Challenges to Democracy in India

Sunday, February 28, 2010

There should be certain essential conditions for the successful working of the democratic system. What are they? Equality of opportunity, literacy, tolerance and fraternity can be counted as some essentials or core to the idea of a well functioning democratic system. As a practice, democracy is not alien to the collective consciousness of India. Various practices of a republic form of government can be located in the histories of Janpadas and Mahajanpadas. Arthashastra and Dharmashastra strongly argue for democratic values as core of Indian ways of living. Ashoka and Akbar paved the way for syncretic politics, the very soul of Indian Demarcay, making it central to their state policies. Later, struggle for independence gave a new lease of life to the aspirations of people in India for a egalitarian society. India's democratic set up, which is constituted by the Constitutions, Parliament, and the Judiciary, provides strong pillars for absorbing any socio, economic and political shocks. Having multicultural society, democracy in India has to face various challenges of accommodating the divergent offer and voices of the people.

India after Independence
With adoptation of Constitution on 26th of Nov 1946 and its enactment on 26 Jan 1950, a new republic came into existance. The Indian constitution provides an enabling framework for the government to do certain positive things, to express the aspirations and goals of society. The preamble of the Indian constitution declares in unequivocal terms that are source for all authority under the constitution is the people of India. The picture of a democratic republic which the Preamble envisages is democratic not only from the political but also from the social standpoint; in other words, it envisages not only a democratic form of government but also a democratic society, infused with the spirit of 'justice, liberty, equality and fraternity'.
Laden with the expectations of more than 300 million people India put forward various small but confident steps in its initial years of independence to ensure an egalitarian society. The ago was to ensure a hunger free and literate India in a decade or so. Abolition of zamindari, new education policies and reorganization of provinces were few such steps. Various positive discriminations were introduced to ensure the interests of marginalized sections, women and children.

Challenges to Democracy
The survival of Indian democracy for well over half a century deprives the country's diversities, is in many ways a remarkable achievement. However, no one can deny that the country's contemporary socio-economic and political problems are complex. There are a number of serious challenges that need to be met in the years ahead.
¤ Divisive tendencies
¤ Extremism
¤ Unemployment
¤ Regionalism
¤ Illiteracy
¤ Corruption & neptoism

What Can be Done ?
The waxing gap between the rich and poor must be bridged. There must be equitable distribution of the rich resources of our country. Pockets of social turmoil due to caste and religious differences, exploitation and oppression of the rooms and marginalized, must be stamped out. Our girl children should feel priviledged and our women secure. Population figures can only be controlled through educating and infusing a sense of responsibility in the masses. Our democracy will grow stronger when people minds are emancipated from the shackles of cast and the stranglehold of religious fundamentalism; when we maintain a political atmosphere of unity and tranquility; when we uphold the high ideas of socialism and secularism; and when our individual responsibilities to the nation take precedence over our demand for fundamental rights.