Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect 

I was reading yesterday about Bangladesh months before the general elections there early next year. Supporters of Bangladesh’s ruling party in retaliation set fire to the houses of several lawmakers who split from the party to launch a new political group that accuses the government of corruption and incompetence. More than two dozen renegades announced the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party earlier Thursday. At least 12 lawmakers, a junior minister, a former Parliament speaker and three former ministers were among the group of more than 24politicians who split away.


In Nepal, the Maoists continue to reign supreme in all but name. Human rights groups and other independent observers in Nepal expressed concern on Monday that the rising level of abduction, extortion, torture and the political anarchy let loose by some Maoist factions is threatening to derail the country’s fragile peace process and destabilize the state. Lawlessness is growing at the hands of the rebels and there appears to be very little evidence of any credible governance there.

In Myanmar, those agitating for democracy continue to be suppressed. Last week, a pro-democracy activist, involved in a petition to free political prisoners in military-run Myanmar was jailed for three years for possessing illegal lottery vouchers, an official said Saturday. The petition, which demanded all of the nation’s estimated 1,100 political prisoners, including Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi be released, was a rare sign of public dissent. The petition campaign, which started earlier in the month after Myanmar authorities arrested six pro-democracy activists in September, has collected more than 3, 50,000signatures across the country, organizers said. The campaign is set to end next Monday. The military has ruled Myanmar since1962.

When General Musharraf came into power in Pakistan, he said he is there to introduce and implement reforms. The international community criticized him for being a military man. However, thanks to the events of 9/11 he became one of the world’s most popular leaders. The international community conveniently ignored the fact that he was a dictator. A general whose loyalists had brought him to power. General Musharraf had claimed that he would introduce democracy at grass roots level and Pakistan would see genuine sustained democracy. The local government system was given a new shape. People were supposed to benefit from this new democracy. He claimed that there was sham democracy before him. But the fact remains that Pakistan has never seen democracy. And most probably it never will unless the masses try to bring a revolution.

Looking at the state of democracy in the South Asian countries of SAARC, I see only India surviving so far and may be Sri Lanka as a democracy. The state of democracy in all the other countries is not worth talking about. One might well ask as to what did India do right that democracy- warts and all at least exist in the country. It is here that the contribution of our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru is often taken for granted. We have got so used to despising the quasi socialist economy that he set up, that we often neglect the fact that it was he who laid and strengthened the foundations of democracy during his long stewardship of the country for 17years.

The one chink in his amour was the questionable dismissal of the EMS Namboodripad led government which was democratically elected and was pursuing policies unacceptable to the Congress. Though the blame for this rightly lay at the door of his daughter, Indira, Pt. Nehru, still cannot be absolved of the blame. But for this aberration, Nehru was a great democrat and it is to him today to a large extent that India owes its identity as a functioning democracy in an ocean of political chaos.


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