Krishval Musings

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fathers of Democratic Nation.
Indian Leaders Failed to Take Cue from George Washington.  

                                           George Washington  
George Washington, the gallant and victorious liberator of America, sprang a surprise when he declined to stand in the third election for the President’s post in 1796 despite winning 100% of the electoral votes in the 1792 election.  
Historians think that he wanted to reveal to the world no one is indispensible under a republican set up. He also wanted to assert that the cause of liberty was larger than any single individual. 

Legacy of George Washington (GW)

Maximum two terms of Presidency was continued for 150 years with the only exception of Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. This tradition became a law in 1951.  The legacy prevented the possibilities of any attempt to bring in monarchy or oligarchy.   However, the tenure restriction is not applicable to congress members; a few senators are holding their office for 30 long years.    

As commander-in-chief of the l Army, Washington respected the authority of the Congress, and affirmed that the purpose of the army was to carry out the will of the civil government.  The USA had 26 elected Presidents out of 44who were ex army retirees including Generals like Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson and Dewitt D Eisenhower. None of the military dictators from Julius Cesar to Saddham Hussein relinquished their power and authority until their death or dethrone.  GW was the only exception. 

He hated political parties, however, welcomed criticism from the press.  He did not have higher education but had higher vision to shape a strong democratic nation. He stood as an example for liberal and republican ideas and gave them effect through the Revolution, the Constitution, his successful Presidency and his departure from office.

As an astute statesman he was aware that his presidency would set a precedent for all that would follow. He was vigilant not to permit the European style of monarchy sneaking into the system. His followers banned all the European style nobility titles like Sir, Earl and Duke etc. 

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s achievement is far greater than that of Washington in terms of area, population, regional/ethnic/linguistic/diversities, religious/political/social complexities and brutal oppression by the armed colonizers. Inspiring and organizing400 million people with diversities were probably the greatest human achievement in the world history.  Mahatma Gandhi did not seek a violent approach to achieve independence. He spearheaded his non violent forces without arms against iron fists with arms.  It was a longer fight of over 30 years as against 8 years of American war of independence.  He maintained his undisputed leadership till his end.   Gandhi’s tenacity and determination was admired by the entire world and they also stimulated freedom fights in many parts of Asia and Africa.

 Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi refused to take the reins after independence and handed it over to the Westernised  Jawaharlal Nehru. Was it a right choice?   Gandhi wanted a less aggressive and peace promoting person to be his successor.   
Nehru’s disdain for Indian culture and heritage is well known.   He openly remarked that he will be the last Britisher to rule India.  He just followed the language and habits of the West but never had the pragmatism and vision of   GW to set an example of a true leader. Nehru, contrary to GW and Gandhi, did not have the broad mind to build a nation through delegation of authority and grooming a successor, despite having capable persons like Morarji Desai.  Thirteen Vice Presidents of USA were groomed and they subsequently became Presidents.   He was surrounded by sycophants and his own family members.  Consciously or unconsciously   he dug a quick sand in the Indian polity in which the democracy is slowly sinking due to the un checked development of oligarchy plunging the nation into the old dark days of feudalism.
Political party  leaders follow Nehru by not developing a successor because of fear of rebellion. They drag until their family members become old enough to take control of the party and its huge, mostly, ill gotten wealth. There is hardly any democracy inside political parties.   Nehru’s promotion of fiefdom in Indian politics is the stumbling block to the holistic development. The Congress party known for its highly educated and dedicated veterans is now reduced to a despotic family party managed by his descendents.

A proposal, during the preparation of the constitution, to limit the tenure of the Prime Minister like the President of India to two terms was cleverly scuttled.  Time is ripe to introduce tenure limitation for PMs as well as CMs in order to improve the quality and commitment of their office.
Political experts introspect that Gandhi should have made a better choice for spearheading a young democratic nation.


The approach to the war of independence of the two nations makes all the difference.  GW followed the armed struggle and took the responsibility to lead after the achievement.  He was very successful in giving a good start which was vital for the future progress. GW was a light house to the USA and its beam is still alive and bright even after two centuries.  The internal and external challenges were all put down successfully due to the fire of independence and nation building spirit lit by him. The USA when started had only 13 states in the Eastern coast expanded upto the Pacific coast with 50 states under its flag.

India was less fortunate to start with a soft and idealistic leader.  But for the acumen of Sardar  Vallabhbhai  Patel, Nehru’s faux optimism would have adversely affected the size and shape of the present Indian map. The spirit of independence was very high in India immediately after 1947.  However, when the external and internal challenges erupted the poor show and weakness of the leadership became visible to the world.

Development of feudalism was cut in the bud by GW whereas Nehru nurtured it making the Indian republic less meaningful.  

Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam


(Published in Mylapore club magazine Dec/14 by the author under the caption
India's Political Leadership )


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