Sunday, November 18, 2007

‘Benevolent Dictator’

Many Indians (not all) are fascinated with a person called ‘Benevolent Dictator’. In many evening discussions, which happen quite frequently in India, many educated and elite Indians (not all) opinionate how India suffers because of it’s ‘too much democracy’. And their antidote to that disease of ‘too much democracy’ is a Benevolent Dictator.

Most Indians eventually get frustrated with the ‘system’ of India. They usually do not realize that they are a part of the problem. They continue to believe that they are somewhat alien to creating that problem. According to them, the onus of creating that problem resides only with the ‘system’ and that includes the government, the institutions of India, such as judiciary, legislature, and a big body of individuals who run India, such as politicians, bureaucrats, etc.

These Indians get frustrated by the slowness of the system, the ineffectiveness of the system, the corruptness of the system. They believe that a democracy under these corrupt individuals fosters all ills of our society. They see how coalition parties bring in tardiness in running the system. They see how the debates and dilly-dallying parliament proceedings slow down the country. And they reason that the parliamentary democracy of India which allows so many regional parties to flourish and which allows for politicians to protest and stall proceedings is somehow the main culprit for the problems of India. Therefore they conclude- a Benevolent Dictator should come to aid of India.

Who is this Benevolent Dictator?

It all depends on who is proposing this definition. A Benevolent Dictator is always that strong and resolute person who seems to promote the ideology of those who define him. A rich Indian businessman would like to do away with the tax system of India- he is affected by the corrupt tax officials who bait him constantly. He has to keep feeding new officials and new politicians each time the government changes. If there was only one leader who he can bribe in one shot, most of his problems would be solved.

Many educated and elite Indians do not identify with the political leaders who pander to the lower classes and minority religions. If given an opportunity they would never like to deal with such people of low rank and such ulterior motives. The only reason these political leaders are in the decision making positions in India is because of stupid concept called democracy. If this concept was done away with, they can restore a bit of aristocracy or may be meritocracy, under a benevolent dictator, under whom, the people would be given a chance to govern and make decisions based on qualifications, one’s degrees in college, one’s stature of high birth.

This notion that even an educated and elite Indian having a PhD from a top institute is equal to an ordinary illiterate ignorant construction worker in a rural India is anathema to these Indians. And democracy somehow brings home this distasteful idea that both of them are equal stakeholders in the fate of India.

A Benevolent Dictator would quite unselfishly rule for the benefit of this country. He would be a nice man, not greedy, not power hungry, and yet be resolute and firm leading India with an iron hand. He will do away with press and media where necessary, he would ignore wishes and mandates of political and vote bank, because he doesn’t need them (he is already a dictator), he would, where necessary, suspend the legal norms, and do things which are considered good for the country. What is good for the country is of course subjective and is usually synonymous with ideologies of those who support such a dictator. He is of course a benevolent man therefore he knows exactly when to exercise his power and when not to. He would only act where necessary.

Different people have different desires from this Benevolent Dictator. Patriotic Indians want this benevolent dictator to completely suppress Kashmiri struggle for independence, kick out Pakistanis out of POK and completely restore the map of India. North Indians would like this benevolent dictator to impose Hindi as national language. The Hindu Chauvinists would like to take back all the sops given to minority religions. Upper caste Hindus would like to do away with reservations given out to backward castes. Most of them genuinely believe that corruption would somehow stop in under such benevolent dictator. That things would proceed fast, like in China.

All great things would be possible under a dictator. But since dictators are usually quite cruel, they coin a word called ‘benevolent’ dictator’ who would put country ahead of himself and lead it with a iron hand, making sure the interests of those who promote him are protected and promoted.

No wonder most Indians seem to have a high opinion of people like Stalin, Hitler, and some would even concede that people like Saddam Hussein are needed for India to become better. They celebrate when Narendra Modi rules with an iron hand, suppressing certain communities to the elation of certain majorities. His suspension of legal process is hailed as small compromises for the greater good.

This notion of Benevolent Dictator is nothing but mere extrapolation of Indian’s greediness. They look for glimpses of benevolence covering up their greediness – to serve their selfish purposes while suppressing other peoples' interests.


  1. This is perhaps the reason I usually avoid the company of Indians, though I'm an Indian myself. Educated corporate-Indians are a terrible bunch of people to hang around with. They effuse hatred and prejudce to all and sundry and are always ranting about "the system" being the cause of their problems. What a painful bunch of people to be with. They lack the large-heartedness to appreciate the diversity in races, language, religion and culture. They claim to be the most tolerant country but their speech betrays their inner hate and prejudice. Indians are perhaps the most racist bunch of people I have seen. Among this grim picture of Indians though, there is hope. That is when I come across such thinking and reflective Indians such as yourself.

    I'm sure that the characteristic to hate is something that is present in all races and nations. I have also seen Americans, Chinese and Europeans who are equally hate-filled. But it just so happens I get to hear the most of it from Indians.

    It is a very real part of the nature of Indians now. We are fast becoming a closed-minded bunch of people. The civilization is crumbling internally.

    ~ Vinod

  2. What you said is true in that people craft the concept of a benevolent dictator just like a happy movie ending - that has to end good. But the very act of choosing that benevolent dictator itself is paradoxical. How everybody is going to reach a consensus on whom to make the dictator? - if they can choose one elegantly, then a democratic government would also exist elegantly in the first place because it is the same people who will choose the government. Never mind, the consensus wont be reached anyway and so there are things like coalitions, alliances etc.

    As the saying goes the system is just a reflection of the people who created it and who use it. So, if any change has to happen, then it is not the system that needs to change first - it is merely a symptom. We, the people need to change. For this a benevolent dictator is needed - to wham the asses of the so called lazy, careless Indians. :-)


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