GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Functioning of Indian Democracy
Context: The question of whether or not India’s democratic values have declined in recent years has been debated at the University of Cambridge.
Data on democratic values in India: By the Sweden-based V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute –
- The deliberative democracy index: It measures whether political decisions are made through public reasoning or emotional appeals and coercion.
- The egalitarian democracy index: It examines equal access to rights and liberties.
- The electoral democracy index: It evaluates election cleanliness and lack of fraud.
- The liberal democracy index: It measures the protection of individual and minority rights against state tyranny.
- The participatory democracy index: It measures active citizen engagement in electoral and non-electoral political processes.
- The values of these indexes have been declining, and in 2022 they reached the levels last seen during the 1975 Emergency.
Some incidents depicting declining democratic values in India:
- The arrest of citizens for posting online content critical of the government.
- The shutdown of domestic access to the Internet.
- The government censored political information on the Internet.
- Allegations of the government using social media to disseminate misleading/false information to influence the population.
- Harassment of journalists.
Analysing Indian Democracy:
|● Indian political system – Parliamentary form of govt.
● Largest democracy – A government of the people, for the people, and by the people.
● Indirect, direct (participatory – Gram Sabha) democracy
● Free and fair elections.
● Independent judiciary – checks executive exigencies
● Upholding democratic values – fundamental beliefs and Constitutional principles – liberty, justice, voting, right to life and minority rights, inclusiveness and equality, etc.
|● Caste system – a hierarchical social structure
● Level of inequality – income, class structure, lack of sustained-inclusive economic development
● Degree of ethnic diversity – Nationalism and populism scapegoating religious minorities
● Overburdened legal system
● The criminalisation of politics.
|● India’s record as an electoral democracy is far better than its record as a liberal democracy.
● India’s democratic longevity depends on power elites (politicians).
● As long as Power remains diffused (not monopolized by one political party/office) democratic longevity can be ensured.
● For successful working of democracy, citizens’ participation is a must.
● The corrective measures to meet the challenges can be actualized only when citizens play a proactive role.
To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful? (UPSC 2017)
Prelims Links: UPSC 2021