Q1. Here is some information about the four countries. Based on this information, how would you classify each of these countries? Write ‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
(a) Country A: People who do not accept the country’s official religion do not have a right to vote.
(b) Country B: The same party has been winning elections for the last twenty years.
(c) Country C: The Ruling party has lost in the last three elections.
(d) Country D: There is no independent election commission.
(a) Country A: Undemocratic
Reason: This country is undemocratic because it does not grant equal voting rights to all its citizens. In a true democracy, every citizen, regardless of their religion, should have the right to vote.
(b) Country B: Not sure
Reason: We cannot be sure if this country is democratic or undemocratic based solely on the information given. The same party winning elections for the last twenty years could simply mean that the party is popular and effective. However, if this party is maintaining power through corrupt means or manipulating the electoral process, then it would be undemocratic.
(c) Country C: Democratic
Reason: This country is democratic because the ruling party has lost in the last three elections. This demonstrates that there are free and fair elections and a peaceful transfer of power, which are hallmarks of a democratic system.
(d) Country D: Undemocratic
Reason: This country is undemocratic because it lacks an independent election commission. This could potentially lead to election fraud or manipulation by the ruling party, undermining the democratic process.
Features of Democracy
Q2. Here is some information about four countries. Based on this information, how would you classify each of these countries. Write ‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
(a) Country P: The parliament cannot pass a law about the army without the consent of the Chief of Army.
(b) Country Q: The parliament cannot pass a law reducing the powers of the judiciary.
(c) Country R: The country’s leaders cannot sign any treaty with another country without taking permission from its neighbouring country
(d) Country S: All the major economic decisions about the country are taken by officials of the central bank which the ministers cannot change.
(a) Country P: Undemocratic
Reason: Country P is classified as undemocratic because in a democratic system, the military is under civilian control and does not have the power to veto or influence legislation. This country's arrangement gives the Chief of Army a level of power that may undermine the democratic process.
(b) Country Q: Democratic
Reason: Country Q is classified as democratic because in a democratic system, the judiciary is independent and its powers cannot be reduced by the parliament. This is to ensure checks and balances among different branches of government.
(c) Country R: Undemocratic
Reason: Country R is classified as undemocratic because in a democratic system, the country’s leaders have the autonomy to make decisions that are in the best interest of their country, including signing treaties with other nations. Requiring permission from a neighboring country undermines this autonomy.
(d) Country S: Undemocratic
Reason: Country S is classified as undemocratic because in a democratic system, major economic decisions should be made by elected officials who are accountable to the public, not by officials of the central bank who are not elected and cannot be held accountable by the public. This arrangement could lead to decisions that do not reflect the will of the people.
Q3. Which of these is not a good argument in favour of democracy? Why?
(a) People feel free and equal in a democracy.
(b) Democracies resolve conflict in a better way than others.
(c) Democratic government is more accountable to the people.
(d) Democracies are more prosperous than others.
Option 'D' Democracies are more prosperous than others is not a good argument in favour of democracy as there are many countries such as Sri Lanka, India which opted for democracy but not prosperous where other countries such as China or Saudi Arabia which have communist and monarchy rule respectively are more prosperous. The prosperity of any country depends on the correct policies of the government. It also depends on the availibility of natural resources not with the form of government. Democracy can't guarantee prosperity.
Q4. Each of these statements contains a democratic and an undemocratic element. Write out the two separately for each statement.
(a) A minister said that some laws have to be passed by the parliament in order to conform to the regulations decided by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
(b) The Election Commission ordered re-polling in a constituency where large-scale rigging was reported.
(c) Women’s representation in the parliament has barely reached 10 per cent. This led women’s organisations to demand one-third seats for women.
(a) Democratic element – A minister said that some laws have to be passed by the parliament.
Undemocratic element – Conform to the regulations decided by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
(b) Democratic element – The Election Commission ordered re-polling in a constituency.
Undemocratic element – Large-scale rigging was reported.
(c) Democratic element – Women’s organisations to demand one-third of seats for women.
Undemocratic element – Women’s representation in parliament has barely reached 10 per cent.
Q5. Which of these is not a valid reason for arguing that there is a lesser possibility of famine in a democratic country?
