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West’s Supremacist, Colonial Mindset Gets Exposed

Bharat does not require dictates in democratic principles from US, Germany or other European powers. West’s misguided, outdated and conceited assumptions must be abandoned outright.

Rahul Pawa

April and May 2024 will be etched as ‘decisive months’ in Bharat’s modern history as the country prepares for yet another dance of democracy, a five-yearly feature. It also unfolds the grand electoral exercise when an estimated 970 million voters would exercise their franchise to elect a new government.

Bharat’s citizens spanning geographic landscape from the mighty Himalayas in the north to vast Indian Ocean in the south and from Thar Desert in the west to the Mishmi Hills in the east would queue up to vote and elect the new government for next five years.

As per Election Commission of India, the electorate this year includes 20 million young first-time voters and 14.1 million newly registered female voters amongst 1.4 billion population, indicating a significant uptick in youth and female participation in Bharat’s democratic process.

Hosting the world’s most expansive, inclusive and resilient proven democratic exercise may not have been fully appreciated by Western powers. And, Bharat finds itself as the target of unsolicited interventions by her Western counterparts like United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), German Foreign Office, US State Department and United Nations (UN).

These actions portray an arrogant presumption, a misplaced sense of superiority and a lingering colonial mindset that presupposes Western democratic models as the pinnacle of governance, undermining the sovereignty and integrity of Bharat’s electoral, legislative and constitutional workings.  

West have had often cited Athens as cradle of democracy, a system born from the union of the Greek terms ‘demos’ (people) and ‘kratos’ (power). This narrative positions Athenian model established under Cleisthenes in the fifth century BCE as the archetype of people-powered governance.

Yet, this Eurocentric perspective overlooks profound democratic ethos embedded within the ancient civilization of Bharat, predating Greek democracy by centuries. Bharat’s engagement with democratic principles is not a borrowed concept but a homegrown tradition that finds its roots in the Rig Veda, estimated to be composed around 1500 BCE.

This ancient text reveals a society where governance was not the dominion of a singular ruler but a collaborative effort involving the collective wisdom of the Sabha (assembly) and Samiti (council), indicative of an evolved and sophisticated understanding of democratic governance far before emergence of Greek Athenian model.

Vedic texts including both the Rig and Atharva vedas, detail existence of assemblies where decisions were deliberated in the presence of kings, ministers and scholars. Such gatherings were characterized by inclusive discussions and integration of diverse viewpoints embodying the essence of democratic dialogue.

Approval of these assemblies led to electing or identifying a leader or ‘rajan’ unlike in the west. The very concept of a leader or ‘Rajan’ was neither divine, absolute nor hereditary. Systemic checks and balances resonate with current democratic ideals.  The invocation of ‘Samjnana’ in the Rig Veda symbolizing collective consciousness furthers intrinsic democratic spirit of ancient Bharat.

This term, representing unity of thought and purpose among the people, was foundational to Vedic concept of governance where decisions were made through consensus reflecting a commitment to communal harmony and mutual respect.

Moreover, historical records of Mahabharata and governance models described in Kautilya’s Arthashastra reveal a continuum of democratic practices through various epochs including republican systems of Licchavi and Vaishali where leaders were elected rather than born into power. Such examples affirmed that principles of democracy—participation, deliberation and representation—are not new to Bharat but are woven into the fabric of its society. Considering this wealth of historical evidence, the notion that Bharat requires dictates in democratic principles from a Western standpoint is not only misguided but perpetuates an outdated and conceited assumption that ought to be abandoned without delay. 

Bharat’s democratic and judicial frameworks are subjected to proliferated patterns of interference from international organizations necessitating a detailed examination of the motives and potential impacts of such foreign meddling. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) established by Christian missionary groups concerned with the alleged persecution of Christian missionaries worldwide has positioned itself as a self-appointed global arbiter of religious freedom.

Over years, it has regularly vocalized, often misleadingly, about Bharat’s society and governance. Since 2013-14, USCIRF’s stance towards Bharat has been significantly influenced by its interactions with Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an organization linked to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an offshoot of Jamaat-e-Islami (Pakistan), particularly regarding Citizenship Amendment Act.

This relationship, uncovered by independent research from an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) firm indicates a strategic campaign to influence US policy and public opinion against Bharat highlighting a complex network of influences that questions USCIRF and other such US based entities and their impartiality in evaluations concerning Bharat.

Recent machinations to portray Bharat in a negative context magnify apprehensions regarding international discourse surrounding Bharat’s internal matters. Germany’s criticism of lawful arrest of Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal and remarks by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres questioning integrity of its electoral process not only encroach upon the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference but also reveal a pattern of biased and agenda-driven scrutiny.

Strikingly, Germany’s observations, juxtaposed against its role in hosting Nuremberg trials which aspired to set global legal precedents and ensure legal accountability at the highest levels of governance particularly stand out.

United Nations bound by its charter to respect the sovereignty of its member states, seems increasingly influenced by growing financial contributions of Communist Party of China (CPC) indicating a shift in the dynamics of international power play. These developments do not merely affect the mechanisms of global governance but hint at complex strategic maneuvers, acknowledging resurgent Bharat as a principal contender in this global maze.

Bharat advances towards electing her representatives to 18th Lok Sabha which is essentially a celebration of democracy that is unparalleled in scale and tradition, Unwarranted overreach by West into Bharat’s sovereign affairs and internal matters casts a long shadow over their intent and interest. This external curiosity cloaked in the guise of concern for democratic principles and human rights starkly contradicts the rich democratic practice woven into the very fabric of Bharat’s culture and history.

The biased and motivated interventions by bodies such as USCIRF, UN, governments like Germany and United States alongside comments from the likes of Guterres betray a deep-seated arrogance and a colonial hangover assuming Western democratic models as the standard to which all nations must aspire.

Such a legacy underscores the incongruity and presumptuousness of Western attempts to dictate terms of democracy to Bharat, a civilisational nation that has practiced and refined principles of democracy and law long before the West.

(Author is Director – Research at New Delhi based think tank, Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies) 

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