Current Affairs

Why did the ancient Indian republics need recognition for their place in the history of the world?

  • Posted By
  • Categories
    History & Culture
  • Published
    8th Oct, 2021
  • Context

    Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an important point in history: India is not just the world’s largest democracy, but also the “mother of democracy”.

  • What is the Republic?

    • The 'Republic' is a State in which the greatest power is exercised by the people and their representatives.
    • It has an elected head of the state rather than a monarch.
    • In the 'Republic', the people empower the leaders they have chosen to represent and serve their interests.
  • How is the ‘republic’ inherited from the Indian DNA?

    • India is the world's largest republic of common knowledge. However, little is known that the republic is in the DNA of India.
    • In ancient India, 81 democracies have been mentioned.
    • The country had republics before the old known republics like the classical
      • Athens (508 - 322 BC)
      • Roman Republic (c. 509 - 27 BC)
    • The concept of the Republics of ancient India is much older than that of Greece or Rome and flourished mainly in the northwestern and northeastern states of India from 600 B.C. to 400 A.D.
    • Many republics of India preceded this, especially the unification of the Vaijjian in Vaishali (Bihar) around 600 BC in the time of King Buddha.
    • Since then, we have frequently witnessed evidence of republics in India.
    • In 1830, Sir Charles Metcalfe, then governor of India, wrote, "Rural societies are small republics, have everything they want within themselves and are almost independent of any foreign relations."
    • It is these republics that have their own cities that ensure the survival and survival of India's great civilization that cannot surpass even the most powerful empire.
  • How were the ancient Republics represented in ancient India?

    • By the 6th century B.C., there were many provinces in northern India and most of them were not ruled by kings but formed small republics or oligarchies.
    • That was the time of the Buddha and therefore, the countries of the Republic of this time are called the 'Republics of the age of the Buddha'.
    • ‘Samiti’ and ‘Sabha’ existed as centers of widespread decision-making, assassination, election of chiefs and administrative control, as stated in the Rigveda, Atharvaveda and Chandogya Upanishad.
      • Women can also be members of the Sabha and the Samiti.
    • Aitareya Brahmana, Ashtadhyayi of Panani, Artaxerxes of Kautilya, inscriptions of the Ashokan Pillar, and Buddhist and Jain texts refer to the existence of 'several' republics during the post-Vedic period, known as' Ganas' and ' Kulas '.
    • In general, republics were divided into the following three categories:
      • Democracy or Pure Ghana: the number of older persons participating in governance
      • Aristocracies (senior position) or pure Kula: Only selected families participate in the administration
      • Mixed aristocracies and democracies or a mixure of Kula and Gana:: management was a mixture of the two
    • Therefore, it is clear that India is not new to the principles of consultation, representation and democracy and modern Indian democracy is not entirely based on Western principles.
    • Republics and monarchs, including kings in the constitutional state who live in India for a long time, are challenged by the expansion of empires and foreign invasions.
    • There were kings for a long time, but most of them were worshiped.
  • How did the emergence of modern democracy come about during colonial rule?

    • The emergence of modern democratic institutions in India has not been easy. It has a history of almost 200 years before India became a Republic in 1950.
    • The East India Company and the British colonies never imagined that the Indians were self-sufficient and stubbornly reluctant to involve the Indians in law-making and long-term governance.
    • This foundation has achieved their undisputed goal of using Indian resources to their advantage.
    • However, with the great uprising and the growing need for legal representation of the Indians, which the colonists had to accept from time to time, accept the Indians in the administration of the country. The happened through:
      • The Charter Acts of 1833, 1853
      • The Indian Councils Act of 1861, 1892 and 1909
      • The Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935
    • Similarly, India had to wait almost 200 years to become a Republic in 1950.
  • Conclusion

    The ratification of Prime Minister Modi could undermine many long-held Western views on our planet, and rightly so. The existence of proto deities of democracy and republicanism in ancient India is part of the common human heritage and deserves a special place in our shared shared perspective.