The Growth of Democracy in India (2994 Words)

This article provides information on the Growth of Democracy in India!

The term democracy is derived from the Greek words demos and Kratos. Demo means people and Kratos, means ‘power’. Thus democracy means power of people.

Definitions on democracy:


Bryce defines democracy as a form of government in which the ruling power of the state is largely vested in the members of community as a whole.

According to Maciver “Democracy is primarily a way of determining who shall govern and broadly to what ends.

According to Abraham Lincoln “Democracy is a government by the people, for the people and of the people.


It is a type of government which is found in most of the countries in the world.

Evolution of democracy in India:

The root of democracy in India can be traced back to the ancient period itself. The evolution of democracy in India can be studied under different periods viz:

Democracy in the ancient or Vedic period.

Democracy in the British period.

Democracy in the modern period.

Democracy in the Ancient Period:

During the Vedic period, monarchy was the form of government. But the elements of democracy were found even in the monarchial form of administration.

Villages were considered as the lowest unit of administration. The villages were administered by the head of the village. Each village had the powers to solve its own disputes through “Village Panchayats.” These policies highlighted the aspect of decentralisation of power.

Plebiscite or public opinion was considered on certain aspects relating to public administration. During the ancient period people had every right to meet the king and discuss their problems. The elements of democracy were well recognised during the period of Mauryas, Guptas, Satavahanas and Chalukyas. But the idea of democracy was applied in a narrow sense. There was no system of elections or a Constitution.

Democracy during Muslim rule:

During the Muslim rule the spirit of democracy was not encouraged much. The Muslim rulers were absolute dictators who did not believe in the principles of democracy.

Democracy during the British:

In the pre independence period the idea of democracy assumed a concrete shape. When India was under the rule of East India Company administration there was autocratic rule. But when the administration was transferred to the British government the idea of democracy sprang up.

During the British rule, the following developments took place in the field of democracy.

i. Lord Canning developed the idea of local self government. He entrusted the talukdars of Oudh with magisterial functions.

ii. Lord Lawrence further developed the idea of democracy. He passed certain laws in 1842 and 1850 and permitted the establishment of municipalities in presidency towns.

iii. During the reign of Lord Mayo a resolution was passed to extend the scope of municipalities so as to include education local public works, charitable and Medical relief. The system of election was extended.

iv. During the time of Lord Ripon a local board with subordinate taluk board was established for each revenue district. The members of district board were elected.

v. Establishment of legislative councils. The practice of obtaining Indian opinion was realised. Lord Dalhousie prescribed three readings of each bill with a “committee” stage. Indians were nominated for the committee.

vi. The establishment of Indian National Congress in 1885 further strengthened the idea of democracy.

vii. In 1908 a royal proclamation was issued to extend the principle of representative institutions.

viii. In 1909 Minto Morley reforms was introduced which provided for an increase in members in all legislative councils. The provincial legislative councils were doubled, (b) provision was made for the representation of minorities (c) principle of election was introduced, (d) the number of imperial legislative council was increased from 21 to 60. Some Indian members were appointed to the viceroy council. Indians were allowed to take part in the administration of the country.

ix. In 1935 the Government of India Act was passed which provided for an All India federation. It provided for setting up autonomous provinces in British India. The Congress contested elections and assumed the federation office.

Freedom of Press:

During the British rule, the freedom of Press was recognised. There was a rise of newspapers in Indian languages.

Thus the British government made a significant contribution to the growth of democracy.

Democracy in the Post Independence Period:

After obtaining Independence India was declared as a sovereign socialist country. The preamble to the Constitution declares India as a “democratic” country. Indian democracy has certain features which are as follows:

1. Supremacy of Constitution:

Indian Constitution is a written Constitution. The Constitution describes the framework of government. The powers of executive, judiciary and legislature are described in the Constitution. Every law passed by the government must be in accordance with the provisions of Constitution. If any law framed is beyond the provisions of the Constitution if can be declared as unconstitutional and struck down by the Judiciary.

2. Independent Judiciary:

The Constitution provides for independent judiciary. Control can be exercised by judiciary over the powers of executive and legislature. Judiciary enjoys powers to summon government officials. If the government does not discharge its function properly, High Court and Supreme Court can issue directions to government by way of writ of mandamus. The laws passed by legislature can be reviewed by Judiciary.

3. Parliamentary form of government:

The Constitution envisages parliamentary form of government. President is the constutional head of executive of the Union. Art 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a council of ministers with the prime Minister as head to aid and advice President. Real executive power vests in council of ministers.

4. Fundamental rights:

The Constitution of India guarantees certain fundamental rights to all its citizens. They are contained in Part III of the Constitution. Article 12 to 35 deal with fundamental rights. The following are the important fundamental rights.

1. Right to equality—Art 14.

2. Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste sex or place of birth. Art 15.

