What is Democracy
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.
- What is Democracy
- Definition of Democracy
- The Fundamental Principles of Democracy:
- Benefits and Advantages of Democracy:
- Challenges and Striving for Democratic Excellence:
- Origin of democracy
- Features of democracy or why do we need democracy?
- 1) Government based on the will of the people:
- 2) welfare of all:
- 3) Responsible government:
- 4) Possibility of good laws:
- 5) Political education:
- 6) Based on liberty, fraternity and equality:
- 7) Democracy improves the quality of decision making:
- 8) Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts:
- 9) Democracy is better than other forms of government because it allows the people to correct its mistakes:
- 10) Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens:
- Principles of Democracy
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: Democracy, derived from the Greek words “demos” (meaning “people”) and “kratos” (meaning “power” or “rule”), stands as a cornerstone of modern governance. It is a system that places power in the hands of the people, fostering a society where individuals can exercise their rights, voice their opinions, and shape the course of their collective destiny. Democracy embodies the ideals of liberty, equality and participation and has been a catalyst for societal progress and human flourishing throughout history. This article explores the essence of democracy, its core principles and its impact on societies worldwide.
The Fundamental Principles of Democracy:
a. Popular Sovereignty: Democracy upholds the principle that ultimate political authority resides with the people. It recognizes the right of individuals to choose their leaders, shape public policies, and participate in decision-making processes through free and fair elections.
b. Rule of Law: Democracy ensures that no individual, including those in power, is above the law. It establishes a framework of legal norms and institutions that protect citizens’ rights, guarantee due process and prevent arbitrary exercise of authority.
c. Protection of Individual Rights: Democracy respects and safeguards the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, such as freedom of speech, assembly and religion, as well as ensuring equality before the law and protection against discrimination.
d. Pluralism and Inclusion: Democracy celebrates diversity and encourages the active participation of all citizens, regardless of their background, beliefs or socio-economic status. It provides a platform for different perspectives and enables peaceful coexistence amid divergent interests.
Benefits and Advantages of Democracy:
a. Civic Engagement and Empowerment: Democracy encourages citizens to engage in public affairs, fostering a sense of civic responsibility and empowering individuals to actively participate in shaping their communities and the nation at large. It promotes dialogue, deliberation and the development of well-informed citizens.
b. Protection of Human Rights: Democracy serves as a safeguard against human rights abuses, providing mechanisms for holding leaders accountable and addressing injustices. It creates an environment where the principles of equality, justice and dignity can thrive.
c. Social and Economic Progress: Democracies often exhibit higher levels of social and economic development. The transparency and accountability inherent in democratic systems promote stable governance, encourage investment and innovation and foster an environment conducive to economic growth, poverty reduction and the provision of essential services.
d. Peaceful Conflict Resolution: Democratic societies tend to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, utilizing dialogue, negotiation and compromise. The presence of democratic institutions, the protection of civil liberties and respect for the rule of law help prevent violent upheavals and facilitate peaceful transitions of power.
Challenges and Striving for Democratic Excellence:
a. Threats to Democratic Values: Democracy faces various challenges, including the rise of authoritarianism, the erosion of democratic norms, political polarization, disinformation and unequal access to power. Safeguarding democracy requires constant vigilance, robust institutions and an informed and active citizenry.
b. Inclusivity and Representation: Democracies strive to ensure that all citizens have a voice and that marginalized groups are adequately represented. This necessitates addressing systemic inequalities, enhancing political participation, and promoting inclusivity across various spheres of society.
c. Strengthening Democratic Institutions: To fortify democracy, institutions such as an independent judiciary, a free press and transparent electoral processes are crucial. Building and maintaining strong democratic institutions requires ongoing investment, reforms and citizen involvement.
It serves as a beacon of hope, offering the promise of a society where individuals are empowered, human rights are protected and collective progress is pursued. Democracy is not without its challenges and imperfections, but its essence lies in its ability to adapt, evolve, and overcome obstacles. It requires continuous efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, promote inclusivity and safeguard the principles that underpin its foundation.
As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, the importance of democracy cannot be overstated. It is a system that encourages dialogue, respects diversity and upholds the rights and freedoms of all individuals. By embracing democracy, societies can harness the collective wisdom and potential of their citizens, leading to a more just, prosperous and harmonious future.
However, the responsibility for the success of democracy does not rest solely on political leaders and institutions. It lies in the hands of every citizen to actively engage, participate and contribute to the democratic process. Each person’s voice matters and it is through our collective actions that we can shape the democratic systems that reflect our shared values and aspirations.
In conclusion, democracy is not a static concept but a dynamic force for progress and human dignity. It is a continuous journey towards a more inclusive, equitable and just society. By upholding the fundamental principles of democracy and working together to overcome its challenges, we can ensure that the spirit of democracy remains alive, guiding us towards a brighter and more prosperous future for all.
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.
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:
- It provides all the citizens some basic rights through which they can give their opinion.
- 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. In Parliament, all the members have the right to give their opinion.
- 4.Democracy provides the citizens the right to follow any religion.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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”.
12. 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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