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Book Section part II

 Name of the Book:           Participatory Citizenship

Editors:                             Ranjita Mohanty &Rajesh Tandon

City of Publication:          New Delhi

Publisher:                         Sage Publication India Pvt. Ltd

Year of Publication:         2006

Pages:                               249

Price:                                Rs. 500

Reviewer:                         Syed Naseer Ahmad (C.C.S Probationer)

 

                      

T

his book argues that conventional understanding of citizenship is inadequate to capture the complex challenges faced by a majority of marginalised people of India in actualising their rights and making their voices heard. It offers instead an extended connotation of citizenship and participation from the perspective of those bearing excluded identities-namely the lower caste, the poor, women and tribals. Based on the experiences of these groups in their everyday relationship with the state and with the society at large, the contributors to this volume detail and explore the possibilities sand the problematics of their inclusion in attempting a change in existing relations. The issue discussed is ‘participatory citizenship’   as a way of altering the existing relationship between the state and its vulnerable citizens. Participation is conceptualised not merely as a voting /election mechanism but one where all citizens have a legitimate and equitable stake in the process of development and governance.

 

 Democracy gives an idea of citizenship that encompasses participation. In a society which has a history of colonial rule, citizenship is conferred to otherwise subjects. State governs not only rights and freedom but a judicial system to protect them. Citizenship aspires to translate universality of equity into action. However in social settings marked by deep and persistent inequalities based on caste, class, governs relationship of citizens with within and with the government, citizenship comes to privilege the better off who are in an advantageous position. Hence broadly speaking, citizenship don’t take into account the experience of certain disadvantaged groups like low- caste, poor, women and tribals. Likewise, citizenship is mainly restricted to participation as voters in election process or as beneficiaries of programmes and policies in a welfare state. Hence the very concept of stakes and involvement in the affairs of state and society is undermined.

 

The book emphasises on the complementarities of citizenship and participation. Participation is conceptualised not as voters and beneficiaries but as citizens with a legitimate and equitable stake in the process of development and governance. Participatory citizenship is about altering the existing relationship between the state and its vulnerable citizenry. It is both a discourse and a set of practices about the inclusion of excluded groups. Seeking inclusion of the excluded however is not an easy process but all the more problematic.

 

Since powerlessness also results from the unequal possession of material resources, levelling of playing field for poor people to participate as citizens requires creating conditions which enables economic mobility. As the authors write, `citizenship discourses more recently have extended from a common understanding of ‘citizen` towards a greater emphasis on his/her rights for effective participation. This has largely resulted from the ‘citizen` being more and more recognised as an important actor in the framing of social policy. As seen in 2004 state elections in M.P, bsp (Bijli,Sadak,Pani) became the issue. The electorate returned the B.J.P to power as largely this party was able to respond to the specific needs of the people. Citizens can now force the political parties to adopt certain specific demands in their political agenda. It is in this sense that role of citizens as voters, citizens as critique of state and citizen as collaborative of state merge.

 

A modernising state like India needs to upgrade its institutions, rules, procedures and its human resource. It is required to develop a new mindset of facilitation instead of controls. In today’s independent world, citizens are experiencing an expanding level of choices and opportunities to become active participants and contributors. The most powerful social movement of the last decade in favour of the disadvantaged has been the movement against the construction of Narmada Valley Project and Sardar Sarovar Dam.

 

 With regard to nomads, inclusive citizenship entails that the gap between the settled community and these nomads be bridged. The authors write that nomads have come to experience livelihood constraints in the recent past. Changes in economy, industry and technology and consequent social changes have threatened the livelihood of each nomadic community in an unprecedented way. Despite constitutional safeguards, nomads have little access to even common rights and opportunities of citizens, not to speak of special affirmative rights. Further, having rights is not enough- how to use them is what makes a difference. For example many villages affected by pollution from NTPC plant were unaware that the information they need to support their claims already resides in the offices of Pollution Control Board and they were entitled to access it.

