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)

Way Forward

  • the transformation of the regime of democracy, a systemic transformation from within, from one that had brought us
    • the promise of liberty
    • egality
    • 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.

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