How Democracies Die

You just need two things to uphold democracy. As simple as they sound, they are just as hard when you have power at your disposal.

Last year as the pandemic was raging and Trump was suggesting people in the US could drink Clorox, I was reading the book - How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. They mention two crucial things that are necessary for a democracy.

Mutual Tolerance - One of the fundamental tenets of democracy is for opposing candidates to have mutual respect. There was none in the US elections last year with a lot of name-calling. 

Closer home, the elected leader of India is no better. With ‘Pappu’ and ‘Didi o didi’, he has time and again shown a complete and dismal lack of respect for the opposition. Further, the cowardice is that he can only come and make these proclamations in front of a sea of supporters.

Forbearance - Simply put forbearance means - Just because something is not deemed illegal does not mean you do it. If a king was to kill someone in his kingdom, it would not be deemed a crime, there is nothing a king cannot do. Choosing not to do it is forbearance. Trump in the US flouted all boundaries of forbearance. Frankly, he went into the realms of completely illegal very often.

Forbearance has not been a quality that the current Indian government has adhered to. Using the Sedition law that was created by the British in the aftermath of 1857, this government has tried to cull every voice that has risen against it. Free Speech, Free Press, Freedom to practice religion, almost every fundamental right has been trampled upon. Collecting donations under the guise of support for the sick and not being accountable for it is the exact opposite of forbearance.

Safe to say, both Mutual Tolerance and Forbearance have gracelessly departed.


Where has this all left us?

Four countries put right-wing leaders at the helm.

All of them have suffered some of the worst death tolls from the pandemic. The US began recovering from the pandemic the day Trump had his Twitter account blocked. After the Conquistadors left, it took Bolsanaro to unleash this much death in the continent of South America. Boris Johnson let the bodies pile up across the UK earlier this year. Finally, Prime Minister Modi has watched dead bodies queue up at the crematorium; people continue to beg for oxygen and watch the absent government.

Trump made the states in the USA compete for PPE at the beginning of the pandemic last year. Modi is making states compete for vaccines this year. And now Modi has channelled his inner Donald Trump by engaging in the real estate business with the Central Vista Project.

America escaped in the nick of time. They were able to elect a leader who is not about running a reality show but governing. By re-electing Modi we have dug ourselves a hole that is going to be impossible to get out of.

Enjoy the PR on how many calls the PM made and watch the Houdini act that he pulls each time a problem arises. (COVID, China, Economy, anything) 

When draconian laws have to be enacted or tax to be collected it is the central government that shows up. When problems need to be solved -

Aatmanirbharta. 


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What we think, we become ~ Buddha

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