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   It is only when the experiments in democracy... (July 8, 1990)

It is only when the experiments in democracy of our neighbours fail that we realise that we are an honest and solid democratic country and nothing and nobody can take that away from us, not even Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who tried.

Pakistan's case, of course, is tragic. It had avastly better chance than India of sustaining the democracy that it had inherited: apart from having the same democratic insitutions as India, it was small in size, and hence physically and economically viable, and it was made up of just one single religious community and hence froo from religious and communal strains.

And yet democracy has been dismal failure there and succeeded her. Not only in Pakistan a military dictatorship but also a religious theocracy, that is a double negative.

On the other side, Banglasdesh is a bloody dictatorship. Dictators are just not changed there, they are killed, and the people with them. And those whom the bullets do not kill, nature does, with cyclones wiping out entire settlements.

Burma is the last of the forbidden countries. Tibet has thrown open its doors, and Inner and Outer Mongolia, and Nepal was opened to all people several decades ago, but not Burma. I have yet to meet a person who was visited Burma.

Singapore, is prosperous, but not a democracy, and it has the discipline of a boarding school, a high class boarding school. And I do not know what systems of government Thailand and Malaysia have, except that they are not ones of debates and dissussions. And Hong Kong, for all its free enterprise, is a colony. Now of the British, later of the Chinese.

At the other end, in Afghanistan, there is a civil war on, and whichever side wins, they will impose their own form of dictatorship. Then follow some of the worst dictator ships in the world, not only no free speech, but also no free though. The desert kingdoms have their own laws: they bully their people, stone their women, ill-treat their camels, censor their newspapers, conscript cheap labour from India. Right now they are being bullied by one of their own people and nobody is going to their assistance.

Compared to all these, India is an oasis of democracy. There are continuous discussions, debates, the newspapers are bold, and often brash, the government changes every five years, and sometimes earlier, every adult has a way in what sort of government he wants, and anybody can stance for elections and get himself elected.

And democracy is firmly established in India. People may talk of the government falling, but nobody says if the government falls the army would take over.

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