Democracy not just system of voting, self-restraint and mutual respect make it function: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the contribution of Asian democracies to global discourse needed to enhance rapidly with their rise in economic and political stature as he stressed that democratic values were rooted in Hindu and Buddhist civilisations.

Modi made these comments in a video message he posted on Twitter for the fourth edition of ‘Samvad’, a symposium being held in Tokyo on the theme of “Shared Values and Democracy in Asia”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at the programme.

“Openness, and not dogma, and engaging in philosophy, and not ideology, were among our shared heritage of democratic spirit. This philosophical and cultural heritage of dialogue in the two most ancient Asian faiths, Hinduism and Buddhism, helps us promote better understanding,” Modi said.

Mutual accommodation and respect help democracy, he said.

Core values of Asia, including consideration for others, self-restraint and mutual respect, find their historical origin in emperor Ashoka’s edicts 2,300 years ago, he said, adding that these values have sustained the culture of democracy in Asia.

The prime minister also said that historical evidence from Tamil Nadu during the reign of Raja Raja Chola in the 10th century suggests that a detailed system of voting and election was in vogue long before even the Magna Carta two centuries years later.

Democracy is not just a system of voting and its core values of self-restraint and mutual respect make it function for the benefit of all, he said.

“As Asian democracies rise in economic and political stature, their contribution to global discourse will need to enhance rapidly. I am confident ‘samvad’ will greatly enhance the capacities of Asian democracies to contribute to the fulfilment of human endeavours,” Modi said.

He also lauded his Japanese counterpart for his “personal attention and participation” in ‘samvad’ that has played a key role in promoting it as a platform for dialogue on core asian values.

Shinzo Abe said that Buddhism played a significant role in forming ideological foundation of Japan, Modi noted and added that the concept of rule of law in Buddhism was similar to the idea of ‘Dharma’ in India. “This is common heritage of both of India and Japan.”

The first edition of ‘samvad’ was held in Delhi, second in Tokyo and third in Yangon.

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