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DEMOCRACY IN INDIA PDF

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ISBN electronic PDF edition: Enquiries about .. India is the foremost expression of democracy in the post-colonial world and an academic. town of 50, or nations of 1 billion, is representative democracy, in which citizens elect success of Indian democracy has been seen as a remarkable feat for. To most theorists of democracy in the West, India is an embarrassing anomaly and hence largely avoided. By most theoretical stipulations India should not have .


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the three pillars of modern development: democracy, growth, and poverty reduction. Initial discussion will focus on the adoption of democracy in India in PDF | The party political domain of India is replete with a large number of Chronic lack of internal democracy coupled with the rise of political. PDF | On Apr 27, , Kenneth Bo Nielsen and others published India's Democracies.

The dissatisfaction is also the root cause for the emergence of regional parties and the support that they get in the electoral process. However, in more recent times there is also rising awareness that regional parties tend to create and support biased agendas that may not be in alignment with national requirements.

The elections saw the highest number of candidates and political parties in the fray so far— candidates and registered parties. Of these only 35 parties managed to win at least one seat in parliament, not counting the independent candidates who are unaffiliated to any political party.

The implication of such large number of candidates and political parties contesting the election are two-fold.

One, the elections become fiercely competitive, at times even leading to violence, and two, in a first-past-the-post electoral system, only a small percentage of candidates actually win with a majority, i. This leads to a sense amongst a large part of the electorate of not being represented in parliament. On the positive side of the equation, there has been a salutary change in the representation of the people in parliament. Today, without doubt, all sections of the population are represented in parliament, not only the educated middle-class as was the norm in the early days of democratic elections.

The fact that regional parties continue to rule in many States indicate the entrenchment of people power—a confirmation of the empowerment of the common people. Even so, Indian democracy is in a constant process of developing discontinuities in its political system. Therefore, the evolving trends in democratic development, the electoral process and the political system cannot be predicted based on the analysis of one election.

This is particularly so when the election has been so different in its results to the previous ones. Although most of the trends that have been analysed have positive impacts on the development of democracy and contribute towards institutionalising the necessary processes, there are some aspects of Indian democracy that have the potential to impact and slow its forward march.

Less understood is the fact that to sustain the rise and assume its rightful place in the sun, the nation needs urgent and substantive investment in all dimensions of national security. This can only be achieved with a powerful Central Government, which is then capable of catering for the external and internal dimensions of the equation.

The ills that mar the democratic process therefore needs to be studied and remedial action instituted if India is to continue on the path to power that it has chosen for itself.

The painful transition: bourgeois democracy in India

Challenges to Democracy in the Indian Context There are few unique challenges to the democratic process in India brought about by its multi-ethnicity, culture, languages, religions and societal make up. While some of the issues are gradually being ironed out, some others are becoming further ingrained in the body politic of the nation and assuming a life and dimension of their own.

The Multi-Party System India currently has about political parties that are recognised by the Election Commission. The shift from one-party dominance to multi-party competition also leads from cohesion to fragmentation of the fabric of society. The divisiveness that accompanies the establishment of a multi-party system is accentuated since the smaller parties normally represent the vested interests of small and minority groups.

The proliferation of political parties invariably leads to coalition governments, at the Centre and a number of States, which cannot be as efficient as a government run by a single party with adequate majority.

In India the rapid movement of the political process towards a multi-party system may have been the result of the inability, brought on by hubris, of the dominant Congress Party to accommodate dissent in the early years of independence.

This autocratic tendency continues to haunt the current, now much reduced in stature, Congress Party. The failings of the original Congress Party of the post-independence period created a number of breakaway groups pursuing similar political ideologies. Regional Parties The rise of the regional parties in Indian politics coincided with the decline in the influence of national parties, although whether the rise of one was because of the decline of the other cannot be clearly determined.

Although the rise of regional parties initially started in the geographically peripheral states, now the phenomenon has spread across the whole nation. The interesting fact is that purely in terms of vote share, the regional parties have claimed between 48 to 50 percent, a figure that has remained fairly steady for the past two or three decades. The gradual centralisation that is taking place post the elections does not seem to have diminished the regional party vote share, although the changes if any would only become visible around the next election cycle.

