How far has Democracy in India Delivered the Goods?

Has Democracy in India Delivered the Goods?

Democracy in Lincoln’s famous words is “Government of the people, for the people, by the people. The rudiments of democracy are well known. It is a form of government wherein every individual has a say. Democracy has come a long way since the classical times when Aristotle in his classification categorized it as a -perverted form of government. Rousseau’s concept of General Will which had entrusted sovereign power to the masses paved the way for the French Revolution with its cry of liberty, equality, and fraternity. It marked the turning point for the rise of modern democracy -ultimate authority of government is vested in the common people so that public policy is made to conform to the will of the people and to serve the interests of people today we have indirect democracy where the government is conducted by the representatives of the people, who are elected at regular intervals.

Have we ever given heed to the kind of democracy we have in India and under what conditions it had been established? Well, let’s explore this. It is impossible to define Indian democracy as liberal, participatory or deliberative because it is a blend all of these at the same time. It is not enough to only examine the formal presence of democracy but checking how effective are the institutions and procedures by relating them to the conditions that sustain them and reproduce them is equally important. So let’s check and examine what conditions were present when democratic values and procedures were adopted.

According to Samuel Huntington, Indian democracy as an institution was facing a few crises on the eve of independence. They were: crises of national integration, crises of identity, crises of participation, crises of penetration, and crises of legitimacy. Thus we see the number of challenges, which the newly independent and decolonized India was facing while adopting the system of democracy. The major problems before India were linguistic problems, the caste system (which further took a new form of the economic class system), poverty, and illiteracy. To add to them malnutrition and poor health conditions, poor housing, poor work capability, lack of occupational adaptability, and an inadequate level of savings reflected the clear picture of India. Many scholars compare the status of development and democracy, since independence. 

Does democracy lead to development or does development lead to democracy? This dilemma still remains. India had a firm nationalist base with the strong leadership of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister. But during that time, the members of the legislative assembly were elitists. The democracy was functioning smoothly but in their favor, because the masses were illiterate. Congress at that time was working for the indigenous bourgeoisie. Thus congress became a party of the social status quo. 1967 was the turning point when the state parties suddenly came into power. This was a signal of the democratization of Indian politics. Due to the balance of payment problem, international financial institutions devalued the rupee and India started drifting into economic crises. 

Mrs. Indira Gandhi swept the polls in 1971 elections with the ‘eradicate poverty’ slogans. In 1975 with the misuse of article 356 of the Indian constitution, Mrs. Gandhi declared an emergency in India. Economic crises, the formation of Bangladesh, and Authoritarian rule at the center weakened Indian democracy. The decision-making roles and powers of the cabinet members and ministers were consequently dissolved and were taken over by Mrs. Gandhi. Though the Panchayati raj system was to democratize the country at the village level the power was still concentrated at the top of the pyramid.

But after all the turbulent years in India, democracy still exists in its unique forms. Arguably it is the best form of government. Democracy would thus appear differently to different classes of India. To more privileged classes of society, it would mean the freedom of enterprise and to the lower orders, it would mean equality (at least between communities) and representation. But whatever the contradictions democracy may offer, Indian democracy will continue in spite of its paradoxical and surprising history.

It’s noteworthy that despite everything, India has sustained a fairly stable democracy, while the countries with comparable (and in some cases much less serious) problems have abandoned democracy for an authoritarian form of rule. There are many conflicting views on the success and failure of democracy and they all are associated with some ideals. For some, an ideal democracy is a construct where people are truly equal citizens, politically engaged with an equal voice, tolerant of each other, and where representatives are accountable. On the other hand, scholars have viewed democracy as an institution, which would mean free and fair elections, legislative assembly, and under this understanding India is considered as the largest democracy in the world. But any evaluation of democracy is, of course, a combination of both.

The Indian state has a deep commitment to the democratic system and values as democracy provides an impulse towards change and looks at contemporary struggles and movements of the people as a part of the democratic process. Democracy centers certain rights on the people. But more often than not these rights are abused in the name of resisting oppression. Au unbalanced insistence on one's rights without a corresponding realization of one’s duties creates indiscipline and disorder and, in reality, an erosion of the democratic principle.

