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Class 9 Civics Chapter 1 Question Answers - Democratic Politics - I

Q1: Examine the role of the Election Commission in ensuring free and fair elections in India.

Elections in India are conducted by an independent and very powerful Election Commission. It enjoys the same kind of independence that the judiciary enjoys. The Chief Election Commission or CEC is appointed by the President of India. But once appointed, the CEC is not answerable to the president or the government. Even if the ruling party or the government does not like what the Commission does, it cannot remove the CEC.
The Elections Commission of India uses wide-ranging powers in ensuring free and fair elections in the country.

It takes decisions on every aspect of conduct and control of elections from the announcement of elections to the declarations of results.

  • It implements the code of conduct and punishes any candidate or party that violates it.
  • During the election period, the EC can order the government to follow some guidelines, to prevent use and misuse of governmental power to enhance its chances to win elections, or to transfer some government officials.
  • When on election duty, government officers work under the control of the EC and not the government.
  •  The Election Commission can reprimand the government and administration for their lapses. When election officials come to the opinion that polling was not fair in some booths or even an entire constituency, they order a repoll. The ruling parties often do not like what the EC does, but they have to obey. Thus, the EC plays a important role in ensuring free and fair elections in India.

Q2: What are reserved constituencies? Why are they necessary in India? What are the provisions of this system of reservation?

Reserved constituencies are constituencies that are set aside for certain weaker sections of the Indian society. The weaker sections of the society may not stand a good chance to get elected to the Lok Sabha and the state Legislative Assemblies. They may not have the required resources, education and contacts to contest and win elections against others. Those who are influential and resourceful may prevent them from wining elections. If that happens, our Parliament and Assemblies would be deprived of the voice of a significant section of our population.
That would make our democracy less representative and less democratic. So, a special system of reserved constituencies for the weaker sections was started to bring them in the mainstream of the country.
The Provisions of this systems are:

  • Some constituencies are reserved for people who belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Schedules Tribes (STs).
  • In a SC reserved constituency only someone who belongs to the Scheduled Castes can stand for election. Similarly only those belonging to the Scheduled Tribes can contest an election from a constituency reserved for ST.
  • Currently, in the Lok Sabha, 84 seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 47 for the Scheduled Tribes (as on 1 September 2012). This number is in proportion to their share in the total population.

Q3: Give a list of the minimum conditions needed for a democratic election.

All democratic countries hold elections. But most non-democratic countries also hold some kind of elections. But they can’t really be called democratic elections. Here is a simple list of the minimum conditions of a democratic election:

  • Everyone should be able to choose. This means that everyone should have one vote and every vote should have equal value.
  • There should be something to choose from. Parties and candidate should be free to contest elections and should offer some real choice to the voters.
  • The choice should be offered at regular intervals. Elections must be held regularly after every few years.
  • The candidate preferred by the people should get elected.
  • Elections should be conducted in a free and fair manner where people can choose as they really wish.

Q4: What are the challenges to free and fair elections in India?

There are many challenges of Indian elections. Some of them are given below:

  • Candidates and parties with a lot of money may not be sure of their victory but they do enjoy a big and unfair advantage over smaller parties and independents.
  • In some parts of the country, candidates with criminal connection have been able to push others out of the electoral race and to secure a ‘ticket’ from major parties.
  • Some families tend to dominate political parties; tickets are distributed to relatives from these families.
  • Very often elections offer little choice to ordinary citizens, for both the major parties are quite similar to each other both in policies and practice.
  • Smaller parties and independent candidates suffer a huge disadvantage compared to bigger parties. The above challenges exist not just in India but also in many established democracies. Unless these challenges are overcome, elections cannot be called free and fair.

Q5: Why do democratic countries need to hold elections?

Democratic countries need to hold elections for the following reasons:

  • We cannot imagine a democracy without elections. A rule of the people is possible without any elections of all the people can sit together everyday and take all the decisions. But this is not possible in any large community.
  • It is also not possible for everyone to have time and knowledge to take decisions on all matters. Therefore in most democracies people rule through their representatives.
  • These representatives are chosen by a mechanism called election, which takes place at regular intervals so that people change them if they wish to do so.

Q6: In an election the voters makes many choices. Mention them.

In an election the voters make the following choices:

  • They can choose who make laws for them.
  • They can choose who will form the government and take major decisions.
  • They can choose the party whose policies will guide the government and law making.

Q7: What details are mentioned in the legal declaration made by candidates? Why is this information made public?