What this does is to skew the ratio of vote share to individual seats, which is dissimilar in different states, and indicates the influence of regional parties on national politics.

The strength of the regional parties is normally derived from an area or a community harbouring a sense of being deprived and not getting a fair deal from the policies of the Central Government. This emotive state is exploited by regional leaders who convert it into vote banks.

The fundamental disadvantage of such a situation is that opportunistic alliances to obtain political power could be created, leading to political expediency.

On the other hand, the rise to prominence of regional parties in the national political equation has led to a trend of regionalisation of national issues, a direct reflection of the diversity of the Indian political environment. This reverse movement of national issues pervading into regional politics has led to a consolidation of the democratic process even though in a tangential manner.

On the whole, the emergence of regional parties and the influence that they bring to bear on national politics has been detrimental to the overall progress of the nation. Communalism in Politics Communalising the society was one of the primary methods used by the British to keep the Indian society divided. In modern India, communal riots are lurking beneath the veneer of peaceful coexistence between different religions and communities.

Such riots have become more common in recent times. The communal divide started on the eve of independence, when the sub-continent was rocked with extreme communal violence in the wake of the partition that created the separate nations of India and Pakistan.

The political parties of India are the main culprits in continuing to cater to communal identities in their efforts to create vote banks. Money-power, Corruption and Scandals The Indian political scene suffers from a stranglehold of money-power, since unaccounted wealth is used to prop up politicians during the election periods.

The political process has been shown to be intimately connected to corruption across the board, with politicians being the biggest culprits.

The other side of the equation is that the financial scams that have involved politicians have neither been questioned not investigated fully. The common people view this as a travesty but are unable to do anything about it, adding to their frustration regarding the political, governance and democratic processes.

However, the voting public does take corruption in high places into account when the electoral cycle comes around and punish the wrong doers at the ballot box. A graphic example of this was the plight of the Rajeev Gandhi Government, which had for a brief period re-established one-party rule at the Centre.

During its tenure, scandals regarding kick-backs in defence equipment procurement surfaced and the large support base that it had enjoyed gradually fell away. The government was voted out of power at the next elections. The average person is intolerant of open corruption in high places that does not seem have any accountability.

The criminalisation of politics and the readily visible nexus between politicians and criminals is another aspect that diminishes the status and stature of the parliament. Over the years, many criminals have been elected to parliament and the political class has not initiated any constitutional amendments to remedy this lacuna. Criminals participating in the electoral process and winning seats in the parliament directly questions the legitimacy and veracity of the process.

However, the criminal-politician nexus makes it difficult for an incumbent government to undertake such an initiative. Conclusion Although political awareness is improving in India, the middle-class remains strangely apathetic to the electoral process, not considering voting as a priority civic duty.

There is a visible trend towards cynicism regarding the political process, a belief that nothing will change. Since the middle-class also form the most educated segment of society, this attitude can completely distort the election results and create far-reaching impact on the political process.

This distortion affects all aspects of the developmental process of the nation further creating glaring areas of discrepancy in the overall development model. In a mature democracy, elections are contested on issues of national importance and challenges that people face on a daily basis, underpinned by the requirements to ensure the economic stability and prosperity of the nation.

In the Indian context, both these factors are only of peripheral interest and the elections are almost always contested on narrow and sectarian issues. This bias has led to India not yet having developed a broadly accepted national identity of its own that can be embraced by people across the entire country.

In a cyclical manner, the same drawback of the lack of a recognisable national identity contributes to regional issues being considered more important than national challenges—a self-perpetuating cycle emerges. Extrapolating this situation to the tactical level of politics it can be seen that in the Indian context there are far too many divisive forces in play at the regional, State and local level on a day-to-day basis.

They directly influence the electoral and political processes, impinging on the correct practice of democracy. Overcoming such forces is a difficult climb up a mountain of partisan, communal and sectarian opposition. India fritters away a large part of its collective energy and resources in combating and containing the divisive and counter-productive initiatives in all parts of the country.

For them it does not seem to matter that, in the process the very essence of democracy is being gradually but effectively trampled into oblivion. India needs to establish an egalitarian democracy. Substantive democracy is necessary to redress the failure of the procedural definition in providing space for the recognition that socioeconomic inequalities gravely undermine democracy.

