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contents

CHAPTER I 2
DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY IN THE
CONTEMPO
NTEMPORRAR
ARYY WORLD
WORLD

CHAPTER 2 22
WHAT IS DEMOCR
WHAT AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY?
WHY DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY?

CHAPTER 3 40
CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
NSTITUTIO GN
ESIGN

CHAPTER 4 56
ELECTORAL PO
ELECT LITI
POLITICS
LITICS

CHAPTER 5 78
WORKING OF INSTITUTI
WORKING ONS
INSTITUTIO

CHAPTER 6 96
DEMOCR
EMOCRAATIC RI
TIC GHT
RIGHT S
GHTS

1
1
CHAPTER I

Democracy
in the
Contemporary
World

OVERVIE
VERVIE
VIEWW

This book is about democracy. In this first chapter we see how democracy
has expanded during the last hundred years to more and more countries
in the world. More than half of the independent countries in the world
today are democracies. The expansion of democracy has not been smooth
and straight. It has seen several ups and downs in different countries. It
still remains an unstable and uncertain achievement.
This chapter begins with different stories on the making and unmaking
of democracy from different parts of the world. These stories are meant to
give a sense of what it means to experience democracy and its absence.
We present the pattern of the spread of democracy first with a series of
maps and then with a short history. The focus in this chapter is on
democracy within a country. But towards the end of the chapter, we take
a look at democracy or its absence in the relations among different
countries. We examine the working of some international organisations.
This allows us to ask a big question: are we moving towards democracy at
the global level?

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©La Nación
President Salvador Allende
(wearing a helmet) and his 1.1 TWO TALES OF DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY
security guards in front of
La Moneda, Chile’s “Workers of my homeland! I have faith in leader of the Socialist Party of Chile
Presidential Palace, on 11
September 1973, hours Chile and its future. Chileans will and led the Popular Unity coalition
before his death. What do overcome this dark and bitter moment to victory in the presidential election
you read on everyone’s when treason became dominant. You in 1970. After being elected the
face in this photograph?
must never forget that, sooner rather than President, Allende had taken several
later, the grand avenues will be opened policy decisions to help the poor and
where free men will march on to build a the workers. These included reform
better society. Long live Chile! Long live of the educational system, free milk
the people! Long live the workers! for children and redistribution of land
These are my last words and I have to the landless farmers. He was
certainty that my sacrifice will not be in opposed to foreign companies taking
vain; I have certainty that, at the least, away natural resources like copper
I will be a moral lesson to castigate felony, from the country. The landlords, the
cowardice, and treason.” rich and the Church opposed his
These are some extracts from the policies. Some other political parties
last speech of Salvador Allende in Chile also opposed his government.
(pronounced Ayen-they). He was
Why did President then the President of Chile, a M ilitar
ilitaryy CCoup
oup of 1973
Allende address country in South America. The On the morning of 11 September
himself mainly to speech was given on the morning of 1973, the military took over the
‘workers’? Why 11 September 1973, the day his seaport. The Defence Minister was
were the rich government was overthrown by the arrested by the military when he
unhappy with him? military. Allende was the founder arrived at his office. The military

D EMOCR AC
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commanders asked the President to military officers. They could do as
resign. Allende refused to resign or they wished and no one could
leave the country. But realising the question them. Thus a military
danger to the country and to his life, dictatorship was established in
he addressed the people on the Chile. Pinochet’s government
radio, part of which we read in the tortured and killed several of those
beginning. Then the military who supported Allende and those
surrounded the President’s house who wanted democracy to be Did the army have
and started bombing it. President restored. These included General any legal right to
Allende died in the military attack. Alberto Bachelet of the Chilean Air arrest the defence
This was the sacrifice he was talking Force and many other officers who minister of the
country? Should
about in his last speech. A refused to join the coup. General
the army have the
government elected by people was Bachelet’s wife and daughter were
power to arrest any
overthrown by the military through put in prison and tortured. More
citizen?
conspiracy and violence. than 3,000 people were killed by the
What took place in Chile on 11 military. Many more were reported
September 1973 was a military ‘missing’. No one knows what
coup. General Augusto Pinochet happened to them.
(pronounced Pinoshe), an Army
general, led the coup. The
government of the United States of A C T I V I T Y
America was unhappy with Allende’s
rule and is known to have supported  Locate and shade Chile on the map. Which President Michelle Bachelet
addressing her supporters
and funded activities that led to the state in our country has a shape similar to
after her victory in the
coup. Pinochet became the Chile? presidential election in
President of the country and ruled  Follow the newspaper for one month and collect January 2006. From this
it for the next 17 years. From a news items related to any country in Latin photograph do you notice
any difference between an
government that was elected by the America. Did you find the news coverge election rally in Chile and in
people, the power shifted to the adequate. India?

©La Nación, Chile

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Lech Walesa

Poland is famous for its


poster art. Most of the
R est
estoo rraa tion of D emocr
emocraa ccyy
Democr one of Chile’s richest men. In this
posters of Solidarity carried Pinochet’s military dictatorship photograph of her victory speech,
this special way of writing came to an end after he decided to she is saying to her supporters:
‘Solidarnosc’. Can you find
hold a referendum in 1988. He felt “Because I was the victim of hatred, I
similar examples of poster
art or wall writing in Indian confident that in this referendum, have dedicated my life to reverse that
politics? the people would say ‘yes’ to his hatred and turn it into understanding,
continuing in power. But the people tolerance and — why not say it — into
of Chile had not forgotten their love.”
democratic traditions. Their vote was
a decisive ‘no’ to Pinochet. This led D emocr
emocraa ccyy in PPoland
oland
to Pinochet losing first his political Let us turn to another event, this
and then his military powers. The time from Poland, in 1980. At that
hope Allende expressed in his last time Poland was ruled by the Polish
address was realised: felony, United Workers’ Party. This was one
cowardice and treason were finally of the many communist parties that
punished. Political freedom was ruled in several countries of East
restored. Since then Chile has held Europe at that time. In these
four presidential elections in which countries no other political party
different political parties have was allowed to function. The people
participated. Slowly, the army’s role could not freely choose the leaders
in the country’s government has of the communist party or the
been eliminated. The elected government. Those who spoke
governments that came to power against the leaders or the party or
ordered inquiries into Pinochet’s the government were put in prison.
rule. These inquiries showed that his The government in Poland was
government was not only very supported and controlled by the
brutal, but also very corrupt. government of the Soviet Union
Do you remember a little reference (USSR), a vast and powerful
made earlier to General Bachelet’s communist state.
daughter who was imprisoned and On 14 August 1980, the workers
tortured along with her mother? of Lenin Shipyard in the city of
That girl, Michelle Bachelet Gdansk went on a strike. The
(pronounced Mishel Bashelet), was shipyard was owned by the
elected President of Chile in January government. In fact all the factories
2006. A medical doctor and a and big property in Poland were
moderate socialist, Michelle became owned by the government. The
the first woman to be a Defence strike began with a demand to take
Minister in Latin America. In the back a crane operator, a woman
presidential elections she defeated worker, who was unjustly dismissed

D EMOCR AC
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from service. This strike was illegal, government was weaker, the
because trade unions independent support from Soviet Union uncertain
of the ruling party were not allowed and the economy was in decline.
in Poland. As the strike continued, Another round of negotiations with
a former electrician of the shipyard, Walesa resulted in an agreement in
Lech Walesa (pronounced Lek April 1989 for free elections. Solidarity
Walesha), joined the strikers. He was contested all the 100 seats of the
dismissed from service in 1976 for Senate and won 99 of them. In
demanding higher pay. Walesa soon October 1990, Poland had its first
emerged as the leader of the striking presidential elections in which more
workers. The strike began to spread than one party could contest. Walesa
across the whole city. Now the was elected President of Poland.
workers started raising larger
demands. They wanted the right to
form independent trade unions. They A C T I V I T Y
also demanded the release of political
prisoners and an end to censorship  Locate Poland on the map. Write down the
on press. names of the countries that surround it.
The movement became so popular  Which other East European countries were
that the government had to give in. ruled by communist parties in the 1980s?
The workers led by Walesa signed a Shade them on the map.
21-point agreement with the  Make a list of political activities that you could
government that ended their strike. not have done in Poland in 1980s but you can
The government agreed to recognise do in our country.
the workers’ right to form
independent trade unions and their Tw o FFee aatur
tures of D
tures emocr
emocraa ccyy
Democr
right to strike. After the Gdansk We have read two different kinds of
agreement was signed, a new trade real life stories. The story from Chile
union called Solidarity (Solidarnosc was of a democratic government led
in Polish) was formed. It was the first by Allende being replaced by a non-
time an independent trade union democratic military government of
was formed in any of the communist Pinochet, followed by restoration of
states. Within a year, Solidarity democracy. In Poland we tracked the
swept across Poland and had about transition from a non-democratic
one crore members. Revelations of government to a democratic
widespread corruption and government.
mismanagement in the government Let us compare the two non-
made matters worse for the democratic governments in these
rulers. The government, led by stories. There were many differences
General Jaruzelski, grew anxious between Pinochet’s rule in Chile and
and imposed martial law in the communist rule in Poland. Chile
December 1981. Thousands of was ruled by a military dictator,
Solidarity members were put in while Poland was ruled by a political
prison. Freedom to organise, protest party. The government of Poland Why was an
and express opinions was once claimed that it was ruling on behalf independent trade
again taken away. of the working classes. Pinochet union so important
Another wave of strikes, again made no such claim and openly in Poland? Why are
organised by Solidarity, began in favoured big capitalists. Yet both trade unions
1988. This time the Polish had some common features: necessary?

6 D EMOCR
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 The people could not choose or governments elected by the people
change their rulers. and not by the army, unelected
 There was no real freedom to leaders or any external power. The
express one’s opinions, form people enjoyed some basic political
political associations and organise freedoms.
protests and political action. From these two stories let us draw
a rough way to identify a democracy.
The three democratic governments Democracy is a form of government
identified above — Allende’s Chile, that allows people to choose their
Walesa’s Poland and Michelle’s Chile rulers. In a democracy:
— are different in their approach  only leaders elected by people
towards social and economic matters. should rule the country, and
Allende preferred government control  people have the freedom to express
on all big industries and the economy. views, freedom to organise and
Walesa wanted the market to be free freedom to protest.
of government interference. Michelle
stands somewhere in the middle on We shall come back to this question
this issue. Yet these three in Chapter Two and develop a
governments shared some basic definition of democracy. We shall also
features. Power was exercised by note some features of a democracy.

Anita made a list of the features of all the five governments that we have discussed so far. But
somehow the list got mixed up. Now she has a list of many features but she does not remember
which feature applies to which government. Can you help her by writing the correct feature under the
CHECK name of the government in the table below? Remember, some of these features may apply to more
YOUR than one government and would need to be written separately under each of these.
Features:
PROGRESS Military
sm of t h e dictatorship Widespread The president
Critici ent not corruption was once a
m
govern political prison
er
d
allowe Government
Ruler elected owned all Ruler not
by the people industries More than o
parties e ne elected by the
Missing people xist people
People enjoyed
basic political Foreign
freedom s inter vention
domestic a in
ffairs

Chile Chile Chile Poland Poland


Allende Pinochet Bachelet Jaruzelski Walesa

D EMOCR AC
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1.2 THE CHANGING MAP OF DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY
Twentieth century was full of the that were democratic in 1950, a few
kind of stories we have read above: years after the end of the Second
stories of transition to democracy, World War. This map also shows
of challenges to democracy, of countries from this set that had
military coups, of struggles of the already become democratic by 1900.
people to bring back democracy. The second map presents a picture
Was there a pattern to these stories of democratic regimes in 1975, after
that record both the march towards most of the colonies had gained
democracy and the setbacks to independence. Finally, we take
democracy? Let us use the basic another leap and look at democracies
features we noted earlier and in the year 2000, at the beginning of
identify democracies among the twenty-first century.
different countries of the world. As we look at these maps, let us
This is what the three maps shown ask ourselves some questions. How
here do. Take a look at these three has democracy marched through
maps below and find out if there was the twentieth century? Is there a
a pattern in the way democracies clear pattern of expansion? When
have evolved in the twentieth century. did the expansion take place? In
The first map depicts the countries which regions?

MAP 1.1: DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS IN 1900-1950

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN 1900 AND 1950

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN 1950 BUT NOT IN 1900

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MAP 1.2: DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS IN 1975

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN 1975

MAP 1.3: DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS IN 2000

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN 2000

Source: Historical data for these maps is taken from Polity IV Project dataset of Universtiy of Maryland. This dataset defines democracy as existence
of choices about policies and leaders, checks on executive power and guarantee of civil liberties. Here we have used positive ‘Polity’ scores as
indicating the existence of democracy. In some cases the scores of dataset have been modified. For details see http://www.cidcm.umd.edu

D EMOCR AC
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On the basis of these maps identify up to three countries (in some cases you won’t find three countries)
that were democratic in these continents for the given years and make a table as given below.

Year Africa Asia Europe Latin America CHECK


1950
1975
YOUR
2000 PROGRESS
 Identify some countries from map 1.1 that became democratic between 1900 and 1950.
 Identify some countries from map 1.1 and 1.2 that were democratic in 1950 and 1975.
 Identify some European countries from map 1.2 and 1.3 that were democratic in 1975 and 2000.
 Identify some countries in Latin America that became democratic after 1975.
 Make a list of big countries that were not democratic in 2000.

Let us summarise the main points It was established first in some


that emerge from a reading of these regions and then spread to other
maps. You need to go back to the regions. Which continents in the
maps to answer the question that world had a large number of
comes after each point. democracies in 1900 and 1950?
 Democracy has expanded And which continents did not have
throughout the twentieth almost any?
century. Is it correct to say that  While a majority of countries are
at each point in these maps, the democratic today, there are still Looking at these
number of democratic countries is large parts of the world that are maps, which period
larger than at the previous point not democratic. Which regions in do you find most
in time? the world account for most of the important in the
 Democracy did not spread countries that were not expansion of
evenly in all parts of the world. democracies in 2000? democracy? Why?

