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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Democracy and its structural slippages


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of national importance, democracy, covid, elections etc
  • Mains GS Paper I and II: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, institutions and other measures etc


  • The democracy that is functional around the world today has a long history of evolution.
    • It was essentially a 19th century to 20th century western creation.





  • Democracy is a form of government in which rulers are elected by the people in a free and fair elections, on universal adult franchise.
  • Fundamental rules: It is governed on the basis of certain fundamental rules like a constitution.
  • Political philosophy: It has been a part of contemporary political philosophy and other social choice theories.
  • Discussions: Democracy is about a government by discussion but that discussion should not divide us into two hard brackets.





Universal Adult Franchise:(Background)

  • Advanced democracies such as the United States, “universal franchise” of the 1920s did not include. African-American citizens.
  • In Britain: women obtained the right to vote in the 1930s
    • France in 1944
    • Switzerland as late as 1971


Basic of democracy:

  • Democracy is the devolution of power, and welfare from the elite to the ground level.
  • Devolution occurs on the premise of the individual and equality.
  • The near-universal abolition of autocratic monarchies and hereditary aristocracies and their replacement by governance through popular mandate (with exceptions)
  • Spread of economic resources, infrastructure, education, health, etc. to the masses,

Link between devolution and capitalism:

  • Basic requirement to seek freedom for resources such as land, labor, and movement from the autocratic restraints of medieval monarchies.
  • The notions of the individual’s rights and equality evolved
  • Free market for every kind of resource mobilization, including labor.


Experiences of equality in religious form:

  • Non-theistic Buddhism
  • Monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Islam and Sikhism were proponents of social equality.


How democracy brought uniformity?

  • Periodic multi-party “free and fair” elections
  • Guarantees of various kinds of freedoms, especially of the market.
  • The elections as a means of self-correction of government policies and actions.


Are elections truly free and fair?

  • Elections divide voters into majority and a minority.
  • The majority-minority division of 50% plus one and 50% minus one is, in principle, a decisive mandate.
  • There is hardly a government anywhere in the world that governs through a majority of the mandate.
  • Example: Systems such as the United States:
    • Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton even as she received some 5 million more popular votes than him, in 2016.
  • Individual votes are conditioned by numerous demands on it by family, community, religion, culture, and, above all, by the political alternatives offered by political parties.
  • The individual does not create the choices which are given by parties: They are wrapped in false propaganda and even more false promises.


Democracy in India:

  • This democracy came to India in its most modern form
    • Unconditional adult franchise
    • Multi-party periodic elections.


Negative impacts of polarization:

  • Everyone is branded an “enemy: whether merely a political rival
  • Praising political rivalry: One cannot praise an adversary.
    • Example: Mulayam Singh Yadav paised PM Modi after 2019 elections.
  • Minimal democracy: makes us more of a minimal democracy rather than a maximum democracy.
  • Democracy becomes just lining up to vote once in five years: rather than the universal human pursuit of speaking, expressing, reviewing, decision making, valuing togetherness.


Way Forward

  • The operative categories of electoral politics in India are mostly pre-modern: identity politics of caste, sub-caste, community, region, language, etc.
  • The acronyms such as AJGAR (Ahir, Jat, Gurjar and Rajput castes) and MY (Muslims and Yadavs) and so on, signifying the vote base of different political parties, or the ‘vote bank’.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru: Education and the experience of democracy would force a retreat on operative categories and generate a more “modern” consciousness among the masses.
  • As long as we practice this form of democracy, its fault lines and, above all, its link with capitalism will remain unbroken.
  • Blur the divide: The biggest ability of democracy is to blur the divide between “for and against” and enhance the social capability of moral reasoning.
    • We the people, we for people and we by people means that we listen to each other.



Q. On what grounds a people’s representative can be disqualified under the Representation of People Act, 1951? Also mention the remedies available to such person against his disqualification.(UPSC 2019) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)