NCERT Class 9 Solutions: What is Democracy? Why is Democracy (Democratic Politics-I)? Chapter 2– Part 4
Q-8: Are the following statements in keeping with democracy as a value? Why?
Following figure describes the key values of democracy:
Values of Democracy
Popular control and political equality: The key idea of democracy is that everyone who is affected by a decision should be allowed through participate in the decision making process either directly or through representation (Popular control and political equality). Everyone is considered equal in this respective, irrespective of their gender, cast, creed, economic status, religion, beliefs or thoughts.
Representation: The government should represent all segments of society, rich and poor; people of all genders, age groups, cast, creed and occupation, without any discrimination. The concept of proportional representation comes here, that is sometimes it is fair to have representation proportional to number of people (population).
Liberty: The citizens of the country enjoy liberty, they should be able to
Participation: Successful democracy can work only with smart and enlightened citizens. Democracy is the rule of people. It can only work if people not only exercise the vote but do so judicially. Citizens of successful democracy are knowledgeable, well read, and try to keep up with developments throughout the country especially the decisions taken by the executive on their behalf. When time comes to vote they not only participate but participate with all their might in the best interest of their country and the world.
Authorization: Once the elected representatives take office, they should are authorized to make decision and execute on behalf of the people.
Responsiveness: The government working for the people should be responsive and should adapt to the needs and requirements of the citizens.
Solidarity: The government and all the citizens of the country work towards a single goal- for betterment of the nation. The government should stand in solidarity with the citizens through good and bad times.
Transparency: The workings of the government should be clear, process well understood, and progress well documented and tracked- down to each individual official. This will enable the citizens to better control the direction in which they want to take the governance.
Accountability: The government should be accountable not only economically, but for any and all dysfunctions in the country.
Liberty: The principle of democracy is based on civil liberties, which mean that all citizens enjoy freedom from oppression and are free develop to the best of their abilities without any oppression, as long as they don’t violate other people freedom. Absolute freedom is constrained by laws in both the state of nature and political society. Absolute freedom does not associate the concept of rights, duties and the obligations of the citizens to the society and nation. Whereas the concept of liberty does include these
Rights: Rights are the freedoms the citizens of a democracy enjoy, for example right to as long as they fulfill all their duties. Following are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution:
Right to equality
Right to freedom
Right against exploitation
Right to freedom of religion
Cultural and educational rights
Right to property
Right to constitutional remedies.
Duties: The citizens of a democracy enjoy the rights as long as they fulfill their duties. These are the basic obligations which every citizen must fulfill to ensure harmony, growth and prosperity of the nation. Following fundamental duties are laid down by Indian constitution.
To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement;
Who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward, as the case may be, between the age of six to fourteen years
(a) Father to daughter: I don’t want to hear your opinion about your marriage. In our family children marry where the parents tell them to.
Answer: One of the key values of democracy as we discussed above is representation. Therefore, in keeping with that view since the daughters live is affected by the choice of her partner she should be given representation in making that decision. Therefore Fathers statement is undemocratic.
(b) Teacher to student: Don’t disturb my concentration by asking me questions in the classroom.
Answer: Blanket statement such as this which tells students to not ask questions in classroom is undemocratic. The classroom is a place the students are more affected by the outcome than the teacher, and hence they should be allowed more participation. Not teacher is breaking the principle of accountability and responsiveness by not being answerable to students. A teacher should be able to defend their teaching and encourage questions.
If the teacher is busy then for a moment they should have said “Don’t worry I will give time for questions right after this topic, would you please wait?”
(c) Employee to the officer: Our working hours must be reduced according to the law.
Answer: It is democratic because the employee are asking for something which the employer should follow anyways as part of their fundamental duties and as such the employee is asking for their fundamental right.
Q-9: Consider the following facts about a country and decide if you would call it a democracy. Give reasons to support your decision.
(a) All the citizens of the country have right to vote. Elections are held regularly.
Answer: This are not the sufficient conditions for a democracy. Although the basic features of democracy are:
Universal adult franchise
Although all democracies hold elections, but not all elections are democratic. Even in dictatorships and communist-Marxist rules, and even in single-party governments elections are conducted to make the people believe that they have a choice. However what good are elections if there is only one candidate or if all the candidates are from the same regime. Sometimes through intimidation or rigging government can force that only approve candidate(s) reach the office. Such elections are not-democratic.
Scholars and United Nations, has offered this definition: "Democratic elections are not merely symbolic. They are competitive, periodic, inclusive, definitive elections in which the chief decision-makers in a government are selected by citizens who enjoy broad freedom to criticize government, to publish their criticism and to present alternatives."
Let’s elaborate on each of the points.
Democratic elections are fair & competitive
Any and all citizens should be able to participate as candidates in an election. All the candidates have the same level playing field- that is, freedom of speech, assembly, and movement necessary to voice their criticisms of the government openly and put forth, alternative views and executive ideas.
Democratic elections are periodic
Democracies should never elect an individual for life-time, that would be dictatorship. Elected officials should be held accountable and forced to return back to voters to seek their mandate to continue in office. Additionally there must be a process in every democracy to remove the executive (the government) before the term is complete.
Democratic elections are inclusive
The definition of citizen and voter must be large enough to include a large proportion of the adult population.
Democratic elections are definitive
The leaders elected through the democratic process must have authority to make any and all decisions they must have real power. They should not be mere puppets in the hands of rich few.
Democratic elections in key policy making
In a democracy, voters should be asked to express their opinion on all key policy measures, directly through referendums and initiatives that are placed on the ballot. Voters should also be allowed to place an initiative, that is, if a large proportion of citizens believe that certain issue should be considered by executive there should be a path for them to bring such an issue to notice.
Fairness of Elections
Democracies requires openness and accountability, however the casting of ballot must be done in absolute secret. This could prevent any threat of intimidation or stigmas. However, the vote tallying must be conducted as transparently.
The opposition must be loyal to their core values, there should not change their values just to get elected.
(b) The country took loan from international agencies. One of the conditions for giving loan was that the government would reduce its expenses on education and health.
Answer: In a democracy no agency but the citizens should have the say in governance. Only the stakeholders, that is, the citizens who are impacted by the decisions should have the say in governance. Therefore this is not democracy. This goes against the principle of representation and participation.
(c) People speak more than seven languages but education is available only in one language, the language spoken by 52 percent people of that country.
Answer: A democratic government should provide equal opportunity to all the citizens irrespective of their cast, creed, religion, gender, or language. Therefore by only providing education in one language principle of equality is broken. Additionally, democracy thrives on the entire electorate being educated and aware, that is on participation. By favoring only a segment of society for education, government is encouraging higher participation only from that segment, against the principles of democracy
(d) Several organizations have given a call for peaceful demonstrations and nationwide strikes in the country to oppose these policies. Government has arrested these leaders.
Answer: In a democracy every citizen has the liberty to voice their opinion. It is their rights and the government instead of quashing, should enable the protests to continue in peaceful manner.
(e) The government owns the radio and television in the country. All the newspapers have to get permission from the government to publish any news about government’s policies and protests.
Answer: Freedom of expression (press and media) is key to democracy. The press and media make sure that the governance is transparent and executive is accountable to the people. Therefore by snuffling independent voices government is only allowing one sided view of the situation which is favorable to executive thus making the government non-democratic. Since the citizens are not getting all the facts (and only one –sided opinion) they are not ready to participate in fair elections.