Democracies of Unfreedom: The United States and India

By Brij Mohan | Go to book overview

Preface

But even the highest intellects of today do not see the darkness as I see it. . . . The intellectual world today is like a gigantic home for garrulous old men, who never mean what they say. . . . But, even so, the human situation in its fundamental character is not worse than what it has always been; only the scale and conflict between progress and decadence is infinitely larger. [People] of faith, believing in a higher dispensation in the universe than [human] will, have always been bewildered by the duality in their existence.

( Nirad C. Chaudhuri 1987: 962-963)

Democracy and freedom are commonly used as analogous concepts. Globalization of democracy in an unfree world is a paradox of modernity. The world's two largest democracies--estranged from each other ( Kux, 1993) by millennia of traditions, thousands of miles, and multitudes of differences--have never been the subject of a unifying study. The task may remain unfulfilled for a long time as the magnitude of the comparative variables and their immeasurability keep on confounding. Yet a small step seems to be in order for three different reasons: (1) introspection as a vehicle of self-renewal, (2) globalization of the Indo-American creed, and (3) internationalization of the democratic experiences.

I was born, raised, and educated in India. Until 1956, I lived in a small town amid the triangularity of Mathura, Aligarh, and Agra, which I call the "Bermuda of India." When I went to college in Mathura--my grandfather's home town where my father had spent his early childhood-- I walked through the velvet-green lawns of a museum in Dampier Nagar and often spent my solitude hours under the sprawling shadows of balmy banyan trees over the turtle-infested shores of Jamuna. In Agra, the Taj Mahal and its haunting halo substituted my unfathomable thirst for beauty and grace. Those were not exactly Albert Camus's "luminous years," but there was

-xiii-

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