Although, this cannot be compared to the present day democracy, i am just want to share this interesting news about ourselves.
This is the official version of History, recorded through inscriptions. This happened during Chola period, (i thing Raja Raja Cholan), where they went as far as indonesia and ruled.
This is about a village called Uthiramerur, located near chennai. The inscriptions at Uthiramerur gives us some detail over the eligibility to contest the elections. In tamil, its popularly called “Kudavolai”, since the election box is a “Kudam” (dont know english translation :( )
Eligibility criteria for Candidates:
- He should own at least Kaal Veli land (Kaal means Quarter and Veli is the unit measured for lands those days)
- He should live on his own land (means own house)
- Should be over 35 years of age and below 75
- Should have mastered in Vedhas and basic studies
- Shouldn’t have possessed the same position in the past 3 years
- He, who hasn’t shown his income to Government during his tenure
- If one has been proved corrupt during his tenure, he, his family
members and even his blood relatives cannot contest elections for next 7 generations
- He, who hasn’t paid taxes
- Who has extra marital affairs with married women
- Murderers, Liars, Drunkards
- Who swindled other’s money in the past
- He who eats the uneatable by humans
It also says that the tenure is only of 360 days (1 year, those days), after which he will have to voluntarily withdraw from the capacity. If he is found guilty during the tenure, he will be removed by force (by the king).
A 10th Century record also reveals how the fines imposed on the wrong doers of the village were administered. Those who were fined for wrong deeds were called “Dhushtargal” (means criminals). The fines were imposed on them by the village assembly and the sitting elected members.
The assembly also decides that the said fines imposed should be collected from the “Dhushtargal” and settled by the village administrators through the assembly, within the same financial year, failing which the assembly would
interfere and get the matter settled.
Delayed payment of penalties also had late fees attached to them. These all happened 1000 years back?
The important point to note is that all proceedings are held in public, and before the whole villagers. Since the villagers know each other, and the office bearer residing in the same village, anything going wrong is immediately brought before the council. (panchayat)..
(We could have heard this famous tamil dialog “Panchayata kootra.”)
It also clearly states that, even the elected members of village assembly cannot escape fines or punishment, using their powers. They will be dealt severely if found guilty.
(personally, during my childhood, i have seen people expressing opinion on panchayat leader.. and this opinion is what those leaders fear of. because, it means, a bad name to their family too, who reside among the same people… But in the last few years, the situation got worse due to the mentality “what will happen if i do this wrong”…)
In some areas of tamilnadu, predominantly south, the village head is Naattamai. (again the famous tamil dialog “naataama…. theerpa maathi sollu :) )
Probably, we have seen most of such things in cinema, and hence may not know the importance of such an administration.
So, what does the people do, when a village head, consolidates the power. The scholars, will take this issue to the king, and the king would dispatch an army to dislodge the village head.
Unlike today’s circumstances, the king dont have any voting compulsions to give second thought.. On those days, the people showed unquestionable loyalty to kings, and the kings realised his duty to protect his citizens. So, whenever any wrongs happen in any part of his kingdom, the scholars & affected ones at that place, bring the news to the king, who would take prompt action.
As an exemption, there are few kings, who remain casual in his duties, or failed in his duties. In such case, either the enemy rajyam, will capture his territory, or the people’s copoperation will be lost by the king, which bring him to confusion.
More over, any king who failed in his duty, has to lose all his goodwill and respect, not only among his subjects, but among other kings, whom he has to share dias in many occasions. (like suyamvaram, & other events).
I have lot to write on our polity and social structure, in detail. Probably, i will be able to in the near future.
Is there anything that we can learn from this simple history of ours? Please share me your views, and also if any related news that you know.
[Note: One of the few english books that i read is "Wisdom of Crowds". It was a compilation of research, on american people's behaviour and characteristics, and how they as a crowd, provided, solutions smarter than the expert.
I wonder, why no one does any such research on our own society and people. Infact, while reading that book, i just compared with our people's behaviour.. i have some really interesting things to share.. let me try in future doing some posts on that]