21 September, 2020

We The People At The Crossroads

The nation’s democratic foundations are firm but our pluralism is on trial

Illustration by Manjul
We The People At The Crossroads
outlookindia.com
2019-01-25T14:43:01+05:30

Where the republic will stand at the end of 2019 will substantially depend on the May general elections. We may well be at the crossroads weeks from now. The outcome matters. What the post-poll government makes of its mandate matters just as much. We take it all for granted but in 1947 few thought parliamentary democracy would work in India. Democracy had to strike roots in a country with centuries of monarchy and many layers of privilege and power.

When the constitutional convention of the US was meeting in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked if it was to be a republic or a monarchy. He answered: “A republic, if we can keep it.” India was not an emerging power but emerged from a long spell of imperial rule. Battered by war, the famines of Bengal and Travancore (that killed over three million) and the horrors of Partition.

The republic went on to be founded in 1950 in a spring of hope. The first Prime Minister saw the inside of a British jail for nine long years. The home minister had given up a lucrative career to be christened Sardar for his...

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