What is Democracy?

India Oct 04, 2020

At a very young age, we learn that India is a Democratic country. We learn that Democracy is ‘For the people, by the people and from the people’. But, do we ever try to define Democracy in other words? Does this definition of Democracy which was coined years ago stand true today? Or we have come so far, that we forgot what Democracy was intended for?

Democracy, in its true sense and system divides the society. In Democracy where, the ideal expectation is to bring all citizens, people and individuals together, with no barriers of any sorts, Democracy sounds Optimistic and quite delusionary. The definition of democracy itself divides people’s job in society. Those governing individuals who work for people, those who govern the people and those who select the governing people. Ideally, this is how any society should be. Otherwise, History always reminds us about the horrible alternatives of Dictatorship, Leadership and Oligarchy. But if you look closely don’t you think all these alternatives are present in Democracy?

Absolutely yes. Because Democracy at the basic level functions on majority. The decisions, the rules and regulations, the laws and the lifestyle are if not always, but most of the times are influenced by majority. Democracy cannot survive without compliance, acceptance and adjustment. It will fall within no time, if any of these values are denied by society. That’s why Democracy is always under the threat of minority uprisings, revolts and resistance.

We select the people who will be governing us. So, the ultimate power is in the hands of citizens. But, is it really? Because, any person at the back of his mind looks after himself first. Then, looking for people takes a back seat. In the spirit of taking decisions for someone, a person tries to maximize his profits. And when it is citizens turn to select the governing individuals, the personal interest burs out the ‘fair’ vision! Thus, at the end of the day, Democracy is nothing, but the ‘Survival of the majority’.  But what about those hiding in the corner of minority? Do the reservations and special seats for minority fill up the gap? Does it stop their exploitation? Does it give them and help them to find their own voice? Or do they still get over-shadowed by majority?  And, what about those who question the existing majority? Who defy the majority norms? Who still have ‘fair’ vision, clear mind, loud voice? Democracy, in the fear of being challenged suppresses these voices. And offers them something that would be of their personal interest and makes them become a part of majority sooner or later. So, what does society need? Democracy? Majority? No.

What we truly need is place for everyone, who no matter whether his opinions, preferences, beliefs, like, choices are similar to others, is respected, treated and given opportunities equally! And, years ago, Democracy was intended to be this ‘safe, judgment-free, fair’ place. Not, the one we have today! But does that mean, we are not a democratic nation? No. You may call it a Democratic society where Dictator, Leader and Monarch exist and form Majority! For majority, Democracy will always be the way of life, true and normal; whereas for remainder it will be question of belongingness. What is Representation of Minorities in a Democracy? We will see in the next week's newsletter.

This article has been written by Radha Parvate for The Paradigm

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