‘Is Indian Democracy Alive and Kicking?’
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” This was the idea of Abraham Lincoln’s about democracy. Though very true in its basic form, does this idea hold true In the Indian context? After completing 62 years of being a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic’ and currently being in the 65th year of its independence, we can definitely call India a successful democracy for sustaining all the ups and downs in these years. The political traditions inherited from our history do not provide a sufficient explanation to this. India was ruled by outsiders, Moghuls and Englishmen, before its independence. Prior to that there are slight references of the common people being included in the functioning of the kingdoms that existed in Indian history. Colonialism was the crucible of India’s democracy. Western-educated leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru were inclined towards democracy. Considering the fatality rate of democracies in post-colonial settings, the political traditions inherited from the colonial past are clearly not a sufficient explanation. The democratic commitment of India’s leaders since independence has also made a major contribution to the survival of democracy in India. Abraham Lincoln aptly defined democracy as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This definition clearly underlines the basic tenet that, in this- form of government, people are supreme. The ultimate power is in their hands and they exercise it in the form of electing their representatives at the time of elections. With a billion people, the Republic of India is the world's largest democracy. India modeled its government on the British parliamentary system, with a healthy dose of influences from the United States and the rest of Europe. India is run by a parliament made up of two houses, (similar to the United States Congress, which comprises the Senate and the House of Representatives). These two houses are called the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States). Of the two, the Lok Sabha holds more power, but the two houses work together to make the laws of the country. Though the four pillars of our democracy are strong enough to carry the burden of the country, whether Indian democracy itself is still strong and credible, is a matter of debate. We are surely free from the suppression and exploitation of the British Raj but are still governed by laws and practices adopted from them. The Indian Penal Code has its roots in British judiciary with the first penal code being drafted in 1862 by a commission chaired by Lord Macaulay. No doubt that these laws have been amended and made better, at least on paper, but what about their implementation? So many good initiatives are proposed every year by the government but when it comes to implementing them, we only find scams and goof-ups. The judiciary of our country is armed with some of the best employees. Lawyers or judges, we have the best and through all these years the judiciary has achieved milestones in its verdicts and has also banged themselves on milestones in some. Cases in Indian courts take ages to get solved but the results are satisfactory in majority of the cases. Since 1950, Indian democracy has flourished and degraded simultaneously. On one hand citizens got their fundamental rights of equality, freedom, religion, right to constitutional remedies, right against exploitation and the recent right to education while on the other they reduced voting which led to a decline in the quality of candidates contesting the elections. One reason that this can be attributed to is, people got educated and got to know about the dirty games of politicos and this led to the lack of interest in voting. We may see the number of voters turnout increasing but how many of these voters are there according to their own will? The educated man always has this thought in his mind- ‘If I am being duped...
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