Political Science Chapter 8: Challenges to Democracy

Facts that Matter

1.      Democracy today faces serious challenges all over the world. Different countries face different minds of challenges.

2.      At least one-fourth of the globe is still not under democratic government. Countries that do not have democratic setup face the foundational challenge of making a transition to the democratic style of government. They need to lay the foundation in terms of laws and policies that are followed under the democratic setup. This involves bringing down the existing non-democratic regime, keeping military away from controlling government and establishing a sovereign and functional state.

3.      Countries already having the democratic setup face the challenge of expansion. Such countries need to ensure that more social groups, regions and institutions follow democracy in their functioning. This involves ensuring greater power to local governments, extension of federal principle to all the units of the federations.

4.      Challenge of deepening is faced by every democracy in one form or another. Every democratic country needs to strengthen the institutions that ensure democracy. This should happen in such a way that people can realise their expectations of democracy. This involves bringing down the control and influence of rich and powerful people in the making of governmental decision and strengthening those institutions that help people’s participation and control.

5.      So far Indian democracy is concerned, it is facing a number of challenges. These are— poverty, unemployment, economic inequality, casteism, communalism, illiteracy, etc.

6.      Some broad guidelines that can be kept in mind while devising ways and means for political reforms in India are:

— Legal ways of reforming politics: Carefully devised changes in laws can help to discourage wrong political practices and encourage good ones. But, legal constitutional changes by themselves cannot overcome challenges to the democracy. Democratic reforms are to be carried out mainly by political activists, parties, movements and politically conscious people.

— Any legal change must carefully look at what results it will have on politics. Sometimes the results may be counter-productive. For example, many states have banned people who have more than two children from contesting Panchayat elections. This has resulted in denial of political opportunity to many poor and women, which was not intended.

— Democratic reforms are to be brought about principally through political practice. Therefore, the main focus of the reforms should be on ways to strengthen the democratic practice. The most important concern should be to increase and improve the quality of political participation by ordinary citizens.

— Any proposal of political reforms should think not only about what is a good solution but also about who will implement it and how. It is not wise to think that legislatures will pass legislations that will go against the interest of all political parties and MPs. But measures that rely on democratic movements, citizens’ organisations and the media are likely to succeed.

7.      Democracy can be redefined by including the following:

(a) The rulers elected by the people must take all the major decisions.

(b) Elections must offer a choice and fair opportunity to the people to change the current rulers.

(c) The choice and opportunity should be available to all the people on equal basis

(d) The exercise of this choice must lead to a government limited by the basic rules of the constitution and citizens’ rights.

8.      Various aspects of democratic government and politics are:

— Democratic rights are not limited to right to vote, stand in elections or forming organisations. Democracy should also offer some social and economic rights to its citizens.

— Power sharing (how it is being shared between government and social groups) is necessary in a democracy.

— Democracy cannot be a brute rule of majority. There is a respect for minority voice in democracy.

— Eliminating discrimination on the basis of the caste, religion and gender is important in democracy.

Flow-Chart Learning

Fig 1. Different challenges faced by different countries

Words that Matter

  1. Communalism: Encouraging idea of one particular religion with sense to divide society on basis of religion.
  2. Economic inequality: Some people of society are rich and some are poor. This situation is known as economic inequality.
  3. Challenges to democracy: Problems which come while ensuring a democratic set up in the country.
  4. Illiterate: A person who is unable to read or write.
  5. Regional imbalance: Some areas are economically advanced and some areas are backward.
  6. Challenge: A challenge is not just a problem. It is a difficulty that carries within an opportunity for progress.
  7. Democracy: It is a form of a government in which rulers are elected by the people.
  8. Political reform: The suggestions and proposals about overcoming various challenges to democracy.


Choose the correct option:

1. What type of challenge is faced by a non-democratic country for democratic set up?

(a) Foundational challenge                                                      (b) Challenge of deepening

(c) Challenge of expansion                                                     (d) Challenge of money power

2. What is the ratio of non-democratic countries in the world?

(a) One-third                                                                           (b) One-fourth

(c) Half of the countries                                                          (d) Two-third

3. Where did the most cases of doctor absenteeism take place?

(a) Andhra Pradesh                                                                 (b) Bihar

(c) Uttar Pradesh                                                                     (d) Gujarat

4. Which are the two countries that face challenge of expansion of democracy?

(a) China and Nepal                                                                (b) Myanmar and Pakistan

(c) India and US                                                                     (d) France and Nepal

5. At least one-fourth of the globe is facing the .......... .

(a) foundational challenge                                                      (b) challenge of expansion

(c) challenge of deepening of democracy                               (d) all of the above.

Ans. 1—(a) 2—(b) 3—(c) 4—(c) 5—(a)


  1. Which challenge is being faced by every democracy is one form or the other?
  2. What should be the main focus of political reforms?
  3. Mention two points about which any proposal for political reforms should think.
  4. Name two countries which face the challenge of expansion of democracy.
  5. Define the challenge of deepening of democracy in general terms.


  1. What are the various aspects of democratic government and politics?
  2. What are the reforms needed to decrease doctors’ absenteeism?
  3. What do you understand by ‘counter-productive law’?  (HOTS)
  4. How could the influence of money be decreased in politics?  (HOTS)
  5. What is the challenge of expansion?
  6. Discuss two challenges that Indian democracy is facing.
  7. How can democracy be improved in practical form?  (HOTS)
  8. “Different countries face different kinds of challenges”. Support the statement with suitable examples. (CBSE 2011)
  9. How are some countries in the world facing foundational challenge of democracy? Explain with examples.   (AI CBSE 2012, CBSE 2013)


     10.  Explain the foundational challenge being faced by democratic governments. (CBSE 2011, 2012)


1.      What is meant by the term “challenges to democracy”? Discuss few challenges faced by democracy in several parts of the world.(HOTS)


2.      “Most of the democracies of the world face the challenge of expansion and challenge of deepening of democracy.” Justify the statement. [CBSE 2010(F)]

3.      Discuss some ways and means for political reform in India.  (HOTS)


4.      Mention some of the guidelines that can be kept in mind while devising ways and means for political reforms in India. (CBSE 2010, 2012)


  1. What do you mean by economic inequality?
  2. Give three causes of poverty in India.
  3. What measures can be taken to curb growing communalism?
  4. Discuss casteism in India.
  5. What sustains democracy in India?
  6. Discuss certain measures to deepen democracy in a country.
  7. Point out any four demerits of democracy.
  8. Name the two democratic countries that face challenge of expansion.
  9. Evaluate the main challenges faced by Indian democracy.