A simple definition of Democracy
Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people.
Fig: Democracy in India
Summary definition of Democracy
1. In a democracy the final decision making power must rest with those elected by the people.
2. A democracy must be based on a free and fair election where those currently in power have a fair chance of losing.
3. In a democracy, each adult citizen must have one vote and each vote must have one value.
4. A democratic government rules within limits set by constitutional law and citizens’ rights.
Why Pakistan under General Musharraf should not be called a democracy?.
1. In Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf led a military coup and overthrew a democratically elected government and declared himself the ‘Chief Executive’ of the country.
2. Later he conducted a referendum which was based on malpractices and fraud. He changed his designation as President in 2002.
3. In August 2002 he issued a ‘Legal Framework Order’ that amended the constitution of Pakistan. According to this Order, the President can dismiss the national or provincial assemblies.
4. The work of the civilian cabinet is supervised by a National Security Council which is dominated by military officers.
5. After passing this law, elected representatives have some powers but the final power rests with military officers and General Musharraf himself. Because of these reasons Pakistan under General Musharraf should not be called a democracy.Fig: Pervez Musharraf
Should we consider the elections held in China and Mexico as democratic elections? Give reasons.
1. In China, single party system is practiced.
2. Before contesting elections, a candidate needs the approval of the Chinese Communist Party.
3. Only those who are members of the Chinese Communist Party or eight smaller parties allied to it were allowed to contest elections.
4. The government is always formed by the Communist Party of China.
1. Since its independence in 1930, every election was won by a PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). Opposition parties did contest elections, but the PRI uses many dirty tricks to win elections.
2. All those who were employed in government offices had to attend its party meetings.
3. Teachers of government schools used to force parents to vote for the PRI. Media largely ignored the activities of opposition political parties except to criticise them.
4. Sometimes the polling booths were shifted from one place to another in the last minute, which made it difficult for people to cast their votes. The PRI spent a large sum of money in the campaign for its candidates.
Which are the countries denying equal right to vote? How?
1. In Saudi Arabia women do not have the right to vote.
2. Estonia has made its citizenship rules in such a way that people belonging to Russian minority find it difficult to get the right to vote.
3. In Fiji, the electoral system is such that the vote of an indigenous Fiji has more value than that of an Indian-Fijian.
How is Zimbabwe government undemocratic and autocratic? Give reasons.
1. Zimbabwe has been ruled by ZANU-PF, the party that led the freedom struggle. Its leader, Robert Mugabe, is popular but also uses unfair practices in elections.
2. Over the years his government has changed the constitution several times to increase the powers of the President and make him less accountable.
3. Opposition party workers are harassed and their meeting disrupted. Public protests and demonstrations against the government are declared illegal. There is a law that limits the right to criticize the President.
4. Television and radio are controlled by the government and give only the ruling party’s version. The government has ignored some court judgments that went against it and has pressurized judges.
What are the arguments put forward against democracy?
1. Leaders keep changing in a democracy. This leads to instability.
2. Democracy is all about political competition and power play. There is no scope for morality.
3. So many people have to be consulted in a democracy that it leads to delays.
4. Elected leaders do not know the best interest of the people. It leads to bad decisions.
5. Democracy leads to corruption for it is based on electoral competition.
6. Ordinary people don’t know what is good for them; they should not decide anything.
What are the arguments put forward for democracy?
1. A democratic government is a better government because it is a more accountable form of government.
2. Democracy improves the quality of decision making by consulting various people and institutions.
3. Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts. In any society where people belong to different regions, speak different languages, practice different religions and have different castes.
4. Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens by providing equality, fundamental rights and freedoms.
5. Democracy is better than other forms of government because it allows us to correct its own mistakes.
BROADER MEANINGS OF DEMOCRACY
Two types of Democracy
1. Direct democracy- In which all the citizens of the country assemble in a place and directly take part in decision making.
2. Indirect democracy or Representative Democracy-In which people elect their representatives and those elected representatives make major decision. The majority of people rule through their elected representatives.
Fig: Types of democracy
Why is Representative Democracy become necessary in the present world?
1. Modern democracies involve such a large number of people that it is physically impossible for them to sit together and take a collective decision.
2. Even if they could, the citizen does not have the time, the desire or the skills to take part in all the decisions.
What is an ideal standard democracy?
1. True democracy will come to a country only when no one goes hungry to bed.
2. In a true democracy every citizen must be able to play equal role in decision making with equal right to vote, equal information, basic education, equal resources and a lot of commitment.