The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 17-01-2023 | 05:45 pm
The writing is on democracy’s wall. Things are serious. Some observers say that an anti-democratic counterrevolution on a global scale is now underway. Recalling the disasters of the 1920s and 1930s, when most new democracies perished, they draw attention to the evidence supplied by breaking news stories. Foul wars in Africa and Europe. Inflation. Broken party systems. Lying, scheming politicians. Middle class anxiety. Angry underclasses sure that democracy is a mere façade for plutocracy. Populism. Demagogues. Resurgent bigotry. Religious intolerance. Media untruths. And now, as if things are coming to a head, a string of violent insurrections against elected governments.These insurrections against democracy are definitely worrying. They are as spooky as they were unexpected. Nobody anticipated that Washington would witness a well-organised mob assault on the Capitol by thousands of protesters hellbent on overturning an election result, cheered on from the top by a defeated president and his buddies. Or that in Frankfurt, in a police dawn raid, a prince, allegedly backed by a 20,000-strong network of far-right extremists known as Reichsbürger, among them a celebrity chef, a judge, doctors, an arms dealer, and ex-police officers and soldiers, would be arrested on suspicions of leading a plot to storm parliament and violently overthrow the elected government to establish a new German Kaiserreich. And few predicted that in Brasilia thousands of pro-Bolsonaro citizens would invade and occupy the Three Powers Square — or that these angry citizens, calling for military intervention, would with the help of local police storm the presidential palace, where they destroyed works of art and hurled broken furniture through shattered windows; ransacked ceremonial rooms in the Supreme Court; stole computer equipment containing sensitive information; and activated sprinkler systems to flood parts of the Congress building.Journalists with a taste for headline drama pounce on these events. Hyping things up by likening them to Hitler’s botched Beer Hall putsch (in early November 1923), they say democracy is “backsliding” towards cliff’s edge. Their conviction that democide happens in the blink of an eye, in puffs of smoke, rat-a-tat gunfire and surging mobs, should be noted. So must their silence about the positive countertrends of our age — democratically well-governed cities and resilient judiciaries, for instance, or women’s unflagging struggles for dignity and success stories such as India, where democracy took root because it was the best way of guaranteeing dignity to many millions of poor citizens in a post-colonial society of multiple faiths and languages.It’s true that the sudden-death interpretation of the latest insurrections has merits. It reminds us of the great fragility of democracy, above all the way building a democracy, which can take at least a lifetime, or longer, is a much tougher task than its destruction, which can be done in a trice. The interpretation also forces onto the political agenda tricky tactical questions about how best to prevent insurrections without ruining the spirit and substance of democracy. Can harsh crackdowns on insurrectionists and their allies actively win majority support among grassroots citizens networks? Is the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of conspirators compatible with media freedom and respect for the rule of law? Can the army be persuaded democratically to stay loyal and remain in its barracks, and not to train its pepper spray guns, tanks and helicopters on innocent citizens?These are difficult and urgent questions for democracies facing insurrections, but it turns out that those who sensationalise them are doing us a disservice. Insurrections aren’t democracy’s gravest threat. The troubling truth is that it can be destroyed in multiple ways, in different tempos. There’s no single Iron Law of Democide. Democracy can perish more gradually, for instance at the hands of high-level political plots and knife-edged, behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings. The military coup d’états against the elected governments of Egypt, Myanmar, Chad, Mali, Guinea and Sudan during the past decade are examples.Then there’s the populist road to democide, whose “rhythm” is slower still (‘Democratic route to despotism’, IE, December 9, 2021). High-level political games of thrones and populist demagoguery take years to win out, to prove that ballots can be used to ruin democracy just as effectively as bullets. The cases of Hungary and Serbia suggest that around a decade is required for populist governments to have ruinous effects on free and fair elections, parliaments, independent courts, watchdog media and other institutions of monitory democracy. Left unopposed, the outcome is deeply anti-democratic: A distinctively 21st-century type of corrupted “mafia state” (as Hungarians say) led by a demagogue and dominated by wealthy state and corporate “poligarchs”, a top-down phantom democracy built with the collaboration of pliant journalists, docile judges and the votes of millions of loyal subjects.Democracies can perish in still other ways, and even more gradually. The weakness of sudden-death, military coup and populist explanations of democide is their neglect of the civil society and environmental foundations on which any given democracy rests. In these times of rising anxiety about the future of democracy, its friends should pay attention to the way that democide can happen at tortoise pace — through the slow-motion, unspectacular convergence of social deprivation and environmental decay. Remember: Democracy is much more than pressing a button or ticking a box on a ballot paper. It goes beyond the mathematical certitude of election results, majority rule and lists of minority rights. It’s not reducible to lawful rule through independent courts or attending local public meetings and watching breaking news stories scrawled across a screen. Inspired by the spirit of equality and refusals of predatory power, democracy is a whole way life whose delicate geo-social foundations are ignored or neglected at its peril.The media fixation on the past year’s drama-ridden insurrections is understandable. But it risks tricking us into forgetting that democracy dies a slow-motion death not only when citizens suffer such indignities as domestic violence, poor healthcare, religious and racial bigotry, and daily shortages of food and housing. Democracies also destroy themselves step-by-step, slowly but surely, when they foul their earthly nests. The slowest form of democide is the most lethal. It happens when citizens and their chosen representatives become victims of what the writer Amitav Ghosh calls a “great derangement”: The blindness that comes when they give themselves over to a homocentric delusion, a type of all-too-human thoughtlessness that stops them from seeing that extreme weather events, pestilences and other environmental catastrophes not only breed power grabs and get people used to emergency rule, but that democracy won’t have an earthly future unless its ideals and practices are rid of the old democratic prejudice that “the people” are rightful “sovereign” masters of a “nature” treated as technologically controllable and as a commercially exploitable resource for their use and enjoyment.Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney. His most recent book, just published in India, is The Shortest History of Democracy
