Indians debate too much democracy. But there’s not a whimper for ‘too little republic’

The debate that Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant unwittingly triggered over the extent of democracy in India was passionate, lively and largely beside the point. What is of utmost and urgent importance at this time is the plummeting level of rule-of-law and rule-by-law in the country. We have ‘too little republic’ amid growing, even competing majoritarianisms among the population and populisms among its leaders. In fact, I would venture that while a large number of adults in India understand and accept democracy as an important political value, the number of people who know what a republic is and ought to be is much smaller. We celebrate Republic Day with a big military parade in New Delhi and patriotic songs in schools and neighbourhoods, with little realisation of why exactly it is different from, say, Independence Day.

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