Bangalore International Centre had arranged a Talk on “Democracy and the Role of Liberalism” by Mr. Jug Suraiya, Associate Editor, Times of India, on Saturday, 26th November, 2011 at 11:00 am. The Talk was moderated by Ms. Ammu Joseph, Freelance journalist, media analyst and editorial consultant.
Jug Suraiya spelt out before a BIC audience that had left behind household chores on a Saturday morning to listen to him as to what made democracy special. It raised more questions than it answered but critically it allowed the questions to be raised. The most significant question was: Can a democracy choose to go undemocratic? The Arab Spring is widely welcomed but what does it do to Muslim women in places like Tunisia who can see democracy choosing religious fundamentalists who curb women's public space?
Narendra Modi’s Gujarat is a democracy. But like many other democracies it is a democracy flawed by majoritarianism: that people who are in the majority, who have the numbers on their side, must have their way and those who are in the minority can like it or lump it.
To his many followers Anna Hazare represents the democratic right of the citizen to dissent and protest, in this case against rampant corruption in public life. To his critics, he is a danger to democracy by attempting to dictate terms to Parliament, which according to the Indian Constitution represents the elected will of the people.
Suraiya’s talk was followed by an intensive and animated discussion in which the issue of paid news was raised. He said if someone paid me to write something then it would certainly be wrong. But if a family paid to have its wedding covered in a designated corner of a particular media vehicle then let the fool and his money be parted.