Of course Republic because a hereditary king might not always be patriotic and qualified. A monarch, on the other hand, leads a life that does not resemble a common man’s. But Presidents or prime ministers are ordinary citizens until they get elected to public positions. They have different backgrounds, experiences, struggles and exposure to reality.
By Samyam Waglé
The fate of a country is shaped by its group of leaders. It depends upon their vision, competence and beliefs. Iraq might not have been bombed as readily had there been Clinton or Carter instead of George W Bush. The world would probably not have seen the carnage if there were other than Hitler and Stalin. The Indian independence movement would have taken a different turn if Subhas Chandra Bose held sway over Mohandas Gandhi. Britain would have been different without Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War. Seven million innocent Cambodians would not perhaps have perished if there was no Pol Pot. China’s rise today was shaped by the destiny that Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek, and the way a purged Deng Xiaoping claimed power after Mao. It was on the will of these people that drafted the fate of the country. It might have been something else, worse or good, had there been other. It is thus amazing that the fate of country depends upon the leader and also relies upon its political system.
Depending on how one views the “great man view of history,” the debate on the merits of a presidential system vis-à-vis a monarchical one is steered. A king making policy and thinking for his country is very different from the way an elected figure would. They have different time horizons for implementing their vision – unlike the politician, the king doesn’t have to worry about the next elections, and hence his actions could in theory be in the longer-term interest.
But then confident politicians know they will keep winning if they do the right thing. Take Lee Kuan Yew or Mahathir or even Tony Blair as examples. Clinton might have won the third time if American presidents could serve three terms. Civilian presidents or prime-ministers claim power through a democratic process with the exercise of intellect, personality and vision. They interact with thousands of people, and are scrutinized and judged relentlessly.
On the contrary, a hereditary king might not always be patriotic and qualified. He inherits his position just because of the accident of birth as the congenital status. We may have wise kings at points in time, but there is no guarantee that all royal scions will be thoughtful, visionary and dedicated. The eldest son of a king is crowned king, no matter how able he is, how much managerial skill he has, or whether he can rally people behind his vision?
Presidents or prime ministers are ordinary citizens until they get elected to public positions. They have different backgrounds, experiences, struggles and exposure to reality. They see the world, at least initially, from a commoner’s eye, watching the chaos and pleasures of everyday life, sensing the sufferings of the poor. In other words, politicians are realistic and have their feet rooted to the ground.
A monarch, on the other hand, leads a life that does not resemble a common man’s. The circumstances are such that even if s/he does not like it, s/he is surrounded by rituals, pomp and ceremony. Even though he goes out for a visit to get to know his real land and people, there is too much pretence and orchestration. Roads are constructed just for his brief walk even though there is no proper road in the village. Things are decorated, best kept ahead, poor and dirt removed. Walking on the red carpet and greeting spectators amidst tight security, he might think how popular he is. He might even go on to believe the myth of his own sycophants.
But a president grows up with the people and their hardships. Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have seen the auctioning of slaves and torture if he was from a royal family. Nehru wouldn’t have experienced the ‘Lathhi Charge’, Gandhi wouldn’t be thrown out from a first class compartment if he were a royal. It was the same determination that made them what they are now.
It can be guaranteed that the best of all and the deserving one reaches up to lead the country from election but may not be in monarchy. A monarch might lack sense of humor or good personality or lack intellectually. He may be in drugs, not interested in politics, may not know how to interact with ministers and be lackluster. He might be briefed by others though, to think, speak and act, but that won’t be much powerful from what he learns himself. So does not that nation stagnate when its supreme leader cannot make any self decision, guide the cabinet, see global issues globally, forecast events and predict future from past?
Moreover, it is the chemistry between the two leaders that builds or destroys a nation. Foreign relations, diplomacy and international affairs are vital. Intellectual equality among the top leaders dealing is very necessary. In such case, how can a 55 years old president have good time talking world politics and national issues to 30 years old king? How can the young impress the old and develop a sound diplomacy and maintain good chemistry.
There was one anecdote of King Birendra keeping his moustache as was thought young and naïve by one leader in their international meeting.
Another instance was of the then crown prince Birendra advising diplomat Yadu Nath Khanal to deal with leaders when his father couldn’t respond properly.
A genius father doesn’t always guarantee a genius son. Since the sons of Presidents or elected figures can not be guaranteed of becoming president, same is the case with monarchs that it doesn’t guarantee a good successor. There is no doubt in a nation turning to total fiasco with such leadership.
Even in the Monarchial history of our country, Prithvi Narayan Shah had tremendous love for his country and broad vision and thus fought to annex the scattered kingdoms into a garland. But his coming generations couldn’t understand the genuine essence of the patriotism that how tough was it to build this nation!
(Samyam Wagle is a student of Liberal Arts and Sciences with Majors in Political and Developmental Studies.)