Facts that Matter
- Democracy is formed by two Greek words ‘‘demos’’ and “kratia”. “Demos” means people and “kratia” means the government. Democracy, thus, means “rule by the people”. In a democratic set-up, every citizen has the right to take part in the decision making process. It is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
- Democracy is a better form of government when compared with dictatorship or any other alternatives because it promotes equality among citizens, enhances the dignity of the individuals, improves the quality of decision-making, etc.
- Democracy is just a form of government. It can only create conditions for achieving something. The citizens have to take advantage of those conditions and achieve those goals.
- The most basic outcome of democracy should be that it produces a government that is accountable to the citizens, and responsive to the needs and expectations of the citizens.
- Some people think that democracy produces less effective government. It is true that non-democratic rulers are very quick and efficient in decision-making and implementation. It is because they do not bother about deliberation in assemblies or worry about majorities.
- Democracy is based on the idea of deliberation and negotiation. So, some delay is bound to take place. But because it has followed procedures, its decisions may be both more acceptable to the people and more effective.
- Democracy ensures that decision-making will be based on norms and procedures. A citizen who wants to know if a decision was taken through the correct procedures can find this out. This is not seen in a non-democratic government.
- There are some shortcomings in a democratic form of government. For example, most democracies fall short of elections that provide a fair chance to everyone and in subjecting every decision to public debate. But it is much better than any non-democratic regime.
- A democratic government is attentive to the needs and demands of the people and is largely free of corruption. It is a legitimate government. It is people’s own government.
- These are the reasons why people wish to be ruled by representatives elected by them. They believe that democracy is suitable for their country.
- But in matters of economic development, not all the democracies get developed because of various factors like population, lack of basic infrastructure etc. If you consider all democracies and all dictatorships for the fifty years between 1950 and 2000, dictatorships have slightly higher rate of economic growth. The inability of democracy to achieve higher economic development worries us. But this is not a sole reason to reject democracy. The difference in the rates of economic development between less developed countries with dictatorships and democracies is negligible. Overall, we cannot say that democracy is a guarantee of economic development. Yes, we can expect democracy not to lag behind dictatorship in this respect.
- Democracy does not appear to be successful in reducing economic inequalities. A small number of ultra rich enjoy a highly disproportionate share of wealth and income. Their share in total income is increasing. People at the bottom of society have to lead a very tough life.
- But we find accommodation of social diversity in a democracy. No society can fully and permanently resolve conflicts among different groups. But we can certainly learn to respect these differences and we can also evolve mechanisms to negotiate the differences. Democracy is best suited to produce this outcome. Non-democratic regimes often turn a blind eye to or suppress internal social differences. Ability to handle social differences, divisions and conflicts is thus a definite plus point of democratic regimes.
- Democracy supports dignity and freedom of the citizens. Every man wants to get respect from fellow persons in the society. A lot of conflicts take place among human beings because some feel they are not treated with due respect. The passion for respect and freedom are the basis of democracy. Democracy in India has strengthened the claims of the disadvantaged and discriminated castes for equal status and equal opportunity. As democracy passes one test, it produces another test. As people get some benefits of democracy, they ask for more and want to make democracy even better. That is why when we ask people about the way democracy functions, they will always come up with more expectations, and many complaints. The fact that people are complaining is itself a testimony to the success of democracy. Overall, we can say that democracy is better than dictatorship or monarchy or military rule.
Words that Matter
- Democracy is formed by two Greek words ‘‘demos’’ and “kratia”. “Demos” means people and “kratia” means the government. Democracy, thus, means “rule by the people”.
- Legitimate government: Legally chosen government is legitimate government.
- Dictatorship: Under dictatorship all the powers are vested in a single person or in group of people.
- Transparency: People have the right and the means to examine the process of decision making. This is known as transparency through which everything can be clearly seen.
- Accountable government: The government elected by the people and therefore responsible to them.
- Responsive government: The government in which people have the right to know the decisions and have the right and the means to examine the process of decision-making.
I. MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS
Choose the correct option:
1. Democracy is better than any other form of rule because it ......... .
(a) promotes equality among citizens (b) enhances the dignity of the individual
(c) improves the quality of decision-making (d) all of the above.
2. How many countries of the world have democratic set-up of government?
(a) More than hundred countries (b) Less than hundred countries
(c) Less than fifty countries (d) More than fifty countries.
3. Higher rate of economic growth is usually found in ......... .
(a) democracies (b) monarchy
(c) dictatorships (d) all of the above.
4. What is the most distinctive feature of democracy?
(a) Its examination never gets over. (b) Its examination gets over after a period.