 

 In case of women, their participation remained a distant dream till the 73rd and 74th amendments mandating 33% reservation of women as members and head of panchayat bodies. In spite of all these efforts full and active participation of women couldn’t be ensured. The reservation is resented and ridiculed on the ground that the husbands of women panchayat members popularly known as pradhanpatis are operating on their behalf and women are incapable to emerge as political leaders and adopt the role of decision maker. Decentralised planning and Panchayati Raj alone will not improve gender relations, the system has to address gender- specific issues. Despite all these constraints reservation of seats for women in panchayats has served the purpose of institutionalising and legitimising women’s voice at the site of power.

 

Some case studies as cited in the book from West Bengal suggest that social situation of marginalised based on group membership that existed in many parts of our rural society can be replaced by the social processes generated by the effort to build network of political associations where the rights of individuals are more important than the community status. An all studied cases, the political association that was generated through the panchayat’s action enabled the marginalised to participate and define their role in the public domain as citizens. But it is also true that the inclusion of the poor, low-castes and the tribals in the public domain is not complete. The situation of empowerment of the poor is a far-cry from the kind of egalitarian society that one dreams of.

 

 Combining theoretical discussions with empirical case studies, this volume delineates the possibilities and potentialities of excluded people seeking inclusion as well as the complexities and contradictions inherent in the process. It will be of immense interest to students and scholars of civil society, democracy, social mobilisation, gender and development studies,practioners and policy-makers will also find the book useful in designing and implementing solutions to the issues that affect the inclusion and participation of marginalised citizens.

 

 Overall the book is a very good attempt to project the real meaning of citizenship in democracy, various ways to actualise that and the hurdles therein. Though the book is written in simple layman’s language, perhaps the context made it inevitable to include specific political science terminology. Some repetitions here and there also lessen the taste of the book at times. In spite of this the editors have achieved a great success in conveying the comprehensive explanation of citizenship which is easily gauged by even a common reader. But as it is a case of empowerment of masses, real benefit will be achieved by concerted and sustained efforts by government machinery.          .       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name of the book:              Reconciliation Islam,

Democracy & the West

Author:                                  Benazir Bhutto

Place of publication:          London, Newyork, Sydnay, Toronto

Publisher:                             Simon & Schuster

Year of publication:                        2008

Pages –                                 328

Price –                                   Rs. 795/-

Review by :                           Aziz Ahmad Rather

 

R

econciliation, Democracy, Islam and the West, a new and a last book written by Ms. Benazir Bhutto, the first democratically elected women to head the only nuclear Muslim country, Pakistan, was finished by her days before she was killed in a shootout while campaigning for her “populist” peoples party in Rawalpindi.

 

As the name of this volume, suggests Ms. Benazir was able to read the present of the world history very clearly putting forward her reconciliatory point of view on the our used thesis of “clash of civilizations”.

 

The timing of the book and the author’s killing by extremists provided a proper context to and surely validated the importance of this book.

 

The book, divided into 6 chapters, is based on Bhutto’s personal experiences about Pakistan politics divided into Democrats and Extremists - one thriving on people’s aspirations and the other on “wrong interpretations” of Islam.

She also debates about how west encouraged dictatorship and undemocratic governments in Muslim countries for achieving some short term objectives. Since she has named the book ‘Reconciliation’ that is why she has come up with the moderate version of Islam substantiated by Quranic verses and other religious  sources to defend and try to come to the rescue of Muslims, otherwise treated as “terrorists” all our the World. She is concerned our battle within Islam, democracy verses Dictatorship and Moderation versus Extremism and more obviously about the future of Pakistan for which she believed, she lived after her father’s death. “On the day he was murdered I understood that my life was to be Pakistan….”

 

It often scenes that Oxford read, Pinkie, as Ms. Bhutto was known in her youth is pleading her on case as a champion of Democracy. She has tried to prove her point by giving some striking examples how she was expelled twice from office under the ‘false’ charges of corruption. The author has lashed out at Gen. Zia who hanged her father Z.A. Bhutto, and Parvez Musharaf who kept her at fair distance from Pakistan’s hot seat.

