Democracy in India
Democracy in ancient societies meant only political democracy. The number of citizens included some feudal lords and the rich people alone. They alone enjoyed the right to participate in government/administration. The slaves who were in majority did hot enjoy any rights. Democracy was only for the masters who ran the administration for their own interests. Modern democracy means that the entire power of deciding the administrative policies and running the government lies in the hands of the people/citizens. People/citizens enjoy equal rights. They participate in running the administration directly or indirectly.
The government is of the people, for the people, and by the people. The representatives of the people form laws in the legislative’s bodies, keeping in view the good of the people. All the people above a particular age are deemed as citizens. They have equal and full rights to take part in the political activities of the country regardless of their caste, creed, sex or status. Modern democracies are indirect democracies. The citizens run the government through their elected representatives who make laws and run the government. They are held responsible to the public for their activities and functions. There is a great difference between the ruled and the rulers. The people can remove their representatives from office if they fail to come up to their expectations.
Modern democracy is based on the principle of equality and liberty. The people are the real source of power in it. All the citizens enjoy equal rights in every sphere in it. No one can remain in power forever. Elections are held periodically after fixed and specified periods in a modern democracy. Authorities get transferred according to the decisions of elections. All the citizens can contest elections, can exercise the right to vote or can hold an office under the government without any discrimination of any kind. India, the U.S.A and England have ‘Indirect democracies’. India is the largest democracy in the world. She is fraught with the largest number of problems.
The illiterate Indian citizens are misled by shrewd politicians. As a result, they elect the wrong type of representatives. The elected representatives spread nepotism and lawlessness and grow their bank balance. The wolves in sheep’s clothing resort to bribery. Corruption and misuse of powers etc. Nobody is willing to work in the public interest due to a lack of rational and nationals character.
The narrow barriers of provincialism, communalism, and criticism have created a nation-wide vicious atmosphere. The lingual disputes are splitting up the nation into petty units. On getting elected, the corrupt and selfish people unhinge the democratic set up of a country. Selfish people exploit poor folk by misusing them. their franchise (buying their votes. The citizens lack feelings of patriotism and national unity. Some shrewd politicians change the political parties at will when their vested interest is at stake. This practice of defection makes the administration unstable. It also gives a heavy setback to the progress of democracy.
The voters should be very vigilant in casting their valuable votes and electing dedicated and devoted representatives. The political parties must be formed on the basis of national feelings. Defections should be banned. The feelings of freedom, brotherhood and equality must be preached to weed out immoral ideas from the heads and hearts of the people. A sound public opinion should be formed through media. These measures if adapted in the right earnest would solve the problems of democracy a great deal. The overdue government control should also be softened and local self-governing bodies should be empowered to take decisions over local issues.
Problems of Indian Democracy and Their Solution
Although India is a free country now, yet many social and economic problems hinder the proper functioning of Indian democracy. The following are the main problems which thwart the progress of our notion.
Communalism foments a sense of jealousy and bitter hatred between various communities. It gives rise to riots and disorders. It also generates rivalry and differences of opinion. They stand in the way of national integration. Democracy cannot flourish in the absence of peace, order, tolerance. liberty brotherhood (fraternity), equality and respect for moral values. Communalism mars the noble qualities and stands in the way of democracy.
Casteism stands for treating some castes superior to some other castes. Casteism creates an abominable feeling of high born and low-born. This feeling is against the very spirit of democracy. The people in a caste-ridden society cast their vote in favor of the candidate who belongs to their own caste. It is not the least conducive to democracy. Moreover, casteism gives birth to untouchability. It encourages the exploitation of the lower castes by the higher castes. Casteism also divides society and leads to discord and rivalry among the people. It harms democracy a great deal.
3. Inequality of women
Democracy is based on equality between men and women. Democracy loses its meaning if women are deprived of equal social status. Women in India are disregarded, bullied, insulted and maltreated by men. Women in India do not enjoy full freedom. This discrimination stands in the path of the smooth functioning of democracy.
4. Economic Inequality
Economic inequality generates class- struggle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. It breeds hatred and rivalry and results in the exploitation of one class by the other. It is a negation of democracy. It also stands in the way of national unity. It renders the political rights meaningless by harming the spirit of equality, liberty, and fraternity. Ownership of land is one of the major causes of economic inequality. The landless laborers have to earn their living by working on, the fauns of rich farmers. The landowners lead a luxurious life but the landless laborers are too poor to make both ends meet. the growth of industries has also caused a great economic disparity between workers and mill owners. With the growth of industries, cities have become the centers of wealth and wisdom but the villages are steeped in poverty and ignorance. India is a poor and economically backward country. Agriculture in India is not profitable because there is a lack of modern tools and sophisticated agricultural appliances and implements. The distribution of land is uneven. Employment avenues are also scarce in India.
India’s population has increased manifold. It nullifies the entire progress made by her in different fields and cripples all the plans and projects being launched for making economic progress.
We can solve these problems in the following ways. Religious and moral education should be encouraged. It would teach people to respect and tolerate all religions. The mass media (the Press, Radio, T. V. and Cinema) can eradicate the evil of communalism.
The students and the people should be made aware that casteism is a great hurdle in the unification of the country. The government should declare untouchability as a punishable offense. Strict laws should be enacted to remove the social evil of casteism.
Women should be imparted higher education. It would create consciousness among them about their rights and would enable them to exert their due place in society. Inequality of women with men should be eradicated through legislation.
Taxes should be levied in such a way that the affluent sections of the society should bear the major share in comparison with the poor people. The poor people should be provided financial help from the government to run their own industries. Means of production should also be decentralized.
