What is Democracy and its 10 important features

What is Democracy

Introduction

You must have heard on radio or seen on T.V or must have read that India is one of the largest democratic country of the world, where as Pakistan has  a non democratic form of government or dictatorship. We are going to study about democracy and dictatorship, the two most prevalent forms of government prevailing in the present world.

We will study the major features of Democratic governments, why is it the most prevalent form of government in the world, what makes it better than other forms of government?

Definition of Democracy

What is democracy: The  term ‘democracy’ has been derived from two Greek words ‘demos’ which means people and ‘kratos’ meaning ‘The power’. Democracy therefore, means rule by the people. It is a form of government in which the ruling power  is vested in the hands of the people and the government is answerable to the people who can change it through constitutional means.There are basically two types of democracies:

Direct and Indirect democracy

1) Direct democracy

This is the oldest and the real form of democracy in which the people directly participate in managing the affairs of the state. Such form of democracy existed in the ancient Greek city States.These cities States used to have very small population,therefore, all the adults could participate in the affairs of government but now the city States have been replaced by Nation states and there has been an immense increase in the population of the states. Therefore,direct democracy is no more popular.

2) indirect democracy:

Indirect democracy is also known as representative . In  indirect democracy, people elect their representatives on the basis of the universal adult franchise and through to them they carry on their administration. Representatives are responsible to two people for the exercise of their powers. These days indirect-democracy is prevalent in countries like India, England, America,France, Japan etc.

Origin of democracy

The seed of representative-democracy we’re arguably sown in the Roman republic.democratic principles and elements have also been argued for the Mahajanapadas of ancient India and also in the local Sanghas,Ganas and Panchayats that existed throughout the centuries of India. However, political rights were granted only to Nobel or  upper class people. In these republic powers were typically vested in the hands of an elite class. In the case of the village panchayats, the picture is somewhat more democratic. Panchayat in essence,is a meeting of town people mediated by a group of village elders, and so it is an example of a direct democracy.

Features of democracy or why do we need democracy?

We have studied about democracy that more and more countries are adopting this form of government.

What is democracy
Democracy

1) Government based on the will of the people: 

Autonomy is based on the will of the people and its functions according to their consent. The factors that democratic government cannot ignore the interests of the people.To run administration the government makes policies and plans keeping in mind public interests and the representative is elected by the people pay due respect to the wishes of the people. On the other hand dictatorship is based on the will of an individual or group and the government functions according to his wish.

2) welfare of all:

Democratic government does not look after the interest of any particular caste, class, or group,rather it looks after the interest of all and provides equal opportunities to all for their development. The government makes economic and social plans for the welfare of all. In case the government does not do so, the people can change it during next elections.

3) Responsible government:

democratic government is responsible government the representatives are elected by the people on the basis of universal adult franchise remain responsible to the people and in case they do not remain responsible before the people, the people can change them during the next elections.

4) Possibility of good laws:

in a democratic government the representatives have direct relation with the people therefore they properly understand their problems and interests.They properly represent the interests of the people in the assemblies and the Parliament and always try to get the good laws passed.Under dictatorship laws are passed according to the will of The dictator.

5) Political education:

The greatest merit of autonomy is its educative value.participation in elections and other political activities, make the people intelligent and politically conscious. It is very helpful to the people to be conscious and aware. Political education should be  essential for every citizen.

6) Based on liberty, fraternity and equality:

In autonomy the rights and the liberties of the people are well safeguarded. People are given freedom to express their views without any fear. They can criticize the wrong policies of the government. Autonomy also provides equality to the people. All citizens get equal opportunities. Self government also promotes fraternity among the people because in IT everybody is treated alike.

7) Democracy improves the quality of decision making:

1.Democracy is based on consultation and discussion.2. A democratic decision always involves many persons, discussions and meetings.when a number of people put their hands together, they are able to point out possible mistakes in any decision.3.As most of the decisions are taken by discussions it reduces the chances of rash or irresponsible decisions.4.If the decision taken is not according to the wishes of the people they have the right to protest against it and they can even for the government to withdraw it.But this kind of liberty is not available in a non democratic country.

8) Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts:

  1. It provides all the citizens some basic rights through which they can give their opinion.
  2. 2.Democracy provides a chance to all the citizens to choose their representatives and change them if they do not work according to their wishes.
  3. 3. In Parliament, all the members have the right to give their opinion.
  4. 4.Democracy provides the citizens the right to follow any religion.

9) Democracy is better than other forms of government because it allows the people to correct its mistakes:

There is no guarantee that mistakes cannot be made in a autonomy. No form of government can guarantee that.The advantage in a autonomy is that such mistakes cannot be hidden for long.There is a scope for public discussion on these mistakes and there is a scope for correction.

10) Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens:

  1. It is based on the principle of political equality. So all the citizens whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated have the same status.

Principles of Democracy

1. Citizen Participation

The participation of citizens is an important role in a democracy. It is not only their right but also their duty. Citizens’ participation includes standing for elections, voting in elections, debating issues, attending community or civic meetings, being members of private voluntary organizations, paying taxes, etc. Protesting is also part of civic participation. Participation builds a better democracy.

2. Human Rights

All democracies strive to respect and protect the human rights of citizens. Human rights refer to those values ​​which reflect respect for human life and human dignity. Democracy emphasizes on the value of every human being. Examples of human rights include freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, the right to equality, and the right to education.

3. Multiparty System

In a multi-party system, more than one political party has to participate in elections and play a role in the form of government. In a multi-party system, opposition to the policies of the winning party is allowed. It helps the government to provide different perspectives on the issues. A multi-party system provides voters with a choice of candidates, parties, and policies to vote for. Historically, when there is only one party in a country, the result has been a dictatorship.

4. Equality

Democratic society emphasizes the principle that all people are equal. Equality means that all persons are given equal importance. On equal opportunities, individuals cannot be discriminated against because of their race, religion, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation. In a democracy, individuals and groups maintain their authority across cultures, personalities, languages ​​and beliefs.

5. Accountability

The elected and appointed officers in a democracy should be accountable to the people. They are responsible for their actions. Officers should take decisions and perform their duties according to the will of the people and not for themselves.

6. Political tolerance

Democratic societies are politically tolerant. This means that when the majority rule in a democracy, the rights of the minorities must be protected. Those who are not in power should be allowed to organize and speak. Individual citizens must also learn to be tolerant of each other. A democratic society is often made up of people from different cultures. Racial, religious and ethnic groups whose attitudes differ from those of the majority of the population. A democratic society is rich in diversity. If the majority deprives their opposition of rights, they destroy democracy as well. One of the goals of democracy is to make the best possible decisions for society.

7. Transparency

For the government to be accountable, people should be aware of what is happening in the country. This is called transparency in government. A transparent government holds public meetings and allows citizens to participate. In a democracy, the press and the public are able to know what decisions are being made, by whom and why.

8. Economic freedom

In a democracy, people should have some form of economic freedom. This means that the government allows some private ownership of property and businesses and people are allowed to choose their jobs and labor unions.

9. Control over abuse of power

Democratic societies try to prevent any elected official or group of people from abusing their power. One of the most common abuses of power is corruption. Corruption occurs when government officials use public money for their own benefit or exercise power illegally. Various methods have been used in different countries to protect against these abuses. An elected official or branch of government gets the power to take action against any illegal action.

10. Bill of Rights

Many democratic countries also choose a bill of rights to protect the people from abuse of power. The Bill of Rights is a list of rights and freedoms guaranteed to all people in the country. When the bill of rights becomes part of the constitution of a country, the courts have the power to enforce these rights. The Bill of Rights limits the power of the government and can also impose fees on individuals and organizations.

11. Rule of Law

No one is above the law in a democracy, not even the king or the elected president. This is called the rule of law. This means that everyone must obey the law and be held accountable if they violate it. This is sometimes referred to as “due process of law”.

Regular, free and fair elections

The citizens of the country express their will and elect officers to represent them in the government. According to democracy these elected officers are elected in a free and fair manner and are removed from office peacefully. Threatening, corruption and intimidation of citizens during elections or before elections is against the principles of democracy. In order to have free and fair elections, most adult citizens have the right to run for government office.

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