 

Trying to revolve around her own self from page one of the book, Benazir has in detail narrated her arrival in Pakistan after “eight lonely and difficult years of exile.” Not only she but the whole family from Asif Zardari to daughters Baktawar and Aseefa and son Bilawal figure in the first page of the book in which another claims she is for people of Pakistan.

 

Claiming high about her own popularity, she felt that on October 2007 millions of people had traveled from far and wide to greet her and to greet the return of democracy. ‘Jaan Nissar Benazir’ a marvelous group of brave unarmed young men surrounding her truck, held hands making a human shield to protect her with their bodies. She writes that out of 179 people who died in two blasts at that night, 50 were these brave young men who had so much to live for.

 

Declaring December 2, 1988 as “the moment of democracy”, when she was administered oath as the democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan becoming the first women in history elected to head an Islamic State, Ms. Bhutto claimed that this was the reward for her father’s simple slogan of Roti, Kapra aur Makan.

 

Presenting a case of Islam, in first place, she is seriously concerned about Muslim on Muslim battle within the Islam. “One billion Muslims around the world seemed united in their outrage at the war in Iraq…..but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim on Muslim violence, even regarding Darfur, where there is an actual genocide being committed against a Muslim population”. She links the need for Sunni-Shitte harmony with the broader need for respect for other religions.

 

About Islam, she believed that it is an open, pluralistic and tolerant religion – a positive force and the lives of more than one billion people across this planet…

 

Moreover, she reiterates “It is my firm belief that until Muslims revert to the traditional interpretation of Islam in which ‘you shall have your religion, and I shall have mine’ is respected and adhered to the factional strife’s within Muslim countries will continue…….

In the bake drop of rise of Alqaeda and trying by interpreting of Quranic verses in her own way to dispel wrong perceptions about Islam, the author confidently gives her own perspective of Islam. “The first word of Holy Book is “Read”. It doesn’t say, “Men Read”, it says, “Read”. It is command to all believers’ not just men’.

 

The author was of the opinion that Quran doesn’t simply preach tolerance of other religions; at also acknowledges that salvation can be achieved in all monotheistic religions.

 

“Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve”.

 

She forcefully puts across her point “Islam embraces all humanity under one god, discrediting all other religious claims to salvation. I don’t believe there is anything quite like this in any religion on earth.”

 

Mentioning, 9/11, Madrid, Riyadh and Bali Bombings and Karachi blasts as well, Ms. Bhuttoo equates these “terror acts” with the hijacking the message of her religion – the religion of Islam.

 

She compares Osama-bin-Laden’s “attempt to exploit, manipulate and militarize Islam” to terrorist acts committed by other religious fanatics: “whether Christian fundamentalists” attacks on women’s reproductive clinics or Jewish fundamentalists attacks on Muslim holy sites in Palestine.

The author has questioned the “literalist and more text based interpretations of Islam” given by the medieval scholar Ahmed Ibn Taymiyya, the founder of the “extremist group Jamaat-Islami” in South Asia Maulana Maudodi and “One of the strongest intellectual forces behind Islamic extremism, Sayyid Qutub, a twentieth century “Muslim activist” form Egypt.

 

The author has vehemently rejected what she calls “Conventional wisdom” which makes people believe that Democracy has failed to develop in Muslim world because of Islam itself. She rejects this thinking as ‘convenient’ and ‘simplistic’ grounded in neither theory nor practice.

 

She claimed, “As a Muslim who has lived under both democracy and dictatorship, I know that the reasons are far more complex”.

 

The so-called incompatibility of Islam and democratic governance is used to divert attention from the sad history of western political intervention in the Muslim world, which has been a major impediment to the growth of democracy in Islamic nations, she has added.

 

Ms. Bhutto takes the Unites States to task for its role in helping to overthrow  the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953, arguing that this not only undermine the future of democratic government in that nation but also “made generations of Muslims suspicious and cynical about western motivations”.

 

Including some big Muslim countries like Pakistan, Algeria, Egypt now Iraq, Ms. Bhutto has given a brief account about how pervasive interference by west, often to support unpopular dictatorships has left bitter memories in these lands. Supplementing her argument that Islam is not inconsistent with democracy, Benazir has given an example of Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation on earth, where “democracy and Islam have flourished and developed together, one getting strength from the other”.

