Democracy in India


In a democratic country people themselves select and elect a representative as their leader. Democracy can be defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a political system where people are supreme and freedom of choice is its core. The term 'democracy' originated from the Greek term 'dēmokratía' which means “rule of the people”. There are two types of democracies in the world. One is direct democracy, in which the eligible citizens directly and actively participate in the political decision-making. Second is indirect democracy, in which the sovereign power remains with the eligible citizens and the elected representatives exercise the political power; this type of democracy is also known as democratic republic or the representative democracy.

Requirements for a Democracy

A society and a system can be called democratic only when the political and socio-economic aspirations of people can be fulfilled. This is classified into two broad categories - (i) political conditions, achievement of which could lead to political democracy and (ii) social and economic conditions which could lead to social democracy. To achieve the political conditions, it is necessary to adopt a Constitution which vests powers in the people. The Constitution should protect the fundamental and human rights, and universal adult franchise should be followed to elect a representative. A democratic system also has to make sure that the social development along with democratic values should reflect the social security, welfare and status of the people. Economic development should be made for the betterment of the deprived and the poor sections of the society.

India - A Democracy

India is the largest democracy in the world. It was declared secular and democratic when its Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950. The democratic India believes in the principles of equality, liberty, justice and fraternity. The people from any caste, creed, sex, religion, and region have an equal right to vote and choose their representatives. The parliamentary form of government in India is based on the pattern of the British. In India, there is a federal form of government which means there is a government at the centre and at the state. The government at the centre is responsible to the parliament, and the state governments are responsible towards their respective legislative assemblies. The government at the centre and the state are democratically elected and follow the patterns of the two houses of the Parliament ­- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The government at the centre and the state together elect the President of the country who is also the Head of the State.

Elections in India

For the Parliament of India, the elections are held after every five years and the Prime Minister is selected thereafter. As per the Constitution of India, all the states and union territories participate in the elections to elect the government. The elected members of the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Parliament, together elect the Prime Minister. These members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by universal adult suffrage except for two members who are elected by the President of India. The members of the Upper House of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of the legislative assemblies of all states and union territories of India. There are many national as well as regional parties in the country which take part in the elections to form a government.

The First Elections in Democratic India

Democracy took a step forward when the democratic India voted, chose and elected their first government. These elections turned out to be one of the biggest experiments of democracy in the world. The elections were conducted on the basis of universal adult franchise. The people of the country had no prior experience of such elections and even bigger challenge was to guess their response to the chance of allowing them to choose their government. The procedure of the elections was spread for about four months i.e. from 25 October 1951 to 21 February 1952. More than 14 national and 63 regional parties and many independent candidates contested the elections. The Indian National Congress stood victorious in the elections by bagging majority of seats.

Factors Affecting Democracy in India

Although India is the largest democracy in the world, there are certain factors which affect it. Factors such as corruption, women's issues, caste issues, political strategies etc. affect politics at the national and the state level in the country. Illiteracy is a major factor which can affect the smooth functioning of democracy in the country. Education plays an important role among the people to choose their representative. The ignorant illiterate class could be manipulated by the candidates or the political parties. Poverty too affects the successful running of the democracy. It is been more than six decades since India gained independence, but still the votes are purchased from the people, especially the poor. The country is not able to control the use of the money and the muscle power in the election processes. Manipulation of people's verdict by the political parties is still practiced. Such factors need to be curbed and taken care of so as to conduct fair elections.

Challenges Faced by Indian Democracy

India functions as a responsible democracy since independence. The elections are held periodically in the country to elect the representatives, from the Panchayats to the President. The major challenge faced by the democracy is the heterogeneous composition of the country as the Indian society is divided on the basis of the caste, and religion, etc. People in India still vote in favour of caste, community or religion. Criminalisation of politics and political violence also create hindrance in the smooth functioning of the democracy. There have been instances and allegations in the recent past that some people in the political fraternity do not believe in the democratic practices and values. Political and communal violence has gained serious proportions in the country. These challenges can be overcome by taking adequate corrective measures.

Role of the Citizens

The role of the citizens of India is most important for its democracy. For its successful working, the participation of the people is a must. The citizens of India have to proactively perform their role in the governance of the country and should respect the law and order of the nation. For a successful working of democracy, it is the right as well as the duty of every Indian to choose and elect the appropriate representative for the country. Also, every Indian has to realise that he should equally participate in the democracy. To vote wisely, it is important for every voter to carefully listen and understand the views and aims of the representatives or the political parties. They also have to respect the laws and reject violence. Expressing their opinion is as important as listening to the views of the others. The proactive participation of people is important and necessary to check how the country is being governed.

Future of Indian Democracy

India has practiced democracy since it attained independence. Although it faces a lot of challenges, still the country succeeds in functioning and running a smooth democracy. As it is the largest democracy in the world it is likely to face challenges in the future as well. There is a threat from the ugly forces which support divisions on the lines of religion, caste, region, etc. to the democracy. The present political unrest in some parts of the country is likely to put democracy into jeopardy. It is necessary on the parts of the political leaders of the country to stand united against the anti-national forces and keep the democracy of the country maintained. Imparting education to the masses and making the citizens of the country aware of their rights and duties is essential for achieving this purpose. For democracy to survive in a vast country like India, it is necessary that all the citizens of the country should stand united and play their respective roles towards the progress of the nation.


Last Updated on : July 16, 2015