Democracy means an intense awareness of both, one’s rights and duties. Right enjoyment of one’s freedom, rights, privileges and liberties means doing things in such a manner that it does not in any way interfere with the enjoyment of these by others. There cannot be any personal freedom without social order. They go hand in hand. An indiscipline nation can degenerate into anarchy from democracy. Democracy involves a lot of self-discipline, accommodation, adjustment and compromises so that others may also enjoy the same liberty as us. It is this sense of duty and discipline that makes democracy a success. A disciplined nation can face any challenge, and overcome any crisis of any magnitude. Discipline knows no exception. It is binding on all the citizens, whether one occupies the highest public office or the most humble one. All are equal before the law, the very expression of discipline.
Discipline can be said to be the very life-blood of a democratic society. No democracy in the world has ever succeeded without discipline and observance of certain rules and regulations based on morality, social ethics and norms of equality. Success of any democracy is always in direct proportion to the degree and quality of the discipline observed and maintained by its citizens. There is always a wide network of law-enforcing agencies in a democratic set-up, but self- imposed discipline is the best.
It is democracy that grants the greatest number of liberties to its citizens. The genuineness of these rights and liberties is the real test of a democracy since these are the highly cherished privileges. Without these, it would amount to a meaningless existence. These imply freedom of movement, occupation, choice, possession, work, speech, and expression, etc. At the same time, these cannot be absolute in the sense that one’s freedom should not clash with that of others. Others have the same right to enjoy their freedom as we do. If there is a clash and conflict between individual freedom and that of others, democracy would be in peril and there would be no freedom at all. That is where discipline, accommodation and adjustment come in the picture. Freedom has no meaning sans society; it is the society that gives meaning and fulfillment to individual freedom and liberty. Obviously, restraint or discipline and liberty are complimentary. Without the existence of one, the existence of the other is impossible.
Democracy, which stands for equality, justice and fraternity, is desirable and it makes discipline indispensable. Indiscipline and non observance of rules and regulations is a sure sign of decay, death and degeneration of democracy. Democracy and discipline reinforce and vitalize each other, for both have their roots in a keen awareness of one’s duties, responsibility and accountability. When one is endangered, the other is automatically at the brink of destruction. A fine balance has to be struck and maintained between the two. There should not be an overdue emphasis either on discipline or liberty, because they are like the two aspects of the same coin. You cannot possess one while dispensing with the other. Violation of rules and regulations is the worst enemy of democracy. Rules and their observance is good for democracy and for the people under it. Even the oceans have their boundaries and limits. They are not unlimited and boundless and this fact gives them a definite identity, existence, and strength. Then how can we think of individual liberty without certain amount of restraints? Democracy and the rule of the law or discipline are almost synonymous.
Without imbibing the spirit of discipline it is not possible to have a genuine democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world, with a population of over a billion and a successful journey of over half a century behind it. It has been possible only because the people of India are by and large law- abiding and self-disciplined; the electorate is enlightened and mature and its citizens have the capacity to judge and analyze facts to reach desired conclusions. We would not have been successful in our struggle for freedom had we been indiscipline. We showed a remarkable sense of restraint and discipline and that is why we won our freedom under the dynamic leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. It only goes to show that the foundations of Indian democracy are well laid on the rocks of self-restraint, discipline and the sense of social and moral responsibilities. It is this deep sense of duty and obligation that gives meaning to our democracy and also ensures its glorious future.