I have always wondered, what should be the right answer for a rapid growth and progress of the country; should the benefit of the society/country at large supersede the benefits of individuals or a group of individuals.
Autocracy or democracy is the billion dollar dilemma that faces all of us
I have watched very keenly the growth of China and Singapore as compared to our country. China’s economy which was only 40% of ours a couple of decades ago has grown in leaps and bounds and now is almost a staggering 400% of ours. Singapore, a poor swampy island just 50 years ago, now has a per capital income more than 10 times ours. In my last two trips to China within a span of few years (the most recent one being a week ago) I have seen entire cities rebuilt or new cities built, thousands of miles of pot hole free 8 lane highways, super fast and bullet trains by the dozens while we in Bangalore have not yet been able to complete a few miles of the Metro which was started well before my last visit to China many years ago. Our population continues to grow and we are bursting at the seams while China’s population has stabilized and is on the decline. They have abundant power while we are still struggling with power cuts all the time. They have a permanent UN seat while being the largest democracy in the world we are nowhere near it.
Many people during casual conversations ask me should we emulate the Chinese and to some extent the Singaporean models where in the interests of the state completely supersede that of an individual and go on a fast track growth and progress. There are many who still believe that it would be better if we had an Emergency like situation for us to move forward quickly.
Honestly, after a lot of trepidation, I am not sure what the right answer is, though I lament our extremely slow and painful growth. I am not sure if I am willing to give up my freedom of speech, the security of having a fiercely free and fair judiciary, the comfort of being sure that the government cannot take away my family or property without any fair reason, the luxury of a very aggressive free press and of course the freedom to choose how many children I can have and which locality I would like to live in.
Having witnessed The Emergency Rule albeit for a short period during my formative years I finally have come to the conclusion that I would choose a free & fair democratic country like ours over an autocratic country even if it means we have to sacrifice rapid progress and growth for individual freedom.
Having said that lets not give up on progress and let all of us, the citizens and the government, work together to deliver faster growth within the confines of individual freedom and democracy.
Dr. H Sudarshan Ballal, MD, FRCP (London)
Chairman – Med Adv Board & Medical Director – MHEPL,
Manipal Hospitals, 98, HAL Airport Road, Bangalore-560017
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the writer and not of the hospital.
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