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Democratic Values

Democratic Values
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Item Code: NAV256
Author: Vinoba
Publisher: Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan, Varanasi
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9789383982523
Pages: 151
Other Details: 8.50 X 5.50 inch
weight of the book: 0.17 kg

PREFACE The word 'Lok-Shahi' (democracy or popular government) is used to denote the inanagement by the people themselves of their own affairs. There are other words in common use, in con-nection with this popular government—'lok-satta', 'lok-tantra' and 'lok-niti'. The meaning of the word 'satta' is much the same as that of the English word 'authority'. Authority is not the same thing as power. Power connotes compulsion; it implies a considerable element of submission and passive obedience. Authority, on the other hand, implies a certain element of willing obedience, respect and faith. There is another sense in which the word 'satta' is used. It means 'effective existence', 'fundamental being'—other words. a status of honour, a respected position in life. 'Lok-satta', the au-thority of the people, is present where there is a feeling for the ordinary citizen's existence, and where his status in society is equal to that of anyone else. Thus the real meaning of the word 'satta' is not simply the power to enforce a command, but a state of affairs where the people mutually respect one another and where each is anxious to safeguard the honour and status of his fellow-citizen. 'Lok-tantra', the form of democratic organisation, denotes the methods by which the ordinary citizen's status of honour is established and continually maintained. 'Lok-niti' denotes the code of conduct required of the citizen of a democracy. It consists of certain democratic values expressed by a practice of citizenship in which citizens respect one another and each considers the happi-ness and convenience of others before his own. It follows that with-out this 'lok-niti', the acceptance of these tenets of democratic con-duct, no democratic organisation can exist long; nor can 'lok-satta', the people's authority or democratic sanctions, have any reality. 'Lok-niti', or democratic standard of values, is the essence of effective citizenship. People often ask. whether all central administration and au-thority can ever be dispensed with. The question is not immedi-ately relevant. Even today all legislation is passed on the assump-tion thdt the vast majority of citizens will respect the law and that only a very small proportion are likely to break it. Jails are there-fore provided only for the few. If the majority of the people had to be sent to prison the laws would cease to serve their purpose. Even in the jails, moreover, there is less emphasis now than formerly on harsh and authoritarian discipline. More and more reforms are be-ing introduced so as to provide greater scope for an ordered way of living, administered, so far as possible, by the prisoners them-selves. This has great significance, inasmuch as it implies that the general trend of our social policies is towards freedom rather than towards authoritarianism. True freedom connotes self-discipline or self-control, which is the only true discipline. It is this self-mastery which is the life-principle of real democratic conduct. Laws are made in the light of the type of conduct which we consider it desirable and goods to establish among the people. It is incumbent upon every citizen to help strengthen public opinion in favour of such laws. If any section of the public fails to perform this duty, the consequence will be that penalties must be invoked as a means of enforcing the law. The more frequent are the occasions for this exercise of penal force in getting the law obeyed, the more seriously is democratic authority jeopardised and the freedom of the citizen circumscribed. The use of force undermines respect for those ideals and standards of democratic conduct which we wish to inculcate. Let us take the case of prohibition of intoxicants to illustrate our point. There may certainly be difference of opinion as to whether or not prohibition should be enforced by law, but there is no difference of opinion whatever about the evils of drunkenness and addiction to drugs. Every political party without exception desires to see society freed from these evils; Obviously it is impossible to build up a strong public opinion and create a social climate conducive to the habit of temperance if at the same time we continue to regard the provision of intoxicating drinks at clubs and parties as a hall-mark of modernity and civilised ways of living.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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