International Day of Democracy


Dr Munawar Sabir

A simple but important reality is that creation of cities is called civilization. In this regard, Mesopotamia (in Iraq today) is believed to be the first-ever civilization, established around 6000 years ago. It is pertinent to understand that city and formal politics are twins. All ancient cities/civilizations were mercantile in nature, and needed some basic laws as well as protection from invaders. For these two purposes, the phenomenon of ‘government’ appeared. Hence politics started in the shape of city states. Kings, mostly monarchs, continued to rule various parts of the world, also called empires, uptil the mid-18th century, when Industrial Revolution took place in the heart of Europe.

Although the evolution of the democratic process started with Magna Carta in the United Kingdom, credit goes to Declaration of Independence of USA, 1776. However, still, French Revolution of 1789 is considered synonymous to base and basics of democracy. It is believed that this revolution jolted all the Europe with an enormously impactful wave of democracy. It gave the world a lesson of democracy like a belief, based on the slogan of liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity). It still is almost a divine definition of democracy.

After World War II, second wave of democracy swept over the world in the form of decolonization, mainly in the less-developed and developing countries of the world. But, at the same time, a strong global wave of communism, which started soon after World War I, posed a serious threat to western-style democracy, as many communist revolutions toppled Kings which resulted in the establishment of single-party based, dictatorial governments.  The phenomenal economic growth and development of former USSR (now Russia) emerged as antithesis to western philosophy of democracy as the only panacea. Same threat is faced by the West from China as a potential next world superpower.DEMOCRACY on grunge world map

Anyway, after the end of Cold War and the demise of USSR, the idea of social democracy, instead of capitalist democracy, also looked appealing to the world. As a result of this, many capitalist countries introduced social security reforms, and welfare states emerged in many European countries. But, the Middle East is still the world’s only major region that is yet to see any form or degree of democracy, as Middle Eastern countries are ruled by monarchs. The region enjoys the fruits of geological lottery of black gold, commonly called Oil. In this region, due to the economic opulence, people have all possible facilities at a dirt cheap cost. So, due to this economic prosperity, even a revolutionary wave is not visible, let alone any major revolution, in the foreseeable future. Another strong reason behind this state of affairs is the theocratic-style of laws, which keep people far away even from thinking of having a democratic movement.

On the other hand, many developing countries, including Pakistan, have faced, and are still facing, military regimes. Similarly, in many such countries, families are ruling and this makes these states, ‘democratic dynasties’. In case of India, the world’s so-called second largest democracy, the first prime minister of the country was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who remained in office for almost 17 years—obviously, an undemocratic thing. It is also pertinent to mention that Nehru’s government ended because of his death; otherwise, he could have continued to occupy this high office. More so, the next prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was allegedly poisoned while he was on an official visit to USSR. After Shastri’s death, Nehru’s, Indira Gandhi became the prime minister of India. When she was killed in 1984, her son Rajiv Gandhi rose to hold this prestigious office. In total, this family has ruled India for over 36 years and still Rajiv Gandhi’s son, Rahul Gandhi, is no less than a holy figure for Congress workers in the politics of India.  Although India claims to be a secular state, for over 52 years this state has been ruled by Brahmans (elitist caste in Hindu religion) and no Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc. have been the prime minister of India. That is why India is called Brahman-Hindu secular

Next aspect of democracy in current era is challenged by the dominating global position enjoyed by China. China has actually neutralized the concept and broken the myth of democracy as the only system to progress and develop as a country. It is seriously difficult for the Western countries to justify the dominance of China as the world’s second largest economy—likely to be at number one by 2024—even being a single-party-based communist country. Point to be considered here is that the current president of China, Xi Jinping Ping has become president for life.

At the very same time, China proves that eradication of corruption and promotion of education and research are its top priorities. But, the Chinese are not chanting   the mantra of democracy as the only way to become a prosperous country. Especially, India and Pakistan need to learn and follow this lesson.    


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