 

She says that if the United States had not used Afghanistan as merely a “blunt instrument to trigger the implosion of the Soviet Union” and then abandoned it, history in the entire region might well have been very different. And she deems Iraq “a quagmire for the West and a great and unfolding tragedy for the people” of that country – a “colonial war in a postcolonial era” from which America cannot extricate itself.

 

Her discussion of Pakistan, however, is almost obsessive in its insistence that United States policy has been responsible for propping up dictatorship and undermining democracy there. While there is certainly some truth to these claims, it is worth bearing in mind that Pakistan ahs developed poorly along many dimensions - social, economic and political – from its birth, and that it usually lapsed into dictatorship without much prodding from Washington. General Pervez Musharraf’s coup, for example, was neither engineered nor approved of by the Clinton administration. If Muslims must accept that they are the authors of their own fate and stop blaming outsiders, is it not fair to ask that of Pakistan’s leaders, military and civilian?.

 

Blaming religious political parties of Pakistan and ISI for strengthening Taliban and Terror groups in Afghanistan to create “Strategic depth” in that country for themselves. But, she could force strategic depth soon turning into a strategic threat to Pakistan.

 

Enumerating, her successes and achievements in her 2 terms which didn’t, unfortunately, last for full term of 5 years, she recalls with pride, “I am particularly proved of our work with Indian Prime Minister Rajive Gandhi building on the progress in Pakistan - India relations that our parents had established in the Simla Accord. Again targeting ISI for undermining the budding relationship between two young, moderate, post partition leaders, who were willing to “think out of the box”, the author has disclosed that “they accused me of being an Indian agent”.

 

Reacting to the academic debate on clash of civilizations, Ms. Bhutto call those who believe in the inevitability of the conflict “Clashers” and those who believe the contrary “reconciliationists”. Throwing her weight with the later. She declares, “clearly I am a reconciliationist. She traces  the origin of clash theory in the writings of Oswald Spengler, who in his opus, the Decline of the west, first published in 1918 at the conclusion of WWI. Spengler believed that there have been 8 “high cultures” in the history of human beings. Similarly, Benazir has also referred to Arnold Toynbee’s 23 civilizations and their rise and fall. Then, the author has analyzed the Samuel Huntington’s theory of clash of civilizations. She  accepts that since September 2001, terrorist attacks, on the United States, the March 11, 2004, train attacks in Madrid, the July 7, 2005 Subway attacks in London and the internationalization of terrorism, the theory has become more and more acceptable. Disagreeing with the thesis, the author fears that this work has actually helped provoke the confrontation it predicts. “It is a self fulfilling prophecy of fear that disregards history and human nature, molding the world to conform to a theory.  As a reconciliationist, Ms. Bhutto not only believes in possibility of internal reconciliation within the Islam but she also has quoted many Muslim scholars who look beyond “traditional horizons” of Islam. Referring to spiritual father of Pakistan, poet and philosopher Dr. Iqbal (Reconstruction of Religious thought in Islam), Ms. Bhutto takes pride in saying that he called for looking beyond the traditional Islamic schools of jurisprudence and reviving ijtihad.

 

Similarly, the author has quoted contemporary Pakistani academic professor Fazlu-Rehman, Nurcholish Majdid, a prominent Indonesian writer, who advocated changes to keep up with changes; Dr. Mohammad Arkkoun, an Algerian, underscoring need for free and productive thinking; K.H. Abdur Rehman Wahid, the former president of Indonesia, questioning the inflexibility and stressing Islamic tolerance; and Indian Muslim scholars Maulana Wahiddin Khan etc.

 

Besides the author has made strong plea for resolution for long, pending disputes of Muslims like Palestine, Kashmir, Chechneya.

 

She has also proposed a new programe by the developed world similar to the Marshall plan, specifically using tangible and identifiable means to improve the lives of people in deprived areas of Muslim nations.

