Every country is grappling with problems in its own way; its state of affairs reflects the collective conscience. Some were steeped in cultural moorings, and stayed happy that way; contented with a life, not unlike a walk in the park. The lifestyles repeated itself, ad nauseam, over generations with hardly any change. But no more; they are finding themselves lifted by their bootstraps and forced to join a race with few winners naturally, and sadly, with many moaners! The sedate lifestyle has been turned upside down by modern technology, globalization and free trade. Of course, the new kid on the block, China, is setting a frenetic pace, even bending the rules along the way! Their hungry hoards, and add to that India, Indonesia, Vietnam etc., make this race a scorching one for the comfort of many veterans in the trade! It is no more business as usual!
Liberal democratic system has been the ultimate choice for the enlightened! The advanced countries have enjoyed its benefits, having entrenched the system in their mind-set, and take pity on others still under communism, totalitarianism etc. In other democracies, the rigmarole of election is adhered to, like recently in Myanmar, but people do not get justice, as the process benefits the well entrenched. The ruling elite are returned, even unopposed, with thumping majorities that look too good to be real! The whole system backs the ruling party, with the rest unable even to make any dent.
But there are well-developed democratic systems like in America and Europe, where the public debate and election processes do not keep any views out of public domain, to enable the people to make informed choices. The debates are no-holds-barred that make the whole process robust and above board. India is the largest democracy by numbers that has survived upheavals of war & terrorist acts during the last sixty years. Its people exercise their choices during election time, in what is termed even as festival of democracy. But sadly, they are short-changed by wily politicians who play one group against another based on parochial, caste-based politics, but it is evolving by the day. The entrenched political interest groups owe their position more to the apathy of the intelligentsia, who are mostly in the sidelines blaming the whole terrain but unwilling to tread the waters to right their wrongs. Other nascent democracies have survived in Bangla Desh & Indonesia etc.
But the effectiveness of democratic systems is called into question when the whole landscape has changed with the emergence of a ruthless China, with its all-out quest to dominate the world. They have leapfrogged over Japan to become the second largest economy from being 11th in 1980. It is a matter of time they became the largest, an uncomfortable thought for many! They profess “peaceful rise” as their motto, but going by how they treat their own dissidents, the lesser mortals in the neighborhood have every reason to worry, to put it mildly! They would all be entitled to the master’s opinion!
In a worse case scenario, democracy should not end up as “operation successful, but patient dead”! Let us admit time is running out and it is no more business as usual; to take our own time. The world is moving at a rapid speed, with the new technologies adding to the momentum. Only those businesses survive that can seize the chances. A clear example is again, China, who is able to scale-up their production volume to beat others, still left in the starting block! The solar energy push is a clear example, China racing ahead, with the full backing of government in the private initiatives. It is a sad sight to see America divided by internal dissensions over policy issues. The President does not seem to have much power to decide and rally the country to stay ahead. Slowly the mighty America, the land of dreams for many, is becoming a toothless tiger, unable to marshal its undeniable resources to change its course in the face of newer realities. Ditto India, with their festival of democracy that is a hurdle for concerted action! The opposition thwarts and puts spokes in the way, just to be in the limelight and seize the power at the next foray!
Democratic system is the pinnacle for any country to reach, but not the one that gets bogged down while others whiz ahead! No point in electing toothless leaders who get lost in mindless maze! It is time to reflect and do justice to the ideals of free choice and liberty for which our forefathers fought so passionately. It takes only one generation to blow it all! America should be able to see someone in hot pursuit by looking at the rear-view mirror! It has to be the leader for everyone’s sake & survival!!