[I apologise for the inordinate delay between instalments one and two. An unforeseen illness had held me back. That, perhaps, is partly true. The month’s delay got prolonged by the hiatus due to mental lethargy. I hope that the very few readers that I have will understand.]
The problem is that the concept of parliamentary democracy, comprising of representatives elected by adults irrespective of their economic and educational status, or even their sex, is far too new to take root. And that virtually all so-called civilised societies are rabidly patriarchic, even if otherwise egalitarian. And that, with the passage of time, societal/familial value systems have given way to economic considerations resulting in a reign of avarice.
The genesis of that can easily be traced to basic human behavioural patterns wherein survival of self (and hence ones own tribe) was the moot issue, no matter what. Each nomadic human tribe had one macho leader, and the females in the tribe all belonged to his harem. Prospective adult male contenders either had to fight it to the top, or start their own tribe. Dissent and women in government were not tolerated, human rights were unthought of. But, that put the onus of good governance squarely on the leader’s shoulder and he had to perform to hold off challengers. Minors and women had no say in any matter.
The earliest fossil evidence of Homo sapiens dates back to 200 thousand years ago; the mitochondrial Eve, the African mother of all living modern humans, came some 50 thousand years later. And it is none too difficult to imagine that the behavioural evolution had not progressed an iota since. Democracy is as yet far too alien to the species.
Every duly elected leader professes to be the people’s chosen messiah and claim—tacitly, if not vocally—immunity from the legal process and the law of the land. With that they usurp the right to dig deep into public funds (taxpayers’ money), and break all electoral promises, and do much as they like to ensure their own survival in the seat of power. They are usually intolerant to criticism by the lay public but do not feel the urge to deliver on the governance and development front. Even the Obamas of this world, despite making some inroads towards government spending on public health, cannot do much to bring about an effective gun control law even when scores of children are being mowed down each year.
Funding of Election Costs
In India individual candidates are expected to bear the burden, either from personal savings and arrangements (donations, personal loans and what have you), or dipping into a never-ending party kitty amassed by dubious means. Some countries strive to limit the expenses to what the national exchequer can bear without stretching the economy too much; this is more wishful thinking than an achieveable result. This is the Achilles’ heel of the democratic process. Whether nationally funded or not, the expenses are huge and we, the tax-payers and the lay public below the taxable income limit, foot the bill in the ultimate analysis.
Is there a way around?
A Few Points to Ponder
We cannot change the innate human nature. Civilisation is one of those words that defy all attempts to define it. At one level we understand it to mean a social evolutionary process that starts with barter of the surplus goods or services of a given microcosmic economic cluster. The progression is through technological specialisation, barter, loot and rapine, armaments race, bloody wars—all achieved by systematic destruction of nature. On the other hand civilisation connotes a process of improving people’s nature by drawing the human race farther and farther away from the atavistic original template.
If we accept the dichotomy as a conumdrum, mankind is yet to find an acceptable answer to it.
To be continued