Outcomes of Democracy
Question 1: How does democracy produce an accountable, responsive and legitimate government?
Answer: The democratically elected government is answerable to people. If a government does not function as per the wishes of the people, it would lose the next elections and would be thrown out of power. Hence, it needs to be accountable to people. Similarly, the government has to be responsive to the problems and aspirations of people; otherwise people would choose the next better alternative when the opportunity comes. The government is elected by the majority of the people and hence is a legitimate government.
Answer the following questions:
Question 2: What are the conditions under which democracies accommodate social diversities?
Asnwer: It is not possible to completely eliminate the conflicts arising out of social diversity. Yet such conflicts are kept at the minimum possible level in a democracy. Democracy builds on consensus in which interests of various sections of the society are respected and catered to. Thus, social diversities are accommodated in a democracy.
Question 3: Give arguments to support or oppose the following assertions:
(a) Industrialised countries can afford democracy but the poor need dictatorship to become rich.
Asnwer: Although examples of many countries under dictatorship suggest that economic growth can be good in such countries, yet some democracies are also in sound economic health. Many poor countries of the past have progressed under democratic rule, although the growth may have been slow. Looking at the cost benefit analysis, it can be said the even for a poor country, democracy is always a better option rather than dictatorship to strive for becoming rich.
(b) Democracy can’t reduce inequality of incomes between different citizens.
Asnwer: This is a true reality that inequality of incomes cannot be reduced between different citizens; no matter which type of government system is in place. Even the past experience of socialism in Russia and China suggest that it is almost impossible to create a society where everyone is equal in terms of economic power. The same holds true for democracy also.
(c) Government in poor countries should spend less on poverty reduction, health, education and spend more on industries and infrastructure.
Asnwer: While it is always prudent to spend on industries and infrastructure for better employment generation, the role of social security cannot be ignored. There are many people who are so poor and oppressed that they need some sort of help to improve their condition. Poverty eradication, health benefits and education schemes should always be in place for such people. A proper balance should be struck in spending on social security and on industries.
(d) In democracy all citizens have one vote, which means that there is absence of any domination and conflict.
Asnwer: In theory, it is true that the formula of one person one vote negates the effect of domination and conflict. But in the real world, a society can be very complex. It is a basic instinct of people or a group of people to dominate others at the very first opportunity. Similarly, conflicts are bound to arise in the society. However, democracy minimizes the effect of such tendency to a certain extent.
Question 4: Identify the challenges to democracy in the following descriptions. Also suggest policy/institutional mechanism to deepen democracy in the given situations:
(a) Following a High Court directive a temple in Orissa that had separate entry doors for dalits and non-dalits allowed entry for all from the same door.
Asnwer: This example shows the challenge of ensuring dignity and freedom of its citizens. In this case, the judiciary interfered in the matter and the Right to Equality was enforced.
(b) A large number of farmers are committing suicide in different states of India.
Asnwer: This is a challenge of economic inequality. The government can implement some bailout package so that farmers are not forced to commit suicide. This can be done through providing a minimum support price for the farm produce and some sort of loan waiver scheme for the farmers.
(c) Following allegation of killing of three civilians in Gandwara in a fake encounter by Jammu and Kashmir police, an enquiry has been ordered.
Asnwer: This is a challenge of dignity and freedom of citizens and the Right to Equality. The police department and the Judiciary can take corrective measures in this case.
Question 5: In the context of democracies, which of the following ideas is correct – democracies have successfully eliminated:
- Conflicts among people
- Economic inequalities among people
- Differences of opinion about how marginalised sections are to be treated
- The idea of political inequality
Asnwer: (d) The idea of political inequality
Question 6: In the context of assessing democracy which among the following is odd one out. Democracies need to ensure:
- Free and fair elections
- Dignity of the individual
- Majority rule
- Equal treatment before law
Asnwer: (c) Majority rule
Question 7: Studies on political and social inequalities in democracy show that
- Democracy and development go together.
- Inequalities exist in democracies.
- Inequalities do not exist under dictatorship.
- Dictatorship is better than democracy.
Asnwer: (b) Inequalities exist in democracies