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The practical value of democracy in South Asia

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The World's Largest Democracy
Image by premasagar via Flickr

Nothing is simple in this world where power of $$$$ holds sway more often than we care to openly admit. The message from the current state of democracy in middle class India doesn’t bode well for the future of democratic participation there. Here are words from Nareesh Fernandes writing from South Mumbai:

This contradicts India’s perception of itself as a deeply rooted democracy. Democracy is the superior virtue we claim as we smugly survey the chaos that military dictators have visited upon Pakistan. Democracy is our defense against China’s superior record of alleviating poverty and raising standards of health and literacy.

And yet our inability to protect religious minorities is obvious to the thousands of Muslim victims of the Gujarat riots of 2002. Our most famous painter, M. F. Husain, who lives in exile under threats from extremists for daring to paint Hindu deities in the nude, knows that we have yet to secure the right to free expression. And the brutality against ethnic separatist movements in the northeast and Kashmir demonstrates our unwillingness to make pragmatic compromises.

Our experiment with democracy has been far more successful than some others, but despite regular elections, it has failed many Indians. After all, in South Mumbai the government responds to its residents — whether they stand in the sun for that purple streak or not.

Naresh Fernandes is the editor of Time Out India.

Is it really surprising that the weight of MONEY POWER and Religion seems to be holding sway in Democratic India?

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/05/04 at 07:17