(a) Opposition parties can draw attention to hunger and starvation.
(b) Free press can report suffering from famine in different parts of the country.
(c) Government fears its defeat in the next elections.
(d) People are free to believe in and practise any religion.
Ans: (d) People are free to believe in and practice any religion.
Reason: Option ‘d’ is not a valid reason for arguing that there is a lesser possibility of famine in a democratic country. This is because practising religion has nothing to do with preventing famine.
Q6. There are 40 villages in a district where the government has made no provision for drinking water. These villagers met and considered many methods of forcing the government to respond to their need. Which of these is not a democratic method?
(a) Filing a case in the courts claiming that water is part of right to life.
(b) Boycotting the next elections to give a message to all parties.
(c) Organising public meetings against government’s policies.
(d) Paying money to government officials to get water.
Ans: (d) Paying money to government officials to get water.
Reason: Option ‘d’, which advocates paying the government officials money, is an undemocratic method.
Q7. Write a response to the following arguments against democracy:
(a) Army is the most disciplined and corruption-free organisation in the country. Therefore army should rule the country.
(b) Rule of the majority means the rule of ignorant people. What we need is the rule of the wise, even if they are in small numbers.
(c) If we want religious leaders to guide us in spiritual matters, why not invite them to guide us in politics as well. The country should be ruled by religious leaders.
Q8. Are the following statements in keeping with democracy as a value? Why?
(a) Father to daughter: I don’t want to hear your opinion about your marriage. In our family children marry where the parents tell them to.
(b) Teacher to student: Don’t disturb my concentration by asking me questions in the classroom.
(c) Employee to the officer: Our working hours must be reduced according to the law.
(a) Undemocratic as this statement is not in keeping with the democratic value of individual freedom and the right to express one's opinion. In a democracy, everyone has the right to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. This includes decisions about personal matters such as marriage. In this case, the father is denying his daughter the right to express her opinion about her own marriage, which is undemocratic.
(b) Undemocratic as this statement is also not in keeping with the democratic value of open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. In a learning environment, students should be encouraged to ask questions and engage in discussions. This promotes critical thinking, a key component of democratic societies. By refusing to entertain questions, the teacher is undermining the democratic principle of open dialogue.
(c) Democratic as this statement is in line with democratic values. The employee is asserting their right to fair working conditions, which is a fundamental right in a democracy. They are calling for the implementation of the law, which is a democratic process. This shows respect for the rule of law, a key feature of a democratic society.
Q9. Consider the following facts about a country and decide if you would call it a democracy. Give reasons to support your decision.
(a) All the citizens of the country have right to vote. Elections are held regularly
(b) The country took loan from international agencies. One of the conditions for giving loan was that the government would reduce its expenses on education and health.
(c) People speak more than seven languages but education is available only in one language, the language spoken by 52 percent people of that country.
(d) Several organisations have given a call for peaceful demonstrations and nation wide strikes in the country to oppose these policies. Government has arrested these leaders.
(e) The government owns the radio and television in the country. All the newspapers have to get permission from the government to publish any news about government’s policies and protests.
(a) From this statement, we can understand that it is a democratic country where citizens are allowed to vote and choose their government.
(b) While taking a loan from international agencies, the country is compromising on the welfare of the people by reducing their expenditure on education and health, which is totally undemocratic.
(c) The provision of making education accessible in only one language is undemocratic. It is the fundamental right for people to have an education, and it is the government’s duty to provide them with the language they know.
(d) The right to assemble and peacefully demonstrate is a basic right of an individual. Hence, arresting the protestors is undemocratic.
(e) When the government owns the radio and television, it is debarring people from availing their right to a free press. It is undemocratic.
Q10. In 2004 a report published in USA pointed to the increasing inequalities in that country. Inequalities in income reflected in the participation of people in democracy. It also shaped their abilities to influence the decisions taken by the government. The report highlighted that:
Write an essay on ‘Democracy and Poverty’ using the information given in this report but using examples from India.
|1. What is democracy?
|2. Why is democracy important?
|3. How does democracy promote social and political equality?
|4. What are the challenges to democracy?
|5. How can citizens participate in a democracy?