India ‘Mother of Democracy’ or the World’s ‘Largest Democracy’

Asia News Agency

India ‘Mother of Democracy’ or the World’s ‘Largest Democracy’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi refers to India as the ‘Mother of Democracy.’  The  traditional formulation was that it was the world’s ‘largest democracy’.

Following Modi’s description, Vivek Katju (retired Indian Foreign Service officer) writes  “the Indian Council of Historical Research undertook the task of giving it academic backing. Scholars cutting across disciplines advanced views that Indic governance structures were inherently democratic……” Instead of being despotic, “rulers were attached to their people by bonds of trust and were inclusive in their approach. In addition, there were political entities which were ‘republics’ that were not based on hereditary lineage.”

The motivation for focusing on the ‘democratic’ nature of Indic governance, writes Katju  “is to establish that democracy is intrinsically Indian and not a Western import….”


Conceptual difference

Clearly, "a great attempt is now underway to provide a conceptual underpinning to Modi’s assertion that India is the Mother of Democracy. This is part of the projection that centuries of attacks and foreign rule sullied India and that the glories of Indic civilisation are now being restored, including in their political aspects. Thus, a vital conceptual difference — India being the Mother of Democracy as opposed to India being the largest democracy — is being underlined. As part of this process, it is being argued that universal adult franchise cannot be considered a pre-condition of a true democracy.”

However, Katju states “it is unlikely that the global community will easily accept the idea that India is the Mother of Democracy,” despite the fact that the “international political community has accepted the idea of India being the world’s largest democracy…”

The question is “will the idea of India as the Mother of Democracy be an accretion to the country’s soft power in the present global climate?”

In the context of the forthcoming G20 summit, it will not be easy for India  to “impress the political leaders”about India being the ‘Mother of Democracy.


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