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The Importance of Democracy

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  • Last Updated : 31 Jan, 2022

The term ‘democracy’ was first used in the fifth century BC by Greek Historian Herodotus in the sense ofrule by the people. This is derived from a combination of two words, Demos meaning ‘the people’ and Kratos meaning ‘to rule’. In short, democracy as a form of government implies that the ultimate authority of governance lies with the ordinary people and that public policy is made to conform to their wishes and serve their interests.

As Abraham Lincoln had rightly said that, Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. In a democracy the people are the sovereign, it is they who elect their desired representatives, who upon being elected will cater to their needs and make their voices heard.  

Democracy can be categorized into two groups. They are as follows:

  • Direct Democracy: This means the rule by the people of the state, town, or other political community by means of direct participation of the citizens, where the citizens of the state meet periodically and take decisions related to the governance of the state. This form of democracy was only feasible for the states with a small population, it was observed earlier in the Greek city-states and some ancient Indian Republics.
  • Indirect Democracy: In an indirect democracy the decisions of governance are made by the ‘representatives of the people’ elected on a regular basis. Hence, indirect democracy is also known as representative democracy. In modern times when all the states have a large number of people residing in them, representative democracy is practiced everywhere.

Liberal democracy works on certain principles, in order to be a successful democracy, a country has to abide by these principles. 

Those principles are as follows:

  1. Government by consent: In a simple way, Democracy is a government by consent of the people. Consent can be obtained from people only when there is an atmosphere of free discussion. Any state which seeks to obtain the consent of the people without the freedom of speech, and expression does not qualify as a ‘democracy’ even if it has democratic institutions present in it.
  2. Public accountability: A democratic government is based on the consent of the people; as a result, it must always be accountable to the people who created it. The interests of the governed are supreme and should always be abided by.
  3. Majority rule: In a modern representative democracy, majority rule implies all the issues starting from the electorate to the last committee are resolved by voting. Every person is entitled to a single vote, one man, one vote’, which implies that no one can claim an extra vote based on privilege and none can illegally refrain from their right to vote.
  4. Recognition of minority rights: In modern representative democracies there is the presence of several racial, religious, linguistic, and cultural minorities who fear discrimination, but it is the duty of an ideal democracy to protect and promote the interests of the minority.
  5. Constitutional government: Constitutional government means a ‘government by laws’ rather than by men. The laws should be made keeping in mind the interests of the majority of the people, as a democratic government should always be accountable to the electorate. It is essential to have a well-established tradition of law and constitution for the stability of a democratic government.

These five principles shed light on the nature of an ideal democracy. The success of a democracy depends upon the successful implementation of all these principles. India is the largest democracy in the world and it believes in the ideas of consent, liberty, justice, equality, and fraternity. The fundamental rights guarantee the protection of the individual rights of the citizens. Every citizen of India is entitled to ‘one vote’ irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, place of birth. They take part in elections and elect their representatives. Regular elections are conducted to elect representatives. For the Parliament of India, the elections are held every five years and the Prime Minister and his council of ministers are selected thereafter, the Prime Minister along with his council of ministers is bound by public accountability. India witnessed her first step towards democracy when she had her first elections which started on 25th October and continued till 21st February 1952. Indian National Congress won the elections with a landslide victory. This was one of the biggest experiments of democracy in the world.

The primary aim of the Indian constitution is to establish a responsible government. This is usually done by creating independent institutions of governance and accountability is ensured through periodic elections and internal checks and balances. The Judiciary of India also exercises a prime responsibility in making India a successful democracy through its policy of judicial review. The Judicial review acts as a check against the hasty legislation of the government. If any law passed by the legislature is found to be unconstitutional by the Judiciary it can be declared null and void and it will stop being operational. Citizens can also approach the judiciary if they are denied their fundamental rights. The Supreme Court of India and the High Courts will issue writs to guarantee the citizens their fundamental rights. In modern times the media also plays a major role in the implementation of Democracy in its true form, they empower the masses and give the minority a voice. The demands and needs of the masses are communicated to the right authorities. They act as a bridge between the masses and the governing authorities.

The role of the citizens is also prime towards the successful implantation of democracy. They have to perform their duties effectively and respect the law and the governance of the country. They should be politically aware and informed about all the ongoing events in the country. It is their duty to elect efficient representatives. Being the largest democracy in the world, India is bound to face challenges in the present times as well as in the future. She has to overcome all the challenges put forth, emerge victoriously, and make Indian democracy a success.

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