India Oldest Democracy: The Vishwa Guru – OpEd
By Patial RC
The World is surprised that what is India of 2020s under Modi talking about ‘Vishwa Guru’ (World Guru)? India has finally once again awakened that there was a time when India was known as a Vishwa Guru, a world leader that many envied. 2020s have provided great opportunities firstly India’s stand on Ukraine-Russia Conflict has just proved that the world listens to India and now leads the two important organisations the UNSC and the G-20.The World Guru does not mean aspiring to be a Military power to threaten others.India has never invaded any other country. To remind our friends; The theme of India’s G20 is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” a Sanskrit phrase meaning “The World is One Family” Or “One Earth-One Family-One Future” and is drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad.
Britishers the Colonists education system made the Indians forget their rich value systems and made most Indians follow the West. Call it due to the culture, standard of living, healthcare systems, or lifestyle in general which may have been ingrained due to the slave mentality or superior image created of the white skin.
Ancient India the Oldest Democracy: Panchayat
The institution of Panchayati (institution of five) Raj is as old as the Indian civilization itself. It was in existence since ancient periods, having an effective control over civil and judicial matters of the village community. The Rigveda, Manusamhita, Dharmashastras, Upanishads, Jatakas and others, refer extensively to local administration.In Ramayana of Valmiki, there are references to the Ganapada (village federation) which was perhaps a kind of federation of village republics. A description of these village councils are also found in Arthashastra of Kautilya who lived in 400 B.C.
The village was the basic unit of administration in the Vedic period. The most remarkable feature of the early Vedic polity consisted in the institution of popular assemblies namely the ‘Sabha’, and the ‘Samiti’ deserve special mention.A Samiti was the Vedic Folk Assembly that in some cases enjoyed the right of electing a king while the Sabha exercised some judicial functions. Both the Samiti and Sabha enjoyed the rights to debate, a privilege unknown to the popular assemblies of other ancient people. Over the ages elaborate administrative machinery with a hierarchy of officials existed. Enough detailed literature exists regarding India exercising a near democratic system of governance since ancient times.
Ancient India the Treasure of Wealth
India was once known as ‘Sone Ki Chidiya’ the Treasure of Wealth which over the centuries was looted by the Mughals and Britishers. India’s share in world trade once was staggering, whooping at 24.5% at par with the share of the entire European continent.Imagine the economic power that India once was! In the 17th century, India, a key player in the world economy, was a leading exporter of spices, sugar, textiles, handicrafts, and much more. It was also one of the first countries to adopt a money-based trade.
This vast wealth was the very reason that India was invaded a large number of times by outsiders with the desire to rule and loot the wealth. Despite so many invasions India’s glory and spirit didn’t die and it’s still there being revived now after 75 years of independence.
India’s Maritime Heritage
India has a rich maritime heritage and the earliest reference to maritime activities is contained in the Rig Veda. Indian mythology has numerous episodes pertaining to the ocean, the sea and the rivers.There is plenty of evidence derived from Indian literature, art, sculptures, painting and archeology to establish existence of Indian maritime traditions.
A study of the country’s maritime history reveals that the Indian sub-continent exercised supremacy over the Indian Ocean from very early times up to the 13th century. Indians took to the sea for trade and commerce rather than for political ends. Thus, the period up to about 16th century witnessed peaceful sea-borne commerce, cultural and traditional exchange between countries.The beginning of India’s maritime history dates back to 3000 BC. During this time, the inhabitants of Indus Valley Civilisation had maritime trade link with Mesopotamia and maritime activities had flourished during this period.The Indian Ocean has always been regarded as an area of great significance and India is central to this Ocean.
World Learns from India
The Covid-19 made the world openly adopt ‘Namaste’ as a way of greeting, Indian values have a treasure of beliefs that can change the world for the better.
The world has adopted ‘Yoga’, meditation and spirituality. The global perception of India is changing. India, thus, must utilise this time to promote its traditions and culture on a larger scale for the greater good of humanity. Spiritual and traditional wealth is one of the key indicators of India’s strength.The world has learnt the importance of Yoga. The UN has declared June 21 as The International Day of Yoga and this day has been celebrated across the world annually since 2015
India gave yoga to the world one of the most renowned Hindu philosophical traditions and so is teaching the world the benefits of ‘Vegetarianism’ .
The world is looking at India. having fought the pandemic Covid-19 successfully and provided the vaccine to large number of nations. India is now the most populous country in the world.Michael J Ryan, WHO executive director, said that “India, which led the world in eradicating two silent killers – smallpox and polio – has a tremendous capacity in eradicating the deadly Coronavirus pandemic”.
2020s India’s Time
Ukraine-Russia Conflict has provided the opportunity to promote “Make in India” to its next level.The time for India to emerge as a manufacturing hub of Indian arms so as to reduce the dependency on others and be self sufficient in all respects.India’s Republic Day 26 January 2023 parade for the first time showcased its Indigenous Weapon Systems only.
India has the geographical strength, capacity, intelligence and a cheap young labour force so essential for progress. India, thus, must scale up its manufacturing capacity and reduce the need gap at the earliest. To develop an ecosystem where India becomes the manufacturing hub of the world, we need some major friendly economic reforms and laws to encourage the starer,global investor to invest in India.
A New Multi-polar World Order is in the Making
A new multi-polar world order is emerging. It’s about time India attained the position of a Vishwa Guru the World Guru leader. Modi takes pride in going back to its roots and attaining its past lost glory. Now is the time to re-emerge as a Vishwa Guru that India once was. India is for “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” a Sanskrit phrase meaning “The World is One Family” in this “Era of No War’” as advocated by Modi to Putin and the world towards “One Earth-One Family-One Future.”