India is the largest democracy in the world. Ruled by various kings and emperors and colonised by the Europeans for centuries, India became a democratic nation post its independence in the year 1947. Thereafter, the citizens of India were given the right to vote and elect their leaders.
The second most populous country and the seventh largest country by area, India is the largest democracy in the world. Indian democratic government was formed after the nation attained independence in 1947. The parliamentary and state assembly elections are held every 5 years to elect the Central and state governments. Here are essays of varying lengths on Democracy in India to help you with the topic in your exams.
Essay on Democracy in India
Democracy in India Essay 1 (200 words)
Democracy is a system of government that allows the citizens to cast vote and elect a government of their choice. India became a democratic state after its independence from the British rule in 1947. It is the largest democratic nation in the world.
Democracy in India gives its citizens the right to vote irrespective of their caste, colour, creed, religion and gender. It has five democratic principles – sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republic.
Various political parties stand for elections at the state as well as national level periodically. They propagate about the tasks accomplished in their previous tenure and also share their future plans with the people. Every citizen of India, above the age of 18 years, has the right to vote. The government is making continuous efforts to encourage more and more people to cast their vote. People must know everything about the candidates standing for the elections and vote for the most deserving one for good governance.
India is known to have a successful democratic system. However, there are certain loopholes that need to be worked on. Among other things, the government must work on eliminating poverty, illiteracy, communalism, gender discrimination and casteism in order to ensure democracy in true sense.
Democracy in India Essay 2 (300 words)
Democracy is said to be the best form of government. It allows every citizen of the country to cast vote and choose their leaders irrespective of their caste, colour, creed, religion or gender. The government is elected by the common people of the country and it won’t be wrong to say that it is their wisdom and awareness that determines the success or failure of the government.
Many countries have a democratic system. However, India is the largest democracy in the world. It runs on five democratic principles including sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic and republic. India was declared a democratic nation after it attained freedom from the colonial rule of the British in 1947. Not only the largest, Indian democracy is also known to be one of the most successful ones.
India has a federal form of democracy with a government at the centre that is responsible to the parliament and state governments that are equally accountable for their legislative assemblies. Elections are held at regular intervals in the county and several parties compete to get to the centre and also to make their place in the states. People are encouraged to exercise their right to vote to elect the most deserving candidate, though caste is also a big factor in Indian politics.
Campaigns are carried out by different political parties to emphasize on the work they have done for the development of people as well on their future agenda to benefit people.
Democracy in India does not only means providing the right to vote but also ensuring social and economic equality. While the democratic system of the country has received worldwide appreciation there are many areas that require improvement so that democracy can be formed in true sense. The government must work upon eradicating illiteracy, poverty, communalism, casteism and gender discrimination among other things.
Democracy in India Essay 3 (400 words)
Democracy is government by the people, for the people and of the people. The citizens in a democratic nation enjoy the right to vote and elect their government.
India is the largest democracy in the world. After being ruled by the Mughals, Mauryas, British and various other rulers for centuries, India finally became a democratic state after its independence in 1947. The people of the country, who had suffered at the hands of foreign powers, finally got the right to choose their own ministers by casting vote. Democracy in India is not limited to just providing the right to vote to its citizens, it is also working towards social and economic equality.
Democracy in India works on five democratic principles. These are:
- Sovereign: This means free from the interference or control of any foreign power.
- Socialist: This means providing social and economic equality to all the citizens.
- Secular: This means freedom to practice any religion or reject all.
- Democratic: This means the government of India is elected by its citizens.
- Republic: This means the head of the country is not a hereditary king or queen.
Working of Democracy in India
Every Indian citizen, above 18 years of age, can exercise the right to vote in India. There is no discrimination based on a person’s caste, creed, religion, gender or education when it comes to providing the right to vote.
Candidates from several national and regional parties including Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPI -M), All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) fight for the elections. Candidates evaluate their work during the last tenure of these parties or their representatives and also the promises made by them in order to decide whom to vote.
Scope for Improvement
There is a lot of scope of improvement in the Indian democracy. Steps must be taken to:
- Eradicate poverty
- Promote literacy
- Encourage people to vote
- Educate people on choosing the right candidate
- Encourage intelligent and educated people to take up leadership roles
- Eradicate communalism
- Ensure impartial and responsible media
- Monitor the working of the elected members
- Form responsible opposition
Though democracy in India has been appreciated worldwide for its working there is still a lot of scope for improvement. The aforementioned steps must be taken to ensure smooth functioning of democracy in the country.
