Is Democracy the worst form of government? What form of democracy does the entire world respect? Can any country's democracy really be participatory in true sense? Do we need the existing form of democracy or not?
These questions came up as panelists at the annual Jaipur Literature Festival held discussions on democracies in India and abroad, during the debate 'Is democracy the worst form of government?' at the concluding session of the five-day festival today.
In conversation were advisor to the Bihar Chief Minister Pawan Verma, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, AAP leader Shazia Ilmi, first female president of a registered political party in Bhutan Lily Wangchuk, Bangladesh writer K Anis Ahmed, foreign correspondent and author Peter Godwin and journalist-author Indrajit Hazra.
"I am a proud beneficiary of democracy which was gifted to us by our king in 2008. The story of democracy in Bhutan is unique one. The anarchy that Bhutan has witnessed, with this gift, we have nothing to complain about," Wangchuck said.
"Now that we are dealing with challenges associated with democracy, we know there will always be difference in a democracy that is gifted and a democracy that is fought for.
There is no system that is completely perfect but there always bad and worse things, so democracy will be the bad one anarchy the worse," she added.
Peter said, "I have witnessed two strong examples that are the best arguments in favour of democracy-- the end of Soviet Union and the end of apartheid in South Africa.
The thing to discuss is what happens when there is a lack of democracy? It is often ugly, rude and loud but it is undoubtedly the best way of managing a transition.
Stating that India's democracy is an example which even the countries abroad look up to, Peter said, "If democracy will collapse in India, what will happen in other countries which look up to India's democracy as one of the strongest examples.
Aam Aadmi party leader Shazia Ilmi supported the views, but advocated that there is need to relook the methods of participation in our democracy.
"Democracy unrealised, democracy unfulfilled, a democracy which is not real will become a tragic democracy in years to come. The required symbol of democracy is not franchise but protests," she said.
"One third (members) of the Indian parliament has serious charges of corruption, and one third of the parliament has people who are there because of feudal dynasty politics so there is bound to be a conflict of interest? So, are we democratic in true sense?", asked Shazia.
"We no longer need enraged citizens, we need engaged citizens to fill the divide between the political class and the common man," she said.
Pavan Verma supported Shazia's argument, saying that we are taking democracy for granted.
"We have started to take democracy for granted and we have forgotten that it came through a process," he said.
However, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that no wonder how many defects are there in democracy, he likes it as it is.
"If it is wrong, we fight for it. When Emergency was imposed in 1975, we fought for it and democracy was reimposed. I like it, I respect it and will fight for it," Joshi said.
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