India is the largest democracy in the world and we are proud to be associated with it. We have served as witnessed successful elections over a period of 66 years. The changes in ruling government have been peaceful both at center and state level. We have seen people observing freedom of speech, movement, religion, expression etc. We have seen India transform both economically and socially. Despite all this certain parts of the society have been complaining about disparity in income, injustice, inequalities etc. People lack the feeling of participation in the progress made by democratic India. We should understand that India is not just a democracy for successful conduct of election but also for taking care of social and economic needs of the society. We have been debating about the achievements by democracy in India along with the challenges faced. We should understand following factors critical to the success of democracy in India:
Meaning of Democracy
Abraham Lincoln, former president of U.S. had described democracy as “Democracy is a government of the people, for the people”. The term democracy was coined after a Greek term called “Demokratia” which refers to “rule of the people”. If we break it into two we find two words, “Demos” which means people and “kratos” which means power. People rule the country in the form of democratic government.
Essential conditions for Democracy:
An economy can be said to have comprehensive democratic system only if manages to fulfill socio-economic conditions and political conditions to have a successful socio-economic democracy and political democracy respectively. The constitution should protect both human rights and fundamental rights that include liberty or thought and expression, communication, religion, equality etc. Citizens should be given equal chance to participate in elections. The government should be responsible and appoint executives that are answerable to the legislature. Public opinion should be enlightened in order to strengthen the democratic system.
Challenges to Indian Democracy:
Illiteracy of citizens is a grave problem that serves as hindrance to the path of democracy. Literacy is of significant importance for successful functioning of democracy at both political and socio-economic level. Literacy enables the citizens to understand and exercise their rights effectively and discharge their duties in an appropriate manner.
Religious fundamentalism advocates the return of orthodoxy and compliance of old belief systems. It enables fundamentalists to exploit both politics and religion. This leads to wrongful setting up of new communities.
Casteism leads to division of labour on unfair grounds. The most detrimental and inhumane factor of Casteism is untouchability. The rift between upper class and lower class increases leading to political turmoil. Scheduled castes, schedules tribes etc suffer the most from socio-economic problems.
Communalism serves as a hindrance in survival of co-existence of multiple religions in a peaceful manner. Social backwardness is an outcome of communalism.
Above mentioned are some of key challenges to existence of democracy in India. Several other factors include criminalization of politics, widespread corruption, regionalism etc.