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Democracy has to be redefined to suit the times

A contrasting situation exists with respect to democracy in the present world. While there is encroachment of politics in different spheres of life in some parts of the world, there is withdrawal from politics in other parts.

For those of us who live in West Bengal, the manner in which politics exists everywhere is a daily experience. In fact, it has been argued that the reason the Left Front could hold on to power for such a long time in spite of the state having declined economically during its rule is because politics had encroached upon different spheres of life. The economic and the social spheres had lost their autonomy. An increasing informalization of the economy, along with the strong political organization of the ruling party, had contributed to political stability. The situation does not seem to have improved in this respect. A different ruling party is achieving the same result even though it is less strongly organized.

Contrast this with the retreat of politics from the daily life of citizens in other parts of the world. It has been noted that in affluent societies, the insulation of the people from politics has gone far except for the periodic elections. People seem to be withdrawing from an active engagement with politics in Europe, North America and Japan. Owing to the disillusionment that arises mainly from dissatisfaction with the political leadership, there has been a tendency to find solace in the private world.

???Politics???, in its original sense in Western thought, is undermined as much by the intrusion of politics in different spheres of life as by its retreat. Politics tends to be associated with the unprincipled quest of politicians for



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