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Indian Democracy as a Model
for South Asian Political Development
|by Dr. Subhash Kapila|
India’s political experiment as a sustainable and successful democracy should logically provide a workable model for all the other South Asian nations. The global community has hailed and held up India as a democratic model that could be emulated by the rest of South Asia. In the destabilized South Asian security environment that exists today this truism could not be more realistic and true. Most South Asian nations with the exception of Pakistan recognize this reality. South Asian nations, again with the exception of Pakistan have witnessed as to how the Indian political democracy and democratic governance have facilitated India’s remarkable economic resurgence with sustained high rates of economic growth. This besides other national attributes of power has facilitated the world to take notice of India as an emerging global power. The moot question that arises is as to why other South Asian nations which became independent about the same time should be floundering around searching for stability and peace.Pakistan stands out as the supreme example of how a nation which was left by the British colonial masters with the same stage of political and economic development as India should today be described as a failing nation with nuclear weapons too. Without stressing the obvious it is the Pakistan Army which destroyed political institutions in Pakistan to remain in political power. The same process is on today also with the United States being blackmailed by the Pakistan Army that the US cannot honorably exit Afghanistan without its assistance.
Bangladesh was a downtrodden colony of Pakistan until the people of Bangladesh united and rose together to overthrow Pakistan’s colonial rule and genocide.
Bangladesh today offers promise of stabilizing as a democracy though the journey has been long with years of Army rule too on the Pakistani model.
Sri Lanka has seen a workable democracy despite meeting the military challenge posed by the LTTE for more than a decade and a half. Despite dire predictions in some quarters of a breakup of Sri Lanka it has resiliently come out and like India could emerge as an economically strong nation too.
Nepal’s democracy has yet to strike roots as rather than following the Indian model, Nepal’s governments were playing games by playing off China and Pakistan against India.
In a measure of the success of the Indian political democratic experiment, people within Pakistan are becoming increasingly vocal in demanding accountability as to why the Indian democratic experiment could not have been replicated in Pakistan also. They concurrently argue that had this been done Pakistan too today would have been economically stronger and not dependent on financial doles from the United States and China. The Pakistan Army should be held accountable for the same for imposing long years of military rule and renting themselves out to the United States and China for the pecuniary gains of their Generals.
Major global powers that otherwise harp endlessly on the virtues of democracy and human rights need to desist from double-standards and ensure that the Pakistan Army is surgically disconnected from politics and made to return to barracks and also made to submit themselves to the writ of the civilian government.
Pakistan Army reined-in and with democracy in unadulterated form allowed to strike roots in Pakistan would facilitate the end of proxy wars and terrorism which emanates from Pakistan and engulfs its neighbors directly or indirectly. South Asia could then hopefully return to stable democracies and sustainable political and economic development.
In that sort of environment there is hope of South Asian nations replicating India’s successful model of democratic experiment and move towards greater South Asian regional cooperation and integration.
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