The Indian Republic is the gift of the constitution that came into being in 1950. India became People’s Republic in 1950. The ultimate source of the power is India’s citizens. The idea of Indian Republic is the idea of Indian democracy.
The preservation of democracy is the preservation of Indian Republic.
Indian democracy is Indian republic. However, India is not yet a people’s republic if we judge by the standards set by the Constitution of India: Justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. These values are not just the slogans, but the practical methods to create People’s Republic.
In a remarkable book, The Public and Its Problems, John Dewey sharply defined how the making of the public is important for the democracy. His paper, ‘Ethics of Democracy’, was a great influence on the founding father of Indian democracy, Babasaheb Ambedkar. When both of them thought about democracy, they did not think of democracy in numerical terms, which will add the opinions of the people into the numerical majority, but their conception of democracy was rooted in the human need to associate with other human beings.
The human beings are not atomized individuals, but they are social beings and that their existence itself is social. An individual without social is an abstraction and does not exist. Therefore, democracy is as much a spiritual quest as it is a political quest and they both agreed that the democracy is a way of life.
But the Indian way of life is dominated by the undemocratic religious values. The undemocratic religious values are a threat to Indian republic. If Indian republic is to survive, the undemocratic religious values must die. If India’s “deep establishment” tries to use the undemocratic methods, Indian republic will break down.
An utmost care must be taken to preserve democracy in India. India has one of the major concentrations of the Muslims in the world and so far Indian Muslims have not taken the position that the other extremists’ groups have taken, but it follows the same route if the care is not taken to bring them in the Indian democracy consciously. Their participation in the democracy is vital and important. So, the religion-based discrimination is undemocratic as it pushes major minority in India to the fringes. The caste system is another undemocratic institution which has a capacity of putting the Indian Republic in danger. The regionalism is raising its ugly tentacles all over India.
The idea of India as a democratic republic is in danger. It is threatened by the undemocratic and anti-democratic forces. Technically, we have democracy in India, but in practice and spirit, the democracy is just a veneer which hides deeper interests of a minority.
If the project of democracy in India is to succeed, what India needs is “disruptive innovations” in the democracy. These disruptive innovations begin at the fringes, but with a powerful potential to disrupt the existing structures and even influence them and change them beyond recognition. So long as the democracy is practiced in India, the anti-democratic forces can be challenged and defeated.
The democracy is not just an ideal to be reached, but it is also a set of methods that keeps on creating itself from bottom up. Despite the lack of much-needed resources, the movement started by Babasaheb Ambedkar led to many “disruptive innovations” and as these disruptions scale up, they challenge the existing structures and patterns.
The social movements in India in the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar have forced many changes in India: may they be the rights of India’s OBCs, the reservation policies, forcing the established parties to include members of the other caste into their fold, and strengthening of India’s democratic institutions.
What is forcing the hands of RSS/BJP to chose a Dalit the President of India?
The only challenge to the rise of the dictatorship of the established classes is the social movement started by Babasaheb Ambedkar. And the movement is growing each passing day when a spectrum of communities are beginning to realize what way lies their liberty. The Indians are engaging with the ideas of Babasaheb Ambedkar as they never did before. His ideas have a quality of freedom, quality of equality, and quality of love and fraternity. The movement stands out in India because it has always created dissonance whenever anti-democratic ideas were forced upon the Indian citizens. The movement was small but sharp. Within a span of a few decades, it showed what are the possibilities. If politics is an “art of possibilities”, the way movements in the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar pushed the limits of the possibilities ahead and in the unknown areas is remarkable. Still, there is a long way to go, but the signs of what is going to come are clear. Thomas Schelling, the game theorist, developed an amazing theory of “Strategy of Conflict” and he found remarkable ways to stall the conflict from running out of hand and into final destruction. No true Indian will work for the final destruction of India which will come through the violent conflict if ever any group tries to dismantle democracy in India. The way Babasaheb Ambedkar stalled the possible spiral of violent civil war arising India is the way to go. Violence and civil war are not in the interest of anybody. The only way to go forward is negotiations and discussions. This is the democratic way to avert any destruction.
The Ambedkarite movement is the peaceful movement for total democracy which does not make it a meek movement. It has in-built strategies to counter anti-democratic forces peacefully. As Babasaheb said, either for offense or defense, we have to mobilize the community. Time and again, the community is mobilized but in many cases for defense. Every time there is an attack on the community, the people rose and roared. They did not take anything lying down. This quality of rising up to the occasion has become part and parcel of India’s social movement started by Babasaheb Ambedkar. Now, let us change the scenario and imagine that the community also mobilizes for offense, not a military offense, but the political, social, and economic offense. The picture of India will be different. Already the community is on the move. There is no sector in which the community has not made any dent in India. This will continue to grow and with it the growth of Indian democracy is ensured and hence the safety of Indian Republic. When Babasaheb Ambedkar forged the Indian democracy in the crucible of violent forces and irrational hatred, he also ensured that the process of democratization should not be stopped and he left behind tools and methods to keep it up. The line between the enemies of the democracy and the friends of the democracy is drawn, but this line is blurred by the media and the “deep establishment”, but as the “veil of ignorance” will be lifted and the battle line becomes visible, the minority that is oppressing India will have only two choices to make: Give up their control and become part of Indian Republic or perish as the enemies of the people.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist