Chapter 8 Challenges to Democracy
Different contexts, different challenges
Each of these cartoons represents a challenge to democracy. Please describe what that challenge is. Also place it in one of the three categories mentioned in the first section.
- Rigging of elections – Challenge of deepening of democracy.
- Use of muscle power in elections – Challenge of deepening of democracy.
- Not adequate representation for women or discrimination against women – Challenge of expansion.
- Use of money power in elections or too much expenditure on election campaign – Challenge of deepening of democracy.
In the following cases and context (as given in the Textbook page 104) give description of the challenges for democracy in that situation.
Case and context
Your description of the challenges for democracy in that situation
Chile : General Pinochet’s government defeated, but military still in control of many institutions
Foundational challenges i.e., Establishing civilian control over all governmental institutions, holding the first multi-party elections, recalling all political leaders from exile.
Poland : After the first success of Solidarity, the government imposed martial law and banned solidarity.
Foundational challenges i.e., to bring down the existing non-democratic regime, to remove martial law and grant freedom of association.
Ghana : Just attained independence, Nkrumah elected president.
Challenge of expansion – to apply basic principles of democracy in all regions.
Myanmar : Suu Kyi under \ house arrest for more than 15 years, army rulers getting global acceptance.
Foundational challenge to keep military away from controlling government and establishing a sovereign and functional state.
International Organisations : US as the only super power disregards the UN and takes
Challenge of expansion – to ensure equal powers and cooperation among members to solve international problems.
Mexico : Second free election after the defeat of PRI in 2000; defeated candidate alleges rigging.
Challenge of deepening of democracy – to strengthen the institutions and practices of democracy; to conduct free and fair elections.
China : Communist Party adopts economic reforms but maintains monopoly over political power.
Challenge of deepening of democracy – no division of power or public participation. To have free and fair elections.
Pakistan : General Musharraf holds referendum, allegations of fraud in voters’ list.
Foundational challenge – to make transition to democracy – and establish civilian government on the basis of free and fair elections.
Iraq : Widespread sectarian violence as the new government fails to establish its authority.
Foundational challenge to democracy – to set up democratic government on the basis of free and fair elections
South Africa : Mandela retires from active politics, pressure on his successor Mbeki to withdraw some concessions given to White minority.
Challenge of deepening of democracy – to safeguard the interests of White minority.
US, Guantanamo Bay : UN Secretary General calls this a violation of international law, US refused to respond.
Foundational challenge – to safeguard various rights of people including freedom. To refrain the USA from following unjust policies and compel them to obey international law.
Saudi Arabia : Women not allowed to take part in public activities, no freedom of religion for minorities.
Challenge of expansion – to grant equal rights to ‘ women without any discrimination. Interests of the minorities to be protected.
Yugoslavia : Ethnic tension between Serbs and Albanians on the rise in the province of Kosovo. Yugoslavia disintegrated.
Challenge of expansion of democracy – basic principles . of democracy should have been applied in Yugoslavia i.e., extension of federalism, to protect the interests of minorities etc.
Belgium : One round of constitutional change taken place, but the Dutch speakers not satisfied; they want more autonomy.
Challenge of deepening of democracy – to strengthen the institutions of democracy to realise the expectations of the people. More powers to local bodies.
Sri Lanka : The peace talks between the government and the LTTE break down, renewed violence.
Challenge of expansion of democracy – to adopt federal principles – to avoid majoritarianism. To accommodate minorities and protect their interests.
US Civil Rights : Blacks have won equal rights, but are still poor, less educated and marginalised.
Challenge of deepeni ng of democracy – equal opportunities in economic field, education to be provided such as reservation for SCs / STs / OBCs in India.
Northern Ireland : The civil war has ended but Catholics and Protestants yet to develop trust.
Challenge of expansion of democracy – extension of federal principle to all the units, women and minorities.
Nepal : Constituent Assembly about to be elected, unrest in Terai areas, Maoists have not surrendered arms.
Foundational challenge of making the transition – to democracy and setting up democratic government.To establish a sovereign functional state.
Different types of challenges :
Now that you have noted down all these challenges, let us group these together into some broad categories. Given below are some spheres or sites of democratic politics. You may place against each of these the specific challenges that you noted for one or more countries or cartoons in the previous section. In ease you find that some challenges do not fit into any of the categories given below, you can create new categories and put some items under that.
