Saturday, December 10, 2005


Sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic

MP Sharad Anantrao Joshi wants the word 'socialist' taken out from the Representation of People's Act, if not from the Preamble to the Constitution.

According to him, the description of India as a sovereign ‘democratic secular socialist’ republic is not only ‘‘vague’’ and replete with multiple meaning, it also forces those who have no belief in this particular ‘‘ism’’ to falsify their stand.

‘‘It has lost all relevance today. It is false, anachronistic and contradictory description.’’

What meaning of the word "socialism" does the MP have in mind, I wonder.

There are degrees of socialism, ranging all the way from "workers shall control the means of production and demand shall be dictated by a command mechanism", to "there shall be affordable medical care for those who cannot afford the usual prices."

Depending on the defintion, socialism is not necessarily antagonistic to a market economy and can coexist with it. So I wonder what the MP thinks about when he thinks "socialism"?

Actually, I personally have no problem with the removal of the word "socialism" from the preamble.

But while we are at it, let's examine the other words in the preamble also.

Are we sovereign? It would appear so. We make our own treaties, possess our own cricket team, fight our own wars, create our own foreign and domestic policies (for what they are worth). Let's keep "sovereign."

Are we secular? Not in my opinion, no. I would like to see the removal of the word "secular." India is not secular in the sense that its government regularly involves itself in matters of religion. We have the highest number of religious holidays of any country on the planet. A strictly secular country would have strictly secular holidays, I would think. Even a marginally secular country would keep its secular laws free from the influence of religion. In India, it ain't so. There are separate groups of civil laws for separate religious groups. Those who claim we are secular are abusing some really powerful shit (and I want some of it).

Are we democratic? In the sense of having periodic elections, yes. In the sense of making informed choices about who should govern us, no; just look at Rahul Gandhi. Actually, while you're at it, consider the entire Nehru clan. And then tell me with a straight face that we make informed choices.

But then, democracy only ensures that we have choice. Whether the choice is informed or not is irrelevant, I suppose. So, yes, let's maintain our democratic credentials by all means. It looks good on the resume.
Exactly my thoughts. I almost added an after-thought to the post about the need to rethink 'secular' as well, but let it pass.

"Those who claim we are secular are abusing some really powerful shit (and I want some of it)."

Must be the opium of the masses :)
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