The Cultivation of Democratic Governance

Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realize that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.

This is what Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said after the departure of the British from India in 1947.

The point for us, as it was for Dr. Ambedkar, is not to be dogmatically pro- or anti-democracy but to note the facts and deal creatively with the reality.

Perhaps this was one of the reasons for the different trajectories of governance in the two countries – India dealt with the reality a lot more creatively than was the case in Pakistan. Think of the approach to the reorganization of states as one example.

Of course, there were other important differences and we shall elaborate on them as we go along.

We will also highlight the contributions of Dr. Ambedkar who, in our view, was one of the outstanding intellects of those times. It is a telling commentary that his observations are virtually unknown in Pakistan.

At the very least his cogently argued text of 1940 Pakistan or the Partition of India should be required reading for all who wish to understand the issues of those times. 

The following was the poignant quotation on the cover of the book:

More brain, O Lord, more brain! Or we shall mar,
Utterly this fair garden we might win 

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  • Humanist
    Posted at 18:19h, 18 January Reply

    Madam, Sir,
    Before venturing into any discussion on Democracy, it is worthwhile to try to define Democracy, its ancinet and modern history; how and why it failed in the anceient and medieval world; who introduced it in the modern world and why…?
    In South Asia or the Subcontinent it was not a natural outgrowth but it was particularly introduced for particular purpose.
    Democray like religion means different things to different people.
    It can be a very dangerous idea in social as well as political fields anyway.
    We should keep concentrating on the word Democracy while defining and discussing or explaining it and not just say that its essence is present in this or that religion or ideology etc.
    Thanks Humanist

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 22:59h, 18 January Reply

    Humanist, I agree. The limitation of the blog format is that a new reader can land up at a random post and it is not possible to repeat the definitions in every post.

    On The South Asian Idea we have taken great care with the definitions and the history. If you go to the Main Page and scroll down to the thematic posts, you will see two themes (Lessons in Governance and Modernity in South Asia) where much of what you suggest has been addressed. If you still feel there is something missing, let us know. We also encourage readers to add to the discussion – that way we all learn faster

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