Long live the Republic

Long live the Republic

Long live the Republic, Writer-journalist Kingshuk Nag, in his book ‘The Saffron Tide’, diagnoses that we are at the cusp of a new Republic.

Writer-journalist Kingshuk Nag, in his book ‘The Saffron Tide’, diagnoses that we are at the cusp of a new Republic. In a talk dealing with the book, the writer believed that many parameters of the 1950 sociological set up have metamorphosed over the decades. Is it just the wear and tear of the system or the beckoning of the changing order is a moot question? As we celebrate the coming of the Republic and its growth, there are multiple takes on how it has functioned this far. We may, for the moment, be carried away by the moment, especially in view of the high octave patriotism of the day and the presence of the world leader in our midst.

The fact that, but for a minor aberration, the republic has constantly worked albeit at a functional level is in itself a success. Also seen in the context of many post war countries it is worth a salute that the functional anarchy that is India has not flirted too much out of the constitutional frame work. While it is a contemporary fashion to take on Nehru and judge by the wisdom of hindsight and the brilliance of the young who just missed being around the critical hours, it is credit to the liberal vision of the man that we survived as a functional democracy. No the moment is not for a debate on the contribution of the individual. The time is to reiterate that we chose a government of laws rather than that of men and have held a steadfast commitment to it.

While for the larger part of the 65 years we have lived alongside the governance by a single party, we are at the threshold of a party that has spent years on end in the opposition and is now backed up for the first time by a telling majority. The supporters of the new regime find a new Messiah in the man who now leads them. So far so good. However history is replete with examples that when men grow above a system the system takes a beating. Our republic came but precariously close to being uprooted by the whims of charisma of a single leader. The voice of the majority is a good test for the vibrancy of our democracy. However our constitution is the larger test that all systemic activities have to survive. It is thus rightly perceived that our constitution plays a more than perceived role of importance in the survival of our polity in the atmosphere guaranteed to us by the constitutional framers.

Julian Barnes, a novelist, in a very different context wrote these lines in his book, ‘The Sense of an Ending’: We live in time, it holds us and moulds us, but I’ve never felt I understood it very well. And I am not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary every day time which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: “tick tock click clock”. Barnes continues: Back then things were plainer, less money, no electronic devices, little fashion tyranny, no girlfriends. There was nothing to distract us from our human and filial duty which was to study, pass exams use those qualifications to find a job and then put together a way of life unthreateningly fuller than that of our parents who would approve, while privately comparing it to their own earlier lives, which had been simpler and therefore superior.

Apart from the socially simplistic take of matters, we must understand that the change of governance is also from, as Kingshuk puts it, an Anglo-Saxon stance to a Hindu dharmic model. How it pans out in the “glamorous laboratory strenuously trying to experiment” is not just the challenge of the republic but is also the challenge to the new avatar at Delhi. Even as I pen these lines, news arrives that the face of the “common man” has succumbed to the Lord of Death. The fact that he survived many challenges and governments is the salute of democracy to that great creative thinker. He survived in a great republic. Long live the republic.

By: L Ravichander

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