(c) It never fulfills people’s demands. (d) None of the above.
5. Democracy is not preferred by this country ......... .
(a) China (b) Pakistan
(c) India (d) U.S.A.
6. Democracy is preferred over dictatorship everywhere except ......... .
(a) Nepal (b) Pakistan
(c) India (d) Bangladesh.
7. What does the term ultra-rich mean?
(a) Highly wealthy (b) Wealthy
(c) Highly healthy (d) Not very wealthy.
8. More than half of its population lives in poverty in the country called ......... .
(a) India (b) South Africa
(c) China (d) Bangladesh.
9. Which country in South Asia has no democracy?
(a) Nepal (b) Sri Lanka
(c) Bhutan (d) Maldives.
Ans. 1—(d) 2—(a) 3—(c) 4—(a) 5—(a) 6—(b) 7—(a) 8—(d) 9—(c)
II. VERY SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
- Why is democracy better than dictatorship or any other alternative? Give one point.
- What do we do if some of our expectations are not met?
- Which is the most basic outcome of democracy?
- Why do some people think that democracy produces less effective government?
- Why is some delay bound to take place in a democratic set up?
- What is known as transparency in a democracy?
- Mention the one point on which the record of democracies is not good or impressive.
- Why is there an overwhelming support for the idea of democracy all over the world?
- What is it in a democracy that worries us?
- In which respect do democracies lag behind dictatorships?
- Democracies are based on political equality’. What does it mean?
- Which is a definite plus point of democratic regimes?
- What is most distinctive about democracy?
- What do you mean by an accountable government?
III. SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
1. What is democracy? What are its various characteristics?
2. ‘Democratic governments are attentive to the needs of people and less corrupt’. Do you agree to this point? Write your opinion. (HOTS)
3. Mention any two conditions that democracy must fulfil in order to achieve its outcome.
4. Democracy has not been successful in reducing economic inequalities. Give reasons to support your answer. (HOTS)
5. “Democratic governments are less effective, slow, not very responsive or clean.” How far do you agree with this view?
6. Why do we expect a lot from a democratic government?
7. How are complaints treated as testimony to the success of democracy? Explain. (CBSE 2008)
The fact that people are complaining is itself a testimony to the success of democracy. Justify the statement with appropriate points. (CBSE 2011)
8. Why is democracy preferred to other forms of government?
9. ‘Democratic government is a legitimate government’. Explain.(CBSE 2011)
10. An ideal government would not only keep itself away from corruption but also make fighting corruption and black money a top priority.” Justify the statement by highlighting the values attached to it. (AI CBSE 2013)
IV. LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
1. Economic development of a country depends on which factors and what is the role of democracy in it? [V. Imp.]
2. How can democracy be successful in bringing social harmony?
Democracies lead to peaceful and harmonious life among citizens.” Support this statement with examples. (CBSE 2009)
Explain how democracies lead to peaceful and harmonious life among citizens. (CBSE 2008, AI CBSE 2009, CBSE 2011)
3. Democracy is based on dignity and freedom. Explain. [V. Imp.]
How does democracy stand much superior to any other form of government in promoting dignity and freedom of the individual? Explain with suitable examples. (CBSE 2008)
“Democracy is a better form of government than the other forms of government.” Justify the statement. (CBSE 2010)
4. Explain any four ways in which democracies have been able to reduce inequality and poverty.(CBSE 2012)
5. Explain any four consequences on which democracy has failed. (CBSE 2011)
6. Explain with three examples, how democracies accommodate social diversities. (CBSE 2008, 2010)
7. Why do people prefer democracy? Explain with four reasons. (CBSE 2008, 2010)
8. “Democracy stands much superior to any other froms of government in promoting dignity and freedom of the individual.” Explain. (CBSE 2008, 2011)
V. VALUE BASED QUESTIONS
1. “Democracy stands much superior to any other forms of government.” Read the above statement carefully and then answer the questions that follow:
(i) Do you agree to the above statement? Give a suitable reason.
(ii) Democracies are based on political equality. What does this mean?
(iii) Are democracies successful in reducing economic inequalities? If not, why?
2. What expectations are associated with democracy?
TEST YOUR SKILLS
- What should be the basic outcome of democracy?
- What is the essence of democracy?
- Why is democracy preferred to other forms of government?
- Discuss the factors that denote the successful working of democracy in India.
- Why do some people think that non-democratic system has upper hand over democratic system?
- “Democracy does not ensure faster economic growth”. Explain.
- “Democracy has failed to reduce inequality and poverty.” Examine.