In Defense of the Status Quo

While India’s parliamentarians were busy brokering power deals, managing defections and alliances, arranging, accepting and reporting bribes supposedly over the nuclear deal, The Times of India was busy defending the status quo with articles like this and this.

From the first article (titled “For India’s Future”)

“…a superficial look at news headlines conveys the impression that the vote is all about the loaves and fishes of office, a numbers game, where not much is at stake…
…Let’s not be fooled. This is a time for sober reflection. The trust vote is not just about the survival or fall of a government. It is about the future direction of India…
…Those are the issues at stake in tomorrow’s trust vote. Let parliamentarians now choose which way India should go.

And from the second (titled “It’s Messy, But It Works”)

“…It was indeed a new low in the history of Indian democracy…
…Over the better part of two days, the best speakers from major political parties held forth with varying degrees of eloquence on the Indo-US nuclear deal and its consequences for the country…
…And the best part was that there was a mad scramble for seats in the visitors’ gallery to hear speeches.
That is precisely what Parliament is supposed to do – debate issues of national importance before voters…
…This is not a pretty picture. But we must not make the mistake of judging Indian democracy and Parliament only by its low points…
…Indian democracy can often be exasperating and messy…For all its chaos, Indian democracy and its institutions have served us reasonably well.

Yes, in spite of the tamasha in Parliament that you all saw last evening.”

Most people look at what is going on and worry about what the country and its institutions are coming to. But those who bear the responsibility of analyzing current events and forming the basis of educated opinion tell us that not much is wrong with our political institutions, that we should contain our outrage, that we should be happy we are not a banana republic, that our institutions are serving us reasonably well, and above all that we must not judge these events as a failure of democracy.

But the events we see today are inevitable in a system that places majority opinion over rights. When people realize that they can succeed only by being in the majority, they will try to manufacture a majority by whatever means they can. A system that prevents people from achieving their ends by fair means, encourages them to resort to foul means. A democracy is an embodiment of the principle “Might makes right”. Is it any wonder that rogues succeed at it? We must realize that these failures are inherent in a democracy, that the role of government is to subordinate might to right, that the right is not a matter of consensus and that the only way to achieve the right is to leave men free to follow their judgement. Our national motto is “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth alone triumphs). We need to realize that truth triumphs only when it is left free.


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