THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The democracy in vogue now is not real; but a formal one, which just offers the right to vote, noted historian K N Panickar said, while delivering the first Dr M Bhaskaran Nair Memorial Lecture here on Monday.
He was speaking on the topic ‘Possible directions of democracy.’ Panickar said democracy has eroded and the cardinal principals of democracy such as socialism, federalism, secularism etc have suffered a setback. “Three or four trends that happened in the past 60 years show what happened to democracy,” he said.
Panickar doubted whether the representative institutes were democratic enough. “The representative institutions have come under a cloud. What Anna Hazare is doing is questioning the relevance of democratic institutions. Parliament has became a privileged club of multimillionaires. There are around 125 millionaires in Parliament. Fairly large number have criminal records. Do they represent the common man?” he asked.
He said there is a threat to secularism. ‘’Most political formations have a communal tinge in a way or other. Communal consciousness has taken over the country. Without secularism, democracy cannot survive,” he said.
He said federalism is the real character of democracy. “Centralisation of authority is taking place,” he said citing the anti-terrorism centre as an example.
Abatement of socialism was the another point raised by Panickar. “Most political parties have given up socialism and have accepted the capitalist mode of development,” he said. Panickar added that the word socialism is there, but not in practise.
A discussion on ‘Communalism and civil society in Kerala politics’ was held as a prelude to the memorial lecture. BJP general secretary M T Ramesh, Congress leader M M Hassan, political observer G Gopakumar and mediaperson M G Radhakrishnan took part.
The collection of books of the late Bhaskaran Nair, former head of the Department of Politics, Kerala University, was handed over to Society for Social Science Research at the function. G Gopakumar launched the Centre for Political Theory. Head of the Department of Politics Shaji Varkey launched the website www.sssrindia.org of the Society for Social Science Research.