How Do We Assess Outcomes Of Democracy?
Why is democracy considered better?
Improves the quality of decision
Provides a method to
Allows room to correct
Three Aspects of Democracy
Other features of a democracy
Free and Fair Elections
Sound Political System
A Strong Opposition
Over a hundred countries follow the democratic form of government. There are many features of democracy common to all but there are differences in social situations, achievements and their cultures.
For example, in USA — the world’s richest democracy, there is a wide gap among the rich, the poor. The Blacks do not get social justice. But at the same time, the United States of America, Sweden, Canada and Switzerland have the most stable democratic systems in the world. They have welfare schemes for all and hundred percent literacy.
Let us now think about what we can expect reasonably from democracy and examine the record of democracy.
Accountable, responsive and legitimate government
In a democracy, there must be a government which is accountable to the citizens and responsive to the needs and expectations of the citizens. It should be efficient and effective.
Democratic governments are based on the idea of deliberation and negotiation, so delays take place.
Does that make democratic government inefficient?
Non-democratic governments do not have to bother about discussions in assemblies. They do not worry about public opinion. They are very quick in decision making and implementation.
Are non-democratic governments more efficient?
Points in favour of democracies
Points against democracy as a form of government
Democracies have been successful in holding
Democracies have fallen short of :
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Reduction of inequality and poverty
The truth is that what is needed is removal of economic disparities. Development without equitable distribution of wealth is not a true democracy. Democracies are based on political equality. All citizens have equal weight in electing representatives.
But it is not so in the economic field. The poor are becoming poorer and sometimes they find it difficult to meet the basic needs of life like food, clothing, higher education and health. Democratic governments have failed in this area. In India this is indicated by:
1. Percentage of population below poverty line in India
2. The Human Development Index will show where India stands in the world as far as health, education and income are concerned.
Accommodation of Social Diversity
Democracy tries to help its citizens to lead a peaceful and harmonious life by accommodating various social divisions.
Example:- Belgium and India. Democratic governments try to resolve differences, respect differences and try mechanisms which can negotiate differences.
Democracy’s plus point is: Ability to handle social differences, divisions and reduce conflicts. Non-democratic regimes can ignore or suppress internal and social differences.
Precaution is needed to see that the majority always works with the minority and does not try to dominate it. Sri Lanka is an example. Majority rule means different people, different groups participate in decision-making. It does not mean the rule of the majority community— a religious, racial or linguistic group.
No one should be barred from being in a majority group on the basis of birth. Every citizen should have a chance to be in a majority at some time.
(i) Dignity and Freedom of the Citizens
(ii) Dignity of Women
(iii) Caste Inequalities: In India, the disadvantaged and discriminated castes have gained in strength due to democracy. They have now the legal and moral right to fight for equal status and equal opportunities. There are still instances of atrocities and inequalities suffered by people because of caste, but they are not supported by law or moral code.
(iv) A democracy is always striving towards a better goal. People constantly demand more benefits in a democracy. There are always more expectations.
(v) People now look critically at the work of those who hold power, the rich, the powerful. They express their dissatisfaction loudly. It shows they are no longer subjects but citizens of a democratic country.