Sukarno's spell has succeeded remarkably well. There
is a lull in the turmoil and the country seems to have
become a silent volcano, the eruptions of which caused
much alarm in Indonesia and also outside for many weeks.
The rumblings are but showing that Indonesia is cracking
up—many observers said—some with a sort of glee too.
But today, it is said that Sukarno has succeeded in
restoring the normal conditions, though to lead the
country to prosperity will need much time, energy and
imagination. But even this lull, seems to be a mighty
achievement, in view of the fact, that the reports about
Indonesia, were of a terrifying nature.
The common man in many countries, never thought that
Indonesia was in the grips of an ugly situation—for
there was a sunny smile, a friendly twinkle and fine
flavour of speech, wherever Dr. Sukarno visited. Here
is the President of a New Republic, happy and confident
narrating the history of the freedom fight, and cataloguing
the possibilities of the future—thought the common man
in all the countries, where the Doctor was welcomed.
The Doctor was lavish in his tributes to Lincoln, rapturous
at the sight of the New Chinese way of life—and it seemed
that he never expected any shock in his own country
in the future—distant or immediate.
But just as if, Indonesia was waiting only for the arrival
of its hero, from world tour, trouble burst forth with
atomic speed, as soon as he landed and the after effects
of the explosion seems to be more dangerous than the
explosion itself. Dr.Sukarno rushed on to take, what
might be termed as drastic steps to stem the tide—and
we find today a lull, though there are critics—with
good intentions too who say, that this is no lull, but
a death-knell of democracy. The Doctor refuses to deny
the charge in its entirety, but offers an explanation,
that democracy is not given up but there is a slight
change in the form—"We have evolved a system of
government based on the present moods and needs of the
time—this is not a Peking or Moscow brand—this is Guided
Democracy!" says the Doctor—and because, the masses
of Indonesia have no doubt about his good heart, they
do not trouble to probe into the head and have taken
his explanation with all the warmth that they are wont
to show, for whatever comes from Dr. Sukarno.
Dr. Sukarno pays a tribute to and issues a sentence
against Democracy at the same time, when he coins the
new dictum 'Guided Democracy'.
Democracy is the best form of Government he wants for
his country. But to make it work effectively, he will
have to guide!!—that seems to be the explanation.
Unless the Doctor is prepared to admit, that the people
of Indonesia have not got the necessary quality in their
character, to get the best out of Democracy, he can't
possibly talk of Guided Democracy,
Dr. Sukarno, seems to have evolved a system first, and
then invented a theory!
Anyhow—the present political method is guided democracy!
There is a Parliament; but no Party government.
There are political parties but the principle of majority
rule is not adhered to.
The Parliament is engaged in a series of postmortems,
and not medical check-ups. But one should admit, that
all these are not due to any fancy or fad of the amiable
Doctor —but entirely due to the disturbing situation
that has arisen in Indonesia.
Indonesia, connot be called as one country—in the strictest
sense of the term—it is a bunch of islands large and
small, numbering about, 3000! Java, Sumatra, Borneo,
Celebes are the larger ones! Bali—noted for its dance
throughout the world of art—forms another picturesque
island in this bunch.
The total area, is 7,35,865sq. miles and the population
is estimated at 8,00,00,000—Moslems form 90% of the
Composed of many islands, scattered hither and thither—with
no well-knit means of transport it is natura! that political
theorists find the situation puzzling!
The upsurge, during the freedom-fight ably and heroically
conducted by Dr.Sukarno, kept a sort of coherence—and
taking the illusion to be the actuality, the framers
of the Constitution voted for centralized administration—and
the root cause of the trouble today there, is an antipathy
towards this Centralisation!
The name of Dr. Sukarno creates a throb and thrill,
no doubt in the hearts of the millions, in all of these
islands—but there is a strong feeling against the Doctor's
The provinces—the regions—are being fleeced by the Centre—is
the one complaint that is made by all the 'rebels' they
are termed, because they have taken the law in to their
Perhaps, we may not be in a position to get, the details
about, honest attempts made, the Constitutional approaches
and the like, which those who are now dubbed as rebels,
took before they embarked upon this dangerous path;
but whatever may be the judgement about the method,
none can deny this fact, that underneath all these ugly
deeds, runs this current of discontent against Centralisation.
"We are being bleeded—and the Centre is being loaded
with luxury ! We are the herds, and the Centre brandishes
the big stick! This is no self-government—this certainly
is not good government"—many leaders of the provinces
say and they say it with a peculiar kind of vigour.
The Doctor strongly confident about his own influence
over the people, brushed aside all these requests-warnings-for
a long time—perhaps for too long a time.
Perhaps he might have thought—like Pandit Nehru here—that
petty minds alone will think about, this or that particular
region, to the detriment of Indonesia as a whole!
Possibly he was all along thinking that the pernicious
talk will die a natural death.
But, to his dismay he finds that the situation has grown
from bad to worse, and he is forced now to adopt methods,
which he might not have favoured during calmer times.
He has ordered for a guided democracy !!
A cabinet is formed—consisting of 'Experts'!
A National Council is constituted and representatives
are almost picked up from political parties and also
The President becomes the Supreme Guide!
The Army is given a superb position—and since the President
is at the same time Supreme Commander—everything is
now in the strong but paternal hands of Dr. Sukarno.
"After 11 years of independence, Indonesia is among
the world's worrisome trouble spots" writes the
New York Herald Tribune.
Djakarta, the capital is snubbed by East Indonesia and
Sumatra. Rival governments are set up! Declarations
of independence are issued! The Central taxes are withheld!
Law and order defy definition and direction. Battalions
are disbanded and new camps spring up! Verily it is
a pitiable plight!
And above all there is soul-killing corruption in all
None escapes the suspicion and the people look down
upon one and all of the leaders!
Bank frauds—export scandals, bribery—nepotism— jobbery—the
thousand and one evils that are let loose, when a nation
and country begins to degenerate—are to be found in
this land—and no wonder, the people are fed up with
even their independence!!
No day passes without one leader or another being taken
into custody! Everyday people are presented with some
kind of corruption detected, or fraud found out! The
army officials today have been given full powers to
put down this corruption and the 'cases' detected by
them, are of such a nature that the stink is unbearable.
Dr.Sukarno is using the magic wand of his popularity
and influence, in infusing hope and courage by putting
down corruption and lawlessness with a strong hand by
a guided democracy as he is pleased to term his benevolent
And he is also attempting to soften the provinces by
catering to their needs and even by cajoling them with
a promise of more power and responsibility.
But, the crux of the problem is: Can there be a lasting
solution to the malady, through the methods adopted
by Dr. Sukarno?
Instead of relying too much on his "spell"
—is it not necessary for Dr. Sukarno, to formulate real
remedies, that would not merely soothen the sore, but
curb out the disease altogether?
Will it not be to Indonesia's advantage, if this Canker
of Centralism is checked in time before it eats up the
vitality of a nation?
It seems to us however magnetic the Doctors' personality
is, however enchanting his "spell", one day
or other, normality returns..... and then......!
We refrain from being a cynic!
But, let us not forget, that the Indonesian spectacle
has got its own lessons to offer to students of political