Daily Newsings: 2nd May

Daily Newsings are musings on the daily news.

For today’s story, we look at a report on today’s edition of The Hindu titled “Budgets and Bills passed with little deliberation.” The report shows that in at least 3 states, more than 75% of bills were passed without any discussion in the legislative assembly.

The report raises important questions about what is democracy and what is the purpose of governance.

How is India democratic

A democracy is a system of government in which laws and major decisions of a state or country is decided by the “people,” generally understood to include all (or nearly all) adult citizens.

In India, we practice through elected representatives. Rather than every single adult person meeting together to discuss laws (which would be impossible), each place elects a representative by a vote and sends the said person to represent them in the meeting. Laws are then discussed by considering the views of all the representatives — who are, in effect, representing all the people.

Born to rule but not fit to rule

I’ve previously written on this blog on why a democracy is a form of government which best balances the realities of creation and sin. Let me summarise the argument briefly.

The Bible tells us that each human being is created in the image of God. Humanity was created to rule over creation. We are all, in a sense, born to rule. However, the Bible also tells us that early in the history of the world, humanity rebelled against its maker. This rebellion resulted in the marring of the human nature. Human nature is so tainted and corrupted that humans end up ruling not to serve their subjects, but rather use their responsibility of ruling to instead exploit their subjects. Human beings are thus, not fit to rule.

How then do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory teachings?

In a democracy, we empower each individual person to rule by voicing their opinion through their elected representative. But in a democracy, we also don’t give all the power to one single person. Because every potential ruler is corrupted by sin, they cannot be trusted with full power.

Therefore, their power to rule is balanced by the other elected representatives in the room. Their opinions of how to rule is balanced by the presence of other opinions which might not always agree.

Legislative Assemblies and voices of dissent

Legislative Assemblies are, thus, important places in a democracy. If there are no discussions or disagreements in the passing of laws for a state, that state is no longer functionally democratic.

It is in this context that we need to consider the report that in over 3 states, laws are being passed with no discussion.

We must also consider the fact that many of the dissenting voices in our country today, such as Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren, have been put in prisons. By putting them in prison, the current ruling government is seeking to silence dissenting voices.

If there is no room for disagreement or discussion in how the country should be governed, the country is functionally no longer a democracy. It is being run like a dictatorship.

Checking the power of sin and folly

As Christians, it is good for us to reminded that none of us are fully immune from our own tendency to silence voices that disagree with us. We all veer towards becoming autocratic rulers within our own spheres of influence. We always like to hang out with people who only agree with us. We need the presence of people in our lives who can disagree with us — who can check the power of sin and folly.

The book of Proverbs provides us with wisdom:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

Let us continue to pray for our country. And let us remember to surround ourselves with an abundance of counselors to check the power of sin and folly in our own lives.

Being Indian and Christian

Being Indian and Christian is my weekly email newsletter in which I try to understand the world (popular culture or news and events from India or around the world) from a Christian world-view. If that’s something you’re interested in, I’d be honoured if you signed up!

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