1.3 PHA SES IN THE EXP


HASES ANSI
XPANSION
ANSIO
OF DEMOCR
EMOCRACAC
ACYY
T he BBeginning
eginning In Britain, the progress towards
These maps do not tell us much democracy started much before the
about what happened before the French Revolution. But the progress
twentieth century. The story of mod- was very slow. Through the
ern democracy began at least two eighteenth and the nineteenth
centuries ago. You may have read centuries, series of political events
the chapter on the French Revolu- reduced the power of monarchy and
tion of 1789 in the history book of feudal lords. The right to vote was
this course. This popular uprising granted to more and more people.
did not establish a secure and stable Around the same time as the French
democracy in France. Throughout Revolution, the British colonies in
the nineteenth century, democracy North America declared themselves
in France was overthrown and re- independent in 1776. In the next few
stored several times. Yet the French years these colonies came together
Revolution inspired many struggles to form the United States of America.
for democracy all over Europe. They adopted a democratic

10 D EMOCR
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constitution in 1787. But here too As you can see, by 1900 New
the right to vote was limited to very Zealand was the only country where
few men. every adult had voting right. But if
In the nineteenth century struggles you go back to the map, you can see
for democracy often centred round many other countries are marked as
political equality, freedom and justice. ‘democracies’ by the beginning of the
One major demand was the right for twentieth century. These countries
Why were women every adult citizen to vote. Many had by then governments elected by
given voting rights European countries that were a significant number of people,
much later than becoming more democratic did not mostly men, and had granted
men in most initially allow all people to vote. In political freedom in some measure.
countries? Why did some countries only people owning Early democracies were established
this not happen in property had the right to vote. Often in Europe, North America and Latin
India? women did not have the right to vote. America.
In the United States of America, the
blacks all over the country could not E nd of CColonialism
olonialism
exercise the right to vote until 1965. For a very long time most countries
Those struggling for democracy in Asia and Africa were colonies
wanted this right granted under the control of European
universally to all adults — men or nations. People of the colonised
women, rich or poor, white or black. countries had to wage struggles to
This is called ‘universal adult achieve independence. They not only
franchise’ or ‘universal suffrage’. The wanted to get rid of their colonial
box here tells us when universal masters, but also wished to choose
suffrage was granted in many their future leaders. Our country
countries of the world. was one of the few colonies where
people carried a nationalist struggle
When was universal to liberate the country from the
adult franchise granted? colonial rule. Many of these
countries became democracies
1893 New Zealand immediately after the end of the
1917 Russia Second World War in 1945. India
1918 Germany achieved Independence in 1947 and
1919 Netherlands embarked on its journey to transform
itself from a subject country to a
1928 Britain
democracy. It continues to be a
1931 Sri Lanka
democracy. Most former colonies did
1934 Turkey not have such a good experience.
1944 France The case of Ghana, a country in
1945 Japan western Africa, illustrates the more
1950 India common experience of former
Note: This is only an 1951 Argentina colonies. Ghana used to be a British
illustrative list from different
1952 Greece colony named Gold Coast. It became
parts of the world. The year
indicates when the principle 1955 Malaysia independent in 1957. It was among
of one person one vote was the first countries in Africa to gain
1962 Australia
fully realised in that independence. It inspired other
country. The list does not 1965 US African countries to struggle for
include those cases where 1978 Spain
the right to vote was freedom. Kwame Nkrumah
withdrawn later. 1994 South Africa (pronounced Enkruma), son of a

D EMOCR AC
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goldsmith and himself a teacher, change in the political map of the
was active in the independence world.
struggle of his country. In this period major changes also
After independence, Nkrumah be- took place in India’s neighbourhood.
came the first prime minister and Pakistan and Bangladesh made a
then the president of Ghana. He was transition from army rule to
a friend of Jawaharlal Nehru and an democracy in 1990s. In Nepal, the
inspiration for democrats in Africa. king gave up many of his powers to
But unlike Nehru, he got himself become a constitutional monarch to
elected president for life. Soon af- be guided by elected leaders.
ter, in 1966, he was overthrown by However, these changes were not
the military. Like Ghana, most coun- permanent. In 1999 General
tries that became democracies after Musharraf brought back army rule
gaining independence had a mixed in Pakistan. In 2005 the new king
record. They could not remain de- of Nepal dismissed the elected
mocracies for long. government and took back political
freedoms that people had won in the
previous decade.
A C T I V I T Y Yet the overall trend in this period
points to more and more countries
 Locate Ghana in an atlas and then spot it in the turning to democracy. This phase
three maps in the previous section. Was Ghana still continues. By 2005, about 140
a democracy in 2000? countries were holding multi-party
 Do you think it is good to elect someone elections. This number was higher
President for life? Or is it better to hold regular than ever before. More than 80
elections after every few years? previously non-democratic countries Kwame Nkrumah Memorial
have made significant advances Park in Accra, the capital of
R e c e nntt phase towards democracy since 1980. But, Ghana. This park was
commissioned in 1992,
The next big push towards democracy even today, there are many
twenty years after Nkrumah
came after 1980, as democracy was countries where people cannot passed away. What might
revived in several countries of Latin express their opinion freely. They have caused this delay?
America. The disintegration of the
Soviet Union accelerated this process.

Dev Ley, Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License


From the story of Poland we know
that the then Soviet Union controlled
many of its neighbouring communist
countries in Eastern Europe. Poland
and several other countries became
free from the control of the Soviet
Union during 1989-90. They chose
to become democracies. Finally the
Soviet Union itself broke down in
1991. The Soviet Union comprised 15
Republics. All the constituent
Republics emerged as independent
countries. Most of them became
democracies. Thus the end of Soviet
control on East Europe and the break
up of the Soviet Union led to a big

12 D EMOCR
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read
the
cartoon
This cartoon
appeared in 2005
©Stephane Peray, Thailand, Cagle Cartoons Inc.

when Aung San Suu


Kyi’s turned 60. What
is the cartoonist
saying here? Will the
army rulers feel
happy with this
cartoon?

still cannot elect their leaders. They government in Myanmar, about 6 to


cannot take big decisions about their 10 lakh people in that country have
present and future life. been uprooted from their homes and
One such country is Myanmar, have taken shelter elsewhere.
previously known as Burma. It Despite being under house arrest,
gained freedom from colonial rule in Suu Kyi continued to campaign for
1948 and became a democracy. But democracy. According to her: “The
the democratic rule ended in 1962 quest for democracy in Burma is the
with a military coup. In 1990 struggle of the people to live whole,
elections were held for the first time meaningful lives as free and equal
after almost 30 years. The National members of the world community.” Her
League for Democracy, led by Aung struggle has won international
San Suu Kyi (pronounced Soo-chi), recognition. She has also been
won the election. But the military awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet
leaders of Myanmar refused to step the people in Myanmar are still
down and did not recognise the struggling to establish a democratic
election results. Instead, the military government in their country.
put the elected pro-democracy
leaders, including Suu Kyi, under
house arrest. Political activists A C T I V I T Y
accused of even the most trivial
What should be the offences have been jailed. Anyone  Locate Myanmar on an atlas. Which Indian
policy of the caught publicly airing views or states border this country?
government of issuing statements critical of the  Write a short essay on the life of Aung San
India towards the regime can be sentenced up to Suu Kyi.
military rulers of twenty years in prison. Due to the  Collect newspaper reports on the struggle for
Myanmar? coercive policies of the military-ruled democracy in Myanmar.

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1. 4 DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY AT THE GLOBAL LE VEL?
After reading about the various I nntt e rrnn aational
tional Organisa tions
Organisations
phases of expansion of democracy, Let us respond to the question that
a teacher, Mr. Singh, asked the came up in this conversation: Does
students to summarise what they an increase in the number of
had learnt. This is how the democratic countries all over the
conversation took place: world automatically lead to
democratic relations among
Farida: We have learnt that democracy has been countries? Before we do that, let us
expanding to more and more regions and think about the point raised by Should there be a
countries all over the world. Surinder. There is a government of world government?
Rajesh: Yes, we live in a better world than before. If yes, who should
India, a government of the United
It seems we are moving towards a world elect it? And, what
States of America, and so on. But
democracy. powers should it
there is no government of the world.
Sushmita: World democracy! How can you say have?
No government can pass any law
that? I saw a television programme that showed that will apply to all the people of
how the Americans invaded Iraq without any the world. If there is no such
justification. The people of Iraq were not government, if there are no rulers
consulted at any stage. How can you call that and ruled, how can we apply the two
a world democracy? features of democracy here? These
Farida: I am not talking about the relationship two features, you would recall, were
between different countries. I am only saying that the rulers should be elected by
that more and more countries are becoming the people and that people should
democratic. have basic political freedoms.
Rajesh: But what is the difference between the
two? If more and more countries become
democratic, isn’t it obvious that the world also
becomes more democratic? After all the Iraq

Universal,Mexico, Cagle Cartoons Inc.


war was all about taking democracy to that
country.
Sushmita: No, it is not obvious to me.
Singh sir: I think we are talking about two very
different things here. Farida spoke about
establishment of democratic governments within
different countries in the world today. Sushmita
and Rajesh have differences over something else.
Their difference is over the relationship among
different countries. It is quite possible, Rajesh,
that the rulers of a country who are
©Angel Boligan,

democratically elected by their people may want


to dominate over other countries.
Sushmita: Yes sir. That is exactly what happened
This cartoon was published
in the case of the war on Iraq.
in Mexico in 2005 and was
Surinder: I am confused. How can we talk about titled ‘International Games’.
democracy at the global level? Is there any Which games is the
world government? Who is the president of the cartoonist talking about
here? What does the ball
world? If there is no government, how can it symbolize? Who are the
be democratic or non-democratic? players?

14 D EMOCR
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While Surinder is right in a simple A r e these de cisions
decisions
sense, we cannot say that the democr
democraa tic?
question of democracy does not arise So, there are many institutions at
here. There is no single World the world level that perform some
Government, but there are many of the functions that a world
institutions in the world that government would perform. But we
perform partially the functions of need to know just how democratic
such a government. These these organisations are. The
organisations cannot command yardstick here is whether each of
countries and citizens in a way a the countries has free and equal say
government can, but they do make in the decisions that affect them.
Should the rules that put limits on what In this light let us examine the
permanent governments can do. Consider these organisation of some of these world
members of the points: bodies.
UN be given the  Who makes laws and rules to Everyone of the 192 member
power to veto? govern the seas that do not fall countries of the UN has one vote in
within the boundaries of any one the UN General Assembly. It meets
country? Or who takes steps to in regular yearly sessions under a
control environmental degradation president elected from among the
that threatens all the countries representatives of the member
together. The United Nations (UN) countries. General Assembly is like
has evolved many Conventions on the parliament where all the
these questions that are now discussion takes place. In that
binding on most countries of the sense the UN would appear to be a
world. The UN is a global very democratic organisation. But
association of nations of the world the General Assembly cannot take
to help cooperation in any decision about what action
international law, security, should be taken in a conflict
economic development and social between different countries.
equity. The UN Secretary General The fifteen-member Security
is its chief administrative officer. Council of the UN takes such crucial
 What happens when a country decisions. The Council has five
attacks another country in an permanent members – US, Russia,
unjust manner? The UN Security UK, France and China. Ten other
Council, an organ of the UN, is members are elected by the General
responsible for maintaining peace Assembly for two-year terms. The
and security among countries. It real power is with five permanent
can put together an international members. The permanent members,
army and take action against the especially the US, contribute most
wrongdoer. of the money needed for the
 Who lends money to governments maintenance of the UN. Each
when they need it? The Interna- permanent member has veto power.
tional Monetary Fund (IMF) does It means that the Council cannot
so. The World Bank also gives take a decision if any permanent
loans to the governments. Before member says no to that decision.
lending they ask the concerned This system has led more and more
government to show all its people and countries to protect and
accounts and direct it to make demand that the UN becomes more
changes in its economic policy. democratic.

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) nations are becoming more
is one of the biggest moneylenders democratic than they were earlier,
for any country in the world. Its 173 international organisations are
member states do not have equal becoming less democratic. Twenty
voting rights. The vote of each years ago there were two big powers
country is weighed by how much in the world: the US and the Soviet
money it has contributed to the IMF. Union. The competition and conflict
Nearly half of the voting power in the between these two big powers and
Wolfowitz was a
IMF is in the hands of only seven their allies kept a certain balance in
senior official in the
countries (US, Japan, France, UK, all the global organisations. After the
Department of
Saudi Arabia, China and Russia). collapse of the Soviet Union, the US
Defence in the US
The remaining 166 countries have appears to be the only superpower
(commonly called
very little say in how these in the world. This American
Pentagon). He was an
international organisations take dominance affects the working of
aggressive supporter
decisions. The World Bank has a international organisations.
of the invasion of
similar system of voting. The This is not to say that there is no
Iraq. The cartoon
President of the World Bank has urge or move towards global
comments on his
always been a citizen of the US, democracy. The urge comes from
appointment as the
conventionally nominated by the people who get more opportunities
President of the World
Treasury Secretary (Finance Minister) to come in touch with one another.
Bank. What does the
of the US government. Over the last few years the people of
cartoon tell us about
different countries have come
the relationship
together without their governments’
A C T I V I T Y support. They have formed global
between the World
Bank and the US?
organisations against war and
 Find out more about the history and various against domination of the world by
organs of the United Nations. a few countries and business read
 Collect any news about the decisions of the companies. As in the case of
World Bank and the IMF. democracy within the nations, the the
initiative for democracy among
Compare these to the kind of nations has come from the struggles cartoon
democratic practices that we have of the people.
been discussing in this chapter.

Cagle Cartoons Inc.


©Patrick Chappatte, International Herald Tribune,
What would you say about a country
where some persons have a
permanent position in the ministry
and have the power to stop the
decision of the entire parliament? Or
a parliament where five per cent of
the members hold a majority of
votes? Would you call these
democratic? Most of the global
institutions fail to pass the simple
test of democracy that we use for
national governments.
If global institutions are not
democratic, are they at least
becoming more democratic than
before? Here too the evidence is not
very encouraging. In fact, while

16 D EMOCR
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Here are some suggestions to strengthen world democracy. Do you support these changes? Are
these changes likely to happen? Give your reasons for each of these.
 More nations should become permanent members of the Security Council.
CHECK  UN General Assembly should become like a world parliament with representatives from each country
in proportion to the population of the country. These representatives should elect a world government.
YOUR  Individual countries should not have armies. The UN should maintain task forces to bring about
PROGRESS peace in case of conflict between nations.
 A UN President should be elected directly by all the people of the world.

D emocr
emocraa ccyy promotion rule in 1932. Three decades later
Take a close look at the two cartoons there were a series of coups by
on this and on the next page. These military officers. Since 1968, it was
cartoons raise a fundamental ruled by Arab Socialist Ba’th Party
question related to global (the Arabic word Ba’th means
democracy. Recently, many renaissance). Saddam Hussein, a
powerful countries in the world, leading Ba’th party leader, played a
The cartoon “Cactus particularly the United States of key role in the 1968 coup that
of Democracy” was America, have taken on the task of brought the party to power. This
published in 2004. democracy promotion in the rest of government abolished traditional
What does the cactus the world. They say that propagating
Islamic law and gave women the
look like here? Who is the values of democracy is not
right to vote and several freedoms
gifting it, and to enough. Existing democracies
not granted in other west Asian
whom? What is the should directly intervene in
countries that are non-democratic countries. After becoming the
message? president of Iraq in 1979, Saddam
to establish democracy there. In
some cases powerful countries have ran a dictatorial government and
launched armed attack on non- suppressed any dissent or
read democratic countries. This is what opposition to his rule. He was known
the Sushmita was talking about. to have got a number of political
Let us see what happened in Iraq. opponents killed and persons of
cartoon Iraq is a country in Western Asia. It ethnic minorities massacred.
became independent from British The US and its allies like Britain,
alleged that Iraq possessed secret
©Stephane Peray, Thailand,
Cagle Cartoons Inc.

nuclear weapons and other


‘weapons of mass destruction’
which posed a big threat to the
world. But when a UN team went
to Iraq to search for such weapons,
it did not find any. Still the US and
its allies invaded Iraq, occupied it
and removed Saddam Hussein from
power in 2003. The US installed an
interim government of its
preference. The war against Iraq
was not authorised by the UN
Security Council. Kofi Annan, the
UN Secretary General, said that the
US war on Iraq was illegal.

D EMOCR AC
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A C T I V I T Y read
Collect information on the debate related to Iraq
the
within the US and the UK. What were the reasons cartoon
originally offered for the Iraq invasion by the
President of US and the Prime Minister of UK?
‘Helping Democracy’
What were the reasons offered after the war?
was a comment on
the presence of US
The example of Iraq raises some
forces during the
basic questions that we need to
elections in Iraq. Do
think about:
you think the cartoon
 Is this the right way to promote
can apply to many
democracy? Should a democratic
other situations?
country wage a war and invade
Identify some
other countries for establishing
examples from this
democracy there?
chapter which this
 Does external help work in every
cartoon can help
case? Or does it work only when
understand.
the people of a nation are actively
engaged in a struggle to make their
societies democratic?
 Even if external intervention leads
to the establishment of democracy
in a country, would it last long?
Would it enjoy the support of its
citizens?
 Finally, is the use of external force
to gift democracy to the people in
keeping with the spirit of
democracy?
Think about these questions in the

©Ares, Caglecartoons.com, Cagle Cartoons Inc.


light of all that you have learnt in
this chapter.

