, Modi is now courted by corporate groups, including Tata, and frequently hailed as India's next prime minister. As the Israeli right looks likely to be the latest electoral beneficiary of state terror, it is time to ask: can the institutions of electoral democracy, liberal capitalism and the nation-state be relied upon to do our moral thinking for us? "Trust in the majority," they seem to say, but more often than not the majority proves itself incapable of even common sense. " [Origin]

Our society is driving towards consumer culture and lack of awareness about ground realities is hurting our chance of progress. People aren't dumb but they take time to retrospect its decision. Impact of popularism is like mob madness. Each person involved in the mob takes his own time to return from the state of hysteria. People deserve better but they don't know about other options. A balancing act is done by media by providing voice to the lost causes and people living on periphery of society.

A sense of power to control is what the media is in turn giving to public in reality shows. It’s the manipulation and unreliability of methods media use to determine what people want. What media should fix is error in the systems, not the society. A democracy should encourage a person to tell the truth as it is, the truth about the truth. The freedom and liberty are more greater than the idea of democracy or theocracy or dictatorship.

So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and make them miserable. --- Aldous Huxley


  1. This is Max Kislanski. And yes, I made up that quote about democracy and added it to Wikipedia. It's weird how when I google my name, this is the #1 thing that comes up, people using my wikipedia quote. I'm only 21 btw. Very cool.

  2. Hi max, I found your creative quote more intellectually stimulating than any other quote on Democracy. Age is just a number !

    Thanks for coming out here and telling me about you.



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