Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lessons for India

Ever since Nepal's monarchy was overthrown in a maoist inspired rebellion and ever since the maoist party won in the elections that followed, India's hold on Nepal's pulse has slowly but steadily slipped away.

For whatever reason, all countries surrounding India seem to have trouble practicing democracy. While as a country we cherish the peaceful transfer of power every five years, we take pride in being the largest democracy in the world against all odds, and we strongly believe that our model of democracy is the right one for a diverse country like ours, we still are not seen as that shining democracy upon a hill worth emulating by our neighbours.


Nepal is a classic example. For decades we have had a close relationship with the Nepalese ruling class, be it the monarchy or the elected dispensation. But lately, India seems to have lost the mojo for Nepal or more importantly the other way round!

For all the continues engagement between the two countries for decades, somehow Nepal seems to have taken to Maoism now. Why?

Now lets move on to Bangladesh. In the 70's, India militarily intervened to aid the Mukti Bahini to gain independence from Pakistan. That perhaps was the highest point in the relationship between the two countries. After that it has been a bumpy ride downwards. Bangladesh has been alternating between military rule and an elected government ever since. Not much influence there from its western/northern/eastern neighbour!

Pakistan. Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan. Newspaper columnists in that country sometimes look across the fence when they wish their government learn some lessons from across the border. But that's about it.

Sri Lanka is a case by itself. Though Sri Lanka practices democracy quite regularly, that country stands accused of ethnic cleansing, by its Tamil minority. A governing model based on India's federal setup has been proposed for a long time now. Hopefully something similar will come up soon that will satisfy the urge for equal rights for its Tamils.

I could go on. But the above examples are enough to show a pattern. India has tremendous influence on all its neighbours. However, all for the wrong reasons. Being the largest multi cultural democracy in the world, shouldn't we be exporting our ideas, values and solutions to these smaller countries that are so desperately in need of a good workable governing model.

Its sad to see our newspapers reporting maoist violence during elections. Even China has moved away from the socialistic policies of Chairman Mao. Inspite of this, even in our country we have the threat of maoist violence rival the threat of terrorist violence today.

What are the missing pieces here? Why aren't our neighbours saying - Why can't we be like India?

Why don't our neighbours look upto how we practice democracy in such diversity? Why isn't the Indian governing model worth emulating or learning from?

Why are we not yet that bright shining country upon the hill in this dark dark sub continental night?

image courtesy: jagrutindia.com

No comments: