Divided democracies


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Challenges to democracy

Democracies across the world are facing several challenges. The article examines these challenges.

Threats to democracy

  • Efforts by Donald Trump, to negate the result of the recently held presidential elections, indicates a new set of tactics, previously seen only in dictatorships.
  • In the case of the U.S., one of the world’s oldest democracies, what we are witnessing is a deep divide.
  • This division is evident in many other democratic nations today.
  • This is true of many other democracies as well and must be viewed as a wake-up call.
  • What is evident is that issues of identity, or threats to identity, are becoming an important issue in elections across democracies.
  • Democracies already confront such problems, but it will become still more evident as time passes.
  • Manipulation of grievances by using psychometric techniques (as done by Cambridge Analytica), and the use of ‘deep fakes’ made possible through Artificial Intelligence, further enhances the threat to current notions of democracy.

Troubles to democracy in Europe

  • Europe will have to deal with the declining importance of America in global politics.
  • An uncertain Brexit will further damage the prospects of both the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • Russia, under Vladimir Putin, remains an enigma, for despite its military strength and strategic congruence with China, its future appears increasingly uncertain.
  • France displays even greater fragility and French values appear to be undergoing major changes.
  • The recent wave of terrorist attacks has been a major trigger, raising questions about long-held secular beliefs.

Return of terrorism

  • Terrorism is resurfacing, and with renewed vigour.
  • The al-Qaeda is again becoming prominent. The IS, which many thought had been vanquished has returned in full force.
  • Recently IS has carried out spectacular attacks in France and in Austria which is a reminder of the transnational character of the threat it poses to democratic countries.
  • They combine symbolism with spectacular violence.
  • The intent is to shock the public at large, and produce a reaction across the entire Muslim world, reigniting the fading embers of a religio-cultural conflict.

Information manipulation

  • Alongside the above issues, there is a growing concern across the globe about increasing efforts to manipulate information in order to perpetuate power.
  • Manipulation of information — and also events — to achieve certain desired ends, is becoming the stock-in-trade of many a democratic regime as well.
  • Many democratic nations today resort to manipulating data to support or prop up the government’s version of events. Informational autocracy is, hence, the latest danger that threatens democracies.

India’s challenges

1) Threat to democracy

  • In some regions, especially where mid-term elections are scheduled, as in West Bengal, the atmosphere today is highly polarised.
  • The ghosts of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens have by no means been laid to rest.
  • Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is witnessing a kind of surface calm, but beneath this, there are evident tensions.
  • Aggravating this situation are Pakistan’s efforts to push in terrorists in ever larger numbers.

Uncertain external environment

  • The downward spiral in its relations with China has not been arrested.
  • 15 Asia-Pacific nations, including China, have signed on to the world’s biggest trade bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — from which India has been excluded.
  • The RCEP, which covers almost a third of the world’s economy, is perceived as the springboard for future economic recovery across the region.
  • India’s absence from RCEP represents a cardinal failure of India’s bargaining strategy.
  • India’s isolation is evident from the fact that even a weak Pakistan is pursuing a policy of provocation— the latest provocation being the holding of Assembly elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • India is again being steadily marginalised in Afghanistan, where the control of the Taliban is increasing, with all other players accomodating Taliban.

Consider the question “What are the various challenges faced by the democracies across the world and India is no exception to it. In the context of this, examine the issues facing democracy in India.”


Though democracies across the world are facing several issues, resilience inherent in them will help them clear the chaos created by these issues.

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