Democracy and India have an in-depth relation. India is the largest democracy despite having a great diversified culture. We could hardly find another country like India having so many customs, traditions, linguists, caste, and religion. Still, we can proudly stand for running an efficient democratic set-up for more than 60 years, since our Independence. Indian democracy will definitely have its charm and ever-lasting charisma throughout the world.


Democracy is the government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Precisely, democracy gives all its importance to the citizens of the country who play the role of creator, protector, and destroyer of the government of their nation. Every citizen irrespective of his status, caste, or religion is equal before the democratic setup and can freely excise their veto power.

Requirements for a good democratic set-up:

• Educated electoral groups to cast their vote wisely, keeping in mind the pride of the nation and the efficiency of the candidate.

• Independent judiciary, which is free from the hold of the government and the politics; so that the judicial system doesn’t bend its backbone in front of anyone in the country.

• Free Press, which doesn’t get influenced by any VIP, politician, or any other strong person with respect to power or wealth. The free press would be an entry ticket for a call for a fight against corruption.

• Unimpeachable moral integrity, which is another major requirement for a smooth democratic set-up.

Role of Opposition in Democracy

The opposition holds a good position and has a strong power in the efficient functioning of the government. An efficient, strong and courageous, brilliant, and undoubtedly honest opposition can provide the best output from the government. They are the ones who hold the key for unlocking all the loopholes within the government and their ministers and can demonstrate the same to the outside world. A government without the opposition will mimic an autocratic rule, especially if the supreme power goes into the hands of an autocrat.

Indian Democracy

Indian democracy is by far the largest democratic setup in the world. We enjoy the power of free and fair elections with unbounded freedom of casting our votes in a secret manner. Our democratic setup is like a puzzle that needs much efficient handling, so as to maintain peace, keeping in mind the interests and requirements of people belonging to all the sectors with all the diversity in the classification. A single offending step could cause violent agitations and chaos in the whole country.

Positive Impacts of Indian Democracy

Democracy in India has by far given much constructive output. Our country is slowly emerging as a supreme power. We have all sorts of basic inputs viz manpower, skill, brilliance, efficiency, determination, etc. all we need is to pluck out the weeds to enjoy the freedom in its full entirety. Let us discuss a few fields where democracy has its steps ahead:

Fundamental rights and secularism

We have to safeguard our fundamental rights all through. The rights are properly shielded under the constitutional cover, as it is the prime motivating factor for any democratic government. We have also made our best to keep our esteem up as the secular state, right from the time we declared ourselves to be a secular state.

Agricultural sector

Our country has its foundation deep-rooted in the fields of agriculture and farming. Though not many of the present generation comes up with this field, yet we have explored a lot into this sector and our youngsters are still moving towards this sector to yield more and more.


The industrialization has its an impact all around the globe. India is no bar from its spread and extent. Industrialization has led to civilized living and has improved the standard of living of an average Indian citizen.

Employment opportunities

Though we always complain of unemployment, that actually is not due to the lack of employment opportunities, but due to our ever-increasing population. If we carefully monitor the employment index at the time of our Independence to that of the present day, we can find a marked increase, not only in the number of opportunities but also the quality of work and the payment for the same.

Education and literacy

Indian education has always been regarded as the best in the world. Our brains have a very good demand and market worldwide. Our incapability to satisfy our supreme brains with their high payrolls lead to the brain drain. Otherwise the education and literacy level in India could have taken us far ahead of any other nation in the world.

Independence of Press and Judiciary

Our press and the judicial system work with unbounded sway. This is the big requirement for an efficient democratic set-up which we have tried to maintain to our level best.

Negative feedbacks of Democratic set-up in India in Present Era

With the advancing globalization, we have definitely been carried away into westernization and are failing to follow our customs and tradition. Even if we keep all those external factors aside, we do have a few internal challenges within our country which is pulling back our legs. A few of them are:

• Corruption

• Ever increasing population with an inability to stagnate that by application of stringent laws

• Improper law and order situation in the country

• Big part of our population still lingering on and below the poverty line

• Communalism, religion, casteism, fundamentalism, and inter-state tensions

• Coalition government and its impact on the economy of the country.


Thus, to conclude, we can call our democratic set-up as an efficient one. We just need to keep a check on the negative factors which is hitting our economy very badly. If we fail to restrict the flow of the negative influencing factors, then the day is not far when we will lose our pride in being the biggest democracy.

Previous Post Next Post