In the context of post-colonial societies, the assumption that democracy slows down or even hinders development defined purely in terms of economic growth has resulted in debate on whether the two are compatible ibid. Over sixty years after independence, many of the founding principles of the Indian nation-state have been called into question.

Among the goals of social transformation, development has become a central issue and is arguably the most significant contemporary debate in the country today. At the time of independence, charges were levelled that democracy in India would collapse eventually because of its diverse population in terms of caste, ethnicity, language and religion.

In addition, a growing disparity of wealth, inequity, massive unemployment, multiple socioeconomic problems, poverty, a rigid and hierarchical social structure and social misery were bound to undermine democratic institutions, developmental efforts and national unity.

The fourteenth Lok Sabha elections were successfully completed without hindrance in and, India has shown that it is possible to sustain and strengthen a functioning democracy in a poor country with enormous diversity in terms of culture, ethnicity and language. While this is a spectacular achievement unparalleled in political history, it remains flawed.

In the trajectory of development since independence, some of the hopes and aspirations have been only partly realised and others dashed. The failure has been the persistence of poverty and destitution—about thirty per cent of the people are desperately poor and denied the minimum conditions for a decent existence, a large number are illiterate and millions of children are crippled by malnourishment.

While India lays claim to being one of the largest economies of the world, it ranks at the lower end of the Human Development Index—in it was at among countries. The country is diverse in not only geography but climate as well.

After independence, India faced a number of problems from trying to establish national unity and Indian democracy failure has consolidating the state to improving been the persistence of poverty the economy and abolishing mass and destitution—about thirty per poverty. India had to be developed by acknowledging and accommodating its multiple identities and by giving different regions as well as various sections of the people adequate space within the Indian union Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee, India after Independence, New Delhi: Penguin, , pp1—8 and pp83— Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan noted that a free India would be judged by the way it served the interests of its common people in terms of clothing, food, shelter and social services.

He also emphasised the eradication of corruption to bring efficiency in administration, production and distribution. Rajendra Prasad asked his countrymen to create conditions for individuals to develop and rise to their fullest, end ignorance, ill-health, poverty and untouchability, decrease the gap between rich and poor and allow all to practice religion freely Aasha Kapur Mehta, Andrew Shepherd, Shashanka Bhide, Amita Shah and Anand Kumar, India Chronic Poverty Report, New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration , pp1— They believed India would either break up or alternatively be held together by civilian or military authoritarian dictatorial regimes.

Immediately after independence, the focus of the anti-colonial struggle acted as a binding force. The hopes of a better economic and freer India as a post-colonial state was political life and independence from fundamentally an outgrowth of foreign rule acted as catalysts to the a colonial regime with a well- process ibid. Political prudence, legal flexibility, institutional inclusion and interactive opportunities incorporated in the federal design are important measures of the durability of Indian federalism.

Cooperative societies, the boards of private trusts, schools, colleges, temples and organised interests like castes associations, unions of farmers, workers and other voluntary associations have made immense contributions, which stand between and integrate the state and civil society.

The infusion of local government has also accentuated the process of democratic consolidation.

Since the onset of economic reforms in , the Indian economy has moved away from central planning by an interventionist state towards market competition fostered by a regulatory state. Similarly, in the conduct of politics a dominant party system and majority governments have given way to a multiparty system and frequent coalition governments. In institutional terms, the displacement has meant diminished executive and legislative institutions and enhanced regulatory ones—there is less scope for the cabinet and parliament and a greater scope for the Supreme Court, the President and the Election Commission of India.

It originated in , undertook a mass civil disobedience movement in the s and functioned as an effective political party when the British introduced provincial elections. However, its dominance in post-independence India was challenged in the s by various party—movement combinations at the state level. In Tamil Since the onset of economic Nadu, an anti-Brahmin movement reforms in , the Indian led to the formation of the Dravida economy has moved away Munnetra Kazhagam DMK Party, from central planning by an while in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir interventionist state towards and the Punjab, ethnic movements laid market competition fostered by a the foundations for the emergence of regulatory state.