18 D EMOCR
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Censorship: A condition under which the freedom of expression is taken
away. Citizens have to take prior permission from the censor authorities
of the government for making a speech or publishing news and views.
GLOSSARY Anything that the government finds objectionable cannot be published.
Coalition: An alliance of people, associations, parties or nations. This
alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience.
Colony: Territory under the immediate political control of another state.
Communist state: A state governed by a communist party without allowing
other parties to compete for power. The state controls all the big property
and industry.
Coup: A coup d’état (pronounced ku de’ta), or simply a coup, is the sudden
overthrow of a government illegally. It may or may not be violent in nature.
The term is French for ‘a sudden blow or strike to a state’.
Martial law: A system of rules that takes effect when a military authority
takes control of the normal administration of justice.
Political prisoners: Persons held in prison or otherwise detained, perhaps
under house arrest, because a government considers their ideas, image
or activities as a threat to the authority of the state. Often exaggerated or
false cases are foisted on them and they are kept in detention without
following normal law.
Referendum: A direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either
accept or reject a particular proposal. This may be adoption of a new
constitution, a law or a specific governmental policy.
Strike: Mass refusal by workers or employees to perform work due to
certain grievances or because of demands not met. In most democratic
countries the right to strike is legal.
Trade Union: An association of workers for the purpose of maintaining or
improving the conditions of their employment.
Veto: The right of a person, party or nation to stop a certain decision or
law. The word comes from Latin, which means ‘I forbid’. A veto gives
unlimited power to stop a decision, but not to adopt one.

exercises 1 Which of the following does not lead to the spread of democracy?
a Struggle by the people
b Invasion by foreign countries
c End of colonialism
d People’s desire for freedom

2 Which of the following statement is true about today’s world?


a Monarchy as a form of government has vanished .
b The relationship between different countries has become more
democratic than ever before.
c In more and more countries rulers are being elected by the people.
d There are no more military dictators in the world.

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exercises
3 Use one of the following statements to complete the sentence:
Democracy in the international organisations requires that …
a The rich countries should have a greater say.
b Countries should have a say according to their military power.
c Countries should be treated with respect in proportion to their
population.
d All countries in the world should be treated equally.

4 Based on the information given in this chapter, match the following


countries and the path democracy has taken in that country.
COUNTRY PATH TO DEMOCRACY
a Chile i Freedom from British colonial rule
b Nepal ii End of military dictatorship
c Poland iii End of one party rule
d Ghana iv King agreed to give up his powers

5 What are the difficulties people face in a non-democratic country?


Give answers drawing from the examples given in this chapter.

6 Which freedoms are ususally taken away when a democracy is


overthrown by the military?

7 Which of the following positions can contribute to democracy at the


global level? Give reasons for your answer in each case.
a My country gives more money to international institutions.
Therefore, I want to be treated with more respect and exercise
more power.
b My country may be small or poor. But my voice must be heard
with equal respect, because these decisions will affect my country.
c Wealthy nations will have a greater say in international affairs.
They cannot let their interests suffer just because they are
outnumbered by poor nations.
d Big countries like India must have a greater say in international
organisations.

8 Here are three opinions heard in a television debate on the struggle


for democracy in Nepal. Which of these do you agree with and why?
Guest 1: India is a democracy. Therefore, the Indian government
must support the people of Nepal who are struggling
against monarchy and for democracy.
Guest 2: That is a dangerous argument. We would be in the same
position as the US was in Iraq. Remember, no outside force
can promote democracy.
Guest 3: But why should we bother about the internal affairs of
another country? We should be worried about our business
interests there, not about democracy.

20 D EMOCR
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exercises 9 In an imaginary country called Happyland, the people overthrew the
foreign ruler and brought back the old royal family. They said: “After
all their ancestors were our kings before foreigners started ruling us. It is good
that we have one strong ruler, who can help us become rich and powerful”.
When someone talked about democracy the wise men said it is a
foreign idea. Their struggle was to throw the foreigners and their
ideas out of the country. When someone demanded freedom for the
media, the elders thought that too much criticism of the ruler would
not help them improve their living standards. “After all, the king is so
kind and interested in the welfare of all the subjects. Why create problems for
him. Don’t we all want to be happy? ”
After reading the above passage, Chaman, Champa and Chandru
made the following observations:
Chaman: Happyland is a democratic country because people were
able to throw out the foreign rulers and bring back the
king.
Champa: Happyland is not a democratic country because people
cannot criticise the ruler. The king may be nice and may
provide economic prosperity, but a king cannot give a
democratic rule.
Chandru: What people need is happiness. So they are willing to allow
their new ruler to take decisions for them. If people are
happy it must be a democracy.

What is your opinion about each of these statements? What do you


think about the form of government in this country?

Form different groups in your class and collect different types of information
(news clippings, articles, photographs, cartoons, etc.) about struggles for
democracy in any country that is currently not democratic. Focus on the
following questions:
 What makes the government non-democratic?
 What are the main complaints and demands of the people in that
country?
 How do the existing rulers react to people’s demands?
 Who are the main leaders of the struggle for democracy?

You could present the information thus collected in various forms: an


exhibition, a collage, a report or a wallpaper.

D EMOCR AC
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CHAPTER 2

What is
Democracy?
Why
Democracy?

OVERVIE
VERVIE
VIEWW

The stories and the analysis in the previous chapter gave us a sense of
what democracy is like. There we described some governments as
democratic and some as non-democratic. We saw how governments in
some of those countries changed from one form to the other. Let us now
draw general lessons from those stories and ask the more basic question:
What is democracy? What are its features? This chapter builds on a simple
definition of democracy. Step by step, we work out the meaning of the
terms involved in this definition. The aim here is to understand clearly the
bare minimum features of a democratic form of government. After going
through this chapter we should be able to distinguish a democratic form
of government from a non-democratic government. Towards the end of
this chapter, we step beyond this minimal objective and introduce a broader
idea of democracy.
In the previous chapter, we have seen that democracy is the most
prevalent form of government in the world today and it is expanding to
more countries. But why is it so? What makes it better than other forms of
government? That is the second big question that we take up in this chapter.

22 D EMOCR
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2.1 W HAT
HAT IS DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY?
In Chapter One we read many stories distinguishes these governments
from different parts of the world. from Pinochet’s rule in Chile,
Through these stories we discussed communist rule in Poland or the later
various governments and period of Nkrumah’s rule in Ghana?
organisations. We called some of What do these governments have in
these democracies. Others were common with the military rule in
described as non-democracies. Can Myanmar? Why do we say that these
you recall, for each of these countries, governments are not democratic?
something about the governments On the basis of this analysis, write
that were described as democracies? down some common features of:
 Chile, before and after Pinochet’s  Democratic governments
rule  Non-democratic governments
 Poland, after the fall of communist
rule W h y def ine democr
define democraa ccyy ?
 Ghana, in the early period of Before we proceed further, let us
Nkrumah’s government first take note of an objection by
What do you think is common to Merry. She does not like this way
them? Why do we club them all under of defining democracy and wants
the label of democracy? What is it that to ask some basic questions.

News items like this appear very often in newspapers.


Do they all use the word democracy in the same sense?

W HAT
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Her teacher Matilda Lyngdoh not remain tied to its origin. Just think of com-
responds to her questions, as other puters. Originally they were used for computing,
classmates join the discussion: that is to say calculating, very difficult mathemati-
Merry: Ma’am, I don’t like this idea. First we cal sums. These were very powerful calculators.
spend one whole chapter discussing democ- But nowadays very few people use computers
racies in different parts of the world and then for computing sums. They use it for writing, for
we want to find out the meaning of democ- designing, for listening to music and for watch-
racy. I mean logically shouldn’t we have ap- ing films. Words remain the same but their mean-
proached it the other way round? Shouldn’t the ing can change with time. In that case it is not
meaning have come first and then the example? very useful to look at the origins of a word.
Lyngdoh Madam: I can see your point. But that Merry: Ma’am, so basically what you are saying
is not how we reason in everyday life. We use is that there is no shortcut to our thinking about
words like pen, rain or love. Do we wait to have the matter ourselves. We have to think about
a definition of these words before we use its meaning and evolve a definition.
them? Come to think of it, do we have clear Lyngdoh Madam: You got me right. Let us get on
definition of these words? It is only by using a with it now.
word that we understand its meaning.
Merry: But then why do we need definitions at all?
Lyngdoh Madam: We need a definition only when
A C T I V I T Y
we come across a difficulty in the use of a word.
We need a definition of rain only when we wish Let us take Lyngdoh Madam seriously and try to
to distinguish it from, say, drizzle or cloudburst. write down the exact definition of some of the I have heard a
different version.
The same is true for democracy. We need a clear simple words that we use all the time: pen, rain
Democracy is off
definition only because people use it for differ- and love. For example, is there a way of defining
the people, far
ent purposes, because very different kinds of a pen that distinguishes it clearly from a pencil, a
(from) the people
governments call themselves democracy. brush, a highlighter or a marker?
and (where they)
Ribiang: But why do we need to work on a defi-  What have you learnt from this attempt?
buy the people.
nition? The other day you quoted Abraham Lin-  What does it teach us about understanding the
Why don’t we
coln to us: “Democracy is a rule of the people, meaning of democracy? accept that?
for the people and by the people”. We in
Meghalaya always ruled ourselves. That is ac- A simple def inition
definition
cepted by everyone. Why do we need to Let us get back to our discussion
change that? on similarities and differences
Lyngdoh Madam: I am not saying we need to among governments that are called
change it. I too find this definition very beauti- democracies. In the last chapter we
ful. But we don’t know if this is the best way of identified one simple factor common
defining unless we think about it ourselves. We to all democracies: the government
must not accept something just because it is is chosen by the people. We could
famous, just because everyone accepts it. thus start with a simple definition:
Yolanda: Ma’am, can I suggest something? We democracy is a form of
don’t need to look for any definition. I read some- government in which the rulers
where that the word democracy comes from a are elected by the people.
Greek word ‘Demokratia’. In Greek ‘demos’ This is a useful starting point. This
means people and ‘kratia’ means rule. So de- definition allows us to separate
mocracy is rule by the people. This is the cor- democracy from forms of government
rect meaning. Where is the need to debate? that are clearly not democratic. The
Lyngdoh Madam: That is also a very helpful way army rulers of Myanmar are not
of thinking about this matter. I would just say elected by the people. Those who
that this does not always work. A word does happen to be in control of the army

24 D EMOCR
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become the rulers of the country. almost every government that holds
People have no say in this decision. an election a democracy. That would
Dictators like Pinochet are not elected be very misleading. As we noted in
by the people. This also applies to Chapter Four, every government in
monarchies. The king of Nepal and contemporary world wants to be
Saudi Arabia rule not because the called a democracy, even if it is not
people have chosen them to do so but so. That is why we need to carefully
because they happen to be born into distinguish between a government
the royal family. that is a democracy and one that
This simple definition is not pretends to be one. We can do so by
adequate. It reminds us that understanding each word in this
democracy is people’s rule. But if we definition carefully and spelling out
use this definition in an unthinking the features of a democratic
manner, we would end up calling government.

Ribiang went back home and collected some more famous quotations on democracy. This time she
did not mention the names of the people who said or wrote these. She wants you to read these and
comment on how good or useful these thoughts are:
CHECK  Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.
 Democracy consists of choosing your dictators after they’ve told you what you think it is you want
YOUR to hear.
PROGRESS  Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes
democracy necessary
 Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
 All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy.

read
the
cartoon
This cartoon was
drawn when elections
were held in Iraq with
©Stephane Peray, Thailand, Cagle Cartoons Inc.

the presence of US
and other foreign
powers. What do you
think this cartoon is
saying? Why is
‘democracy’ written
the way it is?

W HAT
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2.2 FEATURES
EATURES OF DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY
We have started with a simple want in a democracy? Or must a
definition that democracy is a form democratic government function
of government in which the rulers with some limits? Is it necessary
are elected by the people. This for a democracy to respect some
raises many questions: rights of the citizens?
 Who are the rulers in this Let us consider each of these
definition? Which officials must be questions with the help of some
elected for any government to be examples.
called a democracy? Which
decisions may be taken by non- M ajor de cisions bbyy ele
decisions elecc t e d
elected officials in a democracy? leaders
 What kind of election constitutes In Pakistan, General Pervez
a democratic election? What Musharraf led a miliary coup in
conditions must be fulfilled for an October 1999. He overthrew a
election to be considered democratically elected government
democratic? and declared himself the ‘Chief
 Who are the people who can elect Executive’ of the country. Later he
the rulers or get elected as rulers? changed his designation to President
Should this include every citizen on and in 2002 held a referendum in
an equal basis? Can a democracy the country that granted him a five-
deny some citizens this right? year extension. Pakistani media,
 Finally, what kind of a form of human right organisations and
government is democracy? Can democracy activists said that the
elected rulers do whatever they referendum was based on

read
the
cartoon
Syria is a small west
Asian country. The
ruling Baath Party and
some of its small
©Emad Hajjaj, Jordan, Cagle Cartoons Inc.

allies are the only


parties allowed in that
country. Do you think
this cartoon could
apply to China or
Mexico? What does
the crown of leaves
on democracy
signify?

26 D EMOCR
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rulers. They cannot take the final
decisions. The power to take final
read decision rests with army officials and
the with General Musharraf, and none
of them are elected by the people.
cartoon This happens in many dictatorships
and monarchies. They formally have
an elected parliament and
This cartoon was ©Ares, Caglecartoon.com, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
government but the real power is
drawn in the context
with those who are not elected. In
of Latin America. Do
the last chapter we read about the
you think it applies to
role of USSR in communist Poland
the Pakistani situation
and that of US in contemporary Iraq.
as well? Think of
Here the real power was with some
other countries where
external powers and not with locally
this could apply?
elected representatives. This cannot
Does this happen
be called people’s rule.
sometimes in our
This gives us the first feature. In a
country as well?
democracy the final decision
making power must rest with
those elected by the people.
malpractices and fraud. In August
2002 he issued a ‘Legal Framework F ree and fair ele
elecc t o rraa l
Order’ that amended the c ompetition
constitution of Pakistan. According In China, elections are regularly held
to this Order, the President can after every five years for electing the
dismiss the national or provincial country’s parliament, called
assemblies. The work of the civilian Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui
cabinet is supervised by a National (National People’s Congress). The
Security Council which is dominated National People’s Congress has the
by military officers. After passing power to appoint the President of the
this law, elections were held to the country. It has nearly 3,000
national and state assemblies. So members elected from all over
Pakistan has had elections, elected China. Some members are elected
representatives have some powers. by the army. Before contesting
But the final power rests with elections, a candidate needs the
military officers and General approval of the Chinese Communist
Musharraf himself. Party. Only those who are members
Clearly, there are many reasons of the Chinese Communist Party or
why Pakistan under General eight smaller parties allied to it were
All this is so remote Musharraf should not be called a allowed to contest elections held in
for me. Is democracy. But let us focus on one 2002-03. The government is always
democracy all of these. Can we say that the rulers formed by the Communist Party.
about rulers and are elected by the people in Since its independence in 1930,
governments? Can Pakistan? Not quite. People may Mexico holds elections after every six
we talk about a have elected their representatives to years to elect its President. The
democratic the national and provincial country has never been under a
classroom? Or a assemblies but those elected military or dictator’s rule. But until
democratic family? representatives are not really the 2000 every election was won by a

W HAT
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©Nerilicon, El Economista , Mexico, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
party called PRI (Institutional
Revolutionary Party). Opposition
parties did contest elections, but read
never managed to win. The PRI was the
known to use many dirty tricks to win
elections. All those who were cartoon
employed in government offices had
to attend its party meetings. Teachers
This cartoon was
of government schools used to force
titled ‘Building
parents to vote for the PRI. Media
Democracy’ and was
largely ignored the activities of
first published in a
opposition political parties except to
Latin American
criticise them. Sometimes the polling
publication. What do
booths were shifted from one place
moneybags signify
to another in the last minute, which
here? Could this
made it difficult for people to cast their
cartoon be applied to
votes. The PRI spent a large sum of
India?
money in the campaign for its
candidates.
Should we consider the elections
described above as examples of
people electing their rulers? Reading
these examples we get a sense that One person, one vvoo ttee,
we cannot. There are many problems one vvalue
alue
here. In China the elections do not In the last chapter we read about how
offer the people any serious choice. the struggle for democracy was linked
They have to choose the ruling party to the demand for universal adult
and the candidates approved by it. franchise. This principle has now come
Can we call this a choice? In the to be accepted almost all over the
Mexican example, people seemed to world. Yet there are many instances
really have a choice but in practice of denial of equal right to vote:
they had no choice. There was no  In Saudi Arabia women do not
way the ruling party could be have the right to vote
defeated, even if people were against  Estonia has made its citizenship
it. These are not fair elections. rules in such a way that people
We can thus add a second feature belonging to Russian minority find
to our understanding of democracy. it difficult to get the right to vote
Holding elections of any kind is not  In Fiji, the electoral system is such
sufficient. The elections must offer that the vote of an indigenous Fiji
a real choice between political has more value than that of an
alternatives. And it should be Indian-Fijian.
possible for people to use this choice Democracy is based on a
to remove the existing rulers, if they fundamental principle of political
wish so. So, a democracy must be equality. That gives us the third
based on a free and fair election feature of democracy: in a
where those currently in power democracy, each adult citizen must
have a fair chance of losing. We have one vote and each vote must
shall find out more about a have one value. We shall read more
democratic election in Chapter Four. about it in Chapter Four.

