Did India Prove Socrates Wrong?

It is said that Socrates hated democracy. He is said to have believed that for democracy to work, the population should be quality. India is the largest democracy in this world. It has enjoyed independence for more than 7 decades. Has India done enough to make Socrates change his opinion on democracy?

While who said “knowledge is power” is not important in the context of this article, it does draw an important connection between knowledge and power. More important is how you use the knowledge.

The United States of America has a land area of 9.8M square kilometers. On this land area, it tries to support a population of 327M. India has a land area of 3.3M square kilometers. In about 1/3rd the area of USA, India has packed in 1.3B people (about 4 times USA’s). And that is not all, India is on its way to becoming the most populous nation in the world!

Many of you might term this type of “growth” as irresponsible considering how the resources are managed and the quality of life in India. India’s relatively poor performance is reflected in various quality related indexes and opinion polls. For those looking for a silver lining, if India were a luggage manufacturer specialising in packing more items in a limited space without considering a variety of factors, it would be a coveted brand.

Many people in India tend to display the black-and-white thinking. Therefore, a dictatorship is all about following rules, while a democracy is about freedom to do whatever one pleases to do. For example, if you try to stop someone from littering, you are likely to get a response such as “India is a democracy” (implying that we can do whatever we prefer). Or you could be hit with “let us ask others or conduct a survey” (as if democracy equates to allowing inmates to run the asylum). The adage “with rights come responsibilities” often tends to get overlooked.

In the April to May period, India is scheduled to go to general elections where political parties will battle for votes from people with their own definition of democracy and short-term gains in mind. These voters have been presented with similar agenda perennially but probably love the taste of old wine in a new bottle. This exercise is also similar to listening to popular tunes of Mozart and Beethoven that you never get tired of.  

With the country focused primarily on the short-term benefits, the planning is left to the cats, who have to live 9 lives. India would rather burn the last tree to fuel its goals. Socrates understood that, at times, people even score own goals. A group is not necessarily always smarter than an individual. The scoreline reads Socrates 1, India 0. India has miles to go before it sleeps.

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