Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Do Australia & Canada Cling To Britain?

Is monarchy dead?

Are there any real life monarchs left in any ‘advanced’ countries? What role do they play? Will a modern country follow these monarchs? Surprisingly, Europe has not removed any monarchs in the last 50 years.

Why do Australia and Canada still acknowledge the British Queen as the head of the state? Spain has Juan Carlos I as its king! Did you know that Belgium has Albert II as it King? And Queen Beatrix rules over Holland (The Netherlands). King Akihito is venerated by the Japanese - and is the head of the state. Sweden is ruled by King Carl XVI Gustaf. Luxembourg has the Grand Duke Henri as its equivalent to a King! King Harald V lords over Norway! Queen Margrethe II rules over Denmark. The world still has quite a few monarchies - especially in the OECD.

Why so many monarchs

After all monarchy is a relic - an institution that should be dead! Right?

Monarchy is not cheap. Monarchs are expensive to maintain. Monarch’s can also be embarassing - especially the family. Just loook at Princess Diana - her saga of bedroom romps and adultery became a reality show - before reality shows were born (Endemol, pay up royalties to the Diana estate!). If they are figure heads, why waste time - and money!

The Difficulty Of Removing Monarchs

France removed and guillotined the monarchs - and they got Napolean Bonaparte, as dictator! Russia tried - and they got 70 years of communist dictatorship. Italy asked King Victor Emmanuel III to go - and got Mussolini. The British exiled the Kaiser of Germany - and the Germans had to put up with Hitler therefater.

Britain terminated the Turkish Ottoman Empire - and Turkey got a benign dictator, Mustafa Kemal Attaturk, and then not so benign dictators - and is yet to recover! East Europe (Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, etc) promptly started fighting with each other, within and without - after the kings were removed. China became communist after the last emperor - and still has a communist dictatorship. Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, most of Africa, South America - same or similar story.

This history is why Canada and Australia cling to the skirts of British Monarchy.

Republican Democracy

The modern desirable is Republican democracy - and every country wishes for one! Very few succeeded. A republican democracy does not have a titular king - hereditary or otherwise. The head of the state is elected - directly or indirectly.

America became one ofthe first successful Republican democracies - from 1789, when George Washington became the first elected President of USA. 70 years later, the strains were showing - North versus South. America was on the verge of Civil War - the main cause of which was the desire of the Southern states to remain idependent or at best as a loose confederation - not a federal union (actually slavery was a side issue).

Israel, (propped up by massive US aid) is another country which has been a republican democracy for more than 50 years. Switzerland (with guaranteed nuetrality from the Euroean powers) is another in modern history to survive 50 years of republican democracy. Srilanka has been another country which has survived 50 years as republican democracy - but just about.

India is the youngest Republican democracy - and we have completed a historic 50 years as republican democracy - Jan 26th 1950, till date.

Gandhiji’s Conquest

But before the republic, came the unification of India - the crowning achievement of Gandhiji. Not the political union (achieved by Sardar Patel) - but the ideological union!

Garibaldi (united Italy), Bismarck (united Germany), Simon Bolivar (liberated and united South American countries) were unifiers who succeded with the help of armies.

Gandhiji (armed with a walking stck) unified a larger India (and Pakistan) without an army. An India and a Pakistan - bigger than what the largest empire in the history of the world, the British Empire could not conquer with its armies.

One Clean Break

To make a one clean break from the fuedal-colonial past - and succeed! That is a dream - never before in the history of the world. India made history - by surviving for 50 years with a republican democracy.

In 1947, India was a fuedal society with more than 500 Kings and (some) Queens at the time of Independence. (No, the British did not rule over all of modern India). Large parts of India also had to change from a colonial mindset.

Why Is India Unique

However, no other country has 15 official languages.

Switzerland has only 4. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalas do not want to accept Sri Lankan Tamils as full and equal citizens - hence the 20 year old civil war.

Social Equality

Blacks in the USA got full and equal liberty only in 1963 - after President Kennedy sent in the army (the National Guard). De-segregation (between the Blacks and Whites) happened clearly and fully only by 1970-75. It took the death of Martin Luther King (inspired by Gandhiji’s) in 1968 to do that.

But, Gandhiji’s first step, after coming back from South Africa, (many decades before India’s Independence, Unification and the creation of the Republic) was to start social reform against untouchability.

Enforcement - or Help

India and America, created their own constitutions without external enforcement. Republican democracy in Germany was imposed by the Allied Powers - hence their record is blemished.

India has the world’s second /third largest Muslim population. The Indian Christian population is equal to that of most majority-Christian countries - excluding just a few big one like USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, etc. Buddhists number nearly 50 lakhs. Sikhs, Parsis (Zoorastrians), Bahais, follows their own religion. Iranians, Aremenians, Jews, Chinese have come to India - when persecuted in their homelands.

Racism anyone?

No, thanks!

India has the caucasoid stock - spread over the North and West India; Australoid stock spread over South India and the Mongoloid stock spread over of East and North East. There is also a very small sprinkling of the Negroid stock - less than 1%.

Racism anyone? No, thanks!

Hence, to have a functioning republican democracy without a break for more than 50 years puts India in a different league.

The Challenge Ahead

The challenges ahead are defence and economics.

India’s defence unpreparedness is beyond comprehension. Worse, is the lack of threat perception. Indians (sadly and truly) limit their threat perception to the Pakistanis - and the Chinese. with the world’s largest private reserves of gold India becomes a target. The resultant global and emerging threats are unrealised.

The second is economics. The world trade systems, financial agreements, currency management continue to drag down India - and many other countries. Navigating these uncharted waters successfully is the other.

Does India have the intellectual leadership and strategic intent to create solutions?

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