28 D EMOCR
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read
the
cartoon
This cartoon is about ©John Trever, Albuquerque Journal, US, Cagle Cartoons Inc.

the Iraqi election held


after Saddam
Hussain’s regime was
overthrown. He is
shown behind the
bars. What is the
cartoonist saying
here? Compare the
message of this
cartoon with the first
cartoon in this
chapter.

R ule of la laww and rrespe


espe
especc t independent newspapers but the
f or rrigh
igh
ightt s government harasses those
Zimbabwe attained independence journalists who go against it. The
from White minority rule in 1980. government has ignored some court
Since then the country has been judgments that went against it and
ruled by ZANU-PF, the party that led has pressurised judges.
the freedom struggle. Its leader, The example of Zimbabwe shows
Robert Mugabe, has been ruling the that popular approval of the rulers is
country since independence. necessary in a democracy, but it is
Elections have been held regularly not sufficient. Popular governments
and always won by ZANU-PF. can be undemocratic. Popular leaders
President Mugabe is popular but also can be autocratic. If we wish to assess
uses unfair practices in elections. a democracy, it is important to look
Over the years his government has at the elections. But it is equally
changed the constitution several important to look before and after the
times to increase the powers of the elections. There should be sufficient
President and make him less room for normal political activity,
accountable. Opposition party including political opposition, in the
workers are harassed and their period before elections. This requires
meeting disrupted. Public protests that the state should respect some
Why talk about and demonstrations against the basic rights of the citizen. They should
Zimbabwe? I read government are declared illegal. be free to think, to have opinions, to
similar reports from There is a law that limits the right express these in public, to form
many parts of our to criticise the President. Television associations, to protest and take other
own country. Why and radio are controlled by the political actions. Everyone should be
don’t we discuss government and give only the ruling equal in the eyes of law. These rights
that? party’s version. There are must be protected by an independent

W HAT
HAT IS DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY? WHY DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY? 29
©Eric Allie, Pioneer Press, US, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
judiciary whose orders are obeyed by S ummar
ummaryy def inition
definition
everyone. We shall read more about Let us sum up the discussion so far.
these rights in Chapter Six. We started with a simple definition
Similarly, there are some conditions that democracy is a form of
that apply to the way a government government in which the rulers are
is run after the elections. A elected by the people. We found that read
democratic government cannot do this definition was not adequate
whatever it likes, simply because it unless we explained some of the key the
has won an election. It has to respect
some basic rules. In particular it has
words used in it. Through a series of
examples we worked out four features
cartoon
to respect some guarantees to the of democracy as a form of
minorities. Every major decision has government. Accordingly, democracy Chinese government
to go through a series of is a form of government in which: blocked free flow of
consultations. Every office bearer has  Rulers elected by the people take information on the
certain rights and responsibilities all the major decisions; internet by placing
assigned by the constitution and the  Elections offer a choice and fair restrictions on popular
law. Each of these is accountable not opportunity to the people to websites like ‘Google’
only to the people but also to other change the current rulers; and ‘Yahoo’. The
independent officials. We shall read  This choice and opportunity is image of tanks and an
more about this in Chapter Five. available to all the people on an unarmed student
Both these aspects give us the equal basis; and reminds the reader of
fourth and final feature of democracy:  The exercise of this choice leads another major event in
a democratic government rules to a government limited by basic recent Chinese
within limits set by constitutional rules of the constitution and history. Find out about
law and citizens’ rights. citizens’ rights. that event.

30 D EMOCR
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Read these five examples of working or denial of democracy. Match each of these with the
relevant feature of democracy discussed above.

CHECK Example Feature


YOUR King of Bhutan has declared that in future he will be Rule of law
guided by the advice given to him by elected representatives
PROGRESS Many Tamil workers who migrated from India were Respect for Rights
not given a right to vote in Sri Lanka
One person one vote
The king of Nepal imposed a ban on political gatherings,
one value
demonstrations and rallies Free and fair
The Indian Supreme Court held that the dissolution of electoral com
petition
Bihar assembly was unconstitutional
Major decisions by
Political parties in Bangladesh have agreed that a neutral
elected leaders
government should rule the country at the time of elections

2.3 WHY DEMOCR AC


EMOCRAC
ACYY?
An argument broke out in Madam Jeni: Whatever, how does it make a difference?
Lyngdoh’s class. She had finished The point is that this can’t be the best form of
teaching the previous section on government. Democracy is all about chaos, in-
what is democracy and asked the stability, corruption and hypocrisy. Politicians
students if they thought democracy fight among themselves. Who cares for the
was the best form of government. country?
Everyone had something to say. Poimon: So, what should we have instead? Go
back to the British rule? Invite some kings to
D ebating mer
ebating its of
merits rule this country?
democraa ccyy
democr Rose: I don’t know. I think what this country needs
Yolanda: We live in a democratic country. We read is a strong leader, someone who does not have
in the last chapter that all over the world people to bother about elections and parliament. One
want democracy. Countries that were not demo- leader should have all the powers. He should
cratic earlier are becoming democratic now. All be able to do whatever is needed in country’s
great people have said nice things about democ- interest. That alone can remove corruption and
racy. Isn’t it obvious that democracy is the best? poverty from this country.
Do we need to debate this? Someone shouted: That is called dictatorship!
Tangkini: But Lyngdoh Madam had said we Hoi: What if that person starts using all these
should not accept something just because it is powers for himself and his family? What if he
famous, just because everyone else accepts is corrupt himself?
it. Isn’t it possible that everyone is following a Rose: I am speaking only of the honest, sincere
wrong path? and strong leader.
Jeni: Yes, it actually is a wrong path. What has Hoi: But that is not fair. You are comparing a real
democracy brought to our country? More than democracy with an ideal dictatorship. We
I want to be in half a century of democracy and there is so should compare an ideal with an ideal, the real
Lyngdoh Madam’s much poverty in the country. with the real. Go and check the record of dicta-
class! That sounds Ribiang: But what has democracy got to do with tors in real life. They are most corrupt, selfish
like a democratic it? Do we have poverty because we are demo- and brutal. It is just that we don’t get to know
classroom. cratic or do we have poverty despite being a about this. And what is worse, you can’t even
Doesn’t it? democracy? get rid of them.

W HAT
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Madam Lyngdoh was listening to government only ensures that
this discussion with interest. Now people take their own decisions. This
she stepped in: “I was delighted to does not guarantee that their
see you all arguing so passionately. decisions will be good. People can
I don’t know who is right and who is make mistakes. Involving the people This cartoon is from
wrong. That is for you to settle. But in these decisions does lead to Brazil, a country that
I did feel that you all wanted to speak delays in decision making. It is also has long experience
your mind. You may have felt very true that democracy leads to of dictatorship. It is
bad if someone tried to stop you or frequent changes in leadership. entitled “The Hidden
if someone punished you for saying Sometimes this can set back big Side of Dictatorship”.
what you felt. Would you be able to decisions and effect the Which hidden sides
do that in a country that is not government’s efficiency. does this cartoon
democratic? Is that a good argument These arguments show that depict? Is it
for democracy?” democracy of the kind we see may necessary for every
not be the ideal form of government. dictatorship to have a
A rgumen
rgumentsts against But that is not a question we face in hidden side? Find this
democr
democraa ccyy real life. The real question we face out about the
This conversation has most of the is different: is democracy better than dictators discussed in
arguments that we routinely hear other forms of governments that are the first chapter and,
against democracy. Let us go over there for us to choose from? if possible, about
some of these arguments: Abacha in Nigeria and
 Leaders keep changing in a A rguments ffor
rguments or democr
democraa ccyy Marcos in Philippines.
democracy. This leads to instability. China’s famine of 1958-1961 was
 Democracy is all about political the worst recorded famine in world
competition and power play. There
is no scope for morality.
history. Nearly three crore people
died in this famine. During those
read
 So many people have to be days, India’s economic condition the
consulted in a democracy that it was not much better than China. Yet
leads to delays. India did not have a famine of the
cartoon
 Elected leaders do not know the kind China had. Economists think
best interest of the people. It leads
to bad decisions.
 Democracy leads to corruption for
it is based on electoral competition.
 Ordinary people don’t know what
is good for them; they should not
decide anything.
Are there some other arguments
against democracy that you can
think of? Which of these arguments
applies mainly to democracy? Which
of these can apply to misuse of any
©Simanca Osmani, Brazil,

form of government? Which of these


do you agree with?
Cagle Cartoons Inc.

Clearly, democracy is not a


magical solution for all the
problems. It has not ended poverty
in our country and in other parts of
the world. Democracy as a form of

32 D EMOCR
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that this was a result of different This is related to the third
government policies in the two argument. Democracy provides a
countries. The existence of method to deal with differences
democracy in India made the Indian and conflicts. In any society people
government respond to food scarcity are bound to have differences of
in a way that the Chinese opinions and interests. These
government did not. They point out differences are particularly sharp in
that no large scale famine has ever a country like ours which has an
taken place in an independent and amazing social diversity. People
democratic country. If China too had belong to different regions, speak
multi party elections, an opposition different languages, practise
party and a press free to criticise the different religions and have different
government, then so many people castes. They look at the world very
may not have died in the famine. differently and have different
This example brings out one of the preferences. The preference of one
reason why democracy is considered group can clash with those of other
the best form of government. groups. How do we resolve such a
Democracy is better than any other conflict? The conflict can be solved
form of government in responding to by brutal power. Whichever group
the needs of the people. A non- is more powerful will dictate its
democratic government may and can terms and others will have to accept
respond to the peoples needs, but it that. But that would lead to
all depends on the wishes of the resentment and unhappiness.
people who rule. If the rulers don’t Different groups may not be able to
want to, they don’t have to act live together for long in such a way.
according to the wishes of the people. Democracy provides the only
A democracy requires that the rulers peaceful solution to this problem. In
have to attend to the needs of the democracy, no one is a permanent
people. A democratic government winner. No one is a permanent loser.
is a better government because it Different groups can live with one
is a more accountable form of another peacefully. In a diverse
government. country like India, democracy keeps
There is another reason why our country together.
democracy should lead to better These three arguments were about
decisions than any non-democratic the effects of democracy on the
government. Democracy is based on quality of government and social life.
consultation and discussion. A But the strongest argument for
democratic decision always involves democracy is a not about what
many persons, discussions and democracy does to the government.
meetings. When a number of people It is about what democracy does to
put their head together, they are the citizens. Even if democracy does
able to point out possible mistakes not bring about better decisions and
What would have in any decision. This takes time. But accountable government, it is still
happened if India there is a big advantage in taking better than other forms of
was not a time over important decisions. This government. Democracy enhances
democracy? reduces the chances of rash or the dignity of citizens. As we
Could we have irresponsible decisions. Thus discussed above, democracy is
stayed together as democracy improves the quality based on the principle of political
a single nation? of decision making. equality, on recognising that the

W HAT
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EMOCRAC
ACYY? 33
poorest and the least educated has the rulers have to change their
the same status as the rich and the decisions, or the rulers can be
educated. People are not subjects of changed. This cannot happen in a
a ruler, they are the rulers non-democratic government. This cartoon was
themselves. Even when they make Let us sum it up. Democracy published in Canada
mistakes, they are responsible for cannot get us everything and is not just before its
their conduct. the solution to all problems. But it parliamentary
Finally, democracy is better than is clearly better than any other elections of 2005.
other forms of government because alternative that we know. It offers Everyone, including
it allows us to correct its own better chances of a good decision, it the cartoonist,
mistakes. As we saw above, there is is likely to respect people’s own expected the Liberal
no guarantee that mistakes cannot wishes and allows different kinds of party to win once
be made in democracy. No form of people to live together. Even when again. When the
government can guarantee that. The it fails to do some of these things, it results came, the
advantage in a democracy is that allows a way of correcting its Liberal Party lost the
such mistakes cannot be hidden for mistakes and offers more dignity to elections. Is this
long. There is a space for public all citizens. That is why democracy cartoon an argument
discussion on these mistakes. And is considered the best form of against democracy or
there is a room for correction. Either government. for democracy?

©Cam Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen, Canada, Cagle Cartoons Inc.


read
the
cartoon

Rajesh and Muzaffar read an article. It showed that no democracy has ever gone to war with another
democracy. Wars take place only when one of the two governments is non-democratic. The article
said that this was a great merit of democracy. After reading the essay, Rajesh and Muzaffar had
different reactions. Rajesh said that this was not a good argument for democracy. It was just a matter CHECK
of chance. It is possible that in future democracies may have wars. Muzaffar said that it could not be
a matter of chance. Democracies take decisions in such a way that it reduces the chances of war.
YOUR
Which of the two positions do you agree with and why? PROGRESS

34 D EMOCR
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This famous cartoon 2.4 BROADER
ADER MEANINGS OF DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY
by R K Laxman
comments on the In this chapter we have considered through their elected representatives.
celebrations of the the meaning of democracy in a This become necessary because:
limited and descriptive sense. We  Modern democracies involve such
fifty years of
independence. How have understood democracy as a a large number of people that it is
many images on the form of government. This way of physically impossible for them to
wall do you recognize? defining democracy helps us to sit together and take a collective
Do many common identify a clear set of minimal decision.
features that a democracy must  Even if they could, the citizen does
people feel the way the
common man in this have. The most common form that not have the time, the desire or the
cartoon does? democracy takes in our times is that skills to take part in all the
of a representative democracy. You decisions.
have already read about this in the This gives us a clear but minimal
read previous classes. In the countries we
call democracy, all the people do not
understanding of democracy. This
clarity helps us to distinguish
the rule. A majority is allowed to take democracies from non-democracies.
decisions on behalf of all the people. But it does not allow us to
cartoon Even the majority does not rule distinguish between a democracy
directly. The majority of people rule and a good democracy. It does not

©R.K. Laxman, The Times of India

W HAT
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ACYY? 35
allow us to see the operation of If we take these ideals seriously,
democracy beyond government. For then no country in the world is a
this we need to turn to broader democracy. Yet an understanding of
meanings of democracy. democracy as an ideal reminds us
Sometimes we use democracy for of why we value democracy. It
organisations other than the enables us to judge an existing
government. Just read these democracy and identify its In my village the
statements: weaknesses. It helps us to Gram Sabha never
 “ We are a very democratic family. distinguish between a minimal meets. Is that
Whenever a decision has to be taken, democracy and a good democracy. democratic?
we all sit down and arrive at a In this book we do not deal much
consensus. My opinion matters as much with this expanded notion of
as my father’s.” democracy. Our focus here is with
 “I don’t like teachers who do not allow some core institutional features of
students to speak and ask questions in democracy as a form of government.
the class. I would like to have teachers Next year you will read more about
with democratic temperament.” a democratic society and ways of
 “One leader and his family members evaluating our democracy. At this
decide everything in this party. How can stage we just need to note that
they talk of democracy?” democracy can apply to many
These ways of using the word spheres of life and that democracy
democracy go back to its basic sense can take many forms. There can be
of a method of taking decisions. A various ways of taking decisions in
democratic decision involves a democratic manner, as long as the
consultation with and consent of all basic principle of consultation on an
those who are affected by that equal basis is accepted. The most
decision. Those who are not common form of democracy in
powerful have the same say in taking today’s world is rule through
the decision as those who are people’s elected representatives. We
powerful. This can apply to a shall read more about that in
government or a family or any other Chapter Four. But if the community
organisation. Thus democracy is is small, there can be other ways of
also a principle that can be applied taking democratic decisions. All the
to any sphere of life. people can sit together and take
Sometimes we use the word decisions directly. This is how Gram
democracy not to describe any Sabha should work in a village. Can
existing government but to set up you think of some other democratic
an ideal standard that all ways of decision making?
democracies must aim to become:
 “ True democracy will come to this
country only when no one goes hungry
A C T I V I T Y
to bed.”
 “In a democracy every citizen must be Find out the total number of eligible voters in your
able to play equal role in decision assembly constituency and your parliamentary
making. For this you don’t need just an constituency. Find out how may people can fit
equal right to vote. Every citizen needs into the largest stadium in your area. Is it pos-
to have equal information, basic sible for all the voters in your parliamentary or
education, equal resources and a lot of assembly constituency to sit together and have a
commitment.” meaningful discussion?

