Rajshahi Palki carries Britain, learns democracy from India: Recently, Charles III was coronated in Britain with full tradition and grandeur. During the ceremony they took an oath to uphold the Church of England and its law. Representatives of all the states who came in this also expressed their faith and loyalty in the king and monarchy in the medieval style. Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar had also gone from India to attend the ceremony. Earlier in 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place.
Charles III, 74, has inherited the title of king. Transferred from mother to son, this position is legitimized by the feudal tradition of primogeniture. This medieval tradition confers on a particular family the hereditary right to be the Head of State of the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries.
It reinforces the divine right of the monarch to rule, which is contrary to the principles of modern liberal democracy. In today’s democratic society, it is very ridiculous to give legitimacy to such a medieval system and to display it with full fanfare. The presence and glorification of a hereditary constitutional monarchy within a liberal democracy is a manifestation of its inherent contradiction.
If seen, this practice is very absurd in today’s time. In a country whose undeclared national ideology is secular liberalism, it is contradictory to display a particular sect in public life and state programs. Ideology and state are sensitive subjects which need to be kept carefully separated. Mixing of religion and state is objectionable and can lead to social division, alienation and intolerance.
It is indeed astonishing that UK taxpayers, in the face of record unemployment and a dire cost of living, financed the coronation of one of the world’s richest men. It is unimaginable to spend so much public money on an unelected, hereditary head of state. Undoubtedly Britain should take cognizance of the needs and challenges of the present and future and be active in the direction of their solution instead of pomp of its medieval past. This would be in the public interest.
The popularity of Britain’s royal family is waning over time. Its contemporary power lies in its appearance. This sentiment was also reflected in the streets of London in the past, where some protesters chanted ‘Not my King’. The use of new public order laws to suppress their peaceful protest exposes ‘Western society’s liberal claims to freedom of expression’. Although Britain often criticizes other countries for their authoritarian approach, it is often unable to introspect.
The proverb ‘Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others’ is the right lesson and message for the so called elite, liberal and secular society of Britain. Certainly the duality of words and deeds tarnishes their moral aura. Despite a long colonial past and sense of superiority, Britain can learn a lot from India’s rich and diverse culture, developed democracy and the complete abolition of monarchy. The concept of elected leaders/rulers (Gana system) was a common feature of ancient India, which was adopted by the rest of the world much later.
India’s fully developed parliamentary democracy guarantees liberty, equality and fraternity to every citizen. Makes governance accountable, sensitive and transparent. Indian democracy takes decisive action against any form of discrimination (as stated in Article 15) and also implements them keeping faith in values like republicanism, equality before law and clear separation of religion and state . These principles are the soul of the Indian Constitution, the foundation of the modern Indian state and the eternal values of Indian culture. The President of India takes an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’, while the British monarch takes an oath to ‘protect Swadharma’. Britain is a ‘cocktail’ of medieval monarchy as well as democratic system.
Democracy is not just a political system or structure, but it is the soul of any nation. It is based on the belief that the needs and aspirations of every human being are equally important. The awareness of one’s rights, the feeling of equality and the desire to create an exploitation-free world gave rise to the democratic form of government. This deep consideration of civil society has been clearly visible during different eras in Indian history, which made India a democracy despite long subjugation.
Social/political hierarchies like Royalty, Nobility, House of Lords and House of Commons present in Britain are against the spirit of democracy. Overall, India’s democratic experience provides guidance for the UK towards increasing inclusiveness, strengthening constitutional values/systems, and respecting cultural pluralism and diversity. Britain can further enrich and strengthen its democratic system by learning from India’s democratic principles and practices.