Ancient Indian democracy: Lessons for today

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Ancient Indian democracy: Lessons for today

Wednesday, 29 November 2023 | KS Radhakrishnan

Ancient Indian democracy: Lessons for today

In the ancient democracy of southern India, there was zero tolerance for corruption and strict punishment was given to defaulters

Even during kings’ reigns democracy was practised and flourished, but even after so many technological advancements in the 21st century, the elections are used for self-gain. Many times it questions whether they run a government or a business. There are no constructive rules for the candidate's section. It leads to less hope in democracy.

The state of corruption and its deep Nexus create a worrying stage. At once, Tamil Nadu was teaching democracy and ethics to the rest of the world by inscriptions. Now all the developmental activities are marred by corruption.

Most of the funds allotted for various programs and policies are siphoned in the name of Implementation, but the truth is that it goes into the pockets of politicians. The bureaucracy which is well-known for red tape, complicated procedures, and poor transparency in various policies and programs is also responsible for more corruption activities. From the Chola period, we can see a procedural usage of public money for various programs.

Now on the contrary, when a new government assumes power, the plants and programs of earlier governments get cancelled out rightly, leading to a waste of public money. It is widely known that people who are prone to corrupt attitudes are escaping the clutches of law due to the unclear nature of laws and underhand dealings with higher officials. No laws are daring enough to reach the corrupt and put them behind bars.

One should think that the country is not only run by technology but also the scope of human resources. In this era of Artificial intelligence youths are taking everything for Granted and are not ready to make the right decision and questioning the state of the world a comfortable life is a primary requirement. Nobody is ready to take responsibility to make the system stand right.

As we are from the land of Swami Vivekananda, his message for the youth of this country is “Let human”. He also dwelt on the capabilities of the youth; he wanted the youth to train itself to serve humanity. What he wanted from the youth were ‘muscles of iron’ and ‘nerves of steel’.

Today, the youth are exceptionally responsive and they just need to be encouraged. Swami Vivekananda was only the medium; he is himself the message as well for the youth of India. His teachings will always stay relevant.

He once said, “The education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out the strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion – is it worth the name? Real education is that which enables one to stand on one’s own.” For him, education meant secular learning that built character and instilled human values in students. All these initiatives of the Government require active involvement and support of youth as they are the major stakeholders of the future of this country.

As Swami Vivekananda once exhorted, “Arise! Awake! And stop not till the goal is reached”, let us all unite and work for the country with Purity, patience, and perseverance as the Swami felt long ago that these three are essentials to success.

The country, believe it or not, is in dire need of a revolution and the only hope we have is the youth. With their vision and farsightedness, the youth can bring to the plate not only changes but freshness which the country could use to give itself an image makeover. The Chola administration has become the foundation for modern democracy. We are in the age to revive our electoral pattern as our democratic legacy extends far beyond Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic.

(The writer is an activist and a lawyer, the views expressed are personal)

This is the second part of the series on ancient Indian democracy

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