Every candidate has to make a legal declaration, giving full details of:

  • Serious criminal cases pending against the candidate;
  • Details of the assets and liabilities of the candidate and his/her family; and
  • Educational qualifications of the candidate. This information is made public because this provides an opportunity to the voters to make their decision on the basis of the information provided by the candidates.

Q8: Mention some of the unfair practices used in elections.

Some of the unfair practices used in elections are:

  • Inclusion of false names and exclusion of genuine names in the voters’ list.
  • Misuse of government facilities and officials by the ruling party.
  • Excessive use of money by rich candidates and big parties.
  • Intimidation of voters and rigging on the polling day.

Q9: What is the significance of the voters’ list in a democratic election?

  • In a democratic election, the list of those who are eligible to vote is prepared much before the election and given to everyone. This is called the voters’ list. This is an important step for it is linked to the first condition of a democratic election. Everyone should get an equal opportunity to choose representatives. No one should be denied the right to vote without a good reason.
  • The voters’ list needs to be revised time to time. It is the responsibility of the government to get the names of all the eligible voters put on the voters’ list. As new persons attain voting age names are added to the voters’ list. Names of those who move out of the place or those who are dead are deleted. A complete revision of the list takes place every five years. This is done to ensure that it remains up to date.

Q10: What do political parties and candidates do during election campaigns?

  • During election campaigns political parties mobilise their supporters. They try to focus public attention on some big issues. They want to attract the public to that issue and get them to vote for their party on that basis.
  • During this period the candidates contact their voters, and try to convince them that their party is  better than others.
  • This is also the period when newspapers and television news are full of election related stories and debates.

Q11: How did the voters use to indicate who they wanted to vote for in earlier times? What do they do now-a-days?

  • Earlier the voters used to indicate who they wanted to vote for by putting a stamp on the ballot paper, which was a sheet of paper on which the names of the contesting candidates along with the party name and symbols were listed.
  • Nowadays Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs are used to record votes. The machine shows the names of the candidates and the party symbols.
  • What the voter has to do is to press the button against the name of the candidate he/she wants to give his/her vote.

Q12: Why are election campaigns important in a democracy? When do these take place in our country?

  • Elections are the centerpiece of democracy. They give people a chance to choose the representatives, the government and the policies they prefer. Therefore it is necessary to have a free and open discussion about who is a better representative, which party will make a better government or what is a good policy. This is what happens during election campaigns. In the absence of election campaigns, people would be in utter confusion.
  • In our country such campaigns take place for a two-week period between the announcement of the final list of candidates and the date of polling.

Q13: Why is it necessary for the Election Commission of India to be independent and powerful?

  • In our country elections are conducted by an independent and very powerful Election Commissioner or EC. It can reprimand the government and administration for their lapses.
  • When election officials come to the opinion that polling was not fair in some booths or even an entire constituency, they order a repoll.
  • The ruling parties often do not like what the EC does. But they have to obey. This would not have happened if the EC was not independent and powerful.

Q14: What happens once the polling is over?

  • Once the polling is over, all the EVMs are sealed and taken to a secure place. A few days later, on a fixed date, all the EVMs from a constituency are opened and the votes secured by each candidate are counted.
  • The agents of all candidates are present there to ensure that the counting is done properly. The candidate who secures the highest number of votes from a constituency is declared elected.
  • In a general election, usually the counting of votes in all the constituencies takes place at the same time, on the same day. Within a few hours of counting, all the results are declared and it becomes clear as to who form the next government.

Q15: What is the principle of universal adult franchise? What does it mean in practice?
In practice the principle of universal adult franchise means that everyone should have one vote and each vote should have equal value. No one should be denied the right to vote without a good reason. Different citizens differ from one another in many ways—some are rich, some are poor, some are highly educated, some are not so educated or not educated at all; some are kind , others are not so kind. But all of them are human beings with their own needs and views. That is why, all of them deserve to have an equal say in decisions that affect them.

Q16: What are the demerits of an electoral competition?

An electoral competition has many demerits. Some of them are:

  • It creates a sense of disunity and factionalism in every locality.
  • Different political parties and leaders often level allegations against one another.
  • Parties and candidates often use dirty tricks to win elections. Some people say that this pressure to win electoral fights does not allow sensible long-term policies to be formulated.
The document Class 9 Civics Chapter 1 Question Answers - Democratic Politics - I is a part of the Class 9 Course Social Studies (SST) Class 9.
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Class 9 Civics Chapter 1 Question Answers - Democratic Politics - I