Indian democracy by Dr Farrukh Saleem
The News, February 17, 2008
India's democracy is a 60-year story of corrupt politicians, assassinated leaders, dynastic politics, food shortages, poverty, chronic unemployment, an inefficient bureaucracy, prime ministerial scandals, bribes, tax evasions, embezzlements and an abundance of secessionist as well as faith related violence. In 2005, Transparency International found that more than 50 percent of Indians had "firsthand experience of paying bribe or peddling influence to get a job done in a public office (India Corruption Study 2005; Transparency International India)."
Shekhar Gupta must be one of India's finest of journalists (Shekhar is editor-in-chief of Indian Express and anchors the famous 'Walk the Talk' on NDTV). If memory serves me right, it was something that Shekhar wrote and that column is the inspiration behind what I am about to say.
Mahatma Gandhi, 'Great Soul', Father of the Nation, was assassinated -- shot and killed -- by Nathuram Godse, an extremist Hindu who had convinced himself that Gandhi was going out of his way to favour Pakistan. Jawarharlal Nehru, India's first PM, ruled for 17 long years but failed to arrest India's growing poverty. Under Nehru, the state of Bihar went through a series of famines, mass starvation and death. The Nehru Dynasty was founded when Nehru managed to get Indira, his daughter, elected as the president of Congress.
Gulzarilal Nanda became India's second PM (after Nehru died of a heart attack). Lal Bahadur Shastri took over from Gulzarilal (after Gulzarilal had been in office for a mere 13 days). Shastri, a 'Nehruvian socialist', failed to pull India out of an economic and a food crisis. After Shastri's death, Gulzarilal became PM for another eight-day tenure.
In 1966, Indira Gandhi became PM and remained so for the following 11 years. Indira, who remained stuck to Shastri's economic policies, confronted a severe balance of payments crisis, consecutive crop failures and a devaluation of the rupee. In 1975, Indira exposed her authoritarian streaks by imposing a state of emergency. On June 1 1984, Indira ordered Major General K S Brar to put an end to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's Sikh-purist theocratic movement for the establishment of Khalistan ('Land of the Pure'). Indira's 'Operation Blue Star' desecrated Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine, and the Indian Army recorded 83 deaths plus 492 civilians killed. In the immediate aftermath, an unspecified number of Sikhs deserted the Indian Army and then in October '84 Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
Rajiv Gandhi, a professional pilot, became India's seventh PM and the third from the Nehru Dynasty. Rajiv tried to open up India by reducing import duties. Rajiv then got embroiled in the Bofors Scandal in which he was accused of receiving kickbacks. While the Bofors case was being investigated, Rajiv was assassinated by an LTTE female suicide bomber.
Islamabad is a mere 425 miles from New Delhi. Muhammad Ayub Khan studied at Aligarh Muslim University and trained at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. General Muhammad Ayub Khan became our youngest full-rank general and Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan ruled Pakistan for nearly 11 years.
Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan went to Punjab University and finished first in his class. In 1947, Yahya was the only Muslim instructor at the British Indian Staff College. Brigadier Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, commanding the 106 Infantry Brigade, was only 34 years of age. General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan ruled Pakistan for nearly two years.
Muhammad Ziaul-Haq attended St Stephen's College, one of India's leading educational institutions. Muhammad Ziaul-Haq was trained at the distinguished U S Army Command and General Staff College (Fort Leavenworth). Muhammad Ziaul-Haq trained the Jordanian Army and saved King Hussein's monarchy. General Muhammad Ziaul-Haq ruled Pakistan for 10 years.
Now, look at India. Sixty years of corrupt politicians, assassinated leaders, dynastic politics, food shortages, poverty, an inefficient bureaucracy, prime ministerial scandals and an abundance of secessionist as well as faith related violence. Look at what a bad democracy has delivered.
Now, look at Pakistan. Thirty-one years of direct rule by Sandhurst-disciplined, Fort Leavenworth-trained, smartly-dressed, intelligible, meaningful, well intentioned Gentlemen Cadets.
Just look at the wide variety of fruits of a bad democracy. A democracy mere 425 miles from Islamabad.