Poland, Myanmar, Pakistan, US and Guantanamo Bay, Saudi Arabia and US Civil Rights
Working of institutions
International organisations, Mexico and China
Yugosl avia an d Belgium
Accommodati on of diversity
Iraq and Northern Ireland
Political organisations .
Ghana and South Africa
Let us group these again, this time by the nature of these challenges as per the classification suggested in the first section. For each of these categories, find at least one example from India as well.
Poland, Myanmar, Pakistan, Iraq, US, Guantanamo Bay, Nepal, India (Naxalites problems, insurgency in North-Eastern states)
Challenge of expansion
Ghana, International organisations, Saudi Arabia, Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, India (More power to local governments)
Challenge of deepening
Mexico, South Africa, Belgium, US, Civil Rights, Bolivia, India (corruption, less public participation)
Now let us think only about India. Think of all the challenges that democracy faces in contemporary India. List those five that should be addressed first of all. The listing should be in order of priority, i.e., the challenge you find most important or pressing should be mentioned at number 1, and so on. Give one example of that challenge and your reasons for assigning it the priority.
Challenges to democracy
Reasons for preference
Challenge of deepening
To make India democratic in practice at all levels – national, state and local.
Challenge of expansion
5. Representation of women to elected bodies.
Women consist of half of the population. They should have adequate representation.
Here are some challenges that require political reforms. Discuss these challenges in detail, study the reform options offered here and give your preferred solution with reasons. Remember that none of the options offered here is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. You can opt for a mix of more than one option, or come up with something that is not offered here. But you must give your solution’in details and offer reasons for your choice.
Uttar Pradesh government got a survey done and found out that most of the doctors posted in the rural primary health centres are simply not there. They live in a town, carry out private practice and visit the village where they are posted only once or twice in the entire month. Villagers have to travel to towns and pay very high fee to private doctors even for common ailments.
On an average, every candidate who contested the last Lok Sabha elections owned a property of more than ? 1 crore. There is a fear that only wealthy people or those with their support can afford to fight elections. Most of the political parties are dependent on money given by big business houses. The worry is that the role of money in politics will reduce whatever little voice the poor have in our democracy.
Tire government should make it compulsory for the doctors to live in the village where they are posted, otherwise their service should be terminated. They should be given some monetary incentives.
The financial accounts of every political party should be made public. These accounts should be examined by government auditors
District administration and police should carry out surprise checks to ensure the attendance of the doctors.
There should be state funding of elections. Parties should be given some money by the government to meet their election expenditure.
Village panchayat, should be given the power to write the annual report of the doctor which should be read out in the gram sabha meeting.
Citizens should be encouraged to give more donations to parties and to political workers. Such donations should be exempt from income tax.
Problems like this can be solved only if Uttar Pradesh is split into several smaller states which can be administered more efficiently.
(1) Doctor’s absenteeism :
- Doctor’s absenteeism can be controlled by making it compulsory for the doctors to live in the village of their posting,
- Secondly, they should be debarred from doing private practice.
- They should be given some monetary incentives.
- These rules should be part of their terms and conditions for appointment.
- These conditions must be strictly followed,
- Surprise checks by the department should be made.
- The erring doctors should be punished by the department.
(2) Political funding :
- Role of money in elections in India has been increasing for the last few years,
- It is necessary to curb the role of money to make democracy more successful.
- The first, two proposals e., auditing of accounts of the political parties and state funding are good because these reforms will bring transparency in the finances of the political parties.
- Secondly, state funding will reduce the expenditure on elections. Role of money will be less and the poor candidates may also be able to fight elections.
Write your own definition of good democracy and its features.
- Definition of good democracy : A government that is run and elected by the people to look after the interests of all people – rich and poor, rural, adivasis and others without any discrimination. Basic needs of all should be-fulfilled.
- Features :
- Government elected by the people.
- Run by the people directly or indirectly with maximum public participation at all levels.
- Public opinion should be respected as was done in Ram Rajya
- There should be no poverty, illiteracy, social divisions, unemployment in the state
- Citizens should be satisfied in different spheres of life. There should be no tension in the society.