The government should educate young couples against the horrors of overpopulation. They should be given incentives to check the rise in population growth. Public opinion should be created in favor of population control and small families.
Farming should be developed on scientific lines. Natural resources should be fully exploited. Industries should be developed and employment avenues should be bettered.
Future of Democracy in India
We have borrowed the word democracy from Ancient Greece. Its literal meaning is the supreme power of authority of the people. Abraham Lincoln described democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. A democracy must aim at the greatest good (welfare) of the greatest number. It works for the establishment of an egalitarian society. Political sovereignty vests in the masses against the classes in a democracy. This system should be people-oriented and mass-oriented. All the differences in a democracy should be settled through discussion and compromise. Many thoughtful and eminent people in all spheres of life have been giving vent to fear that democracy in India is on the cross’ roads. Many political thinkers are of the opinion that democracy in India is not only in danger but also has failed outrightly.
According to them, the democratic pattern has been borrowed from the west. As a result. it is not wholly consistent with the traditions and split of the ancient land of India. Their argument is that our country has remained under ruthless foreign domination for centuries and had no chance of imbibing democratic traditions.
Therefore, it is difficult for our people to turn into a sovereign democracy. The intellectuals are worried about the slow pace of progress of democracy in India during the past five decades. The problems of the increasing population; rising prices and rates of crimes; unemployment; corruption at all levels in all spheres of life; pollution and food problem are vexing their brains and pricking their hearts. Bribery. adultery, adulteration, hoarding, black marketing, nepotism, and nudism are the order of the day in the country. The exploitation of the ignorant and the helpless people is worsening the situation all the more.
Our cultural, traditional and moral values have lost their sanctity. There is a reign of lawlessness and disorderliness and the custodians of law have also become saleable. Lawyers, judges, and leaders have their prices. Dedication and devotion to duty have become a matter of the past. The jobs are offered to the highest bidder. Even the bridegrooms of different cadres have different prices. Dowry seeking is considered the rightful claim of the parents of the boys. The person having extra income even through foul means are appreciated in the present-day society. There is widespread disparity on the basis of caste. creed, race, community, language, religion. and region in the society.
Most of the leaders give hollow promises to their supporters before elections and forget them (promises and supporters) the very day they are elected. Their spirit of patriotism is nabbed by their sense of nepotism. They ignore the real welfare of the people and become irresponsible and unjust. They win elections by virtue of black money and become black-hearted with the passage of time. We have failed to achieve a sound democratic tradition because our people lack patience, literacy, the necessary training, and discipline to enable us to absorb the true spirit of democracy. In the words of Tagore, ‘A nation is a spiritual entity.’ A man with a trained and disciplined spirit alone has the right to real freedom. Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo also had the same opinion. Gandhiji also tried to awaken and enlighten the nation through the tremendous spiritual force and Succeeded in achieving independence. We should not be drunk with the taste of freedom. We have not to despair. We should shape off our slumber and dedicate ourselves to the stupendous task of building up a new, strong and solid India. We should rise to the occasion by learning the lessons from our past weaknesses and failures. We should realize the gravity of the situation and avoid being be fooled by selfish and opportunist leaders. We should beware of such leaders as have double faces (double hearts), with double-dealings and betray our trust by abusing and misusing their power and position.
The voters should brusquely reject the candidates and political parties, inert in their planning and activities. They should overthrow the government if their wishes and aspirations are. ignored. Let us pray to God to enable us to materialize the dream of Gandhiji for the establishment of ‘Ram Rajya’ in India. We have every hope that India would become a bright and enviable democracy in the coming decade.
Merits and Demerits of Democracy in India
“Your freedom ends where my freedom starts,” this is the principle of real democracy.
Introduction: This is the undivided rule of modern democracy that one has the right to do his personal affairs without any interference of outer agency i.e. your freedom ends where my freedom starts.
Blessings of democracy: Democracy is a right. Every freedom-loving citizen should save it. A democratic government should guarantee a life that is reasonably free from wants. The blessings of democracy can never be belittled. ‘But its maximum utility depends on the people who use the system. Then how is it that in the World’s largest democracy we find ourselves ill-served by this system. Alas! we are today in the throes of a systematic failure deliberately contrived by our own elected representatives.
Lacunae: In the eyes of a layman, it seems that there are certain lacunae in our Constitution that the Constitution framers could not envisage at that time. The renowned jurist, Nani A. Palkhivala, who spoke two decades ago about the future of democracy in India, lays the blame squarely on the electors. The voters elected the professional politicians who have reduced this country to such a pass, By voting ignorant professional politicians to power, we have kept a singularly gifted enterprising nation in the ranks of the poorest on earth. Many politicians seem to have a vested interest in ..their survival as public figures depend upon illiteracy the constitution of the forces of ignorance. It appears cynical but it is true that for portly politicians poverty is good business. They talk continually about garibi (poverty) without having a strong will to eradicate it.
Efforts to be done: Now it becomes the duty of every voter who goes to the polls to verify whether the person who is likely to get this vote is literate and whether he or she was properly educated at least in his or her mother tongue. The voter must also look around for people who are always likely to put the needs of the state, the country, and nation above their ‘self ‘. We must wrest the initiative from professional politicians and from political parties. We must insist upon the man of knowledge, vision, and character being chosen as candidates for parliamentary and state elections. We must shed the divisive tendencies which split the votes on caste and sub-caste lines. These tendencies are devastating to our unity as a nation.
Conclusion: The prime need of the hour is to cleanse the political system. This can happen only if we elect people who can give to the country their unbiased attention. But where do we find people totally dedicated to serving those who elected them to office. We have a long way to go for a mature, democracy in our country.
READ ALSO: CONSTITUTIONAL QUALITIES OF INDIA