Democracy in India Essay 4 (500 words)
A democratic nation is one where the citizens have the right to elect their government. It is sometimes also said to be the “rule of the majority”. Several countries around the world run democratic government but India takes pride in being the largest democracy.
History of Democracy in India
India had been ruled by several rulers from Mughals to Mauryas. Each of them had their own style of governing the people. It was only after the country got independence from the colonial rule of the Britishers in 1947 that it became a democratic nation. It was then that the people of India, who had suffered tyranny at the hands of the British, attained the right to vote and elect their government for the first time.
Democratic Principles of India
Sovereign refers to an entity that is free from the control of any foreign power. The citizens of India enjoy sovereign power to elect their ministers.
Socialist means providing social and economic equality to all the citizens of India irrespective of their caste, colour, creed, gender and religion.
Secular means the freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice. There is no official state religion in the country.
This means the government of India is elected by its citizens. The right to vote is given to all the Indian citizens without any discrimination.
The head of the country is not a hereditary king or queen. He is elected by an electoral college.
The Working of Democracy in India
Every citizen of India, above the age of 18 years, has the right to vote. The Constitution does not discriminate anyone on the basis of their caste, colour, creed, gender, religion or education.
There are seven national parties in the country namely, Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPI-M), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Besides these, there are a number of regional parties that fight the elections to state legislatures. Elections are held periodically and people exercise their right to vote to elect their representatives. The government is continually making efforts to encourage more and more people to use their right to vote to choose good governance.
Democracy in India is not merely about giving people the right to vote but ensuring equality in all the spheres of life.
Hindrances in the Working of Democracy in India
While the elections have been happening at the right time and a systematic approach is followed to conduct the same ever since the concept of democracy came into being in India there are many hindrances in the smooth functioning of democracy in the country. These include illiteracy, gender discrimination, poverty, cultural disparity, political influence, casteism and communalism. All these factors adversely affect democracy in India.
While democracy in India has been appreciated worldwide, there are still miles to go. Factors such as illiteracy, poverty, gender discrimination and communalism that impact the working of democracy in India need to be eradicated in order to allow the citizens to enjoy democracy in true sense.
Democracy in India Essay 5 (600 words)
Democracy in India was formed after the nation was freed from the clutches of the British rule in 1947. It led to the birth of the world’s largest democracy. Under the effective leadership of the Indian National Congress, the people of India attained the right to vote and elect their government.
There are a total of seven national parties in the country – Indian National Congress (INC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPI-M), All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Apart from these, many regional parties come forward for elections to state legislatures. Elections to the parliament and state assemblies are held every 5 years.
Democratic Principles of India
Here are the Democratic Principles of India:
Sovereign means independent – free from interference or control of any foreign power. The country has a government directly elected by the citizens of the country. Indian citizens have the sovereign power to elect their leaders by elections conducted for the parliament, local bodies as well as the state legislature.
Socialist means social as well as economic equality for all the citizens of the country. Democratic socialism means attaining socialistic goals by way of evolutionary, democratic and non-violent means. The government is making continual efforts to lessen the economic inequality by decreasing the concentration of wealth.
This means the right and freedom to choose one’s religion. In India, one has the right to practise any religion or reject them all. The Government of India respects all the religions and does not have any official state religion. It does not disgrace or promote any religion.
This means the government of the country is elected democratically by its citizens. The people of the country have the right to elect its government at all the levels (Union, State and local) by way of universal adult franchise also known as ‘one man one vote’. The right to vote is given without any discrimination on the basis of the colour, caste, creed, religion, gender or education. Not just political, the people of India also enjoy social and economic democracy.
The head of the state here is not a heredity king or queen but an elected person. The ceremonial head of the state, that is, the President of India is elected by an electoral college for a period of five years, while executive powers are vested in the Prime Minister.
Challenges Faced by Indian Democracy
While the constitution promises a democratic state and the people of India have been entitled to all the rights a person should enjoy in a democratic state, there are a lot of factors that impact its democracy and pose a challenge to it. Here is a look at these factors:
Illiteracy among people is one of the biggest challenges the Indian democracy has faced ever since its inception. Education enables the people to exercise their right to vote wisely.
People belonging to the poor and backward classes are usually manipulated by the political parties. They are often bribed to acquire their vote.
Apart from these, casteism, gender discrimination, communalism, religious fundamentalism, political violence and corruption are among other factors that are a challenge for democracy in India.
Democracy in India has received appreciation from world over. The right to vote to every citizen of the country has been given without any discrimination on the basis of their caste, colour, creed, religion, gender or education. However, the huge cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in the country is a major challenge for its democracy. The differences sought to be created out of it, are a cause of serious concern. There is a need to curb these divisive tendencies in order to ensure the smooth functioning of democracy in India.
NICE TO see you here in the world’s second largest democracy. You, of course, being part of the world’s largest democracy.
IT’S A race to the bottom.
IN THE title essay of Walking with Comrades you write that the Indian Constitution was adopted by Parliament in 1950. Then you add, “It was a tragic day for tribal people.” Why?
BECAUSE IN the spirit of a good colonial power, India ratified the colonial attitude toward Adivasi people and it brought tribal homelands under the Indian state and it criminalized the Adivasi way of life. It made them squatters on their own land. Today, of course, from criminals they have graduated to being terrorists, because the government says that any Adivasi who remains in their village and doesn’t come out into the police camps will be called a Maoist terrorist. So from being Adivasis, they became criminals, and now they are terrorists.
YOU WRITE that “The country that I live in is becoming more and more repressive, more and more of a police state. India is hardening as a state. It has to continue to give the impression of being a messy, cuddly democracy, but actually what’s going on outside the arc lights is really desperate.” How does a writer like you, an individual citizen, navigate that hardening of the arteries?
JUST BY traveling, I think, and seeing what’s going on. By talking to people, by keeping in touch—not just by having six thousand researchers, but having real friendships with people who do not belong to those in the arc lights, the society of those in the arc lights. It is very frightening to see what’s happening in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and, of course, in Kashmir, Manipur, and Nagaland. That’s been going on for a long time. But anywhere it’s becoming a sort of surveillance society. Everybody says phones are obviously tapped, e-mails are tapped. They’re trying very hard to control the Internet.
The fact is that these great Memorandums of Understanding that were signed with the major mining corporations in 2005 are not being allowed to be implemented smoothly because of the wide variety of resistance movements, not just the Maoists, but the various groups in Orissa against nuclear plants, against Special Economic Zones. Nothing is proceeding as per plan by the government or by the corporations. One of the very interesting things about the Anna Hazare movement was that you had a situation in which people have begun to realize, like they have begun to realize here, that you have two political parties: both of them are like different kinds of washing powder owned by the same holding company. And the elections are a sort of vaudeville: everybody participates, but you end up with the same situation. So now you need a third node: you need the people. You have political parties. Now you need the people. And you need somebody whom you can control who represents the people. So you had this rather reactionary situation, which is now assuming and taking on the right to represent the people or to speak for the people. It isn’t a coincidence that a number of them are NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] that are funded by corporations like Ford. Kiran Bedi’s [a former high-ranking police officer now active in politics] NGO is funded by Lehman Brothers and Coca-Cola.
NGOs have a complicated space in neoliberal politics. They are supposed to mop up the anger. Even when they are doing good work, they are supposed to maintain the status quo. They are the missionaries of the corporate world. And here you have another node, where you could sort of funnel and control the anger that was building in a system that was about to rupture.
I could tell you horror story after horror story of what’s going on in India. But that’s not the point. It’s important for us to understand, structurally, what the game is and see how to navigate that. That’s what I do as a writer. Sometimes it’s not easy, because, for example, when the Anna Hazare movement was happening, it wasn’t easy to say what I said, going against the grain of some of my closest friends who were involved. But I didn’t think that they were seeing the situation very clearly.
WHAT’S REMARKABLE to me about India, when I travel around the country, is the level of pushback and resistance, and it is particularly high among the most disadvantaged. “Incredibly poor” doesn’t begin to describe their economic situation. In Orissa there’s a struggle right now over POSCO, a proposed South Korean steel mill. It’s the largest single foreign investment project in India’s history—over $12 billion. They’re securing their own private port where they can then export directly to East Asia. There has been a tremendous amount of resistance there. Roads have been blocked. People who don’t have the advantages that we have of technology and education and other things have been able to at least slow down and in some instances stop this and that project.
THERE ARE amazing things that are happening in India. But I just want to add a caveat to that. If you look at what was happening in India in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, why did the Naxalite movement—the sort of precursor to today’s Maoist movement—arise? It arose demanding land to the tiller, saying that the Indian government, when it won independence, had promised the end to zamindari, which is huge landlords with serfs tilling the soil for them. That land distribution hadn’t happened. And this movement, this radical armed struggle, began saying, “Land to the tiller.”
