Is it important to live in a democracy?
Look at the History and look at the world around us, democracy contributes to safety and prosperity, both in national and International life.
Strobe Talbott, US Deputy Secretary of State, 1997 speech
The story of the origin of word “Democracy” clasps to Athenian democracy and ancient Greek word demokratia : ‘Demos’ means ‘people’ and ‘kratia’ means ‘power’ literally meaning ‘people’s power.’
But the question arises that whatever may be the form of democracy: direct, representative, presidential, parliamentary, authoritarian, participatory or social (Loewenstein 1935, 1975; Lijphart 1999; von Beyme 1997; Merkel 1999), is Democracy best form of administrative arrangement when compared to aristocracy, oligarchy or monarchy etc. Since Aristotle , political thinkers have debated on this topic and although aisle had many hiccups from ancient times to modern day , currently only ‘people’s power’ has proven to be most successful, accustomed and progressive form of government that is existing in almost 123 countries out of 192 countries all over the world.
This abysmal state of the electoral process, the so called democracy, most approved political regime has notable quotes available from politicians , authors and philosophers but one by Winston Churchill sum up ‘Democracy’ in its best : “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those forms that have been tried from time to time.” But suppose unalienable basic human rights like life, autonomy and hormonal bliss, freedom of speech, opinion, press, association and religion, freedom of information are restricted by a government, how will society react and feel. In countries like China, North Korea and Hong Kong people spend their lives slaving away in government controlled system. Whether democratic or non democratic, priority should be that citizens should enjoy fundamental civil liberties
Although democracy creates government which is meant to work through discussions, yet it sometimes performs by pasting silence on people’s lips. The two dictators, Mussolini, voted to power by Italians and Hitler voted by Germans, led the whole world to world war II. Democracy persistently demonstrates that more than half of the people may oppose or support certain decisions which may be wrong or right according to their perceptions or their vested interests but may be beneficial or devastating for the country otherwise. Mussolini had said that “Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy.” and Charles Bukowski said that “The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste your time voting.” Even Aristotle was not in favour of democracy because he felt in democracy rule is by and for the needy.
Thus Democratic power regime index also has been categorized into four types by Economists Intelligence Unit : full democracy, flawed democracy , hybrid and authoritarian. For example many countries of Africa show democratic deficit like Guinea, Uganda and Angola. “Coups from within” or “Cannibalistic coups” are main reason behind democratic deficit in Africa. But Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana, Cape Verde and Benin are biggest improvements who have defied democratic dearth.
Yet it cannot be denied that democracy in today’s times is the best form of government because the spirit of democracy is contingent and flourishes only those ideas which are populaces’ desires. The flexibility and the experimental attitude associated with democracy ensure that the best programmes that suit the requirements of troubling prominent issues get framed according to the requirements of the particular situation faced by the country.
The modus operandi of democracy makes people its roots giving opportunity even to the weakest citizen to identify itself as responsible national of the country having a sense of independence and some say in government formation. It gives them ability for upholding the right to choose through vote. Literature has established a robust relationship between democracy and stability because peoples’ sovereignty allows them to form and diffuse the government.
Democracy is said to have reduced discrimination on the basis of religion, creed, caste, social status and gender thus assembling them live with a dignity, raise their opinions as well as objections according to their needs. Democracy assures procedures and plans to be articulated according to the wishes of majority improving the ‘quality of decision making’ as public power becomes the motivating factor behind the success of ruling authority so they have to serve programmes in support of society and people. Above all Democracy can be given the title of “Champion campaigner for women’s empowerment”
In this way democracy guarantees liberty, equality and fraternity in every field along with assurance to the services like security, education, employment, healthcare, food, cultural independence etc. proving Karl Marx right as he had said “Democracy is the road to socialism.”
The positive association between democracy and economic success in the world has also influenced the peoples’ perception making a popular and privileged shift in favour of democracy.
Democracy is an art of mobilizing the entire Physical, economic and spiritual sources of various sections of people in service of common good to all (harijan 1939). It is the only political system providing freedom of: Press, Media, Speech, Expression, Religion, Form political parties, Choice of electing ruler etc.
If Democracy works in its true sense: OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE it can be said to be most promising and feasible option to run a country. But it may put observed threat to social disorder if it takes the form: OFF the people, BUY the people and FAR the people because democracy is also a smart way of exploiting concept of “Individual freedom” by giving a person the right to Vote. Democracy is a smart way of overpowering peoples’ “Freedom of speech” by putting words in Reprentatives’ orifice. High degree of intelligent people can be sidelined only because they cannot weave power bank through votes. Pluto had said “Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty”.
Universal adult suffrage may reduce the abuse of power provided people are enough aware to cultivate their thoughts and beliefs not only about their human rights but also about their duties for the nation. Only then the subsequent wave of democratization can bring substantial gains in terms of justice, social equality and liberty. Both voters and leaders need to be more mature, this has to be the basic driving force behind democracy. Independence and Transparency in Judiciary, Bureaucracy and legislature along with a spirit of cooperation, tolerance and unity among citizens is must to confront the flaws in democratic system. None other system can be best than choosing own leaders through civic involvement and enjoying basic human amenities basking in the silhouette of elected authority.
1.Aristotle. (1948) [322 BC].The politics, E. Barker (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
2. Lijphart, A. (1999) Patterns of democracy: Government forms and performance in thirty-six countries. New Haven, CT/London: Yale University Press.
3.Van hanen, T. (1997).Prospects of democracy. A study of 172 countries. London/New York: Routledge.
4.Merkel, W. (1999). System transformation. Eine Einführung in die Theorie und Empirie der Transformations forschung . Opladen: Leske & Budrich.
By :- Gurkirandeep kaur
Student of Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pardesh Krishi Vishvavidyalaya, Palampur, Himachal Pardesh.