By Shriram S:
I believe the state of monarchy as such didn’t offer a sense of secularism to the people. And people represented society. But was society in a position to accept it, if one was offered?
This brings me to the next issue. Has the current democracy succeeded in offering this sense (of secularism) to the society? No! This is not to say, it hasn’t, but that it has not succeeded in the truest of sense. But are we, as a society, matured enough to handle this huge responsibility, at least in a hypothetical sense?
The answer is not pretty straightforward. Our society is not comprised of people. It is actually co-habituated by ‘groups of’ people’, each with its own culture and customs. And hence our democracy, like our customs, is divided, and worse, is opinionated.
The power, as we know of it, is shared by a group of people in a democracy. But is it the only thing that led to the downfall of monarchy? Maybe not, for a strength that can’t be leveraged upon to seize the opportunity becomes a bottleneck.
The effectiveness of any governing body can only be evaluated in comparison with its alternative. Modern Economics call it as an ‘Opportunity Cost’. A Black is recognized only because of the existence of White. One has to remember that Kautilya wrote Arthashastra and Needhishastra in a monarchic age.
Monarchism is not always bad, in much the same way Democracy is not always better. But a society, mired in, and divided by, non-secular forces, can never relate to the justice called Truth. At this juncture, democracy, as we know it, would cease to exist.
The need of the hour, therefore, is not just a sense of secularism among us, but more of a fiduciary consciousness. This awareness can only be created by social, communal and other institutions, which form the backbone of our society. This should be complemented by proper governmental politicking and reestablishment of democratic governance, what our ancestors and forefathers called as ‘Dharma’.
But this Dharma was actually established in a monarchic age. Democracy thus connotes a sense of self-righteousness than any definite style of leadership. The Vedas and Upanishads teach us only this. So does Bhagavath Gita and other religious texts. In that sense, Democracy, like Monarchy, should reside inside each of us.