A Disturbing Book on Democracy in Difficult Times

These are difficult times for democracy and this book on democracy in Hindi has thus been published at just the right time. Although it is mainly centered on India, it also ventures from time to time to comment on the situation in other parts of the world too.

Edited by Arun Kumar Tripathi and  A.K.Arun, two names very familiar to Hindi readers, this book titled ‘Jantantra ki Jarein’ (‘Roots of Democracy’) has essays by several writers known for their concerns on various aspects of democracy and democratic rights. This 352 page, neatly printed book has also been priced moderately at Rs. 360. This has been published by Yuva Samvad Prakashan, a small-scale publishing effort by Dr. A.K. Arun who has also been bringing out a monthly Hindi magazine titled Yuva Sanvad on people’s concerns for several years in adverse circumstances.

Jantantra ki Jarein

This book starts with a foreword by Ravish Kumar. Then we have a detailed essay by the two editors giving an overview of the various threats to democracy and various concerns regarding democracy. There are two essays on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of democracy by Chinmay Mishra and Sujata Chaudhary. Then we have Arvind Mohan’s essay on Democracy and the Market, followed by one by Anil Sinha on Democracy and the RSS. Supriya Pathak writes from the perspective of women and gender related issues as seen in the context of the wider democracy related issues. Atal Tiwari has contributed an important chapter on panchayati raj related issues in the context of Uttar Pradesh.

In a chapter on media Dr. A.K. Arun has provided several examples based on recent happening in India as well as abroad to bring out the increasing threats faced by media in several contexts. In another essay he argues that the health sector can progress best, even more so in the context of health care reaching all people, if the wider health of democracy is also protected. Thus he links health rights closely with wider democratic rights.

The editors have also interviewed Prof. Kamal Narayan Kabra on the very important issue of threats to democracy arising from the increasing power, influence and dominance of big corporate interests. This wide-ranging interview covers the contemporary scene but also goes back in history to show how various problems evolved over the years or rather decades in the post-independence period.   

Issues relating to dalit rights and politics, the impact of Hindutva forces and ideology have also been covered in this book. In terms of alternatives there are essays on socialist movement and efforts for protecting diversity and plurality in society as a base for strengthening democracy.

Among other writers who have contributed to this volume we have such well-known names as Ram Bahadur Verma, Shamsul Islam, Sachin Kumar Jain, Ramashankar Singh, Manohar Nayak, Praful Kolkhyan, H.L.Dusadh and Jayashankar Pandey.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Ummeed Mat Chhodna ( Hindi poems ) and Navjeevan ( Hindi short stories).  

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