Democracy And The Mob

03dalit-inyt-master675n the Western model of democracy which India chose to adopt, 51 is right and 49 is wrong.

This poses the danger of a demagogue appealing to chauvinistic nationalism or religious fanaticism, or promising populist measures to create a “wave” and get the support of 51 per cent who are wrong as against the 49 who are right. With dozens of parties and low voting, even a 30 per cent vote can put them in power.

Donald Trump’s victory with the support of White supremacists, conservatives, the Church and blue-collared workers despite opposition by celebrities, intellectuals and popular vote may be one of the aberrations of democracy. Some intellectuals in India equate with it the victory the pro-Hindutva Narendra Modi in India.

Canada, with more Indian-origin Sikhs in its Cabinet than the Indian ministry, was regarded a citadel of liberalism. Many US liberals toyed with the idea of migrating there.The Canadian immigration website crashed soon after America’s presidential election, as the number of visitors to the site increased five fold.

But “things are Just as bad in Canada” writes Scaachi Koul in an Op-Ed in The New York Times and adds, “The idea that Canada is a safe space is a lie.”

On January 29, a gunman killed six people in a Quebec City mosque . A look at his social media shows support for White supremacists and …Trump, Koul says adding that the jarring and terrifying event, though, “was neither new nor unpredictable, especially for Canada’s Muslim citizens.”

Koul’s conclusion was not based on that incident alone. Kellie Leitch, an MP, sent out a flood of emails calling Trump’s victory “an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well.”

Kevin O’Leary, a far-right judge (who argued that the 85 wealthiest people in the world having as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest is a good thing) announced he was in the race for Conservative leadership.

It is not in the US, India and England that right-wing parties have come to power. In France, a rightist, Marine Le Pen, may be the next President. In Germany, now under a conservative government, neo-Nazism may be just under the surface.

In most poll-bound states in India “electoral compulsions” force all parties to bow to the mobs and announce freebies – paid by the taxpayers themselves.

There is as much danger from far right as from extreme left which once stood for armed struggle and violence. A dogmatic approach to all world issues is dangerous. The 51:49 democracy needs a ‘level playing field’ and an egalitarian society. Caste and linguistic divisions, extreme inequality and religious fanaticism plague most countries in the world today.

Cash, caste and coercion determine the voting choice in one country and in its neighbour’s very existence is defined by hatred as all parties and policies revolve around religion and hatred for other religions.

The days of civilised, ideology-based political parties where political rivalry does not mean enmity seem to be over. Both in the US elections and in the dynasty-based politics of India leaders personally malign each other. Opposition is based not on ideals and programmes but on personal hatred and even
falsehoods.

As long as Trump or Modi were private citizens, they could be criticised or attacked, but once they head their countries attacking them should be attacking the countries. Criticism should be only of their policies and programmes. But today both continue to  face bitter personal attacks and vilification.

Have the days of politics as a means to run the country for the welfare of the people come to an end?   Politics has become a means for gaining power and use it for personal aggrandizement and amassing wealth even while swearing by the poor and downtrodden and perpetuating dynasties.

That reminds me of a press conference, decades ago, by eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani. Chatting with him after it ended, I said all combinations and models of politics having been tried, all that remains now wass corporate political parties –invest in a party and get dividends. Jethmalani’s characteristic guffaw is still fresh in my memory.

Will democracy degenerate into mobocracy?

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