An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Freedom and Democracy

I am not sure where this story came from but I will narrate a version of it anyways..

There was this guy – lets call him Mr. Smith – who was walking down a street in London waving and punching his hands in the air with no worries or concern! The people in front of him would run away lest they be hit. Eventually his freely punching hand hit a person – lets call him Mr. Jones – on his nose and he started bleeding. Mr. Jones reported Mr. Smith to the police. Mr. Smith was caught and produced before a magistrate. The Magistrate asked Mr. Smith to explain himself .. and he said that “Sir, I am free man in a free country with all the freedoms – how can what I did be wrong?”

The Magistrate then retorted back after furnishing him a suitable punishment that “Yes, indeed Mr. Smith, you are a free man in a free society.. but your freedom ends where someone elses nose starts!”

The delicate balance of how big the proverbial “nose” should be and what should it be subjected to before you can say its “freedom” has been violated is an important issue in any democracy.

I feel there are two countries that are important when it comes to the experiment of democracy – US and India – The World’s Oldest Democracy and Largest.

They are also on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Nose-Hurt continuum.

In the US, the “Nose” is sooo long that even a daily dialog has become a veritable minefield of political incorrectness such that folks like Bush and his ilk were found to be refreshing and “honest”!

In India, on the other hand, the “nose” has all but disappeared! Anyone with more “power” can punch as many noses as he possibly can.. and the usual pretext is – FREEDOM!

Unless we find a new thought system in the world today to find this balance and indeed create a new political system – I doubt that “free world” as we know would succeed for very long!

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