It was crushed in the late 1960s. And then you had a more reactionary sort of movement by Jayaprakash Narayan saying sampooran kranti, which means “total revolution,” but was again asking for redistribution. Today, from then to now, look where we’ve come. From demanding land for the landless, we are today fighting just for people who have a little bit of land to be allowed to hold onto it. The masses of displaced people, the masses of people of lower castes who have been rendered landless, who live in the cities in these squalid conditions outside of radical politics today. So we mustn’t ever forget that, that the people who are fighting, who are putting up a resistance, still have some land. The Adivasi community still have their own lands. They are fighting not to allow the corporates to take over. But the idea of saying that there has to be justice, the idea of land to the tiller, the idea of taking back from the expropriators, have more or less disappeared.
So before we feel too good about ourselves, we have to realize that we really have been pushed against the wall in so many ways. I don’t know when that bubble is going to burst, because that will not be political. That will be lumpen and criminal, because it’s very, very difficult to organize the poor in these huge cities, where they live working like slaves—really, like slaves—some of them twenty hours a day, seven days a week. Where is the time for politics? Where is the time for organization? Very difficult.
THE INDIAN state, like other states, seeks to control the message. They want to frame discussion on their terms. This is quite understandable; it’s nothing revelatory. There seems to be, at least in the case of India, an attempt to limit dissent by limiting access to the country—even inside the country, where it is sometimes difficult for Indian nationals themselves to travel. Gautam Navlakha, a journalist and human rights activist, was sent back from Srinagar airport. A US academic, Richard Shapiro, was denied entry into India in November 2010. In September 2011, May Aquino, a human rights activist from the Philippines, was denied entry. On September 23, 2011, I was denied entry—
A DANGEROUS man.
—AT NEW Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. This has a chilling effect. I shared this information with another journalist and he told me that colleagues told him that the Indian government told them that their visas would be permanently revoked if they reported on Kashmir in the wrong way. If you report in the way the state wants, i.e., the beautiful mountains, paradise on earth, and all of that, no problem. So what’s going on? Is this a new development, where the borders are being controlled in such a way?
I DON’T think it’s new. It’s been a while now that if you’re a businessman, if you want to buy or sell a mine or organize a shipment of iron ore, you don’t need a security clearance. But if you’re an academic or a journalist or a writer or a scholar, then you need security clearance. Obviously, journalists as well as NGOs are there on the sufferance of the Indian government. That has been made clear all the time, that you have to walk this delicate line. You have to keep having to decide how far you can push it, how much truth you can tell and how much you should keep quiet.
I’ve been told by foreign correspondents that their own desks from newspapers outside of India have said, “We want good news. The bad news is boring now.” But you know why—because it’s a finance destination, so there’s no need to disrupt it by talking about all the cruelty that’s going on.
Within India, of course, going to Kashmir it’s almost as if they acknowledge it’s a different country because they stop people from going there. At the airport they deport them, they send them back. You can’t easily go into Chhattisgarh now. It’s dangerous to go there. Police have basically said “We shoot to kill beyond the Indravati,” the river that for the police defines as Maoist territory. So you go at your own risk.
What I find quite interesting is while all this silencing is going on, the noise is building—the kind of noise that the government wouldn like to hear. So you have almost every weekend a literary festival with international publishers and international authors. I don’t think they need security clearance. They come as visitors. They don’t really disturb the grass, and they go from Jaipur to Goa to I don’t know. Every newspaper has a literary festival. Many of these festivals are funded by the very corporations that are underneath the silencing. They even wanted to have a festival in Kashmir, where you were deported because they were frightened you were going to write about the discovery of the mass graves. You can have a literary festival there, but David Barsamian can’t write about the mass graves. What sort of literary festival will it be? What will the Kashmiris be allowed to say? If they say something wrong, will they be taken directly to the army camp or will they be allowed to go home and change? One asks, what sort of visas do they have? So the simultaneous orchestration of noise and silencing is interesting.
IN DECEMBER 2009, the Buried Evidence report was issued by a group of human rights activists. It documented the many graves containing thousands of bodies in Kashmir. That was recently actually verified by a state commission, which felt obliged because of public pressure to conduct its own investigation. So there have been two reports now about these mass graves. What has ensued in terms of investigation? Because anywhere from eight to ten thousand Kashmiris have gone missing since 1989. Could these be some of those people in those unmarked graves?
