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What's Wrong with Democracy in India and America?

by Jane Susskind, published

On Democracy:

Thomas Friedman, in his most recent piece Two Peas in a Pod, argues: “Democracy not only needs a decent ruling party, but an intelligent opposition, and neither India nor America has both today”.

Thomas Friedman’s latest article discusses the similarities and differences in the Occupy movement and the India Against Corruption protests. Both protesting corruption of politics and unequal distribution of wealth, they take different approaches. Here are some great excerpts from his piece.

One of the main differences between the protests is the extend to which each movement has made their demands clear.

“Gandhi said that whenever you do any protests, your demands should be very clear, and it should be very clear who is the authority who can fulfill that demand, so your protests should be directed at that authority” -Arvind Kejriwal (Anna Hazare’s top deputy)

The Occupy movement needs to tell their audience exactly what needs to change and how.

“A sense of injustice and widening income gaps brought Occupy Wall Street into the street, ‘but exactly what needs to be done, which law needs to be changed and who are they demanding that from?’ asked Kejriwal. ‘These things have to be answered quickly.’”

They also lack leadership. Anna Hazare, social activist and leader of the Indian movement, went on a hunger strike and demanded the Indian Parliament hire a staff to investigate corruption. Friedman argues that Occupy, while gaining momentum internationally, needs a charismatic leader. 

Friedman concludes, they aren’t all that different..

“Yes, Indians are mad at a system that makes them pay a bribe to get their birth certificate. Americans are mad at a system that has made it legal for unions to bribe the officials who will decide their pay and for bankers to bribe the lawmakers who will decide how much risk they can take. But both are essentially threatened by the same disease, best captured in the title of Robert Kaiser’s book about lobbying, “So Damn Much Money”

Too much money, too much corruption, and too little equality. 

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