Similarly, in the ethnic parties that have come to play conduct of politics a dominant an increasingly important role at the party system and majority national level.

In Kerala and West governments have given way to a Bengal land reform movements led to multiparty system and frequent the emergence of the Communist Party coalition governments. However, not all political parties are equally equipped to combine party and movement roles.

Over the years, a number of constitutional declarations, legislations, public pronouncements by political leaders and social reform movements have tried to undermine the ideological basis of caste. Although equality was demanded and various movements were undertaken during the colonial period, social reform only accelerated in the post-independence era.

The Indian national elite tried to ensure that the post-independence constitution, which contains the full panoply of democratic institutions elections, freedom of assembly and press, legal rights, parliament and legislatures, universal suffrage, etc , was based on the principle of equal rights.

The provision of equality was also made through democratic institutions and procedures, particularly universal suffrage without a literacy requirement, equality before law, legislation banning discrimination and through the establishment of a system of reservation that guaranteed representation to dalits and tribals.

Equality was also to be achieved through socialist planning by accelerating investment and growth that would ultimately benefit all classes.

Three Years In, Modi Remains Very Popular

While the national elite did not promise a classless society, it did offer the promise of a casteless society in which social status would not be based on hereditary social ranking and individuals would not be denied opportunities because of birth.

He adds that such a process has helped deepen democracy, which has become more inclusive of social categories and groups. These have mobilised around identity and specific issues, interests and localities. Different focal orientations have led to the representation of diverse concerns within different institutional environments. Movement activism concerned with the pursuit of particular interests however has remained substantially disengaged from electoral politics.

Correspondingly, the latter domain has increasingly become the arena in which the issue of identity in contrast to interest has come to dominate. The Hindu nationalist movement too has operated at the national level concerned with the issue of national and sectarian identity.

The institutionalisation of both identity and interest-based activism located in bureaucratic, electoral and judicial domains has also strengthened the process of democratisation in India. Japan, the US and the countries of Western Europe were able to sustain a Japan, the US and the countries democratic political system based on universal suffrage at much higher levels of Western Europe were able to of income.

These democratic the time of independence. The greatest failure has been the persistence of poverty and destitution. According to one estimate, at the end of the twentieth century India had million people or roughly one-fourth of its population under the so-called poverty line— million in rural areas and the rest in urban centres.

Another estimate suggests that more than one in three Indians live in abject poverty, spending less than a dollar a day in terms of purchasing power parity. However, the number of persons below the poverty line barely reveals the full failure of the system and therefore another statistic of the Human Development Index is used.

This is a composite index of levels of income, health conditions and access to education Tables 1 and 2. Empirical studies demonstrate that there are different categories of the poor. As instruments to integrate them with the development process differ, the route to poverty reduction differs across social groups and geographical regions.

In India, the proportion of people living below the poverty line remained above 50 per cent until the mids but thereafter registered a declining trend with yearly fluctuations. It declined from 51 per cent in —78 to 39 per cent in — During the long span of —, the poverty ratio declined at a moderate rate of 2. Economic growth has left India with an from 51 per cent in —78 to unacceptably high figure of about 39 per cent in — During million poor persons.

The trickle-down the long span of —, effect is weak as growth is located in the the poverty ratio declined at a manufacturing and service sectors and moderate rate of 2. Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. High growth rates in gross domestic product GDP as in the states of Gujarat, Tripura and West Bengal have not led to a significant fall in the incidence of poverty, while many northeastern states have achieved a substantial decrease with only moderate growth—the poverty ratio is below the national average in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Southern states have performed better in terms of both growth and poverty reduction—Pondicherry and Kerala stand out for their impressive achievements. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh however have performed dismally in terms of growth as well as poverty reduction ibid, p24—5. Poverty in India is not merely an economic phenomenon, but also a social one. It is disproportionately high among dalits and tribals and in —05, these two groups accounted for The incidence of poverty among dalits was Bihar and Uttar Pradesh alone accounted for 40 per cent of the rural poor dalits in —05, an increase from The incidence of poverty is also markedly high among tribals and Health After sixty years of planned development, India remains one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world in terms of heath and millions suffer from disease.

