Challenges of nation-building in a democratic state

By: Dr. Rajkumar Singh
The strategy of nation-building generally commenced on the basis of the making of consensus and accommodation, secularism, Parliamentary democracy, federalism, democratic decentralisation and others that could make any republic effective and purposeful. Democracy is both a system with norms, procedures and a set of institutions; and actors, functionaries and officials who work these procedures and institutions. For the people, democracy is also a pattern of experiences. The experience of its two facets is at sharpe variance. The impressions derived–from its abstract side, like the norms, values, or procedures; and the concrete experiential side, like those in charge of giving these a shape, or who work them–are contrary. The difference was, perhaps, due to the societal character. In the pre-modern society caste, religion and language are strong factors fostering sub–national identities. Horizontal and vertical cleavages have made it difficult for the civil society to develop the size and cohesion necessary to interact as an equal with the political and economic power of the state. Unless the size of the civil society enlarges to encompass, the psycho–cultural idea of the nation and the politico – legal concept of the state are unlikely to reinforce one another. Like the plural societies of the United States, Canada, Belgium and Holland, from the very beginning, party organisations in developing countries have had a base of support that cuts across the horizontal dispersal of caste groups, further subdivided by the sentiment of village, lineage and kin group neighbourhood, compelled the competing party organisations to build support structures for themselves across their divisions. But the experience of East is different from that of Western democracies and so far as social organisation was concerned, the ethnic groups in the former stood in a hierarchical relationship. This difference indicated a corresponding gap in economic, political and educational attainments, particularly in the lower strata of society, which remained handicapped in their exercise of electoral choice in the years to come.
Hard social realities
Each developing society is struggling to modernise itself politically, registers its own peculiar, complex, and often internally self – contradictory processes. When we go in search of their ‘revolutionary universal’, in advance of sufficient knowledge of those processes, in the end it may prove to be a barren exercise. In general, the citizen is born to ethnicity, makes his living, by and large, in the class of his birth, and shares the perspectives of his generation. In contrast to this inherent instinct, electoral processes, party organisations, mass movements and the search for better economic returns induce or force him to take up a position and make secular decisions on issues which lie outside the primary groups to which he belongs. While he continues to live his social life within the primary groups to which he was born, the constraints imposed by such groups, on his thinking and movement, tend to become increasingly weaker in the face of his need to act effectively in conjunction with others. The new challenges faced by him forced him to take a position, other than the established pattern of behaviour. The established system had hardly any match with the then shattered social, economic and cultural life of the people. The introduction of Western rationalist education in their colonies bi-furcated the society’s common sense and divided their culture in a radically different and unprecedented fashion. Traditionally, every culture marks by great internal inequality and distance, various inflections and articulations by divergent groups, was identified by a single common sense. The new European education was largely responsible for the ruination of this integral single common sense of traditional culture. It was done by inducting a new kind of common sense based on rationalist premises common in nineteenth century Europe. It created a strange dichotomy of inside and outside of the home and the world, of the rationalist world of politics and the sentimental one of domesticity created essentially by generalising upon the experience of the middle class.
Role of political parties
In general political parties are institutions of the civil society rather than the state. But they link the power structure in society with the state. The party system reflects the historical conditions of struggle in each country and is a good indicator to test this idea. It is the only one component of the political system. The others are the state structures or government institutions and the state process that links the government to the society. This interaction between state and society has three dimensions; coercive, responsive and legitimative. Coercive function of the state is exercised by the police and the army and also through a framework of laws and rules to obtain obedience of the citizens. The responsive functions to the positive actions that the state takes to meet people’s demands. No modern state can carry on without being responsive to social needs voiced from time to time. But coercive and responsive functions may not be adequate unless the state takes specific measures to acquire moral and voluntary support of a large number of people. Such legitimation is secured through symbolic propaganda, patriotic mobilisation and a variety of political and economic activities. The party system of a modern state is particularly relevant to the latter two functions of the state namely, responsive and legitimative. As for coercion, the state agencies are directly authorized to carry out these functions and enforce law. In democracy the dominant social forces operate through the major political parties in managing state power.
Religious factors at work
In a multi -religious country religious leaders identity themselves with one or the other politician or political parties. They have amassed wealth by exploiting religious beliefs of people and lead a life of luxury. They enter into profitable bargains with powerful politicians and politicians go to them for money and votes. Both together they thus exploit religious belief of common people. A state should never priorities one religion over the other, particularly in a secular country. But most of our politicians while paying lip service to secularism grossly misuse religion for political purposes. The irony is that these politicians take oath for secularism while filing their nominations but having filled that beg for vote openly in the name of religion and caste. In addition, religion in these societies have also become the greatest obstacle for any meaningful change. Religion, unfortunately identified with status quo. Most of the religious leaders oppose any change as violation of religious beliefs. This attitude does not arise from religious beliefs per se but by the interest associated with status quo. Every religion in the world brought social change and a truly religious person would always fight against status quo and try to change society to make it more just and meaningful. Religion is basically a transcending force and fights against all sorts of vested interest, but in developing countries it has promoted and prompted vested interests to gain short–term selfish mottos–power, wealth or anything else.

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