Thursday, January 26, 2006

Greetings on Republic Day

Greetings to all on Republic Day. We can look back and be justifiably proud that the Constitution of 1950 has endured - except for a brief dark period in the 70's. This is the day we moved from being a British Dominion to "purna swaraj" (full independence). And we have done well. It's time to make good on those promises the Indian nation made itself several decades ago, and fulfill the promise of being the Eastern Beacon of the Free World.

India is called the "largest democracy". That is not true. India is, in fact, the largest Republic - authoritarian China hardly embodies the spirit of a Republic. We certainly have a democratically elected government. But we are no democracy. And we should never be. Here's an interesting distinction between a Republic and a Democracy - a.k.a. "Rule of the Omnipotent Majority".

6 comments:

sanatan said...

We are a republic, only that we have to chosen a democratic way of electing our representatives.

Its time we began v 2.0 of our Republic, where citizens are treated as citizens and not as subjects, and government is in the business of administration of our nation and not ruling over it.

Hail! Hail! the Indian Republic. Long live the Indian Republic. Lets move towards the Second Republic.

doubtinggaurav said...

Libertanian,

Happy republic day.

But isn't this distinction sort of superficial ?

I mean even constitution has to be approved by majority.

As example of India will demonstrate that mere constitution is not enough to check either the tyranny of majority or competitive populism

Regards

Jaffna said...

Libetarian,

I had not realized the distinction. Interesting point. I guess, a republic safeguards the right of the individual regardless of any affiliation. The issue is not about majority or minority but about the sacrosanct right of a person to define himself/herself as he/she sees fit and in a manner that does not infringe upon the similar rights of others.

Btw, the republican tradition is an old one in India. It goest back to the 6th century BCE with the Licchavis and the Vrijjis in Bihar and other republican states in the Punjab.

Happy Republic Day indeed!

cynical nerd said...

Happy Republic Day indeed.

Folks check out the new India promotional video! I liked it:

http://www.indiaglitz.com/channels/hindi/gallery/events/8967.html

regards

libertarian said...

sanatan: could you elaborate what having a 2nd republic might mean. Would it require a rewrite of the Constitution? If so, this may not be the time. I understand that this the 5th(!) French Republic.

dg: All monopolies need restraint. A good constitution will adequately chain a government (monopoly on the use of force) from severe excesses on the individual in particular, and the citizens in general. However, you're right that the constitution is only as effective to the extent the stakeholders demand its implementation. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

jaffna: very interesting info on the Lichhavis and Vrijjis. That these subtle concepts were practised that long ago makes me wonder how the world would have looked had that early advantage been sustained. Better late than never though!

sanatan said...

Libertanian, I totally agree that at this time, it would be unwise to rewrite the Constitution. But since the constiutional machinery seems to break ndown so often in India, I think at some time in the future we will need to rewrite it.

However, time has come for the Indian government to stop treating its citizens as subjects. This is an attitudinal issue. This can be solved by greater public participation in decentralized governance, towards which half-hearted attempts, without any real sincerity, have been made in the last two decades. Also, politics has to mean more than the power of redistribution, which is most political parties currently think it is. This is primarily because all current political parties in India believe in statism but not in individual liberties.

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