Chapter 2 What is Democracy? Why Democracy?
Here is some information about four countries. Based on this information, how would you classify each of these countries. Write ‘democratic’ ‘Undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
(a) Country A: People who do not accept the country’s official religion, do not have a right to vote.
(b) Country B: The same party has been winning elections for the last twenty years.
(c) Country C: Ruling party has lost in the last three elections.
(d) Country D: There is no independent Election Commission.
Here is some information about four countries. Based on this information, how would you classify each of these countries? Write ‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
(a) Country P: The Parliament cannot pass a law about the army without the consent of the Chief of Army.
(b) Country Q: The Parliament cannot pass a law reducing the powers of the judiciary.
(c) Country R: The country’s leaders cannot sign any treaty with another country without taking permission from its neighbouring country.
(d) Country S: All the major economic decisions about the country are taken by officials of the central bank which the ministers cannot change.
Which of these is not a good argument in favour of democracy? Why?
(a) Peope feel free and equal in a democracy.
(b) Democracies resolve conflict in a better way than others.
(c) Democratic government is more accountable to the people.
(d) Democracies are more prosperous than others.
(d) Democracies are more prosperous than others, it is not a good argument in favour of democracy eg. In India, it has not ended poverty and in other parts of the World like in countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America. Other countries, for example, eg. Russia and China are more prosperous than some democratic countries of Asia and Africa.
Each of these statements contains a democractic and an undemocratic element. Write out the two separately for each statement.
(a) A minister said that some laws have to be passed by the Parliament in order to conform to the regulations decided by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
(i) Undemocratic: Some laws have to be passed by the Parliament.
(ii) Democratic: In order to conform to the regulations decided by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
(b)The Election Commission ordered re-polling in a constituency where large-scale rigging was reported.
(i) Democratic: The Election Commission ordered re-polling in a constituency.
(ii) Undemocratic: Where large-scale rigging was reported.
(c) Women’s representation in the Parliament has barely reached 10 per cent. This led women’s organisations to demand one-third seats for women.
(i) Undemocratic: Women’s representation in the Parliament has barely reached 10 per cent.
(ii) Democratic: This led women’s organisations to demand one-third seats for women.
Which of these is not a valid reason for arguing that there is a lesser possibility of famine in a democratic country?
(a) Opposition parties can draw attention to hunger and starvation.
(b) Free press can report suffering from famine in different parts of the country.
(c) Government fears its defeat in the next elections.
(d) People are free to believe in and practise any religion.
(d) People are free to believe in and practise any religion has no relation with the lesser possibility
of famine in a country.
There are 40 villages in a district where the government has made no provision for drinking water. These villagers met and considered many methods of forcing the government to respond to their need.
Which of these is not a democratic method?
(a) Filing a case in the courts claiming that water is part of right to life.
(b) Boycotting the next elections to give a message to all parties.
(c) Organising public meetings against government’s policies.
(d) Paying money to government officials to get water.
(d) Paying money to government officials to get water is not a democratic method.
Write a response to the following arguments against democracy:
(a) Army is the most disciplined and corruption-free organisation in the country. Therefore army should rule the country.
(b) Rule of the majority means the rule of ignorant people. What we need is the rule of the wise, even if they are in small numbers.
(c) If we want religious leaders to guide us in spiritual matters, why not invite them to guide us in politics as well. The country should be ruled by religious leaders.
(a) If army is allowed to rule the country, it will lead to concentration of all powers in the army.
Power should be divided among the three organs of the government i.e.. legislature, executive and judiciary. Concentration of all powers with the army will lead to dictatorship e.g. Pinochet’s rule in Chile.
(b) Democracy is a form of government where all the adults have the right to vote. Restricting people to rule and govern only from minority bas ing ‘wise people’ would harm representational democracy.
(c) Politics and religion are two different fields. Religion takes us towards spirituality by teaching us what is good or bad. Combination of religion and politics leads to communalism or communal politics which is very dangerous.
Are the following statements in keeping with democracy as a value? Why?
(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.
Undemocratic: The daughter has been denied permission to express her views/opinions on her marriage.
(b) Teacher to student: Don’t disturb my concentration by asking me questions in the classroom.
Undemocratic: The student is not being allowed to ask questions in the class.
(c) Employee to the officer: Our working hours must be reduced according to the law.
Democratic: As the employee is asking working hours to be reduced according to the law.
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 the right to vote. Elections are held regularly.
It is democratic because in a democracy there is Universal Adult Franchise.
(b) The country took a loan from international agencies. One of the conditions for giving loan was that the government would reduce its expenses on education and health.
A democratic government works for the welfare of the country and enhances the dignity of the citizens. Therefore, it cannot perform any functions which go against the welfare of the country and its people. Moreover, it does not allow an international agency to interfere in the internal matters of a country.
(c) People speak more than seven languages but education is available only in one language, the language spoken by 52 percent of people of the country.
It is undemocratic because the majority view is being imposed on the minority.
(d) Several organisations have given a call for peaceful demonstrations and nation wide strikes in the country to oppose these policies. Government has arrested these leaders.
Democratic: In a democratic country the government follows such a policy to maintain law and order as is done in this case where strikers are arrested against the policies of the government.
(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 the government’s policies and protests.
Undemocratic: In a democracy, people have the right to freedom of speech and expression. Radio and television and the press are free from the government’s control.