Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

India @75 –Relooking our democracy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Read the attached story

Context

  • As we celebrate the nation @75 , we must also reflect on the mixed nature of our democracy

Definition of democracy

  • “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” were 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.

Background

  • India is a parliamentary democratic secular republic in which the president of India is the head of state & first citizen of India and the prime minister of India is the head of government.
  • It is based on the federal structure of government, although the word is not used in the Constitution itself.

How it has performed

(1) Political front

  • India is the world’s the largest democracy proved success in accommodation of group and regional demands in a complex, quasi-federal, polity.
  • During the first general election in the 1951 India had 54 political parties and now it has grown up to 464 in the 2014 general election as an evident of deepening of the democratic process.
  • In the first General election 1951, 173 million citizens were given right to vote.
  • In the 16th general election in 2014, the size of the electorate had increased to 814 million.

(2) Social front

  • The democratic process has brought about a shift of political power from the middle and higher castes and classes of urban society to backward classes who are now the politically most influential ones in the country.
  • They have won reservations for themselves in legislatures and government services as were accorded to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes after independence through Constitutional provisions.

(3) Economic Front

  • These include strategic affairs and security, politico-legal democratic governance as well as society and economy.
  • India has been able to emerge as a regional power in Asia and super power in south Asia backed by its economic, military and nuclear capabilities.

Contradictions in democracy

  • Performance of Bureaucracy: Dishonest officials to protect themselves from the consequences of their wrong-doings have largely exploited constitutional protection for the Services under Article 311.
  • Administration of Justice: Judicial system has not been able to meet even the modest expectations of the society. Its delays and costs are frustrating, its processes slow and uncertain. People are pushed to seek recourse to Extra-legal methods for relief. Trial system both on the civil and criminal side has utterly broken down.
  • Areas of Concern: There is a fundamental breach of the constitutional faith on the part of the Governments and their method of governance lies in the neglect of the people who are the ultimate source of all political authority.
  • Regionalism: Issues of national integrity and security have not received adequate and thoughtful attention. Mechanisms for the assessment of early warning symptoms of social unrest are absent.
  • Corruption: The increasing instability of elected governments is attributable to opportunistic politics and unprincipled defections.

Some positive suggestions to government

  • Feedback: The Government should hear criticism rather than rejecting it outrightly. Suggestions on eroding democratic values need a thoughtful, and respectful response.
  • Freedom of press: The press and the judiciary which are considered the pillars of India’s Democracy, require to be independent of any executive interference.
  • Opposition: strong democracy requires strong opposition. Without an alternative choice, the very objective of election to provide a check on arbitrary power gets defeated.

Way forward

  • The institutionalization of constitutional democracy has helped the people of India realize the importance of democracy and inculcate democratic sensibilities among them.
  • At the same time, it is important that all the government organs work in harmony to uphold the trust people of the country have held in them and ensure the objectives of true democracy.

Mains question

Q.We are celebrating Azadi ka amrit mahotsav India @75, trace the journey of democracy critically by providing some suggestions for robust democracy.

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