Democracy Version 2.0
Hosni Mubarak, a figure larger than the Egyptian ‘Pharaoh’ has been brought down. The change has come to Egypt and now spreading across the Arab world.
But what next is the big question. The people of Egypt face an uncertain future. Can Egyptians work together or decent into anarchy or civil war? Will the Islamists take control and rework alliance with the West and Israel? Or will it be the military council continuing its present role?
While democracy promotion is not new to Egypt, but Tahrir Square has put the entire Arab world on the path of democratisation that has been suppressed by country dictators. The process of democratisation started in the year 2005, but for the very first time in decades social unrest in Egypt has shifted to decidedly anti-regime political unrest as opposed to riots.
Fortunately the revolution has remained more or less calm. But amidst the uprising euphoria concerns remain over the transit period. Former ministers are being put on judicial trial, old Prime Ministers being replaced with the new one, dissolution of Mubarak’s National Democratic party remains and the political detainees are still behind the bars.
Two things are unclear from this. First, the change is far from complete. And second, what are the long term prospects for Egypt? The people of Tahrir are not guaranteed a democratic and stable future unless free and fair elections are not conducted and much depends upon the authorities and they deal with the uprising democratic euphoria.
As Egypt has won Cairo more challenges await. The change is incomplete and likely to leave its hangover. India’s 60 years of experience with democracy tells the true story of freedom and discontent. The feeling of discontent among Indians is probably at its peak. While freedom flourishes in every possible form.
The Tahrir protestors complained about Mubarak regime’s iron fist rule, economic corruption and social suppression of the society. All in all hatred for Mubarak’s monopoly of power of over 30 years. Most Indians would list the same grievance about the independent democratic India. With several scams emerging with government’s involvement everything is up for grabs. The news media is blamed for political lobbying; judges are being arrested and jailed for bribery, government ministers jailed for political and business favouring. The three main pillars of democracy are deeply involved in corruption as a result of which the forth pillar i.e. the society i.e. the mass is feeling cheated. This could jeopardise the very social fabric of the society.
Democracy even if achieved will not solve Egypt’s problems overnight or even in next few decades. Democracy is an evolving process. Egypt invites expectations from the West as it enjoys economic, political and military strategic importance. At the same time it would have expectation from the Arab world, the international Islamic society over the issue of Israel-Palestine. With Mubarak gone, Egypt is busy removing his impression from every government institution, but before the regional expectations are met and ‘demubarakasition’ carried it is important for Cairo to fix rising food prices and youth unemployment.
There is long road to stable democracy, but in the Middle East – Egypt is best suited for democracy with its intellectual class, enterprising middle class, unique culture, five Noble prize awardees and most importantly the growing demand for democracy. Both American and Indian democracies are gifts of the colonial rule of centuries. They are peaceful but not perfect, there is progress and not chaos, there is corruption not destruction and there is rule of law and not governed by the book, military or a dictator. Mosques and Churches function together so does Burqua and bikini.
These elements are simple, but the implementation is difficult. The testing times have started for the people of Tahrir Square. In the lengthy procedure of ‘bringing’, developing, maintaining and protecting democracy Egypt’s liberal society, economic prospects and its seat in the Arab world, the West and conflicts in the neighbourhood offers the best opportunity to Cairo to leapfrog American and Indian version of democracy with its democracy version 2.0. The best tool at Egypt’s disposal is internet providing it the gateway to the world.
Tahrir has not only dethroned a dictator, but has set a trend for the Arab world and a chance to dismiss the ridicule of the Islamic society that has come to be associated with religious extremism in the post 9/11 world.