Name: Umamageswari Maruthappan
College: Dr. Ambedkar College of Law
Class: Graduate in Economics. Currently in First Year LLB (3 years)
“Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
This definition of democracy is well-known among everyone, even to a common man who does not have any intense knowledge of it. Though it seems to be simple, yet in a broader sense, it constitutes a wider aspect which is hard to be perceived. However, the popularity of this precise expression lies in the fact that, it gives us a direct understanding to the word ‘democracy’. “Of the people”, “By the people” and “For the people”, these three phrases, somehow relates to the rights, interests, powers and duties of the people. It indulges a sense of responsibility within the citizens by giving them the freedom to choose their leader, not to dictate them, but to lead and represent them and serve their interests. It also implies that the election of such representatives must be conducted in a fairly organised elections which does not allow favouritism and, at the same time, is carried on in a regulatory manner.
Democracy enforces the rule of the majority. This is because there is a probability that when citizens vote to elect their leader, fragmentation may eventuate due to varied opinions. As a consequence, this rule was instigated to espouse the right of the majority party to form the government. Democracy also elucidates the fact that the elected party has been entrusted with the powers to represent the people by way of Constitutionalism. This is to adhere the fact that there is a limitation on what the government can and can’t do.
Freedom of choice is a virtue what most people aspire to have irrespective of their prominence and, democracy is considered to be the extremity of this freedom. A democratic government is directly responsible to its people because of the nature of designation. Democracies are expected to be chosen with strong justice, failing which could destroy its essence. Today, we find many countries in the world practising representative form of governance, while some countries are of opinion to adopt it. The perceptions of democracy for countries that have already embraced it, can differ because each country could have made some modifications in its features, without altering its basic structure. However, for all other countries striving to adopt it, democracy has only one meaning, that is Democracy is fanatical about self-rule.
However, what we study in books does not certainly fit or suit in reality. There is a contextual difference in the practical application of democracy from its theoretical notions. This is what modern democracy is, in the actual sense. Though, we enjoy electing representatives of our choice, but, ‘Are we making a rational choice?’, ‘Are we using the powers in exactly the same sense as we are supposed to?’, ‘Are we even getting to exercise our democratic power wholly?’ and besides all, ‘Are we working collectively as one single body to choose our suitable representative?, all thesquestions often bounce in our minds. What could be the answer to these questions? Well, at some point it might be YES, while sometimes, NO. This is because of the pluralism of opinions prevailing in the state which makes some people judicious while others, carless. Perhaps, many do not even try to realize what their exact democratic power is. They tend to take the means of voting just as another part of their routine. They fail to seize it as the power of their citizenship and do not recognize its role in modifying the future of the nation’s growth and development.
There is a famous statement by Mahatma Gandhi which reads as: “In true democracy every man and woman is taught to think for himself or herself”. When an individual thinks of his or her own sake, he or she tends to make such an option which would certainly result in the choice of a corresponding party. Moreover, it is the individual responsibility to perform his obligation prudently to contribute directly or indirectly to the welfare of the society as a whole. Prejudice in democracy is worse than autocracy and dictatorship.Well, it can be opined that though the answer for the above mentioned questions are vague, but, there is also a sudden possibility for people to realize their duty and perform it accordingly, whereby things could start working more effectively. And this can be made available only when the government is democratic. This is what we call the ‘Essence of Democracy’. A government can work effectively on the overall welfare of the state only when it is answerable to the public. It must be also noted that democracy pulls each citizen irrespective of their discriminatory factors, to stand up and speak against the faults of the government. It gives the right to people to protest and agitate against any unjustifiable laws propounded by the centre.
With special reference to India, democracy gave the three organs of government, that is, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary, where Judiciary is expected to be independent. Thus, this puts a pressure on the government, as any decision made by it can be questioned by the Judiciary. Democracy also gives press and media, the power to comment on the performance of the government. They are allowed to raise their voices in support of people.In this modern world, where capitalism is at its peak, democracy gives a robust opportunity to each and every individual to involve in social, political and economic matters and debates. Every individual in a democracy has a right to stand in elections as well, though subject to certain regulations. This is called as Multiparty Democracy, where an individual can form his own party to contest in elections. In such a case, people are given the power to scrutinize the manifestos released by all the competing parties and choose, the most appropriate one, among them, in a wise manner.
What else can we do in a Democracy? The right to Vote out! We all must have come across a statement: “no single party rules continuously”. There is often a concept of changing leaders and strategies, particularly in democracies. And this is what that makes Democracy to stand apart. Yes, if a chosen party fails to govern as is supposed to, the people can decide to vote them out of office, and swore in other suitable party.
Essence of Democracy is immense. But it can only produce desirable effects when the purity of its characteristics is withheld. But, in the real sense, there are number of factors that questions the authenticity of its functioning. In fact, power to be given exclusively to the people andgovernment to serve as their servant is a crazy myth. It is not feasible in practice. Most of the democracies have gradually transformed themselves into autocracy or monarchies. Despite voicing for democracies, leaders indirectly choose to follow dictatorship. This scattered the principle of efficiency in democracy.
Yet there are countries which manage to stay in true democracy. Notwithstanding this, these leaders also have an induction to retain their position. This eventually leads in improvising their performance to grip the admiration and support of the people. This, in turn, would give more power to the people and restrict the clutches of the Government.
In all, democracy has its own visage of beauty. In spite of carrying a few setbacks, it always stands to support populism, halting the power of nepotism. People are now insisting to have a direct democracy, whereby they can have a straight impact on the political, social and economic decisions, as they are increasingly realizing the power of their stand.Apart from its political consequence, democracy has a greater stand in economic and financial terms. Despotism in government results into nepotism which gives the power of markets in the hands of the few. This will consequently result in an increase in the difference between the haves and the have nots. Democracy strengthens communalism and socialism so that everyone who has the will and interest to influence the market can come forward and take over. This also results in the optimal distribution of resources among all.
This exposition can be concluded with the quotation of Abraham Lincoln, which reads as follows: “I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.” This is not only the expression of Abraham Lincoln alone, but of all of us, as nobody will enjoy being a slave. Then no one can crave to hold a mastery over people.
There can be no disadvantages of democracy, the problem here is with the people who take the power in their hand. The solution for this complication as well can be traced from this adage of Alfred E. Smith, “All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy.”