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What is Democracy? Why Democracy? Summary Class 9 Social Science Chapter 1

What is Democracy?

  • A simple Definition: Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people.

Features of Democracy

  • The rulers are elected by the people.
  • Free and competitive elections are held.
  • Each adult irrespective of religion, education, caste, colour, wealth have one vote, one value.
  • The elected rulers take decisions within limits set by constitutional law and citizens’ rights.
  • Rule of Law
  • The rights of the citizens must be protected through Constitution.
  • There must be an independent judiciary.

Major Decisions by Elected Leaders

  • In Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf led a military coup in October 1999 and overthrew democratically elected government and became President of the country.
    • In 2002, he held a referendum in the country which was based on malpractices and fraud granted him a five-year extension.
    • After passing law, ‘Legal Framework Order’ which gave the president power to dismiss the national and provincial assemblies, elections were held to the national and provincial assemblies.
  • In this case, Pakistan has had elections, elected representatives have some powers. But the final power rests with military officers and General Musharraf himself. So,this should not be called a democracy.
  • In a democracy, the final decision-making power must rest with those elected by the people.

Free and Fair Electoral Competition

  • In China, elections are regularly held after every five years for electing the country’s parliament called National People’s Congress.
    • Before contesting elections, a candidate needs the approval of the Chinese Communist Party.
    • The government is always formed by the Communist Party.
  • Mexico holds elections after every six years to elect its President.
    • But until 2000 every election was won by a party called PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). 
    • Opposition parties did contest elections, but never managed to win as PRI was known to use many dirty tricks to win elections.
  • Both the cases should not be called a democracy.
  • A democracy must be based on a free and fair election where those currently in power have a fair chance of losing.

One Person, One Vote, One Value

  • There are many instances of denial of equal right to vote.
    • In Saudi Arabia women do not have the right to vote.
    • 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.
    • In Fiji, the electoral system is such that the vote of an indigenous Fiji has more value than that of an Indian-Fijian.
  • In a democracy, each adult citizen must have one vote and each vote must have one value.

Rule of Law and Respect For Rights

  • Since independence, Zimbabwe ruled by ZANU-PF.
    • Its leader, Robert Mugabe has been ruling the country. He is popular but also uses unfair practices in elections.
    • Elections have been held regularly and always won by ZANU-PF.
    • Opposition party workers are harassed and their meeting disrupted.
    • Public protests and demonstrations against the government are declared illegal.
    • Television and radio are controlled by the government and give only the ruling party’s version.
    • Independent newspapers are there but the government harasses those journalists who go against it.
    • The government has ignored some court judgments that went against it and has pressurised judges.
  • In this case, government is not democratic as there is no there is no citzen' basic rights, no political opposition, no judiciary.
  • A democratic government rule within limits set by constitutional law and citizens’ rights.

Why Democracy?


Arguments against democracy

  • Leaders keep changing in a democracy. This leads to instability.
  • Democracy is all about political competition and power play. There is no scope for morality.
  • So many people have to be consulted in a democracy that it leads to delays.
  • Elected leaders do not know the best interest of the people. It leads to bad decisions.
  • Democracy leads to corruption for it is based on electoral competition.
  • Ordinary people don’t know what is good for them; they should not decide anything.

Arguments for democracy

  • A democratic government is a better government because it is a more accountable form of government.
  • Democracy improves the quality of decision-making.
  • Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts.
  • Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens.
  • Democracy allows us to correct its own mistakes.

Broader Meanings of Democracy

  • The most common form that democracy takes in our times is that of a representative democracy where majority is allowed to take decisions on behalf of all the people.
    • The majority of people rule through their elected representatives.
  • A democratic decision involves consultation with and consent of all those who are affected by that decision.
  • Democracy is a principle that can be applied to any sphere of life.
    • Democracy can apply to a government or a family or any other organisation.
The document What is Democracy? Why Democracy? Summary Class 9 Social Science Chapter 1 is a part of the Class 9 Course NCERT Textbooks & Solutions for Class 9.
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FAQs on What is Democracy? Why Democracy? Summary Class 9 Social Science Chapter 1

1. What is democracy?
Ans. Democracy is a form of government where the power is vested in the people, who exercise it directly or through elected representatives. It is based on the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity, and allows citizens to participate in decision-making processes.
2. Why is democracy important?
Ans. Democracy is important because it ensures that power remains in the hands of the people, allowing them to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. It promotes equality, protects individual rights and freedoms, and fosters accountability and transparency in governance.
3. How does democracy work?
Ans. In a democracy, the citizens elect their representatives through free and fair elections. These representatives form the government and are responsible for making decisions and enacting laws on behalf of the people. The government is accountable to the citizens and can be changed through periodic elections.
4. What are the key features of a democratic system?
Ans. The key features of a democratic system include political equality, where every citizen has the right to vote and participate in decision-making processes. It also includes the protection of individual rights and freedoms, the rule of law, free and fair elections, and a separation of powers among the different branches of government.
5. What are the challenges to democracy?
Ans. Some of the challenges to democracy include corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, political polarization, and the influence of money in politics. Other challenges include social and economic inequalities, the rise of populism, and the threat of authoritarianism. It is important to address these challenges to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of democratic systems.
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