THEY COULD be. I suppose it’s distressing for those who still hope that those who have been missing are alive for us to just automatically make the connection that, oh, the missing are the dead. One doesn’t know until those DNA tests have been done. The important thing is that these graves that have been found are just in three out of many more districts of Kashmir. So what is happening to the other graves? Are they being desecrated and quickly removed? Is it going to be limited to this? And in this, as we know, in the past they have given fake DNA. Nothing ever happens to any army officer who has committed a crime—either a summary execution, which is known as a “fake encounter” in India, or mass execution or rape. Nothing ever happens, because the army has complete impunity. So what will happen, I don’t know. But it does just go straight into the reins of a building anger.
But even that is something which the government knows how to short-circuit. How do you allow people to vent their anger and calm down? How do you create a collaborator class which has huge stakes in the Indian occupation? How do you divert the debate? I’ll say this for the Indian occupation of Kashmir: It’s a brilliant occupation. The detail in which it operates, the alternating of violence and rewards and cajoling the media, the world should learn from it. If that’s the way the world is going to be, which I think is the way the world is headed, that you have to militarily control societies now if you want to maintain the status quo, if you want to maintain the system of capitalism which in the US allows four hundred people to own half the wealth of the country and in India a hundred people to own assets worth 25 percent of the GDP, then you are going to need to control societies militarily. And if you want a Ph.D. in that, come to India.
I WAS in Kashmir in February 2011. When I was in Kashmir, I asked an activist there, why would the state leave all of these graves scattered about? It’s incriminatory evidence. He said that they did it deliberately to strike fear and terror that this could happen to you.
KASHMIR IS interesting because of the brazenness with which they do things. One of the things which is also interesting, and which we didn’t speak about, is that at the time that the uprising happened in Kashmir in the early 1990s, when thousands of young men, disgusted by the rigging of the elections, went across the border and came back armed, it was an undisciplined uprising because all sorts of people just came back with weapons, and you know what that can do to a movement. But at that point something like three hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits had to flee the Valley. There are conflicting accounts of why they had to flee. Some say it was because of the threat of liquidation by the Islamist militants, but in fact it was Jagmohan, the governor, who organized for them to leave. I’m sure it was a combination of many things. But those Kashmiri Pandits who left the Valley lived in miserable conditions in the camps in Jammu. They, of course, the better off amongst them, are in India running a campaign against the Kashmiri freedom movement and celebrating Holocaust Day and Ethnic Cleansing Day and so on.
I SAW [the journalist] Parvaiz Bukhari in Delhi. He had just come from Kashmir, and he said he felt he could not breathe, because the atmosphere is so oppressive and there is such tension in the air. I know when I was there in February, you could cut it with a knife. It was a depressed and depressing place. And that’s a consequence of the occupation. People, at least from my vantage point, do not want to be under Indian rule.
AGAIN, THE idea of living in a situation like that, of studying and growing up and watching your elders being humiliated. . . Much has been written about the fact that women are so vulnerable in Kashmir, not only because, of course, many are widowed because most of the seventy thousand who have been killed are men, so many have lost their husbands or their brothers or their sons and that is such a debilitating thing. But imagine those who are picked up and go missing. The women have to go from camp to camp inquiring. And who is going to go complain about what price is extracted from a woman who goes there looking for somebody? They aren’t even going to talk about it. So you look at that.
But the other thing that is not written about, I think, is what does it mean to a community when the men are humiliated in the ways they have been? One hundred thousand at least have been tortured, and tortured in ways which are overtly sexual sometimes. What happens to a community whose men are broken in those ways? It’s almost unbearable. Sometimes we get inured to the idea of people being killed or shot or tortured. But imagine if I was at a checkpoint and a policeman humiliated my mother. I just don’t know how I could take it. And people have to watch this all the time, watch their fathers being slapped or their sisters or mothers being humiliated. What does it do to you? What does it do to you?
ALSO, WHAT does it do to the oppressor? It flips back.
THIS IS what I keep saying. We talk so much about what India is doing to Kashmir, but look at what Kashmir is doing to India. It’s just making monsters of us all. But the first time I wrote on Kashmir, I said India needs azadi, freedom, from Kashmir more than Kashmir needs azadi from India, because it is doing something terrible to all of us.
WHAT ARE your impressions of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Does it connect at all with the struggles in India?