 

Again, the author, has tried to bridge the widening gape between Islam and the west by proposing a”Reconciliation Corps”. That could help restore communication, trust and dialogue between the Muslim world and the west, modeled on the Peace Corps.

Name of the Book:                          My Country My Life

Name of the Author:                       Mr. Lal Krishan Advani

City of Publication:                         New Delhi

Publisher’s Name :                         Rupa and Co.

Year of Publication:                        2008

Pages:                                               1022

Price:                                                 Rs. 595

Reviewer:                                          Sandeep Singh Bali

 

 

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dvani’s 1000 page Journey “My country my life”  begin with him as an Awkward teenager in sindh (then in India) and ends up with a accomplished 80 year old Indian Prime Minister in waiting but he has resorted to, which many veteran politicians have resorted to their final argument i.e patriotism, to justify his belief and action  in his memoirs..

 

Advani has always been uninterpreted or misinterpreted by press and voice of the other side needs to be heard in the right perspective,so that actions of powerful persons can be scrutioned and people know their leaders by their deeds, not words.

 

Through “My Country My Life” the Indian public get the ringside view of the man who could be next Indian King.  Thus, it is critic and opponents for whom reading of this book is essential.  Getting answer’s  straight from “Horse’s mouth”, detailed and non Evasive Explainations.

 

There are reasons why advani felt it important to emphasise upon not only his nationalism but also of RSS.  While there have always been doubt about the role.  RSS plays during freedom struggle.  Hence, today, when Bharatiya Janta Party, the political

Face of RSS has emerged as the second largest political party, it is time to repay the debt to the parent organization.  Even as he project himself as next Prime Minister, he perhaps feels duty bound to bring the RSS out of the shadows of greater acceptability and respectability among the people.  Hence, he asserts that even through RSS didn’t care much about the freedom struggle, it had enormous respect for both Gandhi and Bhagat Singh.  It is another matter that people with sharper and longer memory may dispute this, but then this is not their memoirs.

 

Dale Carnegic had great influence on Advani “once you have made you point and you friend don’t agree, what is the point in stretching the argument”.  So it is up to people to decide whether Advani is speaking truth or not.”

 

Patriotism is not the only theme that Advani plays in his autobiography ‘My Country My Life’.  Advani establishes his secularists credentials right in the beginning, when he talks of his growing up years in sind, now in Pakistan.  According to him, he grew up in an  atmosphere.  Where sindhis revered Hindu, Muslim and Sikh Saints.  Visiting temples, dargahs and gurudwaras was part of the sind culture, so there was no question of any animosity on the basis of religion.  But what about his speeches during Babri Marjid demolitions anyway, these day, even the RSS is not anti Muslim but only opposed to those Muslims which are unpatriotic, writes Advani. See, the word again.

 

Later in the chapter he describes his meeting with Veer Savarkar in 1947 and then at Ramakrishna Mission in Karachi his meeting with Swami Ranganathonanda.  He then goes to the remark that once Pakistan was created, Jinnah was not in full control of it and in his last day, Dr. Ajeet Jawed remarked the ( Jinnah) was a sad and sick person, he cried in agony “I have created the biggest blunder in creating Pakistan and would like to go to Delhi and tell Nehru to forgot the follies of his and become friend again”.

 

Chapter 4 in this first phase is an excellent analysis of who is really to blame for the partition and whether it could be avoided “I also feel that a nation is better served if its people and leaders acquire a better unstanding of the history and forge stronger unity –we should know, too, the fundamental basis of India’s unity so that we appreciate the basic absurdity of India’s partition.

 

From1957-1977, when Advani enters national politis.  The comments, on how the chinease Aggression exposed dangerous flaws in India’s foreign and defence policies.  It was also uncovered the extra territorial loyalty of Indian communists who supported china both during war and after India’s defeat.

 

It has been a while since this book came out.  Reviewers of various persuasions have hailed or nitpicked it on factual errors.  So, this review will not rub salt on Kandahar Wounds, neither will it responses to Advani’s description of operation Parakaram as ‘the largest peace time deployment of troops in the country’s history’.

