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I am author of the books Political Internet(Routledge, 2017), Intimate Speakers ( Fingerprint! 2017), has finished the typescript of three books—first, on Internet and sexuality; second, on the negative impacts of social media; and third, a novel—and is presently working on a narrative non-fiction with the working title Lovescape: Why India is afraid of love.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Gandhi on Democracy


Mahatma Gandhi, himself felt the importance and necessity of democracy for India, despite its being liable to be greatly abused. That is why; he emphasized upon its constant development and maturity. Through this he wished transformation of his dream of Ramarajya into a reality. In the Ramarajya of his imagination each and everyone, weak or strong, gets equal opportunity to rise and his security and honour are guaranteed. In short, Gandhi's Ramarajya is an advanced form of democracy.

Democracy is the government of the people. In fact, justice and freedom for every citizen are possible only under this system. There is also every possibility of having opportunity for progress. It is a source of general welfare too. Gandhi has also said, “Democracy must be in essence…meaning the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of all the various sections of people in the service of common good of all.”

What Gandhi advocated can be the only true universal democracy, and is, in fact, being largely practised in the best democracies of the world such as the Swiss. A powerful process for realising it has also been conceptualised.

Power having got centralised, it is now difficult to restore it to the people. Legislators who alone can amend the Constitution are unwilling to do so.

"The State represents violence in a concentrated and organised form. The individual has a soul but as the state is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned away from violence to which it owes its very existence". — Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s Special Features

Based on Indian ethos and values, Gandhi added some powerful features for containing consumption and promoting social justice and equity. These are:

1 Village governments in which the village assembly controls resources and decision-making;

2 Decentralised production systems to curb distress migration to urban centres;

3 Self-sustaining local economies providing resilience to regional and global economic turbulence;

4 A low expense clean election system;

5 National governments accountable to local governance as a check against arrogance
of the state;

6 Industry as trusteeship of the people, reinvesting in production of goods and services and not indulging in ostentatious consumption; and

7 Religions integrated as a positive force at the grassroots level.

Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi, along with other necessities, particularly stressed upon discipline, equal respect of law by all and priority to social will over the individual will in a democracy. He was of the opinion that indiscipline, disrespect of law and priority to the individual will over the social will are among the main causes behind evils in a democracy. So, it is necessary to minimize them for making the democracy disciplined and enlightened.

Moreover, Mahatma Gandhi laid great emphasis on a healthy public opinion and expressed the need for responsible representation. The reason being if public opinion in democracy is not healthy and matured it can be converted into a mobocracy instead of giving strength to it.

Democracy necessarily means a conflict of will and ideas, involving sometimes a war to the knife between different ideas.

The very essence of democracy is that every person represents all the varied interests which compose the nation.

Democracy is a great institution and, therefore, it is liable to be greatly abused.

Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy.

Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.

Democracy and violence can ill go together.

Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.

Democracy, disciplined and enlightened, is the finest thing in the world.

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.

My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.

To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect and their oneness.

Intolerance, discourtesy and harshness are taboo in all good society and are surely contrary to the spirit of democracy.

In true democracy every man and women is taught to think for himself or herself.

The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular.

Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today.

BIJU P R, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, GOVT BRENNEN COLLEGE, THALASSERY