Nearly all health indicators are unimpressive with vast disparities in achievements across regions, between rural and urban areas and between genders and social classes. The male infant mortality rate varies from 14 per 1, childbirths in Kerala to 74 in Odisha, while the corresponding figures for females are 15 in Kerala and 79 in Madhya Pradesh.

Access to healthcare suffers from inherent systemic and structural weaknesses. There are compartmentalised structures and inadequate definitions of roles at all levels of care. Education India enacted the Right to Education Act in to provide free and compulsory education for children 6—14 years of age.

The vision for universalising elementary education became a fundamental right through Article 21A of the constitution in Policymakers are now nationally committed to formulating appropriate strategies Poverty in India is not merely to realise this goal. He raises a These problems however cannot be viewed in isolation as they are deeply rooted in the system and are due to the lack of access to school, poor quality of education and rampant discrimination.

Nonetheless, following from the above it does not mean that human development achievement has been static or declining. However, by the substantive definition of democracy, it has failed to provide basic needs to the people, in terms of poverty, health and education. The main issues that arise and need to be investigated are—why do some democratic governments perform better than others, The maternal mortality ratio where does the problem lie in Indian in ranged from a low democracy and what are the factors of 28 in Gujarat to a high of responsible for the underperformance?

Many countries in the world follow in Uttar Pradesh for every democracy as their form of government, , childbirths. Some female life expectancy varies nations are more democratic and others from a high of As in Kerala to a low of The democracy, it remains a subject of debate male infant mortality rate varies and a matter of academic interest. These five categories are inter-related and form a coherent conceptual whole but are inevitably questionable as they hinge on statistical estimations based on subjective and variable criteria that do not take into account non-quantifiable factors such as local cultures, values, etc.

The variables are calculated on a 0 to 10 point scale and countries are classified into four types of democracies based on performance as given below and in Tables 4 and 5. There are substantial irregularities in elections, widespread corruption, weak rule of law and civil society, non-independence of judiciary and lack of media freedom.

If elections are held, they are neither free nor fair, civil liberties are violated and there is no independence of judiciary.

Changing Trends

Voice and accountability: measuring political, civil and human rights 2. Political instability and violence: measuring the likelihood of violent threats to or changes in government including terrorism 3. Regulatory burden: measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies 5. Rule of law: measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police and courts including judiciary independence and the incidence of crime 6. As a result, it is today the second largest consumer market after China with an estimated million middleclass ibid, p ; its foreign direct investment has increased in the post-reform era; its GDP increased about nine per cent per annum and it even maintained a growth rate of 6.

While the percentage of people living below the poverty line has decreased, the rate of poverty decline has been at a slower pace than the GDP growth rate largely due to unequal rates of growth in various sectors. Growth rates in the service and industrial sectors were This declining trend is an indication of the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. Inequality between the states has also increased over the years.

States with well- developed infrastructure Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have attracted foreign investments, whereas poorer states have remained deprived of the benefits of economic reform. Gujarat with a population of 50 million received over one-fifth of private investment proposals, whereas Bihar with a population of 83 million barely managed a five per cent share.

Gujarat accounts for 37 per cent of all investment proposals, while Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh together attract only 26 per cent. As a result, economic growth performance has varied from state to state Sahoo, , ibid, pp—1. The exclusive and exploitative aspects of globalisation have dispossessed millions from their livelihoods and millions more have been displaced by various developmental projects.The crisis was a result of the mismatch between the radicalisation of the bottom and the authoritarianism of the top, leading to politics of posture instead of performance.

More significantly, the success ratio of Muslim candidates has fallen from 61 per cent in to 18—20 per cent in — Inclusion of vision and objective in statements was observed to be rare in manifesto of NPPs. The Congress Party lost its social base at the grassroots level and various new regional political parties and organised groups emerged to represent caste, ethnic, political, regional and religious identities and interests.

Understanding the people surrender some of democracy is one billion. Political manifestos often set the ground and tone of the presidential and prime ministerial debates.

After independence, India faced a number of problems from trying to establish national unity and Indian democracy failure has consolidating the state to improving been the persistence of poverty the economy and abolishing mass and destitution—about thirty per poverty. Democracy can be defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

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