3. Right of equal opportunity in matters of public employment Art 16.

4. Right of freedom Art 19.

Various freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution:

i. Right to freedom of speech and expression.

ii. Right of assembly, association or union.

iii. Right of residence.

iv. Right of movement.

v. Right to practice any profession or occupation.

5. Right against exploitation.

6. Right of personal liberty.

7. Right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of fundamental right.

5. Fundamental duties:

Part IV A of the Constitution deals with fundamental duties. They are as follows:

i. To abide by the Constitution.

ii. To cherish and follow the noble ideas which inspired freedom struggle.

iii. To defend the country and render service when called upon to do so.

iv. To promote harmony and spirit of brotherhood among all people of India.

6. Directive principles of state policy:

They are the guidelines to the government in the governance of the country. State shall apply these principles in making laws. The following are the directive principles:

i. State shall promote welfare of people by securing social order.

ii. Procuring adequate means of livelihood. Equal pay for equal work.

iii. Compulsory primary education up to the age of 14.

iv. Public assistance in the event of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement.

v. To secure humane conditions of work to employees.

vi. To secure distribution of ownership and control of resources of community for the common good.

vii. Separation of judiciary from executive.

viii. Promulgation of uniform civil code.

ix. Provision for legal aid.

x. Protection and improvement of environment.

xi. Respect for international law, treaty and obligations.

7. Freedom of Press:

It is a unique feature of Indian democracy. The media is free to express its views and expose the loopholes of the government. It acts as a medium of communication between the people and government. E.g.: Prasar Bharati —giving autonomy to Broadcasting Corporation. There are about 4,500 newspapers and periodicals published in India.

8. System of elections:

The Constitution of India provides for the establishment of Election Commission. It is an independent authority free from executive interference. It is responsible for conducting elections in the country. The term of the office is 6 years. Elections are contested once in five years.

9. Bicameral legislature:

The Indian Constitution provides for two Houses. Viz: Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People).

Elections to Rajya Sabha are indirect. It is not subject to dissolution. 1 /3 of its members retire every second year.

Lok Sabha:

It is composed of representatives of people chosen by direct election. The term of Lok Sabha is 5 years from the date of its first meeting. Every Law requires the consent of both the Houses.

10. Decentralisation of Power:

It is a typical feature of Indian democracy. There is distribution of power between the Union and the State. In India there are 28 states and 7 Union Territories. This typical feature is known as “quasi federal” The law making power is vested in the hands of both Union and States. Constitution provides for 3 different lists Viz: State list, Central List and Concurrent List.

The state can pass laws on the matters mentioned in State List, Union can pass laws on matters mentioned in Central List. Both the Union and State can pass laws on the matters mentioned in Concurrent List. Constitution makes a provision for distribution of financial resources between the State and the Centre. States are given autonomy in some matters and at the same time they are subject to the control of union of India.

Apart from this we find three tier systems for administration known as Panchayat Raj. Accordingly there are three levels of Panchayat Raj. Viz: Zilla Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and Village Panchayat.

Democracy at Work in India:

The system of democracy has achieved significant progress in India with tremendous diversities in the country; India has still survived as a democratic country.

Progress is made in the following areas:

1. Five year plans:

Significant progress is made in the country by virtue of five year plans. Currently we are in 12th five year plan. Lot of progress is made in the field of agriculture. India has attained self sufficiency in food.

2. Progress in science and technology:

India has made a significant progress in the field of science, technology and IT field. It has conducted extensive space programmes and launched many satellites. Important ones are the INSAT series.

3. Upliftment of minority:

Special privileges have been extended to minority communities: “Grant in aid” scheme has been be extended to institutions of minority communities.

4. Protection to SC and STs:

The Government of India has passed untouchability (offences) Act 1955. It was amended and renamed as the protection of Civil Rights Act. It provides for penalties for preventing any person from enjoying civil rights on the ground of untouchability.

In the field of education, various schemes like prematric and post matric scholarships, Reservation policy in public employment is followed.

5. Emancipation of women:

Adequate measures have been taken for the upliftment of women. Reservation policy for women in parliament has been adopted equal opportunities, are being extended to women. Special schemes have been devised to encourage women entre preneurs.

6. Welfare of labourers:

Workers participation in Management has been recognised through various schemes like collective bargaining, Works committee etc. Various welfare legislations have been passed by the government. The following are the important legislations.

i. Factories Act—1948.

ii. Industrial Disputes Act—1947.

iii. Bonus Act—1965.

iv. ESI Act.

v. Provident Fund Act.

vi. Workmen’s Compensation Act—1923.

vii. Minimum Wages Act—1948.

viii. Payment of Wages Act.

ix. Trade Unions Act. etc.

Attempts have been made to abolish bonded labour. A legislation known as Bonded Labour Abolition Act has been passed.

7. Effectiveness of Judiciary:

Judiciary has acted as a check on the powers of executive. There are instances where the political leaders have been summoned by Court. In many instances the High Court and Supreme Court have issued directions to the government by way of writ of mandamus.