36 D EMOCR
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This also means that no country the weakness of democracy: the fate
is a perfect democracy. The features of the country depends not just on
of democracy that we discussed in what the rulers do, but mainly on
this chapter provide only the what we, as citizens, do.
minimum conditions of a This is what distinguished
democracy. That does not make it democracy from other governments.
an ideal democracy. Every Other forms of government like
democracy has to try to realise the monarchy, dictatorship or one-party
ideals of a democratic decision rule do not require all citizens to take
making. This cannot be achieved part in politics. In fact most non-
once and for all. This requires a democratic governments would like
constant effort to save and citizens not to take part in politics.
strengthen democratic forms of But democracy depends on active
decision making. What we do as political participation by all the
citizens can make a difference to citizens. That is why a study of
making our country more or less democracy must focus on
democratic. This is the strength and democratic politics.

exercises 1 Here is some information about four countries. Based on this


information, how would you classify each of these countries. Write
‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
a Country A: People who do not accept the country’s official religion
do not have a right to vote
b Country B: The same party has been winning elections for the last
twenty years
c Country C: Ruling party has lost in the last three elections
d Country D: There is no independent election commission

2 Here is some information about four countries. Based on this


information, how would you classify each of these countries. Write
‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
a Country P: The parliament cannot pass a law about the army
without the consent of the Chief of Army
b Country Q: The parliament cannot pass a law reducing the powers
of the judiciary
c Country R: The country’s leaders cannot sign any treaty with
another country without taking permission from its neighbouring
country.
d Country S: All the major economic decisions about the country
are taken by officials of the central bank which the ministers cannot
change.

3 Which of these is not a good argument in favour of democracy? Why?


a People feel free and equal in a democracy
b Democracies resolve conflict in a better way than others
c Democratic government is more accountable to the people
d Democracies are more prosperous than others

W HAT
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ACYY? WHY DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY? 37
exercises
4 Each of these statements contains a democratic and an undemocratic
element. Write out the two separately for each statement.
a A minister said that some laws have to be passed by the parliament
in order to conform to the regulations decided by the World Trade
Organisation
b The Election Commission ordered re-polling in a constituency
where large scale rigging was reported
c Women’s representation in the parliament has never reached 10
per cent. This led women’ organisations to demand one-third seats
for women.

5 Which of these is not a valid reason for arguing that there is a lesser
possibility of famine in a democratic country?
a Opposition parties can draw attention to hunger and starvation.
b Free press can report suffering from famine in different parts of
the country.
c Government fears its defeat in the next elections.
d People are free to believe in and practice any religion

6 There are 40 villages in a district where the government has made


no provision for drinking water. These villagers met and considered
many methods of forcing the government to respond to their need.
Which of these is not a democratic method?
a Filing a case in the courts claiming that water is part of right to life
b Boycotting the next elections to give a message to all parties
c Organising public meetings against government’s policies
d Paying money to government officials to get water

7 Write a response to the following arguments against democracy:


a Army is the most disciplined and corruption-free organisation in
the country. Therefore army should rule the country.
b Rule of the majority means the rule of ignorant people. What we
need is the rule of the wise, even if they are in small numbers.
c If we want religious leaders to guide us in spiritual matters, why
not invite them to guide us in politics as well. The country should
be ruled by religious leaders.

8 Are the following statements in keeping with democracy as a value?


Why?
a Father to daughter: I don’t want to hear your opinion about your
marriage. In our family children marry where the parents tell them
to.
b Teacher to student: Don’t disturb my concentration by asking me
questions in the classroom.
c Employee to the officer: Our working hours must be reduced
according to the law.

9 Consider the following facts about a country and decide if you would
call it a democracy. Give reasons to support your decision.

38 D EMOCR
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exercises a All the citizens of the country have right to vote. Elections are held
regularly.
b The country took loan from international agencies. One of the
conditions for giving loan was that the government would reduce
its expenses on education and health.
c People speak more than seven languages but education is available
only in one language, the language spoken by 52 percent people
of that country.
d Several organisations have given a call for peaceful demonstrations
and nation wide strikes in the country to oppose these policies.
Government has arrested these leaders.
e The government owns the radio and television in the country. All
the newspapers have to get permission from the government to
publish any news about government’s policies and protests.

10 In 2004 a report published in USA pointed to the increasing


inequalities in that country. Inequalities in income reflected in the
participation of people in democracy. It also shaped their abilities to
influence the decisions taken by the government. The report
highlighted that:
 If an average Black family earns $ 100 then the income of average
White family is $ 162. A White family has twelve times more wealth
than the average Black family.
 In a President’s election ‘nearly nine out of 10 individuals in families
with income over $ 75,000 have voted. These people are the top
20 % of the population in terms of their income. On the other
hand only 5 people out of 10 from families with income less than
$ 15,000 have voted. They are the bottom 20% of the population
in terms of their income.
 About 95 % contribution to the political parties comes from the
rich. This gives them opportunity to express their opinion and
concern, which is not available to most citizens.
 As poor sections participate less in politics, the government does
not listen to their concerns – coming out of poverty, getting job,
education, health care and housing form them. Politicians hear
most regularly about the concerns of business and the most rich.
Write an essay on ‘Democracy and Poverty’ using the information
given in this report but using examples from India.

Most newspapers have an editorial page. On that page the newspaper


publishes it own opinions about current affairs. The papers also publishes
the views of other writers and intellectuals and letters written by the
readers. Follow any one newspaper for one month and collect editorials,
articles and letters on that page that have anything to do with democracy.
Classify these into the following categories:
 Constitutional and legal aspects of democracy
 Citizens’ rights
 Electoral and party politics
 Criticism of democracy

W HAT
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CHAPTER 3

CONSTITUTIONAL
DESIGN

OVERVIE
VERVIE
VIEWW

We noted in the previous chapter that in a democracy the rulers are not
free to do what they like. There are certain basic rules that the citizens
and the government have to follow. All such rules together are called
constitution. As the supreme law of the country, the constitution determines
the rights of citizens, the powers of the government and how the government
should function.
In this chapter we ask some basic questions about the constitutional
design of a democracy. Why do we need a constitution? How are the
constitutions drawn up? Who designs them and in what way? What are
the values that shape the constitutions in democratic states? Once a
constitution is accepted, can we make changes later as required by the
changing conditions?
One recent instance of designing constitution for a democratic state is
that of the South Africa. We begin this chapter by looking at what happened
there and how the South Africans went about this task of designing their
constitution. Then we turn to how the Indian Constitution was made,
what its foundational values are, and how it provides a good framework
for the conduct of citizens’ life and that of the government.

40 D EMOCR
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3.1 DEMOCR ATI
EMOCRA C CONSTITUTI
TIC ON
NSTITUTIO IN
SOUTH AFRI CA
FRICA
“I have fought against white domination apartheid divided the people and
and I have fought against black labelled them on the basis of their
domination. I have cherished the ideal of skin colour. The native people of
a democratic and free society in which all South Africa are black in colour.
persons live together in harmony and with They made up about three-fourth
equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I of the population and were called
hope to live for and to achieve. But if ‘blacks’. Besides these two groups,
Nelson Mandela needs be, it is an ideal for which I am there were people of mixed races
prepared to die.” who were called ‘coloured’ and
This was Nelson Mandela, being people who migrated from India.
tried for treason by the white South The white rulers treated all non-
African government. He and seven whites as inferiors. The non-whites
other leaders were sentenced to life did not have voting rights.
imprisonment in 1964 for daring to The apartheid system was
oppose the apartheid regime in his particularly oppressive for the
1 blacks. They were forbidden from
country. He spent the next 28 years
A signboard emblematic of
the tense relations of the in South Africa’s most dreaded living in white areas. They could
apartheid era, 1953. prison, Robben Island. work in white areas only if they had
a permit. Trains, buses, taxis,
South Africa History Online

1 hotels, hospitals, schools and


colleges, libraries, cinema halls,
theatres, beaches, swimming pools,
2

John Mullen, Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License


S tr uggle against apar
truggle theid
apartheid
Apartheid was the name of a system
of racial discrimination unique to
South Africa. The white Europeans
imposed this system on South
2
Sign on Durban beach
Africa. During the seventeenth and
in English, Afrikaans eighteenth centuries, the trading
and Zulu companies from Europe occupied it
In English it reads:
‘CITY OF DURBAN Under
with arms and force, in the way they
section 37 of the Durban occupied India. But unlike India, a
beach by-laws, this bathing large number of ‘whites’ had settled
area is reserved for the sole
use of members of the
in South Africa and became the
white race group’. local rulers. The system of

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
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public toilets, were all separate for national flag of the Republic of South
the whites and blacks. This was Africa was unfurled marking the
called segregation. They could not newly born democracy in the world.
even visit the churches where the The apartheid government came to
whites worshipped. Blacks could not an end, paving way for the formation
form associations or protest against of a multi-racial government. What would have
the terrible treatment. How did this come about? Let us happened in South
Since 1950, the blacks, coloured hear Mandela, the first president of Africa if the black
and Indians fought against the this new South Africa, on this extra- majority had
apartheid system. They launched ordinary transition: decided to take
protest marches and strikes. The “ Historical enemies succeeded in revenge on the
African National Congress (ANC) was negotiating a peaceful transition from whites for all their
the umbrella organisation that led apartheid to democracy exactly because oppression and
exploitation?
the struggle against the policies of we were prepared to accept the inherent
segregation. This included many capacity for goodness in the other. My
workers’ unions and the Communist wish is that South Africans never give up
Party. Many sensitive whites also on the belief in goodness, that they
joined the ANC to oppose apartheid cherish that faith in human beings is the
and played a leading role in this cornerstone of our democracy.”
struggle. Several countries de- After the emergence of the new
nounced apartheid as unjust and democratic South Africa, black
racist. But the white racist govern- leaders appealed to fellow blacks to
ment continued to rule by detain- forgive the whites for the atrocities
ing, torturing and killing thousands they had committed while in power.
of black and coloured people. They said let us build a new South
Africa based on equality of all races
and men and women, on democratic
A C T I V I T Y values, social justice and human
rights. The party that ruled through
 Make a poster on the life and struggle of Nelson oppression and brutal killings and
Mandela. the party that led the freedom
 If available, read some portions of his autobi- struggle sat together to draw up a
ography, The Long Walk to Freedom, in the common constitution.
classroom. After two years of discussion and
debate they came out with one of the
To w a rrds
ds a ne
neww cconstitution
onstitution finest constitutions the world has
As protests and struggles against ever had. This constitution gave to
apartheid had increased, the its citizens the most extensive rights
government realised that they could available in any country. Together,
no longer keep the blacks under they decided that in the search for
their rule through repression. The a solution to the problems, nobody
white regime changed its policies. should be excluded, no one should
Discriminatory laws were repealed. be treated as a demon. They agreed
Ban on political parties and that everybody should become part
restrictions on the media were lifted. of the solution, whatever they might
After 28 years of imprisonment, have done or represented in the
Nelson Mandela walked out of the past. The preamble to the South
jail as a free man. Finally, at the African Constitution (see page 50)
midnight of 26 April 1994, the new sums up this spirit.

42 D EMOCR
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The South African constitution

Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License


inspires democrats all over the
world. A state denounced by the
entire world till recently as the most
undemocratic one is now seen as a
model of democracy. What made this
change possible was the
determination of the people of South
Africa to work together, to transform
bitter experiences into the binding
glue of a rainbow nation. Speaking
on the South African Constitution,
Mandela said:
“The Constitution of South Africa speaks
of both the past and the future. On the one
hand, it is a solemn pact in which we, as
South Africans, declare to one another that
we shall never permit a repetition of our
racist, brutal and repressive past. But it is
more than that. It is also a charter for the
transformation of our country into one
which is truly shared by all its people — a
country which in the fullest sense belongs
to all of us, black and white, women and
men.”

This image captures the spirit of South Africa today. South


Africans call themselves a ‘rainbow nation’. Can you guess
why?

Does the story of South African struggle for freedom remind you of the Indian national movement?
Make a list of similarities and dissimilarities between the two on the following points:
 Nature of colonialism
CHECK  Relationship between different communities

YOUR  Leadership: Gandhi/ Mandela


 Party that led the struggle: African National Congress/ Indian National Congress
PROGRESS  Method of struggle

3.2 WHY DO WE NEED A CONSTITUTION?


NSTITUTIO

The South African example is a good their fears. They wanted to safeguard
way to understand why we need a their interests. The black majority
constitution and what do was keen to ensure that the
constitutions do. The oppressor and democratic principle of majority rule
the oppressed in this new democracy was not compromised. They wanted
were planning to live together as substantial social and economic
equals. It was not going to be easy for rights. The white minority was keen
them to trust each other. They had to protect its privileges and property.

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
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After long negotiations both parties society or a political party, they all
agreed to a compromise. The whites need a constitution.
agreed to the principle of majority rule
and that of one person one vote. They
also agreed to accept some basic A C T I V I T Y
rights for the poor and the workers.
The blacks agreed that majority rule Approach a club or cooperative society or union or
would not be absolute. They agreed political party in your locality. Get a copy of their
that the majority would not take away rule book (it is often called Rules of Association)
the property of the white minority. and read it. Are these rules in accordance with
This compromise was not easy. How principles of democracy? Do they give membership
was this compromise going to be to any person without discrimination?
implemented? Even if they managed
to trust each other, what was the Thus, the constitution of a country
guarantee that this trust will not be is a set of written rules that are
broken in future? accepted by all people living together
The only way to build and in a country. Constitution is the
maintain trust in such a situation supreme law that determines the
is to write down some rules of the relationship among people living in
game that everyone would abide by. a territory (called citizens) and also
These rules lay down how the rulers the relationship between the people
are to be chosen in future. These and government. A constitution does
rules also determine what the many things:
elected governments are empowered  First, it generates a degree of trust
to do and what they cannot do. and coordination that is necessary
Finally these rules decide the rights for different kind of people to live
of the citizen. These rules will work together;
only if the winner cannot change  Second, it specifies how the
them very easily. This is what the government will be constituted,
South Africans did. They agreed on who will have power to take which
some basic rules. They also agreed decisions;
that these rules will be supreme,  Third, it lays down limits on the
that no government will be able to powers of the government and tells
ignore these. This set of basic rules us what the rights of the citizens
is called a constitution. are; and
Constitution making is not unique  Fourth, it expresses the
to South Africa. Every country has aspirations of the people about
diverse groups of people. Their creating a good society.
relationship may not have been as All countries that have constitutions
bad as that between the whites and are not necessarily democratic. But
the blacks in South Africa. But all over all countries that are democratic will
the world people have differences of have constitutions. After the War of
opinion and interests. Whether Independence against Great Britain, This is not fair!
democratic or not, most countries in the Americans gave themselves a What was the point
the world need to have these basic constitution. After the Revolution, the in having a
rules. This applies not just to French people approved a democratic Constituent
governments. Any association needs constitution. Since then it has Assembly in India if
to have its constitution. It could be a become a practice in all democracies all the basics were
club in your area, a cooperative to have a written constitution. already decided?

