India needs to mature into a full-fledged democracy, says retd professor

Mar 16, 2018

Mysuru: Admitting that Indian democracy was stronger than what existed in Pakistan and Bangladesh, retired professor of civics and politics at the University of Mumbai Jose George said that our country was yet to mature into a full-fledged democracy. George, who was at a two-day national seminar on ‘Democratic Politics in India – Rhetoric and Reality’ organised by the department of political science at the University of Mysore (UoM) on Thursday, said that India was currently at a transitional stage.
“We are at a transitional stage since there is a gap between what is promised in a democracy, and what is practiced by political parties,” said George.

He said that the Congress had failed to live up to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. “Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi after he joined the Indian National Congress. He travelled the length and breadth of the country, understood the pulse of the people, and made several promises through slogans that moved the nation and united all of us. However, his promises were forgotten by the INC when India attained independence,” said Prof. George.

He dubbed both the Congress and the BJP ‘power-hungry’ parties. “When Chandrashekar contested against Indira Gandhi for the post of working president of the Congress, she did away with the election, and created what became the High Command, to ensure power remained within the family. Similarly, the BJP’s diktats come from Nagpur,” said Prof. George, referring to the RSS headquarters.

Criticising the BJP’s proposal to create smaller states to devolve power, he said, “This will only serve to weaken the states.”

Placing the blame for the agrarian crisis at the feet of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Prof. George said, “The farming sector is in a shambles today due to the Green Revolution that focused on fertile land in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and some parts of Tamil Nadu. Feudal landlords became capitalists as a result. Rajiv merely preached socialism, but never joined the socialist block.”

While people like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Mehul Choksi have made away with thousands of crores, farmers are asked to submit a heap of documents to avail of a paltry loan of Rs 50,000, he lamented.

Expressing dismay at the BJP government’s attempts to dictate cultural habits, Prof. George said, “People from the BJP say Lord Ram was born exactly at the site where the Babri Masjid is located in the ‘Tretha Yuga’, which dates back to 1.5 lakh years. Excavations have shown no historical proof to back this claim. It is a sign of fascismwhen a government dictates what not to eat, what to eat and what movies to watch.”

The philosophical aspects of democracy needed to be emphasised, professor of Mangalore University Rajaram Tholpadi said, “Democracy is a philosophy, and that part must be emphasised. Democracy does not just mean, by the people, for the people and of the people. It should encourage people to carve out spaces to articulate their values.”