From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Democratic credentials
- G7 nations and partner countries including India recently signed “2022 Resilient democracies statement”-We, the Leaders of Germany, Argentina, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Senegal, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union, affirm our commitment to strengthening the resilience of our democracies and to working towards equitable, inclusive and sustainable solutions to global challenges, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, and reaffirm our commitment to the rules-based international order.
How we define Democracy?
- “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” the words used by Abraham Lincoln in the year 1863 while talking about democracy.
Purpose of democracy
- Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, freedom of religion and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.
- The study, titled ‘Democracy Report 2022: Autocratisation Changing Nature?’ states that more than twice as many countries are undergoing Autocratisation as are witnessing democratization.
- The conceptual scheme takes into account not only the electoral dimension (free and fair elections) but also the liberal principle that democracy must protect “individual and minority rights”
- The V-Dem report classifies countries into four regime types based on their score in the Liberal Democratic Index (LDI): a)Liberal Democracy b)Electoral Democracy c)Electoral Autocracy and d)Closed Autocracy
Where do the Reports and Indices put India?
- Sweden based Sweden-based V-Dem Institute was harsher in its latest report on democracy. It said India had become an “electoral autocracy”
- US-based non-profit Freedom House downgraded India from a free democracy to a “partially free democracy”.
- India, described as a “flawed democracy”, slipped two places to 53rd position in the latest Democracy Index published by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Status of Supporters of Democracy
- Decolonised African Countries:
- The number of African countries that have adopted democratic systems of government has grown since decolonisation, the collapse of communism and the ending of a number of civil wars.
- Some countries, such as Ghana, are seen as resilient democracies, while for others the democratic transition is more fragile, after months of pro-democracy protests in 2019 in Sudan, a civilian-led transitional government is now paving the way for democracy after decades of military rule.
- India as example:
- India is the world’s largest democracy. India is staying as one unit despite having vast no of cultures, languages and religions. This is possible because of the democracy in India.
- Minorities and disadvantaged sections are represented in parliament which enabled inclusive growth.
- When India got independence, its economy was in shambles. Extreme poverty, unemployment, food insecurity were the major problems before Indian government. But India’s democratic constitution successfully balanced development and welfare of the country.
- Now, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
What critics arguing?
- Democracy in crisis: Democracy is more in crisis than ever before, with the onset of centralisation of power, with a foreign policy defying public opinion, with the media centralised, and with corporate control of the economy tighter than ever.
- Increasing polarity: Threatening world order is emerging, which seeks to abrogate all individual rights and divide us along the extremist polarities that we thought had been neutralised.
- Global Crisis: We move into this new stage of conﬂict carrying the risk of a nuclear tragedy, further exacerbated by the collective buttressing of a global crisis of the novel coronavirus pandemic, uncontrollable ecological disasters, and food and water deﬁciency.
- Populism: Blatant fascist leanings of the so-called “democracies”, and escalating hunger and disease in Africa and other parts of the under-developed world give enough evidence that democracy faces serious issues of populism.
- Other global problems: Growing economic discrimination, overpopulation and environmental degradation, Misgivings about moral progress, about mutual understanding, exacerbate the dismal situation that faces humanity.
What can be done to strengthen the democracies further?
- Strengthening public support: To protect freedom domestically and build support for a foreign policy that protects democratic rights and values abroad, it is essential to foster a stronger public understanding of democratic principles, especially among young people. civic education is necessary.
- Rule of law: In order to maintain trust in public institutions, the principles of legality, legal certainty and prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers, judicial independence, impartiality, and equality before the law need to be respected.
- Individual rights: Democracy entails the right of individuals to participate in and influence the development of society, with free and fair elections at its core. Without an active turnout in elections and proper mechanisms for participation, the essence of democracy can be lost.
- Free speech: Free speech guard the freedom of expression and opinion, and affirmation of commitment to the very idea of democracy and a move towards opposing oppression and violence
- Democracy is always a work in progress. The key ingredients of democracy are effective and accountable institutions, and leadership. Institutions build resilience by embedding norms and standards and bridging periods of weak leadership.
Q.Do you think Democracy is the best solution to tackle the growing fault lines between the communities? What makes India as the best example of Democracy to the world? Discuss.