Democracy and Numbers

Image Source: National Herald

What is it to be an Indian after the death of dharma? How are we to face the crises that is brewing in our society? We may metaphorically describe our plight by declaring that ‘the Sabda brahman’ has been replaced by ‘Sankhya Asura’. Well this calls for explanation. The Vaisnava and several other traditions of Hinduism view all pervading Brahamana, the sabda brahaman as the source of the primordial sound from which they believe that all forms of vakya/speech has evolved. It is also viewed as the ultimate cosmic sound, the sacred “OM”. Maybe the use of this sacred imagery in an analogical sense can illumine our sad condition. The developments in the politics of our country have expelled something sacred out of our democracy. It is as though the sacred sound OM is squeezed out of our democratic language and traditions.  Time has lost its joint and life seems to have lost its samanvaya or balance. Indeed, for the first time our constitutional democracy is reduced to a mere play of numbers. Our democracy was based on the primacy of numbers but they were subservient to the ‘laukika brahmana’. This image is again used here to bring home the sacredness of people’s will in the democracy. It was the people who were supreme and sovereign in our democracy. All numbers that determine the victors were given by the people. What we have today is a loss of sovereignty of our people. Democracy has become simply reduced to a play of numbers that are engineered in favour of ruling dispensation by hook or crook. It is almost like tossing a coin that is manipulated to always read heads. From the allegations of manipulation of the electronic voting machines, abuse of enforcement institutions of our democracy like CBI and income tax authorities, use of media as propaganda machine to the dismantling of people’s mandate (in Goa, Manipur and Bihar), we can see how we have destroyed people’s democracy in our country.

We can reduce music to its corresponding frequencies. But with such quantification of music something beautiful dies. Same is the case with democracy. Without the constitutive Demos, democracy becomes merely a wild pursuit of power. It seems that we have lost our democracy in the wilderness. Something vital about our democracy is dying and its ship is sinking quickly. From  a distance things appear rosy, yet if we scratch a bit, we may open a can of worms. The slope of loss of democracy is dipping.  If we try to calculate the fall in our democracy when the role of people is tending towards zero, we may get a deep insight into it. To do this we have to indulge into the mumbo jumbo of numbers and that will give us some kind of approximation of the state of democracy in our country. Maybe Newton’s calculus might help us. Maybe we can employ calculus to measure the loss of democracy. Doing so, we might be surprised to discover that we are having a democracy that does not exist. We may use what is called as limits to discern the loss of democracy. We might require a little familiarity with what we call functions. This is so because the state of democracy is dynamic and is changing rapidly and minutely. Functions will help us to represent the dynamics of democracy.  The function that we need can be written as y = f(x), where x stand for the role of the people.  Now the domain of the x can take values that will indicate the role of the people. We are looking at the changing function. It is changing wherever we look at it. We will deal with the change that may be derived by dy/dx. This gives us the derivative, the coordinate on the y axis. We have to calculate the slope at the stationary point, the point cut by a tangent, the point where democracy is tending to zero. We do so because we seem to have come to the stationary point in the practice of our democracy where the practice is moving towards zero. Now we can derive the dipping of democracy at any point on the curve of its practice. The present practice of democracy seems to be nullifying the role of the people. Therefore, we may represent it with the value that is tending towards 0. This leads us to calculate the value of the output of function when the input is tending towards 0. What will be the rage of the values that f(x) have when x is tending to 0 ? This means we will have to ask what will be f(x) when x tends to 0? To get the value of f(x), let us take a parabola given by the function f(x)=x square as representing the state of democracy. The slope of a tangent in this context is calculated by using it limits formula by considering f(x) as x square. This solution is found to be 2x. Now when x tends to 0, it will be also zero. But the fact that x is tending to 0 does not mean that it is 0. Therefore, its solution is certainly not 0 but one that comes very close to 0. This means we can say that the state of democracy is not totally destroyed. But it is about to get annihilated. The answer of the function that we have considered may be figuratively described as ‘samkhya Asura’. This is a problem that is inherent to representative democracy where the role of the people is bare minimum. This means we are already having the seeds of destruction / Asura embedded in what we call representative democracy. 

Surely, we do not need calculus to factor in the loss of democracy that we are facing. We all know the state of democracy in our country. The next important question that we have to ask ourselves is that what are we doing about the loss of democracy? This means that we have to realize that time has come to ask for full and total democracy. What would be fuller and total democracy? Will it be the participatory democracy that would maximize the role and responsibility of the ordinary citizen? The questions that we have considered manifest that the reigning representative democracy is completely exhausted and has become vulnerable of being completely manipulated by those who grab power without any regard to the will of the people that is expressed in what we call the mandate of a democratic election. We can already notice it in the way the circus of democracy is playing out in our country. Moreover, this drama is enacted on the backdrop of an aggressive nationalism. All this simply tells us another vital truth. When this so called nationalism reaches its peak, we get minimum democracy. Once again if we employ calculus to calculate at any instance, the quality of democracy in reference to the level of the reigning nationalism (which of course cannot be easily quantified), we may come to what may be described as its un-tenability with our democracy. Higher the reign of that nationalism lesser will be the quality of democracy. That is why the nationalism that we are facing is rightly called fascism. This is the reason why a nationalism that is promoting minimum democracy is dangerously anti-democratic. Unfortunately, we have almost reached a point of no return. That is, our plight is that we have to fight for it now or never. Yes we have a collective imperative to save our dying democracy. We have to awake, arise and fight to save our democracy.


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao