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Meenakshi Lekhi
Meenakshi Lekhi

FORTHWRITE

Ramrajya: Looking forward in time

The concept of ‘ramrajya’ has always resonated with the common people of India. Now, with the government’s increased emphasis on good governance ramrajya is back in public discourse.

Ramrajya, the rule of Ram, is considered the most ideal form of governance. Mahatma Gandhi often used the concept of ramrajya while visualising a future India ruled by Indians. Ramrajya has been described in many verses in the Yuddh Kaanda of Valmiki Ramayan and by Tulsidas in his Ramcharitmanas. It can be defined as a system of governance which is based on righteous principles. It combines the ideals of governance with righteousness.

Ramrajya: Looking forward in time Illustration: Bhaskaran

Ram taught dharma to his subjects, too, as a result of which, they remained sattvik—always in the mode of goodness. It led to the creation of samashti punya—collective goodness of society. Consequently, the social environment for human life became favourable for happiness.

Despite the political structure being monarchy, Ram based his principles of governance on the will of the people. His kingdom was considered to be ideal because every person, irrespective of his or her social and financial status, followed the rules of dharma and hence lived in cohesion and harmony. Thus rule of law had primacy.

Ramrajya was the fountainhead of ideas from where the seminal principles of good governance flowed. Good governance, as we know today, consists of the principles of accountability, transparency, rule of law, equity, inclusiveness, responsiveness, tolerance and the right to dissent. Ramrajya was the paragon of these essential values of governance. Ram believed in the principles of equality and social inclusiveness and his concern for gender justice and the uplift of women were unparalleled.

Further, the state was founded on the principles of rule of law, where everyone adhered to rules, including the monarch, who was tied to the principles of rajdharma, a moral code of conduct for a king. Following this rajdharma, Ram had to banish his wife Sita, sacrificing his own personal happiness in the larger interest of the people and society. He never remarried nor had any other woman in his life, despite being a king. There is an instance of him keeping the image of Sita while performing yagya. Rajdharma maintains that the interests of the state supersede all personal interests of a ruler.

Furthermore, Ram showed respect and made no discrimination on the basis of caste, class, social status or ethnicity. That is the concept of a secular state, which ramrajya truly represented. Thus, ramrajya was nothing but good governance enveloped in moral values.

This is the idea which we want to promote while talking of ramrajya in 21st century India. The ideals of ramrajya can be the panacea for all the ills of the current world order as the values it propagates are universally applicable to mankind. No model of governance can be successful unless it weaves the elements of morality and spiritualism in its fabric, the way ramrajya had done.

As we can see, many good things are happening in India now, which go to promote many of the values of ramrajya. Digitisation, demonetisation and GST are efforts to increase accountability, transparency and probity—the three key elements of good governance. Such efforts of the government would ultimately help in promoting the values of honesty, accountability and collective good, leading to a better society.

In view of the above, it is clear that ramrajya has all the necessary elements to address the woes of modern, disillusioned societies. By applying the same principle of righteousness in governance, moral crises can be effectively resolved. There is nothing more secular than good governance. Why then communalise the name of Ram?

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