 

On what are the drawbacks of this book? The book could have been will without 5 lengthy appendixes(pg-902-942) as well as detailed speeches and detailed events scattered.  The central thread of the autobiography must be preserved, without  distraction. To make the book a crisp and speedy manageable 700 old pages.

 

After plaguing through 900 pages, what does one get to know about Lal Krishna Advani? He has always being deeply religious person, vegetarian, fond of reading and watching  films.  Spread over two pages is a collection of Advani’s photographs with his family taken in 1973.  In one, he is sitting in the garden with his two children and wife, in another he is helping his kids, third one, he is taking out a book from the shelf in his study and fourth, he and his wife smiling out one another in kitchen garden.  The photograph were taken not only on the same day but probably at the same time because all of them wearing same clothes in the pictures.  Clearly, it is a deliberate photo session.

 

On his childhood, he writes there was an atmosphere of pavitrate (piousness) at home.  One sentence completes the role of his mother in his life, who loved him a lot but after she died he got all the love and affection from his dad.   He mentioned his younger sister, but again apart from the use of adjective love, there is no exploration of the siblings relationship.  The must amazing omission is his father’s opinion on Advani joining the RSS.  Even at the moment as crucial as partition, when families were getting separated Advani only writes about his flight to India with a RSS fellow man.  Among other things, he writes why he opposed urdu-isation of Hindi and favoured Sanskritisation Instead.

 

`In this vein, the book plods, tracing the creation of Jana Sangh, Advani’s stellar role in it, his stint as a Journalist and a film critic, the coming together of anti-India forces, the collapse of experiment and creation of Bharatiya Janata Party.  For those who thought that Advani would become more reflective about the contemporary issues would be sorely disappointed but his view on issues like Ayodhya movement, the Modi’s role in Gujarat, Shah Bano’s case, the Karachi speech of Jinnah, his own recommendation on Electoral reforms etc all these make for fascinating reading.

 

Though he writes that very early in life he realized that Indians were a deeply religious people, he does not dwell upon why he thought in the 1990’s.  Ayodhya could catapult them to power in Delhi.  He asserts that when thousands of Kar Sevaki collected in the small town of Ayodhy a on Dec.6, 1992, he did not expect them to run amuck or climb on the domes of the mosque to pull it down.

 

To know and understand Advani  one has to go through chapter 18, which tells us what drives Advani “In pursuit of meaning and happiness of life”.  He share with us his respect and admiration for Ratan Tate and Narayan Murthy, his favourite book, journalist, music, plays and people who are continuously influencing him like mother Teresa and Mualana Wahididdin Khan.

 

However, despite Advani’s evasiveness on several crucial issues, he did have a good idea of doing start profiles through the book on people  who influenced him on the way.  You also get a perspective on people who have been part of India’s contemporary history.

 

After reading the autobiography there is no two opinion that there are very few politicians of the mettle and character of Advani.  It serve as on Inspiration to many who are deeply for nation but don’t know the high cost they have to give and high value of power on their shoulders.

 

 

Name of the Book:              Divided by Democracy

Author:                                  Meghnand Desai & Aitizaz Ahsan

Editor:                                    David Page

Pages:                                   144

Price:                                     Rs.295

Publisher:                             Lotus

Year of Publication:                       2005

Reviewer:                              Sameer Jan

 

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his small book is an analytical one attempting to discover the causes of the sustainability of democracy in India and yet unsuccessfulness of the same in Pakistan. The book has three chapters viz; Introduction (by David Page), Why Is India a democracy (by Meghnand Desai) and Why Is Pakistan not a democracy.

 

India is the largest democracy and among the oldest ones that emerged after the post colonial era. There are many factors that transformed India into a vibrant democracy whereas its twin sister is still dangling between democracy and authoritarianism. This owes much to Indian National Congress which was established in 1885. INC continued growing, though through a checkered path, so that at the time of independence it was fully structured and organized party with  presence all over down to the grass root. The members of the party had got well trained in the democratic process through the national

 

movement and had irreversibly imbibed the view of a democratic nation emulation Westminster model. Also India at the time of the independence had a good industrial and

 

business fraternity and a big middle class all of whom had supported national movement and were unflinching aspirants of democracy.

