Select Speeches and Writings of Nehru



Deliberately and after long argument we in India adopted a Constitution based on parliamentary government. The fact that nearly eight years of the working of our Constitution have not in any sense made us waver in our allegiance to it indicates our strong faith in it. We prize the parliamentary form of government because it is a peaceful method of dealing with problems. It is a method of argument, discussion and decision, and of accepting that decision, even though one may not agree with it. However, the minority in a parliamentary government has a very important part to play. Naturally, the majority, by the mere fact that it is a majority, must have its way. But a majority which ignores the minority is not working in the true spirit of parliamentary democracy.

Parliamentary government is a democratic conception. It means the gradual widening of the franchise till it becomes adult franchise. It is only in very recent times that any country has had adult franchise. The effects of adult franchise are being felt in full only now. This political change having fully established itself, it has become obvious that a political change by itself is not enough.

From political democracy we advance to the concept of economic democracy. First of all, that means working for a certain measure of well well–being for all, call it Welfare State. Secondly, it means working for a certain measure of equality of opportunity in the economic sphere. Every country, whether it is communist, non-communist or anti-communist, is going that way.

We can hardly have a political democracy without mass education. In other countries full-blooded political democracy came after education had spread a good deal as a result of the economic revolution which had prepared the ground for it. But in most Asian countries, certainly in India, we have taken a huge jump to hundred per cent political democracy without the wherewithal to supply the demands which a politically conscious electorate makes. That is the essence of the problem in all the Asian countries.

From inaugural address at the Seminar on Parliamentary Democracy, New Delhi, December 6, 1957