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Democracy: The Right Government?

Posted on August 6, 2011 in Specials

By Sanchita Gupta:

A government of the people, by the people and for the people, we have grown up reading and hearing this. But as we grew we kept on speculating about its nature sometimes in the news, at other times in their offices. A little thinking and it moved the light to the death of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. It barely stopped the proper governing of the country as opposed to the pandemonium created in Indian governing system with the crash of its government. Concluding, democracy makes for a serious obstacle to economic progress. But, concluding without analyzing is like ignoring the other face of the coin.

When the Chinese leadership wants a power plant to be setup, it does not have to vex about protracted litigation, environmental protests or other impediments. Certainly, it is more enthralling- an enlightened dictatorship. But here the problem begins. There is no guarantee that a dictator will be an enlightened one. Myanmar has been ruled by a dictator for decades and there is no one to claim that it is better off than even Bangladesh, which itself has suffered long stretches of dictatorship. Considering people of Israel- almost the only democracy amongst unenlightened dictators- are much better off than their neighbours. Also free will of the dictator may entangle it in destructive wars, with reference to Saddam Hussain who didn’t have the fear of free elections and did not think twice before enmeshing his people with the west.

Dictatorships like South Korea force their businesses to invest at the places they think to be goldmines but their imprudent decisions are not realized as industries as subsidized. In case of Indian government, they are more hesitant in taking such huge decisions solely. Democracies make small mistakes unlike other governmental policies. They are like free markets, where a dissatisfied consumer can switch easily to its competition.

With such contradicting examples, it is difficult to zero-in on the right type of government. On one hand, influence of interest groups reduces the flexibility of economy in a democracy and only an authoritarian government is in a position to introduce unpopular measures. Policies that would be popular ex-post are often not implemented in democratic regimes. On the other hand, dictators may be forced to follow opportunistic policies if their survival in office is threatened. Authoritarian regime is not homogeneous. It has an arbitrary rule and produces undue interference to economic growth.

A strong state and an authoritarian state may not necessarily be the same. Democracy can make a strong state provided it puts forth selflessness. A young and rich background helps proper regulation of funds rather than filling own bellies first. Another instance is the kingship in UAE where the taxes can be seen utilized on the road and around the city, including educational institutions and welfare societies. It makes setting up of business, etc. easier and mounts the economic growth.

There cannot be a satisfactory conclusion to this war of differing governments; with increasing minds, viewpoints increase. A little thought to our governing system may help build a better place for one and all, together we can and we will make a difference because it’s a government of the people, by the people and for the people.