A WORLD WITHOUT strife, warfare, hatred and mutual distrust is an ideal world. It is what visionaries dreamt human evolution would lead to. It will be the heaven all want — all who are normal, peace-loving humans, and not perverts or evil people.
And every thinking human being presumes he/she is a normal, peace-loving, good person and that everyone opposing him/her is a pervert, evil, self-seeking, bad person. The aim of all politics is harmony, well-being. All religions seek enlightenment, peace, bliss and happiness for every human being.
But more blood has been flown, more humans killed, more people subjected to misery and hardship in the name of religion and politics than any other cause, because of people who think their religion ALONE is right, their God ALONE is the Supreme God and their way of governance ALONE is the right way. Everything else is wrong. All else is to be changed, if necessary by violence, inflicting pain or even killing.
They do not realise the world is not just black or white. There are greys too.
The welfare and progress of the majority is believed to be the goal of democracy. How that is determined, however, remains uncertain. The West has designed the 51:49 model which, for want of anything better, has been adopted by most countries, while some believed that a dictator or a king has the divine right to decide. So some want dynastic rule. In the Western model, if 51 say something and 49 something else, what the former says prevails.
The ancient Indian model of democracy is that of Adi Shankaracharya who traversed the length and breadth of the vast Indian sub-continent twice before he died in his thirties, to argue and convince by reasoning and logic, all those who questioned the Hindu philosophy and way of life. Ancient Indians believed in consensus, as against majority. One washerman doubting the chastity of Sita could make Rama ask her to prove it, though millions worshipped Rama and Sita.
Adi Shankara vanquished in his debate all but Mandana Mishra and agreed to have a debate with him. Who was to judge the winner? Mandana Mishra’s own wife, who was herself a great scholar. And when Shankara was adjudged by her as the winner, he accepted her contention that his victory was incomplete as she was the better half of Mandana Mishra and he should defeat her too.
He accepted that too, showing what space women (then) occupied in Indian thinking.
Listening to funeral orations on the death of one who is described as the American maverick, Arizona Senator John McCain — some brilliant, touching speeches made on Saturday (here in America) — one is struck by one word: Bipartisan.
Several of those who paid tributes to McCain, at the memorial service at Washington’s National Cathedral on Saturday, were from the opposition Democratic party. It was the departed leader’s own desire that they should deliver the eulogies. Several disagreed with his political goals. But none doubted his intentions, the sincerity of his beliefs, the genuineness of the man himself.
It took a grieving daughter to capture the spirit of the man. Meghan McCain spoke, often in tears and breaking down emotionally, of him as the “fierce conscience of the nation’s best self.” The “culmination of a uniquely political week of mourning,” as a channel put it, was the realisation that democracy was all about the wellbeing and happiness of a majority.
Meghan said: “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.” It is widely believed to be a reference to Donald Trump, President of the USA, who belongs to McCain’s own party
In “a stunning eulogy laced with grief, anger, pride and love” and a rebuttal to Trump, Meghan said, “the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.” An outburst of spontaneous applause interrupted her eulogy.
Today there cannot be a consensus on everything. But rational thinking and debate can establish what is right and what is wrong. Democracy is believed to support this debate, this churning of minds to bring out the truth. Truth can be only one. If 51 out of 100 say (due to fear or offering of some sops in return) that black is white, it does not become so.
Under Narendra Modi, the Army’s surgical strike had to be criticised. His call for rural toilets and cleanliness is ridiculed. Demonetization to eradicate black money and his crusade against corruption is faulted. Efforts for a national identity citizenship card are fought. Vajpayee praised Indira Gandhi as goddess Durga for Bangladesh liberation, but politics had to be played on his ashes after cremation.
All to keep a dynasty in power.
McCain was eulogized for his courage, patriotic service, obstinacy, humor, reverence for freedom and contempt for bullies, the personification of America itself. John McCain was a senator, like a member of India’s Lok Sabha — not the President of Vice president of the party now in the majority and ruling the country. He had contested in a party primary against President George Bush and in a presidential race against Barrack Obama.
And yet the nation celebrated him — something which India’s rulers till 2014 could never think of. The three non-dynasty Congress Prime Ministers who preceded Modi were only stop-gap arrangements tolerated by the Congress long as the dynasty called the shots. Their role is belittled. They did not deserve memorials. Their portraits do not adorn the party dais.
The Arizona senator planned to make his death an extraordinary political moment that has elevated a national debate on the values on which the United States was founded. McCain’s funeral marked the largest gathering of the bipartisan political establishment.
Bipartisan politics, where the rivals agree on national issues, is a far cry in India.