Democracy or Dictatorship : Expectations Are the Same
The Government of any country plays a very important role in the development of a country. Irrespective of the type of government style, it acts as a catalyst or a dampener in the progress a country and its people make. However the governments reflect the society from which they emerge. Many countries are ruled by dictators because there is imbalance in the society and might is right principle prevails. In many countries democracy prevails because the ethos of the society is tolerant and every person contributes in government making.
Many years back, I was chiding an African that revolutions occur frequently in their countries leading to lot of bloodshed. His answer was both very revealing and humbling. He said that I was lucky to be in a country where governments could be changed by ballot. In many African countries the only choice people have to change the government is by bullet, because otherwise the one in power is never going to leave power. After that I have understood and appreciated the agony of people saying in dictatorial countries and the relative ecstasy of those staying in democratic countries.
However the grass is always greener on the other side. The citizens of a dictatorial country crave for democracy and those in democratic countries want strong leaders to be in charge. No doubt democracy is supposed to be the worst form of best government. The attraction of dictatorial countries is the relative fast rate of progress that takes place especially in countries like China. A handful of persons at the very top decide about projects and these are then ruthlessly implemented. Whereas in a democracy the whole process of decision making is generally lengthy involving endless discussions and opposition and even agitations leading to delays and cost overruns.
One tends to associate efficiency with dictators and inefficiency with democracies. Yet nothing could be far from the truth. In the achievements of dictators there is rarely willing involvement of the population whereas in a democracy people feel involved. This is a basic difference between the two systems. However one can appreciate it better when one gets an opportunity to live in the 'other' system.
In single party or person ruled countries there is no voice of the opposition. Even the most feeble voice is ruthlessly crushed as is witnessed from time to time in North Korea or China. In democratic countries like India one sees the voice of opposition become so strong that it can come to power by dislodging the ruling dispensation through elections. Yet it is often seen that in democratic countries generally there is a significant yearning for a leader who is strong in decision making. Societies in dictatorial countries are highly regimented and give an appearance of discipline and order to the outside world.
Is there anything like a benevolent dictator and a strict democracy? Was Lee the strongman of Singapore a benevolent dictator or a strict democracy leader who is held responsible for developing Singapore into what it is today. Is Fidel Castro a benevolent dictator of Cuba, isolated as it is from the world for most of the last four decades. Is America a strict democracy where the rule of law is strictly enforced howsoever mighty the guilty may be. Answers will depend on one's beliefs.
Where would one place Indian democracy? For all the yearning for a strong leader ,when Indira Gandhi imposed the emergency in 1975 and tried to demonstrate the traits of a strong leader, in the elections thereafter in 1977, she and her Congress party were wiped out in many states and lost power. So Indians do not like a strong leader.Yet the yearning continues. The Janata Government that came to power in 1977, had too much of democracy in it and was one of the main reasons for its downfall within less than two years.
So what is that the people want from their governments. In dictatorial countries, they cannot express what they want. They have to cheerfully accept what they get. Some one else is deciding for them. In democratic countries, people do express what they want and get to chose the type of government they like. Yet they are also dissatisfied at the governance.
In short it is very difficult to satisfy all people. Howsoever sincere may a dictator be or responsive a democratic government may be, there will always be significant sections of society who will always up the antenna as far as their satisfaction index is concerned. People do not generally care for ideologies till their expectations of food, clothing, shelter, job and security are reasonably met. It is only when these are not met that they start looking for alternatives even in dictatorial countries. If their demands are met they raise the bar as every human being basically likes to live a better than yesterday life.
So in dictator run countries they revolt and in democracies they go out and vote for change. The dissatisfaction cycle starts all over again.
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