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Caste and Democracy

Reader comment on item: Is Radical Islam in Decline?
in response to reader comment: Pakistan does not have to be complicated

Submitted by Michael S, Nov 13, 2016 at 03:11

Hi, Prashant.

I see that you have a name that's common across northern India; so I assume that is your family background, and you are familiar with what you are talking about.

An important part of a democracy working, is that the citizenry is willing to accept whoever is elected, whether they voted for him/her or not. (Mostly) HinduIndia has done this well, ever since independence in 1947. So has Buddhist/Shinto Japan; so has Jewish Israel, and many Christian nations.Muslim Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Turkey have not.

In the case of India, the Hindus come from a culture rooted in caste obedience. Most citizens did not have a say-so in politics, but were taught that there was spiritual merit in accepting the rule of those who were "destined" for such a role. It was because of this, most likely, that the British were able to govern the world's second larges country with only a few thousand men under arms: The Hindus accepted the Yonas/ Yavanas (Greeks, later applied to the British), since they came as soldiers, to be of the Kshatriya (warrior) caste, and submitted to them as a spiritual duty. I don't know the caste backgrounds of all the Indian leaders; but even Mahatma Gandhi was born a Kshatriyah.

The United States derived, politically from the English system of a parliamentary monarchy. Like the Hindus, the English accorded their rulers divinely-sanctioned special status, and obeyed them as a matter of religious duty. East of the Atlantic, Brits to this day continue to accept their elected leaders, in part, because those ministers technically "do fealty" to the monarch. The French did not do this, after their "drain the swamp" revolution, and the result was chaos.

On our side of the Atlantic, the English colonists had been submitting to majority rule since the day Elder William Brewster (my ancestor) drew up the Mayflower Compact. Even here, the Divine is not left out of the picture; our Declaration of Independence proclaims that our government derives its rights and responsibilities are derived from God. To this day, millions of Americans accept this fact; and the motto "In God We Trust" on our currency and coinage reinforces this sense. Americans also have an "aristocracy", similar to that in Britain: It is based largely on wealth and education. In the election just past, this "Divine Order" seems to have been violated by the "commoners" who voted for Donald Trump (though Donald himself, like Gandhi before him, is part of the "upper class"); and this may be at the root of some of the discontent we are seeing nowadays.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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