 

Presence of eminent leaders especially Jawaharlal Nehru played a crucial role. Nehru managed full sway of the Congress both at the state as well as at the central level resulting in well principled constitution  and a stable political government successful enough to keep the civilian and military bureaucracy subordinate to the political authority.

 

Universal Adult Franchise and almost regular conduct of free and fair elections helped a lot in u holding and entrenching democratic values of in spite of profuse ads and irritants surfacing rather frequently.

 

The role of judiciary can never be overestimated. Although there have been events of irregularity and corruption at the lower levels of judiciary, the Supreme Court of India has satisfactorily performed its primary function of upholding, preserving and protecting the constitution and did not even hold back from striking down the election of Indra Gandhi in early 1970’s resulting in the latter’s clamping of emergency.

 

The availability of universal adult franchise has helped people from various classes and identities to use their ballot power to influence rather shape governments to press for their communal interests. This has also resulted in the multiplication of the regional political parties motivated solely by their regional and political interests. Many parties especially the BJP and the Left have made their character national making a good challenge to the one party rule of the Congress. Coalition culture started in the late 1960”s and has now become a rule rather than an exception. The coalition culture has enriched  inclusiveness of the Indian democracy but at a heavy cost which we had to bear because of the populist measures of the politicians resulting in slower economic growth than what is our

 

potential. But the roots of democracy in India are very strong and gaining further strength day after day.

 

Pakistan has been attempting to root democracy there but far the success has been eluding them. Take over by military coup and authoritarian rule by army generals has become a rule rather than an exception. Here again there are various reasons.

 

Unlike in India, British nourished a feudal society in the regions which later on formed Pakistan. This has measure also strengthened the civil bureaucracy which enforced the land rights and built, controlled and distributed irrigation water. Also Punjabis and Pathans were numerously recruited in British Indian Army. This enhanced the exposure of the soldiers and again they were given huge land grants after their retirement. This gave disproportionately high status and importance to the soldier class. Consequently, Pakistan bequeathed a strongly entrenched civil and military bureaucracy along with feudal lords. All of them were pro-British and supporters as well as protectors of colonial system. Naturally, democratic aspirations were absent in them. Industrial and business class, which could have had democratic aspirations, was actively prevented by the British from getting born and flourishing. Even after independence, the industrial and the business class has remained excessively dependent, hence supporter, of the government because of licensing and finance which are available only to those who can count favors with the government.

 

Relatively weak structure, organization and inclusiveness of the Muslim League, absence of any other strong party and early death of Ali Mohammad Jinnah with out any strongly adequate successor prevented Pakistan from forming a stable constitution and government. The instability of a stable government paved the way for General Ayub to take over the government in 1958, and since then army generals in Pakistan have been regularly doing so as if out of some basic right.

 

Army generals in Pakistan also seem too fond of adventurism and even at the time of Jinnah, they did not defer much to political leaders.

 

Lack of universal adult franchise in true sense, which now perhaps has been adopted and the failure to conduct regular, free and fair elections has also been an important factor. Judiciary of Pakistan deserves a good share of blame. Except at few instances, it has followed the tradition of legitimizing any thing done by the ruling authority by its tactical but unabashed play with the legal language. This may probably be so because rulers have not even spared judiciary from their wrath.

 

However, even though true democracy is yet far away from Pakistan but spirit and desire to have it is constantly strengthened among her people and one day they will sure be rewarded.

 

The book gives a deep and comprehensive analysis to the position of India and Pakistan viz-a-viz democracy. However, Desai seems to have missed the deserving praise for

 

Indian army generals who never chose adventurism even though many opportunities did arise. Ahsan seems to be less rhetorical against the responsibility of politicians perhaps because he himself is a member of one. But the book is brief, lucid and simple worded so much so that any average educated person can read and understand it. The book is very useful for the diplomats, journalists and political scientists. It is also enough interesting for the general readers……………………

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