8. System of Opposition:

The Opposition Parties exercise a check on the acts of government. It is remarked that. “Opposition parties” act as watchdogs in a democratic setup.

9. Press:

It has been instrumental in exposing the acts of government. It has enabled people to make decisions to choose a particular party or not.

10. Existance of different religions:

India being a democratic country has promoted harmony among various religions. All the major religions of the world. Viz: Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism. Jainism, Islam are prevailing in India. This aspect highlights the success of democracy in India.

Though democracy has been successful to some extent, it suffers from a lot of drawbacks. The following are the weaknesses of democracy in India:

1. Constitution:

Indian Constitution is neither rigid nor flexible. Amendments can be carried out in the Constitution or laws can be passed if it is duly voted upon by 2/3 majority of members of both the houses. If a particular political party enjoys absolute majority in both the Houses of Parliament, it is not at all difficult to pass any Act or amend the Constitution Further Constitution contains certain controversial provisions. E.g.: Special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Constitution is silent on certain provisions E.g: In case of citizenship by domicile the controversy still continues whether citizens by domicile can be considered for high positions in the country such as Prime Minister or President.

2. Bureaucracy:

It has come in the way of efficiency. It has resulted in unnecessary delays in making government decisions.

3. Corruption:

It is yet another problem of Indian democracy. It has become a major problem of public sectors and government services.

4. Multipolitical Parties:

There are too many political parties in India with different ideologies. They often conflict with each other than working constructively. Opposition parties themselves are divided and they tend to oppose government for each and every Act committed by it. There are numerous instances in which the opposition parties come, in the way of smooth proceedings of parliament.

5. Lack of good leaders:

The elected leaders are of low caliber. They have no commitment. Many of them are corrupt and abuse their power. They are involved in many scandles. E.g.: Fodder Scam, fake stamp etc.

6. Criminalisation of Politics:

Many people with criminal background are entering in to politics. Some politicians take the help of criminals. They use money power and muscle power to come to power.

7. Improper electoral system:

Elections are contested on the basis of caste and religion. Proxy voting, booth capturing are the common ways by which electoral process is abused.

8. Over population:

It is perhaps one of the reasons why democracy has failed. As per the census report of 2001 Indian population has crossed 100 crores. Over population has posed

9. Suppression of minority:

The opinion of majority is taken in to consideration, while forming government. The minority who gave a dissenting opinion are not considered. In a vast country like India, even if 25 crore people give a different opinion they are ignored as a minority opinion. This may result in the formation of pressure groups, which may exert pressure on the government. E.g.: Naxalites, Assam Militants.

10. Ineffective Judiciary:

Though Indian judiciary is independent, the process adopted is very slow. Multiplicity of litigations, increasing number of litigations, delay in judgement are a common feature of Indian Judiciary.

Trends in democracy:

Certain developments are taking place in the country which are posing a severe threat to democracy.

They are as follows

1. Increasing crime rates:

There is an extensive increase in crime rates. Murders. Dacoity, Abduction, Kidnap, Rape— all these are posing a severe threat to the existence of a common man’s life. Government is not in a position to provide security to a common man’s life and property. Eg: In the city of Bangalore alone there are at least 3 to 5 murders cases are being reported every month. If this type of anarchy continues, democracy may not be an appropriate form of government.

2. Terrorism:

It is yet another development in the country. There are various pressure groups like Naxalites, Kashmir terrorists, Hagas of Assam etc. They indulge in anti-social activities like destroying the public places, destroying the public property etc. Enactments like POTA, TADA are not able to curb terrorism under such a situation the survival of democracy becomes a debatable issue.

3. Lack of Communal harmony:

Instances of communal disturbance, riots have become a common feature: Eg. : Destruction of place of worship. E.g. : Destruction of “Aksharadhama” temple. An extreme instance which was reported recently was “hoisting” Pakistan flag on a mosque in Hubli, Karnataka state.

4. Unstable Government:

Since a decade there is a lot of political instability in the country. Coalition government has become a common feature. At present, we have a coalition government at the Centre and also at Karnataka State. It can be seen that political party is winning clear majority to form Government. There was no prepoll alliance among the parties who have formed a coalition government. The alliance among the political parties is a post poll alliance, the stability is at stake. If such trends continue people lose faith in the system of democracy as such. In spite of the above limitations of democracy it can be stated that democracy is partially successful in India. It is a fact to be appreciated that democracy has still survived in India.

Management Perspective:

The system of democracy has a lot of relevance to the managerial practices. Some policies of the management such as worker’s participation in management, collective bargaining, autonomy to employees at the work place reflect democratic ideas. One of the styles of leadership is known as democratic style of leadership which is followed by most organisations. Thus it can be noticed that “democracy” is an important political factor which exerts a lot of influence on the practices of an organisation.

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