Democracy is sublime: Freedom is greater than bread

Recently, China appears to be more concerned about the security of the Nepalese border with its autonomous region of Tibet. A few days ago, the Chinese officials have toured the border areas in Dolkha district and asked the local administration to tighten security by increasing police patrolling the roads, jungles and towns to stop the increased flow of Tibetans slipping undetected into Nepal. It has been reported that there has been an increase in the number of Tibetans fleeing China, and their number in detention in Nepal is also increasing gradually. The Nepalese police have detained some 17 Tibetans in the latest incident.

Many centuries ago, Nepal used to be the transit point for trade between India and China. Since 1959, when the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans fled Tibet and took shelter in India, Nepal has turned into a regular sneaking point for those who do not want to live there. Sometimes, they are arrested and sent back to their country to face legal actions there.

It can be seen in the light of the violation of their basic right to seek refuge in

another country for saving their lives. Some of them claim to have entered

Nepal en route to India to

meet their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Some of them are recognized as refugees as well.

Tibetans, who are fleeing their homeland, experience untold hardships on the way to Nepal. Some of them are killed, robbed and arrested by the Nepalese police for want of valid travel documents.

In this connection, a very pertinent question crops up: why do they take such great risks after all? Are they really so spiritual minded to bear all sorts of difficulties to meet their spiritual leader or are not satisfied with the state of affairs there? During the last three decades, China has made impressive progress and has emerged as the fastest growing nation of the world.

Its double-digit growth has definitely uplifted the living standards of the Chinese people. The autonomous region of Tibet cannot be an exception. The economic development must have changed considerably the financial condition of the people there. May we conclude that economic growth alone is not sufficient for them? Do they want more than what they have achieved there so far?

Looking into the very nature of mankind, we do have material needs like food to eat, clothes to cover the body and house for shelter. We need education for changing or equipping ourselves to adapt to the changing situations. We do need better health care for our well-being. It will not be justified to define all human activities in terms of these needs alone.

Human beings do not survive only on their

commercial activities. We are social, rational and moral beings. We are personal beings and we not only want our own social and religious identities to

be preserved but also our personal identities.

We have some convictions and independent thinking. We have the right to dissent from others. Hence, all natural, individual, civil, political, legal

and human rights of the people have to be respected, promoted and protected from destruction and usurpation by any other individual or society or even by the state. This is the true import of democracy.

If we take the theory of evolution for granted, human beings have some instincts or certain natural characteristics that they have inherited from plants and animals in course of their evolution. For existence, plants extend their branches in the direction the sun rays come from and also extend their roots deeper into the soil to have access to water they need for survival.

Similarly, animals wander from place to place for green pastures for their existence. Birds fly to distant places for survival. Human beings, too, migrate from one place to another, one country to another in search of earning a better livelihood and for leading dignified lives.

To BG Tilak, the great scholar and political leader of India, freedom (political) might be the birthright of Indian citizens who fought for their independence from the British rule, it is really embedded to the very nature of the mankind.

It would be no exaggeration to say that to get freedom is an instinct of human beings like a parrot, which kept in a golden cage and fed sweet fruits and red chilly regularly, flees at

once if it finds the door of the cage open.

Emphasizing the importance of human instinct in life, Rousseau, who was considered almost alone, in France, to fight the materialism and atheism of the Enlightenment, took man as born free but in chains everywhere.

It is really a challenge for an individual to break free from these chains throughout his life. In reality, he sometimes succeeds and sometimes fails in his efforts wherein lies the worthiness of the human life. It is democracy, which treats every individual as an end in himself and never as a means. It is in freedom that an individual actualizes all his potentialities for his all round development.

Prof. Mishra is currently associated with Civil Campaign for Democracy