POLITY- Salient features – Democrarcy
Democracy is both a form of government and an ideal, an aspiration and a standard. The core element of democracy is self-rule.
A democratic polity can be classified into two categories monarchy and republic. In a monarchy, the head of the state (usually king or queen) enjoys a hereditary position,(e.g., Britain. ) In a republic,the head of the state is always elected directly or indirectly for a fixed period( e.g., USA.)
A democratic polity, as stipulated in the Preamble, is based on the doctrine of popular sovereignty, that is, possession of supreme power by the people.
Democracy is of two types–direct and indirect.Direct democracy, the people exercise their supreme power directly(Switzerland.) There are four devices of direct democracy, namely, Referendum, Initiative, Recall and Plebiscite.
In indirect democracy,the representatives elected by the people exercise the supreme power and thus carry on the government and make the laws. This type of democracy, also known as representative democracy, is of two kinds–parliamentary and presidential.
The Indian Constitution provides for representative parliamentary democracy under which the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions.
The manifestations of the democratic character of the Indian polity:
- Universal adult franchise,
- periodic elections,
- rule of law, independence of judiciary
- absence of discrimination on certain
Structural flaws in Democracy form of government
The ‘majority of votes’ actually boils down to the majority of seats in the legislature which, in 99% of the time, comes riding a minority of votes.
Rarely is a government formed backed by a majority of votes won in a free and fair election.
- Rajiv Gandhi’s formidable, highest-ever majority in Lok Sabha in 1984 was still short of a majority of votes by about 2%.
- Narendra Modi in 2014 had the backing of 31% of the votes cast and in 2019, of just about 40%.)
Elections created space for change of governments even as they guaranteed security against challenge to the regime; the challenge could arise only outside of it, through ‘revolutions’.
The unprecedented concentration of wealth at the top 1% around the world knocks the bottom out of competition in the market, so integral to its freedom.
Key drawbacks of democracy
- Democratic government with a majority, especially a large one, can become as authoritarian as a dictatorial one.
- Problem with a majoritarian democracy is that it is not designed to find solutions for complex problems with many points of view.
- It can deny minorities their rights for their views to be considered while framing laws and resolving contentious issues.
- Those dissatisfied with the governments’ decisions go to courts wherever courts are independent, like in India.courts are not set up to find policy solutions to complex problems.
- Referendums too at times turn out to be ineffective as a small majority determines how all must go.
- Rising Inequalities:
- impact the system’s political functioning
- foundational principle of capitalism
- exercise of vote at the ballot box gets completely distorted with innumerable manipulations.
- atmosphere of delegitimisation of dissent or protest
- setting up of professionally organised mechanisms for creating and propagating fake news
- dissenting voices-lodging them in prison on fake charges.
- Democratic and progressive constitutions around the world give rulers enough space for misuse.(like US,China,India,Russia,Brazil,Hungary,Turkey)
- the transformation of the regime of democracy, a systemic transformation from within, from one that had brought us
- the promise of liberty
- fraternity political
- social and economic.
Since independence, India has managed to stay on the democratic path in a way unprecedented among states freed from colonialism during the last century.The makers of our Constitution designed the institutions of our democracy with great care and attention to detail.They were designed to endure and it was expected that these institutions will strengthen the democracy in India.