Fundamentals of Democracy

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Deendayal Upadhyaya


DEMOCRACY has been defined as government by debate. The tradition of debate is old in our country. But such a debate can be fruitful only when each party carefully listens to what the other has to say and has the desire to accept the truth in it. If instead of trying to understand the other person’s point of view we insist upon our own point of view such a debate must remain fruit- less. When Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you say, but I’ shall defend to death your right to say it,’’ he was only accepting the fruitless part of the debate. Bharatiya culture goes beyond this and looks at debate as a means for the realization of truth. We believe that truth is not one-sided, and that its various facets can be seen, examined and experienced from various angles.Hence he who has the capacity to have a comprehensive view of the unity underlying all such diversities is a seer.


There is no conflict between the individual and society; If it is present, it is an aberration. It is not necessary to curb the freedom of the individual in the interest of society. In fact unbridled liberty does not lead to the development of the individual, it leads to his ruin. Complete identification of the individual with society is itself a state of complete development for the individual. The individual is the medium and the measure of the completeness of society. The freedom of the individual and the interest of society are not contradictory.Democracy is but an instrument for the fulfilment of the duty of the people. The effectiveness of the instrument depends upon the feeling for the nation in the life of the people, consciousness of responsibility, and discipline. If these Sanskaras are absent in the citizen, democracy degenerates into an instrument of individual, class and party interest.


The centralization of political, economic and social powers in one individual or institution is a hindrance in the way of democracy. Generally when power in a certain field gets concentrated in one individual that individual tries directly or indirectly to concentrate in his hands power in other fields also. It is thus that the dictatorial governments of the Communists and the Khilafat were set up. Even when human life is integral and its various fields complementary to each other the units representing these various fields should remain separate. Normally speaking the various units of the administration should concern themselves with administration and should not enter the field of economics. A capitalist economy first acquires power in the economic field and then enters the political field, while socialism concentrates power over all means of production in the hands of the State. Both these systems are against the democratic rights of the individual and their proper development. Hence along with centralization we shall have to think of division of powers.


DURING Pandit Nehru’s time India also raised the slogan of democratic socialism. We did not succeed in this because today the democracy and the socialism that we had been trying for are basically resting on a Western foundation and are therefore incomplete. These two thoughts express different aspects of life and the truths related to them. Their synthesis is possible, but only when our point of view is synthesizing. It would not be proper to press our entire life into the institutions and traditions of democracy as developed in the West, or into the ready-made moulds of socialism propounded by Marx and practised by Lenin, Stalin etc. The life of this country is higher than both these ideas. Instead of foisting Western politics on India we will have to develop our own political philosophy. While doing this we can benefit from the thinking done in the West. But we must neither be over- whelmed by it nor must we consider it the eternal truth.


The definition of Swaraj includes three main things. The first is that the Government should be in the hands of those who are a part of the nation. The second special point is that the Government should be conducted In the Interest of the nation, which means its policies should be oriented towards national interest. And the third point is that such a Government should have its own strength to achieve the good of the nation. In other words it is wrong to even think of Swaraj without self-reliance. Even when the Government is in the hands of the nationals Swaraj would become meaningless if the Government comes under pressure or becomes a follower of some other nation. If the State is not self-reliant in respect of defence, free in respect of its policies and self-contained in respect of economic planning it could be pressurized into working against the interest of the nation. Such a dependent State leads to ruination.

(Excerpts from the book – “Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya
A Profile” edited by Sudhakar Raje.)