Deen Dayal Upadhyaya

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Deendayal Upadhyaya wanted to base India's independence on its culture. He was, therefore, not prepared to accept any widely-accepted notion in this regard blindly. A western concept of the nation, western secularism, western democracy and various other western issues came up for comment; Deendayal was for Indianising all these concepts.

He enthusiastically accepted the concept of democracy. Although it was established in India immediately after independence and universal franchise was introduced through the Constitution of India Deendayal was slightly apprehensive of this move in view of India's long years of slavery. He reached the conclusion that universal adult franchise should come after proper education. He believed that democracy was not a gift of the West to India. Indian nationhood is naturally democratic.

He wrote:
"Vedic Sabhas and Samitis were also organised on the basis of democracy, and many medieval states in India were completely democratic. We have confined the powers and privileges of kings and made them cater to the demands of the public. We may find instances of kings violating the code of public welfare and public good, but people's protest against them and their not being considered ideal rulers justify our democratic sentiments... The way democracy has been defined, it is a government to be run through mutual discussion. Continuous consultation and discussion is an old Indian adage. But... if we carry it to the other extreme, it would prove to be troublesome. Voltaire has said, "If I do not consider your viewpoint right, I would fight with all my strength for your right of self-expression. 'He has, therefore, accepted men's ability to discuss and argue. The Indian culture goes beyond this and views democratic discussion as something through which we arrive at the essence of thought.’ Deendayal comments on the rise of democracy in the West, its deterioration into Capitalism and Karl Mark's dictatorial reaction as under.

  "After nationalism... the second radical concept is democracy, which has deeply affected European polity. In the beginning, nations were ruled by monarchs, but their tyranny led to an awakening among the people. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution and development of international commerce, the trading community became a demanding force. Naturally, the traders came into conflict with the nobility and the monarchy. This conflict sowed the seeds of democracy. Roots of this form of government have been traced to the nation-states of ancient Greece. Liberty, equality and fraternity were the slogans of the French Revolution. Ruling dynasties were either put an end to or their rights and privileges were limited to make way for constitutional rule. Today, democracy is an accepted form of government in Europe. Those who ignored democracy, today subscribe to this form of government. Even dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin did not go against democratic principles.'' Democracy was developed in the West as an idealistic and popular concept, but the newly- created traders and the modern Industrial Revolution made it a tool of capitalistic exploitation. Upadhyaya, therefore, says further:

"Although democracy has granted the franchise to every citizen, its leadership was confined to the people who expounded this concept. A new method of production was introduced after the Industrial Revolution. The worker who stayed at home and worked, became an employee of a factory owner. He left his home in the country side and came to live in the city. There were proper arrangements for his living there. There were no rules in the factory where he worked. The organization of labour was weak and ill-defined. The worker become a victim of torture and exploitation. Those who had the right to govern were the very people who exploited the workers. The workers, therefore, could not look up to the government for the redressal of their grievances.

Many people raised their voice to protest against the prevailing situation and worked for bringing about an improvement in it. They called themselves socialists. Karl Marx was one of them. He commented on the economy and history in order to bring about a transformation. It was on the basis of his thought that socialism assumed a scientific standing. The later socialists may or may not have subscribed to his views, but he has left a deep imprint on their thinking"

  Deendayal Upadhyaya, while agreeing with the basic tenets of democracy in the west that were a reaction to oligarchy, exploitations and capitalism, wanted to Indianise the concept of democracy He gave a call for Indianising the democratic set-up of government.

(A) Indianisation of Democracy

Elections are an important constituent of democracy in the west. Constitution executive, legislature and judiciary are its byproducts, but they are a mere formality in any democracy. Its soul consists of reflecting the opinion of the people rightly. ”Democracy is not dependent on any outward manifestations. Adult franchise and the electoral process are important parts of any democracy, but they do not alone lead to its establishment. Both these are present in Russia, but experts do not accept it as a democracy. Another feature is required for democracy besides adult franchise and the electoral process….Democracy is not merely the rule of the majority…In such a government at least one segment of the public will be there whose voice is stifled even though it may be right. This form of democracy cannot work for everyone's welfare and everyone's good….Therefore, in any form of democracy for India, elections, majority and minority etc., all must be combined and harmonized at one place. Anyone who has a different opinion from the majority, even if he a single individual, his viewpoint must be respected and incorporated into governance. In England, where democracy has achieved the maximum success, the leader of the opposition is paid his salary from the National Exchequer. In any democracy, there must be two political parties in Parliament. The Opposition always comments upon and criticise the policies of the Government."

(B) Honouring Public Opinion

Upadhyaya believed that while the immediate policies in a democracy may be governed by majority opinion, Democracy is not always able to give expression to the views of the majority. This leads to infighting in the party and unrest in society. A democracy must, therefore, rule according to popular opinion, not only majority or minority opinion. The public cannot express its opinion formally. When there is confusion regarding public opinion, democracy may degenerate into monocracy. Vocal leaders can misuse this. Quoting Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Upadhyaya says, "The public that was celebrating the murder of Julius Caesar with Brutus a moment ago, was roused to go in Brutus'' murder after Antony's speech. It is difficult to keep alive democracy between the two forms of government - mobocracy and autocracy.''

It is therefore, necessary to generate mass awareness. Upadhyaya calls it honouring or embellishing public opinion. It is a cultural process. In the dictatorial communist regimes, it is called brainwashing or depriving the dissidents of their rights, which is inhuman. On the other hand, in the so-called democracies, it leads to chaos; the government media misuses it. According to Upadhyaya, "In India, the problem has been solved by taking away the right of building democracy from the government. Educating public opinion is the work of selfless ascetics. Ruling according to public opinion is the task of the government. The ascetics always have the upliftment of the public and their spiritual interests in mind and, as such, they work according to these noble ideals; they make the people aware of the limitations of their faith and religion without any vested interests. That is why they can follow these ideals. A society's values are built and strengthened through education and code of conduct. If a democracy confines itself to their limits, it will never go against public opinion."

Compiled by Amarjeet Singh, Research Associate & Programme Coordinator, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, 9, Ashok Road, New Delhi - 110001
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