44 D EMOCR
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3.3 MAKING OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTI
NDIAN ON
NSTITUTIO
Like South Africa, India’s like. Much of this consensus had
Constitution was also drawn up evolved during the freedom struggle.
under very difficult circumstances. Our national movement was not
The making of the constitution for a merely a struggle against a foreign
huge and diverse country like India rule. It was also a struggle to
Jhaverbhai VVallabhai
allabhai was not an easy affair. At that time rejuvenate our country and to
Patel the people of India were emerging transform our society and politics.
(1875-1950) born: Gujarat. from the status of subjects to that There were sharp differences of
Minister of Home, of citizens. The country was born opinion within the freedom struggle
All sketches by Rajeev Kumar

Information and through a partition on the basis of about the path India should take
Broadcasting in the Interim
religious differences. This was a after Independence. Such
Government. Lawyer and
leader of Bardoli peasant traumatic experience for the people differences exist even today. Yet
satyagraha. Played a of India and Pakistan. some basic ideas had come to be
decisive role in the Atleast ten lakh people were killed accepted by almost everyone.
integration of the Indian
on both sides of the border in As far back as in 1928, Motilal
princely states. Later:
Deputy Prime Minister. partition related violence. There was Nehru and eight other Congress
another problem. The British had leaders drafted a constitution for
left it to the rulers of the princely India. In 1931, the resolution at the
states to decide whether they Karachi session of the Indian
wanted to merge with India or with National Congress dwelt on how
Pakistan or remain independent. independent India’s constitution
The merger of these princely states should look like. Both these
was a difficult and uncertain task. documents were committed to the
When the constitution was being inclusion of universal adult franchise,
Abul Kalam Azad written, the future of the country did right to freedom and equality and to
(1888-1958)
born: Uttar Pradesh.
not look as secure as it does today. protecting the rights of minorities in
Educationist, author and The makers of the constitution had the constitution of independent India.
theologian; scholar of anxieties about the present and the Thus some basic values were
Arabic. Congress leader, future of the country. accepted by all leaders much before
active in the national
the Constituent Assembly met to
movement. Opposed
deliberate on the Constitution.
Muslim separatist politics.
Later: Education Minister in
A C T I V I T Y The familiarity with political
the first union cabinet. institutions of colonial rule also
Speak to your grandparents or some other elders helped develop an agreement over
in your locality. Ask them if they have any memory the institutional design. The British
of partition or independence or the making of the rule had given voting rights only to
constitution. What were their fears and hopes a few. On that basis the British had
about the country at that time? Discuss these in introduced very weak legislatures.
the classroom. Elections were held in 1937 to
Provincial Legislatures and
T.T.Krishnamachari
.T.Krishnamachari T he path ttoo CConstitution
path onstitution Ministries all over British India.
(1899-1974) Despite all these difficulties, there These were not fully democratic
born: Tamil Nadu. was one big advantage for the governments. But the experience
Member, Drafting makers of the Indian Constitution. gained by Indians in the working of
Committee. Entrepreneur
and Congress leader. Later:
Unlike South Africa, they did not the legislative institutions proved to
Finance Minister in the have to create a consensus about be very useful for the country in
Union Cabinet. what a democratic India should look setting up its own institutions and

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
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working in them. That is why the called the Constituent Assembly.
Indian constitution adopted many Elections to the Constituent
institutional details and procedures Assembly were held in July 1946. Its
from colonial laws like the first meeting was held in December
Government of India Act 1935. 1946. Soon after the country was
Years of thinking and deliberation divided into India and Pakistan. The
on the framework of the constitution Constituent Assembly was also
had another benefit. Our leaders divided into the Constituent Rajendra Prasad
gained confidence to learn from Assembly of India and that of (1884-1963) born: Bihar.
other countries, but on our own Pakistan. The Constituent Assembly Chairman of the Constituent
Assembly. Lawyer, known
terms. Many of our leaders were that wrote the Indian constitution had
for his role in the
inspired by the ideals of French 299 members. The Assembly adopted Champaran satyagraha.
Revolution, the practice of the Constitution on 26 November Three times the president of
parliamentary democracy in Britain 1949 but it came into effect on Congress. Later: the first
and the Bill of Rights in the US. The January 26, 1950. To mark this day President of India.
socialist revolution in Russia had we celebrate January 26 as Republic
inspired many Indians to think of Day every year.
shaping a system based on social Why should we accept the
and economic equality. Yet they Constitution made by this Assembly
were not simply imitating what more than fifty years ago? We have
others had done. At each step they already noted one reason above. The
were questioning whether these Constitution does not reflect the
things suited our country. All these views of its members alone. It
factors contributed to the making of expresses a broad consensus of its
Jaipal Singh
our Constitution. time. Many countries of the world (1903-1970)
have had to rewrite their born: Jharkhand
T he CConstituen
onstituen
onstituentt AAssembly
ssembly Constitution afresh because the A sportsman and
Who, then, were the makers of the basic rules were not accepted to all educationist. Captain of the
first national Hockey team.
Indian Constitution? You will find major social groups or political Founder President of
here very brief sketch of some of the parties. In some other countries, the Adivasi Maha Sabha. Later:
leaders who played an important Constitution exists as a mere piece founder of Jharkhand Party.
role in making the Constitution. of paper. No one actually follows it.
The experience of our Constitution
is different. Over the last half a
A C T I V I T Y century, several groups have
questioned some provisions of the
Find out more about any member of the Constitution. But no large social
Constituent Assembly from your state or region group or political party has ever
who is not mentioned here. Collect a photograph questioned the legitimacy of the
or make a sketch of that leader. Write a short Constitution itself. This is an unusual H. C. Mookherjee
note on him or her, following the same style as achievement for any constitution. (1887-1956)
used here: Name (year of birth-year of death), The second reason for accepting born: Bengal.
Vice-Chairman of the
place of birth (by current political boundaries), the Constitution is that the Constituent Assembly.
brief description of political activities; role played Constituent Assembly represented Reputed author and
atfter the Constituent Assembly. the people of India. There was no educationist. Congress
universal adult franchise at that leader. Member of All India
Christian Council and
The drafting of the document called time. So the Constituent Assembly Bengal Legislative
the constitution was done by an could not have been chosen directly Assembly. Later: Governor
assembly of elected representatives by all the people of India. It was of West Bengal.

46 D EMOCR
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elected mainly by the members of Constituent Assembly worked in a
the existing Provincial Legislatures systematic, open and consensual
that we mentioned above. This manner. First some basic principles
ensured a fair geographical share of were decided and agreed upon. Then
members from all the regions of the a Drafting Committee chaired by Dr.
country. The Assembly was B.R. Ambedkar prepared a draft
dominated by the Indian National constitution for discussion. Several
G. Durgabai Deshmukh
Durgabai Congress, the party that led India’s rounds of thorough discussion took
(1909-1981) freedom struggle. But the Congress place on the Draft Constitution,
born: Andhra Pradesh. itself included a variety of political clause by clause. More than two
Advocate and public activist
groups and opinions. The Assembly thousand amendments were
for women’s emancipation.
Founder of Andhra Mahila had many members who did not considered. The members
Sabha. Congress leader. agree with the Congress. In social deliberated for 114 days spread over
Later: Founder Chairperson terms too, the Assembly represented three years. Every document
of Central Social Welfare members from different language presented and every word spoken in
Board.
groups, castes, classes, religions the Constituent Assembly has been
and occupations. Even if the recorded and preserved. These are
Constituent Assembly was elected called ‘Constituent Assembly
by universal adult franchise, its Debates’. When printed, these
composition would not have been debates are 12 bulky volumes! These
very different. debates provide the rationale behind
Finally, the manner in which the every provision of the Constitution.
Constituent Assembly worked gives These are used to interpret the
sanctity to the Constitution. The meaning of the Constitution.

Read the information about all the makers of the Indian Constitution given in the side columns here.
You don’t need to memorise this information. Just give examples from these to support the following
CHECK statements:
1. The Assembly had many members who were not with the Congress
YOUR 2. The Assembly represented members from different social groups
PROGRESS 3. Members of the Assembly believed in different ideologies

3.4 GUIDING VAL


UIDING UES OF THE IND
ALUES IAN CONSTITUTI
NDIAN ON
NSTITUTIO
In this book we shall study the exact Let us turn to these, one by one.
provisions of the Constitution on
different subjects. At this stage let T he D
Drream and the PPromise
romise
us begin by understanding the Some of you may have noticed a
overall philosophy of what our name missing from the sketches of
Baldev Singh Constitution is all about. We can do the makers of the constitution:
( 1901-1961)
born: Haryana.
this in two ways. We can Mahatma Gandhi. He was not a
A successful entrepreneur understand it by reading the views member of the Constituent
and leader of the Panthic of some of our major leaders on our Assembly. Yet there were many
Akali Party in the Punjab Constitution. But it is equally members who followed his vision.
Assembly. A nominee of
important to read what the Years ago, writing in his magazine
the Congress in the
Constituent Assembly. Constitution says about its own Young India in 1931, he had spelt
Later: Defence Minister in philosophy. This is what the out what he wanted the Constitution
the Union Cabinet. preamble to the Constitution does. to do:

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
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I shall strive for a constitution which will release India from
all thralldom and patronage … I shall work for an India in
which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making
they have an effective voice; an India in which there shall be no
Kanhaiyalal Maniklal
high class and low class of people; an India in Munshi
(1887-1971) born:Gujarat.
which all communities shall live in perfect Advocate, historian and
linguist. Congress leader
harmony. There can be no room in such an and Gandhian. Later:
Minister in the Union
Cabinet. Founder of the
India for the curse of untouchability or the Swatantra Party.

curse of the intoxicating drinks and drugs.


Women will enjoy the same rights as men …
I shall be satisfied with nothing else.

This dream of an India that has how inequalities could be removed. Bhimrao Ramji
eliminated inequality was shared by He often bitterly criticised Mahatma Ambedkar
Dr. Ambedkar, who played a key role Gandhi and his vision. In his conclud- (1891-1956) born:
in the making of the Constitution but ing speech to the Constituent Assem Maharashtra. Chairman of
the Drafting Committee.
he had a different understanding of bly he stated his anxiety very clearly: Social revolutionary thinker
and agitator against caste
On the 26th of January 1950 we are going to enter a life of divisions and caste based
inequalities. Later: Law
contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and minister in the first cabinet
of post-independence India.
Founder of Republican Party
economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be of India.

recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one
value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our
social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one
man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of
contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in Shyama Prasad
Mukherjee
our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we (1901-1953) born: West
Bengal. Minister for
Industry and Supply in the
will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. Interim Government.
Educationist and lawyer.
Active in Hindu Mahasabha.
Finally let us turn to Jawaharlal Constituent Assembly at the stroke Later: Founder President of
Nehru giving his famous speech to the of midnight on August 15, 1947: Bharatiya Jansangh.

48 D EMOCR
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Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny,
destiny and now the time
comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure,
but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the
Jawaharlal Nehru
world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment
(1889-1964) born: Uttar
Pradesh. Prime Minister of
comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the
the interim government.
Lawyer and Congress old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long
leader. Advocate of
socialism, democracy and
anti-imperialism. Later: First
supressed, finds utterance. It is f1itting that at this solemn moment
Prime Minister of India.
we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her
people and to the still larger cause of humanity …
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility
rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign
Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all
(1879-1949)
born: Andhra Pradesh. the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this
Poet, writer and political
activist. Among the
foremost women leaders in
sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the
the Congress. Later:
Governor of Uttar Pradesh. past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving
so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one
we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the
millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance
Somnath LLahiri
ahiri
(1901-1984) born: West
Bengal. Writer and editor.
and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the
Leader of the Communist
Party of India. Later: greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from
Member of West Bengal
Legislative Assembly. every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears
and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
CHECK Read the three quotations above carefully.
YOUR  Can you identify one idea that is common to all these three?
 What are the differences in their ways of expressing that common idea?
PROGRESS

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
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P hilosoph
hilosophyy of the Indian Constitution. The
C onstitution Constitution begins with a short
Values that inspired and guided the statement of its basic values. This
freedom struggle and were in turn is called the Preamble to the
nurtured by it, formed the constitution. Taking inspiration
foundation for India’s democracy. from American model, most
These values are embedded in the countries in the contemporary world
Preamble of the Indian Constitution. have chosen to begin their
They guide all the articles of the constitutions with a preamble.

in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic


tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and
secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and
establish thisConstitution for the United States of America.
We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the
supreme law of the Republic so as to —
Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social
justice and fundamental human rights;
Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on
the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign
state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.
God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.

50 D EMOCR
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WE, THE PEOPLE Let us read the Preamble of our Constitution very REPUBLIC
OF INDIA carefully and understand the meaning of each of its The head of the state
The constitution has key words. is an elected person
been drawn up and The Preamble of the Constitution reads like a poem and not a hereditary
enacted by the people on democracy. It contains the philosophy on which the position.
through their entire Constitution has been built. It provides a
representatives, and standard to examine and evaluate any law and action JUSTICE
not handed down to of government, to find out whether it is good or bad. It Citizens cannot be
them by a king or any is the soul of the Indian Constitution. discriminated on the
outside powers. grounds of caste,
religion and gender.
SOVEREIGN
SOVEREIGN Social inequalities
People have supreme have to be reduced.
right to make Government should
decisions on internal work for the welfare
as well as external of all, especially of
matters. No external the disadvantaged
power can dictate the groups.
government of India.
LIBERTY
SOCIALIST There are no
Wealth is generated unreasonable
socially and should restrictions on the
be shared equally by citizens in what they
society. Government think, how they wish
should regulate the to express their
ownership of land and thoughts and the way
industry to reduce they wish to follow up
socio-economic their thoughts in
inequalities. action.

SECULAR EQUALITY
Citizens have All are equal before
complete freedom to the law. The
follow any religion. traditional social
But there is no official inequalities have to be
religion. Government ended. The
treats all religious government should
beliefs and practices ensure equal
with equal respect. opportunity for all.

DEMOCRATIC
DEMOCRATIC FRATERNITY
FRATERNITY
A form of government All of us should
where people enjoy behave as if we are
equal political rights, members of the same
elect their rulers and family. No one should
hold them account- treat a fellow citizen
able. The government as inferior.
is run according to
some basic rules.

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
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Compare the Preambles to the constitutions of the United States of America, India and South Africa.
 Make a list of ideas that are common to all these three.
 Note down at least one of the major difference among these.
 Which of the three make a reference to the past? CHECK
 Which of these does not invoke God?
YOUR
Institutional design be quite difficult to understand. Yet PROGRESS
A constitution is not merely a the basic institutional design is not
statement of values and philosophy. very difficult to understand. Like any
As we noted above, a constitution is Constitution, the Indian
mainly about embodying these values Constitution lays down a procedure
into institutional arrangements. for choosing persons to govern the
Much of the document called country. It defines who will have how
Constitution of India is about these much power to take which decisions.
arrangements. It is a very long and And it puts limits to what the
detailed document. Therefore it needs government can do by providing
to be amended quite regularly to keep some rights to the citizen that
it updated. Those who crafted the cannot be violated. The remaining
Indian Constitution felt that it has to three chapters in this book are about
be in accordance with people’s these three aspects of the working
aspirations and changes in society. of Indian constitution. We shall look
They did not see it as a sacred, static at some key constitutional
and unalterable law. So, they made provisions in each chapter and
provisions to incorporate changes understand how they work in
from time to time. These changes are democratic politics. But this
called constitutional amendments. textbook will not cover all the salient
The Constitution describes the features of the institutional design
institutional arrangements in a very in the Indian Constitution. Some
legal language. If you read the other aspects will be covered in your
Constitution for the first time, it can textbook next year.

Apartheid: The official policy of racial separation and ill treatment of blacks
followed by the government of South Africa between 1948 and 1989.
Clause: A distinct section of a document.
Constituent Assembly: An assembly of people’s representatives that writes
GLOSSARY
a constitution for a country.
Constitution: Supreme law of a country, containing fundamental rules
governing the politics and society in a country.
Constitutional amendment: A change in the constitution made by the
supreme legislative body in a country.
Draft: A preliminary version of a legal document.
Philosophy: The most fundamental principles underlying one’s thought
and actions.
Preamble: An introductory statement in a constitution which states the
reasons and guiding values of the constitution.
Treason: The offence of attempting to overthrow the government of the
state to which the offender owes allegiance.
Tryst: A meeting or meeting place that has been agreed upon.

