Lessons not to be Learned from the World’s Largest Democracy

Britain is one of the world’s oldest democracies dating back to the thirteen century; a country that gave women the right to vote for the very first time. The elections in the UK were concluded with a thumping victory of the Conservative party coming to power, and Boris Johnson leading the UK out to BREXIT and in a new direction.

I was going through the newspaper and came across a statement by the Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, that Scotland cannot be imprisoned in the union against its will by the UK. The recent success of the SNP gives her the mandate to hold a new referendum on independence. You can’t lock us in a cupboard and turn the key and hope everything goes away. If the UK is to continue as a union, it can only be by consent.

 I was amazed by this statement and was thinking in terms of the crisis in the subcontinent with the revoking of article 370 on 5th August 2019 in Kashmir and the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) which was passed on 11th December 2019. Both actions started turmoil which has left eighty million people under siege in the valley and four million people only in Assam, India stateless.

There is a continuous lockdown in the valley, clampdown on internet, telephone services, closure of mosques, schools, political leadership is under house arrest or imprisoned, and ongoing extrajudicial killings, all in the name of emergency and insurgency. Being cut off from the rest of the world and kith and kin within India indefinitely. This is inhumane, unacceptable! The seclusion of eight million people under subhuman conditions, in the valley, is inadmissible!

I was thinking of the emotional, psychological, and financial impact of it on the people of the valley. The trauma of confinement, helplessness, uncertainty, constantly living under the fear of losing their near and dear ones. This is insupportable!

I was thinking about what the UK would do if Scotland goes for a second independence referendum.

[1] Put Scotland under siege?

[2] Clamp the internet services?

[3] Clamp the telephone services?

4] Put all the Scottish political leaders under house arrest?

5] Put indefinite curfew in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee?

6] Close all the churches so that the people would not be able to attend mass service to avoid congregation?

[7] Round up the young lads and send them to torture camps, electrocute them and humiliate them?

[8] Are police and army patrolling the streets from dawn to dusk?

[9] Set up a detention center where people can be put indefinitely?

(10) Try to change the demography of Scotland?

Will it give the Scottish people the option to go for a referendum and choose between the UK and an independent Scotland?

Will the UK be ruthless, inhumane, and insensitive towards the Scotts? Or will they treat them with dignity and a respectful way?

I am a great admirer of democracy and believe that it is a good system, and in the UK it is exemplary. Tolerance for everyone, putting up with each other, embracing differences, accommodating each other. Though no system is perfect.

In recent times, in the world’s largest democracy India, the cow is more precious than human beings. Cow vigilante hanging, beating up people on mere suspicion of transporting the animal, taking the law in their hands, doing mob justice, and becoming the executioner. It’s tragic!

It’s very sad to see Nehru’s India going this way. The land of Tagore, Gandhi, Dr. Abdul Kalam, Srinivasan Ramanujan, Amartya Sen. The country which has gone to Mars, with diverse and rich culture, has the continuity of democracy since its inception doing the worst of suppression to their own. Downgrading fellow Indians on the basis of religion, to demean someone on the basis of faith is unacceptable and against the basic principles of human rights and secularism.

State and religion should be separate, the state should take care of all its citizens irrespective of color, caste, or faith. There should be respect for human rights for every citizen and all of them should be equal in the eyes of the law.

Religion is a very personal choice of every human being and the freedom to choose one is given in the charter of human rights of the United Nations. Being affiliated with any religious group or race does not make anybody a superior or lesser human being.

The West progressed because of the separation of the state and religion. For centuries in medieval Europe the Monarchs ruled by the idea of the divine right, the King should rule both the Kingdom and Church within its boundaries a concept called Caesaropapism. On the other hand, according to Catholic doctrine, the Pope as a Vicar of Christ has absolute authority over the church and indirectly over the state.

The concept of separation of church and the state is often credited to an English Philosopher John Locke.

Thomas Jefferson, the third American President, in his letter to Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut January 1802 wrote,

Believing with your religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God and that he owes account to none other for his faith or worship. And the legislature should make no law respecting the establishment of the religion, and prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

If the wall between East and West Germany can be brought down and they can be unified, if the UK and Germany can be trading partners after two world wars, if the USA and Japan can be the best of the allies despite Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if the people in Gibraltar can live in peace, why can’t there be peace in the valley of Kashmir!

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