Sep 28, 2011

Democracy vs Republic - Essential differences & Speculations on Future Politics of the world: Part 1

Signing of the US Constitution: A great political milestone in Human History
I have, by now, come across enough people innocent of the difference between Democracy and Republicanism to conclude, with justified confidence, that the two terms exist entangled and enmeshed in the political imagination of most ordinary folks.

(What follows is a slightly discursive foray that might help contextualize the crux of the article)

Upon some reflection it does however become obvious that such an obscure and hazy understanding of the finer points of distinction between the two is, in fact, a contingent relic of modern history. It (the confounding of democracy and republicanism with each other) is  a part of the normative 'common sense’ in a period of world history where the dominant form of political organization is supposed to be both - republican and democratic. 

Indeed, except for the odd Kingdoms, Principalities and Emirates almost every polity in the world today officially calls itself a Republic and a majority of those also append Democracy to their formal names for good measure.
Surely, much of that is just political posturing, an attempt to legitimize the status-quo by those who benefit from it. In the Economist Intelligence Units’ Democracy Index, only 26 countries are characterized as Full Democracies and just another 53 as Flawed Democracies… meaning thereby that the rest of them are less democratic than whatever measure of Democratization is conveyed by the adjective Flawed when used to adjectivize the noun Democracy!!!!

It is even more problematic, to categorize a polity in terms of its Republican character as such a characterization would be utterly dependent on how expansively (or narrowly) we conceptualize a Republic. We run the risk of trivialization in attempting to frame it too broadly, say, if any polity governed by limited power is supposed a Republic then it could imply that ALL the polities in the world today are Republics, as even the Kingdoms, Emirates and Principalities are NOT (and CAN not be), as a matter of practice, ruled by unlimited unrestrained absolute power.

Sep 20, 2011

Final Solution - A Documentary investigating the Genocide of Minorities (Muslims) in the 2002 Gujarat Riots in India

I'm sharing this film on the blog in the context of the recent propaganda being issued by the communal right-wing parties in the Indian news media projecting Narendra Modi as a likely candidate for India's Prime Ministership. That, if happens, I maintain will be an unconscionable Ethical Catastrophe.

Final Solution by Rakesh Sharma is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period Feb/March 2002 - July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Moslems in Gujarat. It specifically examines political tendencies reminiscient of the Nazi Germany of early/mid-1930s.
Final Solution is anti-hate/anti-violence as “those who forget history are condemned to relive it”.

Final Solution was banned in India by the Censor Board for several months. The ban was lifted in Oct.'04 after a sustained campaign (an online petition, hundreds of protest screenings countrywide, multi-city signature campaigns and dozens of letters to the Government sent by audiences directly).

A pirate-and-circulate campaign was conducted in protest against the ban (get-a-free-copy-only-if-you-promise-to-pirate-and-make-5-copies). Over 10,000 free Video CDs of the film were distributed in India during this campaign, which ended in Dec. 2004. Final Solution was offered free to Anhad for their campaigns; it was included in their anthology titled "In defence of our dreams". Subscribers of several journals/mags also got a copy of the film free of cost. These included Communalism Combat (Ed : Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand), Samayik Varta (Ed : Yogendra Yadav), Janmat and several smaller journals.

Final Solution was rejected by the government-run Mumbai International Film Festival, but was screened at 'Vikalp: Films for Freedom', organised by the Campaign Against Censorship. Rakesh Sharma has been an active member of the Campaign since its inception.

Rakesh has been working on distribution of the film on a full-time basis since March 2004. Formally, about 21,000 video CDs and 4,000 DVDs of the film have been distributed. Informal circulation estimates ( post the pirate-and-circulate campaign) put the number somewhere between 40,000 to 100,000 copies. The film is now being dubbed in Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil. An additional 25,000 video CDs of the language versions are expected to be released soon.

The film has been screened on BBC, NHK, DR2, YLE and several other channels. It is yet to be shown on Indian television.


Sep 13, 2011

Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth? (A fresh comparative analysis of China and India)

Economist Yasheng Huang compares China to India, and asks how China's authoritarian rule contributed to its astonishing economic growth -- leading to a big question: Is democracy actually holding India back? Huang's answer may surprise you.

MIT and Fudan University professor Yasheng Huang is an authority on how to get ahead in emerging economies. The China and India Labs he founded at MIT's Sloan School of Management specialize in helping local startups improve their strategies. His book Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics (2008) chronicles three decades of economic reform in China and documents the critical role that private entrepreneurship played in the Communist nation’s “economic miracle.” Huang believes that China is moving away from Marxism (public ownership) but not Leninism (ideology of state control) -- and that strong social fundamentals are the key reason for its growth.