52 D EMOCR
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exercises
1 Here are some false statements. Identify the mistake in each case
and rewrite these correctly based on what you have read in this
chapter.
a Leaders of the freedom movement had an open mind about whether
the country should be democratic or not after independence.
b Members of the Constituent Assembly of India held the same views
on all provisions of the Constitution.
c A country that has a constitution must be a democracy.
d Constitution cannot be amended because it is the supreme law of
a country.

2 Which of these was the most salient underlying conflict in the mak-
ing of a democratic constitution in South Africa:
a Between South Africa and its neighbours
b Between men and women
c Between the white majority and the black minority
d Between the coloured minority and the black majority

3 Which of these is a provision that a democratic constitution does not


have?
a Powers of the head of the state
b Name of the head of the state
c Powers of the legislature
d Name of the country

4 Match the following leaders with their roles in the making of the
Constitution:
a Motilal Nehru i President of the Constituent Assembly
b B.R. Ambedkar ii Member of the Constituent Assembly
c Rajendra Prasad iii Chairman of the Drafting Committee
d Sarojini Naidu iv Prepared a Constitution for India in 1928

5 Read again the extracts from Nehru’s speech ‘Tryst with Destiny’
and answer the following:
a Why did Nehru use the expression “not wholly or in full measure”
in the first sentence?
b What pledge did he want the makers of the Indian Constitution to
take?
c “The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe
every tear from every eye”. Who was he referring to?

6 Here are some of the guiding values of the Constitution and their
meaning. Rewrite them by matching them correctly.
a Sovereign i Government will not favour any religion
b Republic ii People have the supreme right to make decisions.
b Fraternity iii Head of the state is an elected person
c Secular iv People should live like brothers and sisters

CONSTITUTIONAL DESI
NSTITUTIO GN
ESIGN 53
7 A friend from Nepal has written you a letter describing the political exercises
situation there. Many political parties are opposing the rule of the
king. Some of them say that the existing constitution given by the
monarch can be amended to allow more powers to elected
representatives. Others are demanding a new Constituent Assembly
to write a republican constitution. Reply to your friend giving your
opinions on the subject.

8 Here are different opinions about what made India a democracy.


How much importance would you give to each of these factors?
a Democracy in India is a gift of the British rulers. We received training
to work with representative legislative institutions under the British
rule.
b Freedom Struggle challenged the colonial exploitation and denial
of different freedoms to Indians. Free India could not be anything
but democratic.
c We were lucky to have leaders who had democratic convictions.
The denial of democracy in several other newly independent
countries shows the important role of these leaders.

9 Read the following extract from a conduct book for ‘married women’,
published in 1912. ‘God has made the female species delicate and fragile
both physically and emotionally, pitiably incapable of self-defence. They are
destined thus by God to remain in male protection – of father, husband and son
– all their lives. Women should, therefore, not despair, but feel obliged that they
can dedicate themselves to the service of men’. Do you think the values
expressed in this para reflected the values underlying our
constitution? Or does this go against the constitutional values?

10 Read the following statements about a constitution. Give reasons


why each of these is true or not true.
a The authority of the rules of the constitution is the same as that of
any other law.
b Constitution lays down how different organs of the government will
be formed.
c Rights of citizens and limits on the power of the government are
laid down in the constitution.
d A constitution is about institutions, not about values

Follow the newspapers for any report on a discussion on any constitutional


amendment or demand for any constitutional amendment. You could, for
example, focus on the demand for constitutional amendment for reservation
for women in legislatures. Was there a public debate? What reasons were
put forward in favour of the amendment? How did different parties react to
the constitutional amendment? Did the amendment take place?

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55
CHAPTER 4

Electoral
Politics

OVERVIE
VERVIE
VIEWW

In Chapter Two we have seen that in a democracy it is neither possible nor


necessary for people to govern directly. The most common form of
democracy in our times is for the people to govern through their
representatives. In this chapter we will look at how these representatives
are elected. We begin by understanding why elections are necessary and
useful in a democracy. We try to understand how electoral competition
among parties serves the people. We then go on to ask what makes an
election democratic. The basic idea here is to distinguish democratic
elections from non-democratic elections.
The rest of the chapter tries to assess elections in India in the light of
this yardstick. We take a look at each stage of elections, from the drawing
of boundaries of different constituencies to the declaration of results. At
each stage we ask what should happen and what does happen in elections.
Towards the end of the chapter, we turn to an assessment of whether
elections in India are free and fair. Here we also examine the role of the
Election Commission in ensuring free and fair elections.

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4.1 WHY ELEC TI
LECTI ONS?
TIO
A ssembly EleElecc tion in government would waive the loans of
H a rryy ana farmers and small businessmen. He
promised that this would be the first
The time is after midnight. An expectant action of his government.
crowd sitting for the past five hours in a The people were unhappy with the
Do most leaders chowk of the town is waiting for its leader existing government. They were also
fulfil their election to come. The organisers assure and reas- attracted by Devi Lal’s promise. So,
promises? sure the crowd that he would be here any when elections were held, they voted
moment. The crowd stands up whenever overwhelmingly in favour of Lok Dal
a passing vehicle comes that way. It and its allies. Lok Dal and its
arouses hopes that he has come. partners won 76 out of 90 seats in
The leader is Mr. Devi Lal, chief of the State Assembly. Lok Dal alone
the Haryana Sangharsh Samiti, who was won 60 seats and thus had a clear
to address a meeting in Karnal on Thurs- majority in the Assembly. The
day night. The 76-year-old leader, is a Congress could win only 5 seats.
very busy man these days. His day starts Once the election results were
at 8 a.m. and ends after 11 p.m. … he announced, the sitting Chief
had already addressed nine election Minister resigned. The newly elected
meetings since morning… been con- Members of Legislative Assembly
stantly addressing public meetings for (MLAs) of Lok Dal chose Devi Lal as
the past 23 months and preparing for this their leader. The Governor invited
election. Devi Lal to be the new Chief
Minister. Three days after the
This newspaper report is about the election results were declared, he
State assembly election in Haryana became the Chief Minister. As soon
in 1987. The State had been ruled by as he became the Chief Minister, his
a Congress party led government Government issued a Government
since 1982. Chaudhary Devi Lal, then Order waiving the outstanding loans
an opposition leader, led a movement of small farmers, agricultural
called ‘Nyaya Yudh’ (Struggle for labourers and small businessmen.
Justice) and formed a new party, Lok His party ruled the State for four
Dal. His party joined other opposition years. The next elections were held
parties to form a front against the in 1991. But this time his party did
Congress in the elections. In the not win popular support. The
election campaign, Devi Lal said that Congress won the election and
if his party won the elections, his formed the government.

Jagdeep and Navpreet read this story and drew the following conclusions. Can you say which of
these are right or wrong (or if the information given in the story is inadequate to call them right or
wrong):
CHECK  Elections can lead to changes in the policy of the government.
 The Governor invited Devi Lal to become the Chief Minister because he was impressed with his
YOUR speeches.
PROGRESS  People are unhappy with every ruling party and vote against it in the next election.
 The party that wins the election forms the government.
 This election led to a lot of economic development in Haryana.
 The Congress Chief Minister need not have resigned after his party lost elections.

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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But can we call this place a
democracy? How do we find out if
A C T I V I T Y the people like their representatives
or not? How do we ensure that these
Do you know when the last Assembly election representatives rule as per the
was held in your state? Which other elections wishes of the people? How to make
have taken place in your locality in the last five sure that those who the people don’t
years? Write down the level of elections (National, like do not remain their
Assembly, Panchayat, etc.), when were they held representatives? This requires a
and the name and designation (MP, MLA, etc.) of mechanism by which people can
the persons who got elected from your area. choose their representatives at
regular intervals and change them
W h y do w
wee nee
needd ele
elecc tions? if they wish to do so. This
Elections take place regularly in any mechanism is called election.
democracy. We noted in Chapter Therefore, elections are considered
One that there are more than one essential in our times for any
hundred countries in the world in representative democracy.
which elections take place to choose In an election the voters make
people’s representatives. We also many choices:
read that elections are held in many  They can choose who will make
countries that are not democratic. laws for them. We have seen why
But why do we need elections?  They can choose who will form the democracies need
Let us try to imagine a democracy government and take major to have elections.
without elections. A rule of the decisions. But why do rulers
people is possible without any  They can choose the party whose in non-democratic
elections if all the people can sit policies will guide the government countries need to
together everyday and take all the and law making. hold elections?
decisions. But as we have already
seen in Chapter Two, this is not W h aatt makes an ele
makes elecc tion
possible in any large community. democr
democraa tic?
Nor is it possible for everyone to Elections can be held in many ways.
have the time and knowledge to All democratic countries hold
take decisions on all matters. elections. But most non-democratic
Therefore in most democracies countries also hold some kind of
people rule through their elections. How do we distinguish
representatives. democratic elections from any other
Is there a democratic way of election? We have discussed this
selecting representatives without question briefly in Chapter Two. We
elections? Let us think of a place discussed many examples of
where representatives are selected countries where elections are held
on the basis of age and experience. but they can’t really be called
Or a place where they are chosen democratic elections. Let us recall
on the basis of education or what we learnt there and start with
knowledge. There could be some a simple list of the minimum
difficulty in deciding on who is more conditions of a democratic election:
experienced or knowledgable. But let  First, everyone should be able to
us say the people can resolve these choose. This means that everyone
difficulties. Clearly, such a place should have one vote and every
does not require elections. vote should have equal value.

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 Second, there should be may wish to serve the country do not
something to choose from. Parties enter this arena. They do not like the
and candidates should be free to idea of being dragged into unhealthy
contest elections and should offer competition.
some real choice to the voters. Our Constitution makers were
 Third, the choice should be offered aware of these problems. Yet they
at regular intervals. Elections must opted for free competition in
be held regularly after every few elections as the way to select our
years. future leaders. They did so because
 Fourth, the candidate preferred by this system works better in the long
the people should get elected. run. In an ideal world all political
 Fifth, elections should be leaders know what is good for the
conducted in a free and fair people and are motivated only by a
manner where people can choose desire to serve them. Political
as they really wish. competition is not necessary in such
These might look like very simple an ideal world. But that is not what
and easy conditions. But there are happens in real life. Political leaders
all over the world, like all other
many countries where these are not
professionals, are motivated by a
fulfilled. In this chapter we will apply
desire to advance their political
these conditions to the elections held
careers. They want to remain in
in our own country to see if we can
power or get power and positions for
call these democratic elections.
themselves.They may wish to serve
the people as well, but it is risky to
I s it good ttoo ha
havv e political depend entirely on their sense of
c ompetition? duty. Besides even when they wish
Elections are thus all about political to serve the people, they may not
competition. This competition takes know what is required to do so, or
various forms. The most obvious form their ideas may not match what the
is the competition among political people really want.
parties. At the constituency level, it How do we deal with this real life
takes the form of competition among situation? One way is to try and
several candidates. If there is no improve the knowledge and character
competition, elections will become of political leaders. The other and
pointless. more realistic way is to set up a
But is it good to have political system where political leaders are
competition? Clearly, an electoral rewarded for serving the people and
competition has many demerits. It punished for not doing so. Who
creates a sense of disunity and decides this reward or punishment?
‘factionalism’ in every locality. You The simple answer is: the people.
would have heard of people This is what electoral competition
complaining of ‘party-politics’ in your does. Regular electoral competition
locality. Different political parties and provides incentives to political
Ah! So, elections leaders often level allegations against parties and leaders. They know that
are like exams one another. Parties and candidates if they raise issues that people want
where politicians often use dirty tricks to win elections. to be raised, their popularity and
and parties know if Some people say that this pressure chances of victory will increase in
they have passed to win electoral fights does not allow the next elections. But if they fail to
or failed. But who sensible long-term policies to be satisfy the voters with their work
are the examiners? formulated. Some good people who they will not be able to win again.

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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So if a political party is motivated customers. If he does not, the
only by desire to be in power, even customer will go to some other shop.
then it will be forced to serve the Similarly, political competition may read
people. This is a bit like the way cause divisions and some ugliness, the
market works. Even if a shopkeeper but it finally helps to force political
is interested only in his profit, he is parties and leaders to serve the cartoon
forced to give good service to the people.

Irfan Khan

Read these two cartoons carefully. Write the message of each of them in
your own words. Have a discussion in class on which of the two is closer
to the reality in your own locality. Draw a cartoon to depict what elections
do to the relationship between voters and political leaders.

4.2 WHAT IS OUR SYSTEM


HAT OF ELEC TI
LECTI ONS?
TIO

Can we say that Indian elections are called a by-election. In this chapter
democratic? To answer this question, we will focus on general elections.
let us take a look at how elections are
held in India. Lok Sabha and Vidhan Ele
Elecc t o rral
al cconstituencies
onstituencies
Sabha (Assembly) elections are held You read about the people of
regularly after every five years. After Haryana electing 90 MLAs. You may
five years the term of all the elected have wondered how they did that.
representatives comes to an end. The Did every person in Haryana vote for
Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha stands all the 90 MLAs? You perhaps know
‘dissolved’. Elections are held in all that this is not the case. In our
constituencies at the same time, country we follow an area based
either on the same day or within a system of representation. The
few days. This is called a general country is divided into different
election. Sometimes election is held areas for purposes of elections.
only for one constitutency to fill the These areas are called electoral
vacancy caused by death or constitutencies. The voters who live
resignation of a member. This is in an area elect one representative.

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For Lok Sabha elections, the country constituency has within it several
is divided into 543 constituencies. assemblies constituencies. The
The representative elected from each same principle applies for Panchayat
constituency is called a Member of and Municipal elections. Each
Parliament or an MP. One of the village or town is divided into several
features of a democratic election is ‘wards’ that are like constituencies.
that every vote should have equal Each ward elects one member of the
value. That is why our Constitution village or the urban local body.
requires that each constituency Sometimes these constituencies are
should have a roughly equal counted as ‘seats’, for each
population living within it. constituency represents one seat in
Similarly, each state is divided into the assembly. When we say that ‘Lok
a specific number of Assembly Dal won 60 seats’ in Haryana, it
constituencies. In this case, the means that candidates of Lok Dal
elected representative is called the won in 60 assembly constituencies
Member of Legislative Assembly or in the state and thus Lok Dal had
an MLA. Each Parliamentary 60 MLAs in the state assembly.

GULBARGA LOK SABHA CONSTITUENCY GULBARGA DISTRICT IN KARNATAKA

ALAND

CHINCHOLI GULBARGA
GULBARGA
AFZALPUR
CHITAPUR
SHAHBAD
SEDAM

JEVARGI
GURMITKAL

YADGIR

 Why is the boundary of the Gulbarga Lok


DISTRICT BOUNDARY
Sabha constituency not the same as the district
BOUNDARIES OF ASSEMBLY CONSTITUENCIES boundary of Gulbarga? Draw a similar map
AREA WITHIN DISTRICT BUT OUTSIDE for your own Lok Sabha constituency.
LOK SABHA CONTITUENCY  How many Assembly constituencies are there
in the Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency? Is it
GULBARGA the same in your own Lok Sabha
LOK SABHA CONTITUENCY
constituency?