IT PROBABLY does connect in one sense, in that here you suddenly have a group of people who are feeling excluded from the program, which does not seem to have been the case before. The polarization between the rich and the poor has reached a point where the fracture is happening. So, obviously, when you see the levels of repression that happen in Kashmir or in Chhattisgarh or when you see the uprisings in Orissa, then you come here, and when you see the police breaking it up, perhaps you don’t feel the same kind of shock that people here feel.
But I think it’s a beginning. And I think that what is happening here is that these movements have introduced a new political language into America—the beginning of perhaps a new political imagination. I think the biggest threat to the movement is not the police and the batons and the breaking up of the encampments and the physical violence. I think the biggest threat to the Occupy movement is being co-opted into the election campaign yet again, like we’ve seen happen again and again, being taken in by the theater of electoral politics and then being dropped down in the same position again. That is the biggest threat, to see whether the Occupy movement falls for that or not.
BUT IT is a major breakthrough in terms of creativity.
AND IT is introducing a new political language. Obviously, even the word “occupy.” So far “occupy” means occupy Iraq, occupy Palestine, occupy Afghanistan, occupy Kashmir. And here “occupy” has been turned on its head, though I think sometimes you do need the clarification of “Occupy Wall Street and not Palestine” or whatever.
I WAS looking at your 2002 speech in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I was struck by its almost prophetic character. I don’t know if it’s fresh in your memory.
YOU’RE BEING like those policemen in Kashmir, pulling up my files.
IN SANTA Fe you said, “Corporate capitalism is hemorrhaging.” So you had a sense then that there was something seriously wrong with the US economy and the structures here.
HOW COULD it be otherwise? I’m not an economist, but you don’t have to be an economist to see what’s going on. When I spoke at the Occupy People’s University, I said a few things: This kind of regime that allows individuals and corporations to gather unfettered wealth, what else is it going to result in? If you have a mining corporation, let’s say, for example, that is making billions from the bauxite in the mountains of Orissa, with those billions they can buy judges, they can buy television channels, they can buy universities, they can buy politicians. They can even buy the resistance. They can buy NGOs, they can fund activists, they can have trusts, they can endow chairs in universities. They can run the world.
So initially, before you even begin to think revolutionary thoughts, you have to start by saying this type of cross-ownership of businesses has to stop. You cannot have this level of monopoly capitalism: neither individuals—even if they are bestselling authors—nor corporations. Nobody should have the right to have this kind of unfettered wealth to begin with. The privatization of natural resources, of public infrastructure, of health, of electricity, of education should stop. The children of the rich should not be allowed to inherit their parents’ wealth. These are just a few simple things that seem so obvious.
SO DO you think that that murmur is a little bit louder now, of the goddess saying “Another world is possible”? Does it seem more pronounced now than nine years ago?
I THINK it is. Both sides are saying “Another world is possible.” The other side is saying a world of military rule is possible, a world of complete surveillance is possible, a world of capturing the imagination of people and holding it down is possible. And we are saying that there are too many of us for you to hold down all the time. The recruitment on both sides is going on. The privatization of not just resources, but even the armies, the mercenaries, torture, all of this is also being sourced out to the corporations who run the world now. They are going to be controlling these things in so many ways. So we are up for a lot of turbulence.
POETRY IS often used in South Asia as a form of resistance and solidarity. Two thousand eleven marks the centenary of the great Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911–84). Often at meetings or demonstrations his poems are recited or sung, such as “Bol,” which is about speaking out. Another one is “Hum Dekhenge—we will see the tyrants fall. Talk about the role of poetry and resistance.
“HUM DEKHENGE” is a poem by Faiz famously sung by Iqbal Bano in Zia ul-Haq’s Pakistan. And when I was walking through the forest with the comrades, the police called the areas controlled by the comrades Pakistan. One night we were sitting together and they were singing “Hum Dekhenge.” And I happened to have a recording of Iqbal Bano singing “Hum Dekhenge” and I played it for them. When she finishes singing, there are thousands of people in the audience, you hear them shouting inqilab zindabad, which means “long live the revolution.” And it was such a strange and wonderful joining together of that Pakistan and this Pakistan by Faiz, who people quite often forget was a communist.
So, yes, poetry is used all the time. And especially Urdu poetry. Sometimes it’s almost intimidating how there seems to be a poem for every feeling, for every occasion, for every thought, which is so appropriate that you feel like it’s all been written before, so why not just shut up?