She was rescued after a police team rushed to the spot. (Representational)A widow was beaten up, her face blackened, and she was paraded with a garland of footwear in a village in Nashik district of Maharashtra by some women after she doubted the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband, police said on Tuesday.The incident occurred in Shivre village in Chandwad taluka, 65 km from Nashik city, on January 30.An official said the victim was recently injured in a road accident, following which her husband dropped her at her parent's place. He had also come to meet her twice with their daughters.However, when she was at her parents' house she was told by her in-laws that her husband had died by suicide."During the post-death ritual on January 30, the woman expressed doubt over the circumstances surrounding her husband's death which angered her sister-in-law," the official said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe sister-in-law and some other women from the village blackened the face of the victim garlanded her with footwear and paraded her in the village.She was rescued after a police team rushed to the spot, the official said. No case is registered yet.Featured Video Of The DaySuicide Blast At Peshawar Mosque: Terror And Economic Mess Bleed Pakistan
The Bhandup police in Mumbai had booked Varaiya in a rape case on January 10. (Representational)Mumbai: Days after he was booked in a rape case, a chartered accountant from Mumbai hanged himself at his friend's resort in Maharashtra's Nashik district, a police official said here on Tuesday.CA Chirag Varaiya (45) left behind a suicide note saying nobody should be held responsible for his death. He is survived by his wife and two children, said the official.The caretaker of the resort at Igatpuri alerted the police after he found Varaiya dead on Monday night, said the official.The Bhandup police in Mumbai had booked Varaiya in a rape case on January 10 following which he cooperated with them in the probe. He also assured the investigating officer that he would visit the police station whenever required, said the official.A police official from Igatpuri said, "It is a suicide case. We have not found any foul play. On the basis of primary information, we have registered an accidental death report."PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)HelplinesVandrevala Foundation for Mental Health9999666555 or firstname.lastname@example.orgTISS iCall022-25521111 (Monday-Saturday: 8 am to 10 pm)(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.)Featured Video Of The DayNick, Who Doesn't Have Arms And Legs, Shows The World How To Live
PALGHAR: Four persons were killed on Tuesday when their car collided with a bus on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway in Maharashtra's Palghar district, police said. Two persons travelling in the luxury bus received injuries in the accident which took place at around 3.30 am near Mahalakshmi bridge on the highway, an official from Kasa police station said.The four occupants of the car were travelling from Gujarat to Mumbai, located about 100 km from Palghar, when it jumped a lane and collided with a luxury bus coming from the opposite direction, another official said in the evening. All four persons, including a woman, died on the spot, he said. The bodies were sent to a government hospital for postmortem, the official said, adding two injured persons were hospitalised. The deceased were residents of Bardoli in Surat. Earlier in the day, police said the car had rammed into the bus from behind.(With PTI inputs)
THANE: Three Bangladeshi nationals were convicted and sentenced by the Thane sessions court to five years rigorous imprisonment for illegally entering India without any valid documents.Those convicted and sentenced include Ishrafil Shikhadar ,56, Litan Mandal @ Mandol , 30 , and Shamim Mulla, 35. All residents from Nadail district of Bangladesh were convicted by special judge MB Patwari in separate orders.The prosecution in its submission said that based on information that some people were living illegally in Kopri area, the police carried out a raid in which the trio were arrested by the local police. They had no proper documentation. Hence, they were tried under various sections of Passport ( Entry into India ) Act, 1920 and under Section 420-cheating and 468 -Forgery for cheating of Indian Penal Code at the Kopri police station.The judge in his order noted that the accused in their submission pleaded guilty after informing them for the maximum sentence that could be imposed against them for the offences they were booked on; they preferred to confess to the crime which was voluntary and the court accepted the same.The prosecutor informed that the judge in its order accepted the submissions of the prosecution and held that the prosecution has proved all the charges against the accused who need to be convicted and sentenced on the basis of the sections they were booked.The court along with the sentence imposed the fine on the trio of a sum of Rs. 1,500 each on the three accused, the prosecutor informed.The judge further stated that considering the age, antecedent of the accused and nature of the offence, the accused were in the jail since March 2017 will get set off from the sentence for the term served in the jail, the order pointed out.Further the judge directed the state to seek necessary directions from the concerned authority under the Passport ( Entry into India ) Act, 1920 and Rules 1950 and the accused be deported to their country. The court also directed the concerned police station i.e Kopri police station to submit the report of deportation of the accused.
The injured man was rushed to a hospital, a police official said.(Representational)Palghar: A 45-year-old man from Boisar town in Palghar district of Maharashtra allegedly killed his 40-year-old wife by slitting her throat on a street and also attempted suicide, police said.Prima facie, the man suspected his wife's fidelity and attacked her with a sharp weapon. He also slashed himself.Police personnel who rushed to the spot at around 12:30 pm found the man lying injured near the body of his wife and their two children crying.The woman died on the spot. The injured man was rushed to a hospital, a police official said. PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)HelplinesVandrevala Foundation for Mental Health9999666555 or email@example.comTISS iCall022-25521111 (Monday-Saturday: 8 am to 10 pm)(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.)Featured Video Of The DayOn Camera, Huge Clash At Ajmer Shrine Between Pilgrims, Officials