Thursday, April 14

J M Lyngdoh leading civil society activist speech

His Address to all Civil Society Activists at recently concluded seminar on Electorals reforms, Corruption and Strengthening Democracy :  

I would like to very briefly present a couple of important observations of my own. Even a cursory glance at human history throughout various phases of time would reveal that 10-15 per cent of society fattens itself at the expense of the remaining 85 per cent, which usually languishes at the bottom. Democracies are no exception to this, and we find that not only in India but throughout the world, inequalities are becoming sharper. A book called We, the People, written by Huber, which talks about the American Constitution, says that the American War of Independence (1776) was fought by the majority of the poor people. On the other had, it was the feudal aristocratic class that funded the war by printing a lot of paper money. But, when the war was won by the Americans, those who had fought the feudal royalty, suddenly found themselves awash with a lot of easy money and wanted this situation to continue. On then other hand, the wealthy class, especially from colonies like New England, who were basically carbon copies of the British who had just left the continent, wanted to fatten themselves on the rest of the population. They feared that the printing of paper money would make the rich class the losers. It is said that they hit upon the idea of binding the poorer classes by writing a constitution, which is today known as the Constitution of the United States of America. A close look at this constitution will reveal that it is weighted heavily in favour of the US Senate, which we may be aware, comprises mostly of people who favour the status quo. The Senate was meant to block whatever the House of People wished to bring about. It is feared that the people can go berserk any time. Another institution of blockage was set up that was i.e. the US Supreme Court, which, in fact, has judges for life. These institutions have a definite purpose, which is to prevent anything radical coming up the pipeline. This then happens to be the Constitution of the United States that talks of “We, the People”, and is also the constitution from which the Constitution of India has drawn a lot from. In substance, Constitution of the United States is not what it appears to be. It happens to be a reflection of the wishes of the 10-15 per cent which lives off the remaining 85 per cent of the people.

Democracy, it is interesting to know, was not a respected idea in the age of the Greek civilization. Democracy and the right to participate in administrate was restricted only to citizens and slaves, foreigners and other categories of people were excluded from this system. Thinkers and philosophers like Plato had some very unkind things to say about democracy. In fact, they did not even believe in it. Democracy apart, communism survives in a few pockets in the world. Despite its claims of ushering in equality, communism has failed in getting rid of 10-15 per cent elitist stranglehold over the polity and economy. It came in with big promises of socialist equality, which its intellectuals propagated, but once its intellectuals were squeezed out of the reckoning by its more radical elements, when the generation of Lenin had passed away, all that was left were bureaucrats and dictators like Stalin. In fact, they were not very different from the bureaucrats that India has today, who represent no more than the top 10-15 per cent.

What I wish to stress is the fact that in the history of human affairs, we have never reached a situation when we have been really free of the stranglehold of the top 10-15 per cent exploiters. I certainly do no wish the audience to rest with this status quoist acceptance. This 85 per cent cannot be wished away, but what we can do is to awaken them and make them aware of the laws and their own rights under the same constitution and also make life as difficult as possible for the top 15 per cent exploiters. We can certainly do that. Whatever we have discussed today must be analyzed against this historical background for us to be able to move ahead. Thank you very much.Thank you very much.

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