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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R eser
eservv e d CConstituencies
onstituencies local bodies are now reserved for
Our Constitution entitles every citizen Other Backward Classes (OBC) as
to elect its representative and to be well. However, the proportion of
elected as a representative. The seats reserved varies from state to
Constitution makers, however, were state. Similarly, one-third of the
worried that in an open electoral seats are reserved in rural and
competition, certain weaker sections urban local bodies for women
may not stand a good chance to get candidates.
elected to the Lok Sabha and the state
Legislative Assemblies. They may not Vo tters
ers
ers’’ list
have the required resources, Once the constituencies are decided,
education and contacts to contest and the next step is to decide who can
win elections against others. Those and who cannot vote. This decision
who are influential and resourceful cannot be left to anyone till the last
may prevent them from winning day. In a democratic election, the list
elections. If that happens, our of those who are eligible to vote is
Parliament and Assemblies would be prepared much before the election
deprived of the voice of a significant and given to everyone. This list is
section of our population. That would officially called the Electoral Roll and
make our democracy less is commonly known as the Voters’
representative and less democratic. List.
So, the makers of our Constitution This is an important step for it is
thought of a special system of linked to the first condition of a
reserved constituencies for the democratic election: everyone
weaker sections. Some constituencies should get an equal opportunity to
are reserved for people who belong choose representatives. In Chapter
to the Scheduled Castes [SC] and One we read about the principle of
Scheduled Tribes [ST]. In a SC universal adult franchise. In practice
reserved constituency only someone it means that everyone should have
who belongs to the Scheduled one vote and each vote should have
Castes can stand for election. equal value. No one should be
Similarly only those belonging to the denied the right to vote without a
Scheduled Tribes can contest an good reason. Different citizens differ
election from a constituency from one another in many ways:
reserved for ST. Currently, in the some are rich, some are poor; some
Lok Sabha, 79 seats are reserved for are highly educated, some are not
the Scheduled Castes and 41 for the so educated or not educated at all;
Scheduled Tribes. This number is in some are kind, others are not so
proportion to their share in the total kind. But all of them are human
population. Thus the reserved seats beings with their own needs and
for SC and ST do not take away the views. That is why all of them
legitimate share of any other social deserve to have an equal say in Like in Panchayats,
group. decisions that affect them. should we not have
This system of reservation was In our country, all the citizens aged at least one-third
extended later to other weaker 18 years and above can vote in an seats in the
sections at the district and local election. Every citizen has the right parliament and
level. In many states, seats in rural to vote, regardless of his or her caste, assemblies
(panchayat) and urban religion or gender. Some criminals reserved for
(municipalities and corporations) and persons with unsound mind can women?

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LOK SABHA CONSTITUENCIES

TOTAL CONSTITUENCIES 543

GENERAL 423

RESERVED (SC) 79

RESERVED (ST) 41

STATES CONSTITUENCIES
Andhra Pradesh 42
Arunachal Pradesh 2
Assam 14
Bihar 40
Chhattisgarh 11
Goa 2
Gujarat 26
Election Commission of India

Haryana 10
Himachal Pradesh 4
Jammu & Kashmir 6
Jharkhand 14
Karnataka 28
Kerala 20
Madhya Pradesh 29
Maharashtra 48
Manipur 2
Meghalaya 2
See the map above and answer the following questions. Nagaland 1
UNION TERRITORIES
 What is the number of Lok Sabha constituencies in your state and the Orissa 21
Punjab 13 Andaman & Nicobar
neighbouring two states? Rajasthan 25 Islands 1
 Which states have more than 30 Lok Sabha constituencies? Sikkim 1 Chandigarh 1
 Why do some states have such a large number of constituencies? Tamil Nadu 39 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 1
Tripura 2 Daman & Diu 1
 Why are some constituencies small in area while others are very big?
Uttar Pradesh 80 Delhi 7
 Are the constituencies reserved for the SCs and STs evenly spread all Uttaranchal 5 Lakshadweep 1
over the entire country or are there more in some areas? West Bengal 42 Pondicherry 1

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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be denied the right to vote, but only Recently, a new system of
in rare situations. It is the declaration has been introduced on
responsibility of the government to direction from the Supreme Court.
get the names of all the eligible Every candidate has to make a legal
voters put on the voters’ list. As new declaration, giving full details of :
persons attain voting age names are  Serious criminal cases pending
added to the voters’ list. Names of against the candidate;
those who move out of a place or  Details of the assets and liabilities
those who are dead are deleted. A of the candidate and his or her
complete revision of the list takes family; and
place every five years. This is done  Education qualifications of the
to ensure that it remains up to date. candidate.
In the last few years a new system This information has to be made
of Election Photo Identity Card public. This provides an opportunity
[EPIC] has been introduced. The to the voters to make their decision
government has tried to give this on the basis of the information
card to every person on the voters provided by the candidates.
list. The voters are required to carry
this card when they go out to vote, Educational qualifications for
so that no one can vote for someone candidates
else. But the card is not yet
compulsory for voting. For voting, Why is there no educational qualification for
the voters can show many other holding such an important position when some
proofs of identity like the ration card kind of educational qualification is needed for any
or the driving licence. other job in the country?
 Educational qualifications are not relevant to
N omination of candida
omination candidatt e s all kinds of jobs. The relevant qualification for
We noted above that in a democratic selection to the Indian cricket team, for
election people should have a real example, is not the attainment of educational
choice. This happens only when degrees but the ability to play cricket well.
there are almost no restrictions on Similarly the relevant qualification for being an
anyone to contest an election. This MLA or an MP is the ability to understand
is what our system provides. Any- people’s concerns, problems and to represent
one who can be a voter can also be- their interests. Whether they can do so or not
come a candidate in elections. The is examined by lakhs of examiners — their
only difference is that in order to be voters — after every five years.
a candidate the minimum age is 25  Even if education was relevant, it should be
years, while it is only 18 years for left to the people to decide how much
being a voter. There are some other impor tance they give to educational
restrictions on criminals etc. but qualifications.
these apply in very extreme cases.  In our country putting an educational
Political parties nominate their can- qualification would go against the spirit of
didates who get the party symbol democracy for yet another reason. It would
and support. Party’s nomination is mean depriving a majority of the country’s
often called party ‘ticket’. citizens the right to contest elections. If, for Why are the
Every person who wishes to example, a graduate degree like B.A., B.Com candidates
contest an election has to fill a or B.Sc was made compulsory for candidates, required to give a
‘nomination form’ and give some more than 90 per cent of the citizens will detailed statement
money as ‘security deposit’. become ineligible to contest elections. of their property?

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Chief Electoral Officer, Mizoram

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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Match the following features of our electoral system with the principles they reflect.
Principles Features of election system
Universal adult franchise
Each constituency has roughly the same population CHECK
Representation of
Everyone who is 18 years of age or older has a right to vote
YOUR
weaker sections
PROGRESS
Open political competition Anyone can form a party or contest elections
One vote one value
Reservation of seats for the SCs and the STs

Ele
Elecc tion CCampaign
ampaign In election campaigns, political
The main purpose of election is to parties try to focus public attention
give people a chance to choose the on some big issues. They want to
representatives, the government and attract the public to that issue and
the policies they prefer. Therefore it get them to vote for their party on that
is necessary to have a free and open basis. Let us look at some of the
discussion about who is a better successful slogans given by different
representative, which party will political parties in various elections.
make a better government or what  The Congress party led by Indira

is a good policy. This is what happens Gandhi gave the slogan of Garibi
during election campaigns. Hatao (Remove poverty) in the
In our country such campaigns Lok Sabha elections of 1971. The
take place for a two-week period party promised to reorient all the
between the announcement of the policies of the government to
final list of candidates and the date remove poverty from the country.
 Save Democracy was the slogan
of polling. During this period the
candidates contact their voters, given by Janata Party in the next
Lok Sabha election held in 1977.
political leaders address election
The party promised to undo the
meetings and political parties
excesses committed during
mobilise their supporters. This is
Emergency and restore civil liberties.
also the period when newspapers
 The Left Front used the slogan of
and television news are full of
Land to the Tiller in the West
election related stories and debates.
Bengal Assembly elections held in
But election campaign is not limited
1977.
to these two weeks only. Political  ‘Protect the Self-Respect of the
parties start preparing for elections Telugus’ was the slogan used by
months before they actually take N. T. Rama Rao, the leader of the
place. Telugu Desam Party in Andhra
Pradesh Assembly elections in
1983.
A C T I V I T Y In a democracy it is best to leave
political parties and candidates free
to conduct their election campaigns
What was the election campaign like in your the way they want to. But it is
constituency in the last Lok Sabha elections? sometimes necessary to regulate
Prepare a list of what the candidates and parties campaigns to ensure that every
said and did. political party and candidate gets a

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fair and equal chance to compete.  Use government vehicles, aircrafts
Standing outside the According to our election law, no and officials for elections; and
polling station, the party or candidate can:  Once elections are announced,
 Bribe or threaten voters; Ministers shall not lay foundation
criminal politician
 Appeal to them in the name of stones of any projects, take any big
says to the voter:
“Why do you bother? caste or religion; policy decisions or make any
 Use government resources for promises of providing public facilities.
You can go, I got your
vote cast”. Does election campaign; and
booth capturing  Spend more than Rs. 25 lakh in a Polling and ccoun
ounting of vvoo ttee s
ounting
always take place in constituency for a Lok Sabha election The final stage of an election is the
this visible form? Are or Rs. 10 lakh in a constituency in day when the voters cast or ‘poll’
there less visible an Assembly election. their vote. That day is usually called
ways of booth If they do so, their election can be the election day. Every person whose
captuing? rejected by the court even after they name is on the voters’ list can go to
have been declared elected. In a nearby ‘polling booth’, situated
addition to the laws, all the political usually in a local school or a
read parties in our country have agreed government office. Once the voter
to a Model Code of Conduct for goes inside the booth, the election
the election campaigns. According to officials identify her, put a mark on
this no party or candidate can: her finger and allow her to cast her
cartoon  Use any place of worship for vote. An agent of each candidate is
election propaganda; allowed to sit inside the polling booth
Irfan Khan
and ensure that the voting takes
place in a fair way.

Are the elections too expensive


for our country?
A large amount of money is spent in conducting
elections in India. For instance, the government
spent about Rs.1,300 crores in conducting Lok
Sabha elections in 2004. That works out to about
Rs. 20 per person on the voters’ list. The amount
spent by parties and candidates was more than
what the government spent. Roughly speaking,
the expenditure made by government, parties and
candidates was around Rs. 3,000 crore or Rs.
50 per voter.
Some people say that elections are a burden
on our people, that our poor country cannot afford
to hold elections once every five years. Let us
compare this expenditure with some other figures:
 In 2005, our government decided to buy six
nuclear submarines from France. Each subma-
rine will cost about Rs. 3,000 crore.
 Delhi plans to host Commonwealth Games in
2010. The current estimate for its cost is about
Rs. 2,000 crore.
Are the elections too expensive? You decide.

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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Election result in Gulbarga
Let us go back to our example of Gulbarga. In 2004, a total of 11 candidats contested elections in that
constituency. The total eligible voters were 14.39 lakhs. Of these 8.28 lakh voters had cast their
votes. The candidate of the Congress party, Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi secured about 3.12 lakh votes.
This was only about 38 per cent of the total votes polled. But since he had secured more votes than
anyone else, he was declared elected a Member of Parliament from Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency.

Election Result of Gulbarga constituency, GENERAL ELECTION TO LOK SABHA, 2004


CANDIDATE PARTY VOTES POLLED % OF VOTES
Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi INC 312432 37.76
Basawaraj Patil Sedam BJP 254548 30.82
Vithal Heroor JD(S) 189001 22.84
Suryakant Nimbalkar BSP 26723 3.23
Sanganna IND 15212 1.84
Arun Kumar Chandrashekara Patil KNDP 7155 0.86
Bhagavanreddy B IND 6748 0.82
Hamid Pasha Sarmast MUL 4268 0.52
Basawanth Rao Revansiddappa Sheelwanth AIFB 3900 0.47
Why are party
Sandesh C Bandak USYP 3671 0.44 agents present in
Umesh Havanoor SP 3380 0.41 the polling booth
 What is the percentage of voters who had actually cast their votes? and the counting
 To win an election is it necessary for a person to secure more than half the votes polled? centre?
Earlier the voters used to indicate secure place. A few days later, on a
who they wanted to vote for by putting fixed date, all the EVMs from a
a stamp on the ballot paper. A ballot constituency are opened and the
paper is a sheet of paper on which votes secured by each candidate are
the names of the contesting counted. The agents of all candidates
candidates along with party name are present there to ensure that the
and symbols are listed. Nowadays counting is done properly. The
electronic voting machines (EVM) are candidate who secures the highest
used to record votes. The machine number of votes from a constituency
shows the names of the candidates is declared elected. In a general
and the party symbols. Independent election, usually the counting of votes
candidates too have their own in all the constituencies takes place
symbols, allotted by election officials. at the same time, on the same day.
Al the voter has to do is to press the Television channels, radio and
button against the name of the newspapers report this event. Within
candidate she wants to give her vote. a few hours of counting, all the results
Once the polling is over, all the are declared and it becomes clear as
EVMs are sealed and taken to a to who will form the next government.
Identify the fair and the unfair electoral practices among the following:
 A minister flags off a new train in his constituency a week before polling day.
 A candidate promises that she will get a new train for her constituency if she is elected. CHECK
 Supporters of a candidate take the voters to a temple and make them take an oath that they will YOUR
vote for him.
 The supporters of a candidate distribute blankets in slums in return for a promise for vote PROGRESS

68 D EMOCR
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4.3 W HAT MAKES ELEC
HAT TI
LECTI ONS
TIO IN INDIA
NDIA
DEMOCR
EMOCRAATIC?
TIC
We get to read a lot about unfair Election Commissioner (CEC) is
practices in elections. Newspapers appointed by the President of India.
and television reports often refer to But once appointed, the Chief
such allegations. Most of these Election Commissioner is not
reports are about the following: answerable to the President or the
 Inclusion of false names and government. Even if the ruling party
exclusion of genuine names in the or the government does not like what
voters’ list; the Commission does, it is virtually
 Misuse of government facilities impossible for it to remove the CEC.
and officials by the ruling party; Very few election commissions in
 Excessive use of money by rich the world have such wide-ranging
candidates and big parties; and powers as the Election Commission
 Intimidation of voters and rigging of India.
on the polling day.  EC takes decisions on every aspect
Many of these reports are correct. of conduct and control of elections
We feel unhappy when we read or from the announcement of elections
see such reports. But fortunately to the declaration of results.
they are not on such a scale so as to  It implements the Code of Conduct
defeat the very purpose of elections. and punishes any candidate or
This becomes clear if we ask a basic party that violates it.
question: Can a party win an  During the election period, the EC
election and come to power not can order the government to follow
because it has popular support but some guidelines, to prevent use and
through electoral malpractices? This misuse of governmental power to
is a vital question. Let us carefully enhance its chances to win
examine various aspects of this elections, or to transfer some
question. government officials.
 When on election duty, government
Independen
Independentt Ele
Elecc tion officers work under the control of
C ommission the EC and not the government.
One simple way of checking whether In the last fifteen years or so, the
elections are fair or not is to look at Election Commission has begun to
who conducts the elections. Are they exercise all its powers and even
independent of the government? Or expand them. It is very common now
can the government or the ruling party for the Election Commission to
influence or pressurise them? Do they reprimand the government and
have enough powers to be able to administration for their lapses. When
conduct free and fair elections? Do election officials come to the opinion
they actually use these powers? that polling was not fair in some
The answer to all these questions booths or even an entire
Why does the is quite positive for our country. In constituency, they order a repoll. The
Election our country elections are conducted ruling parties often do not like what
Commission have by an independent and very powerful the EC does. But they have to obey.
so much powers? Election Commission (EC). It enjoys This would not have happened if the
Is this good for the same kind of independence that EC was not independent and
democracy? the judiciary enjoys. The Chief powerful.

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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Photo I-cards not mandatory in Biha
EC issues notification constituting 14th polls r
Lok Sabha CHECK
EC tightens norms for poll expenses EC accepts new Haryana DGP YOUR
EC will seek power to censure PROGRESS
political ads
again, revi ew poll
EC to visit Gujarat
arrangements EC says no immediate plan to ban
Exit Polls
HC asks EC to bar ‘criminal’ netas

EC shoots down HM advic 398 more booths


e on EC orders repoll in
poll reforms
EC to keep closer eye on hidden
poll costs

Read these headlines carefully and identify which powers are used by the Election Commission in
each instance to ensure free and fair elections.

Popular par ticipa


participa tion
ticipation 1 People’s participation in election is
Another way to check the quality of usually measured by voter turnout
the election process is to see figures. Turnout indicates the per
whether people participate in it with cent of eligible voters who actually
enthusiasm. If the election process cast their vote. Over the last fifty
is not free or fair, people will not years, the turnout in Europe and
continue to participate in the North America has declined. In
exercise. Now, read these charts India the turnout has either
and draw some conclusions about remained stable or actually gone
participation in India: up.

1 VOTER TURNOUT IN INDIA AND THE UK

90
UK
80 78 INDIA
70 72
VOTER TURNOUT (%)

60 62 60 61
58 59 58
56
50

40

30

20

10

1991 2005

ELECTION YEAR

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2 In India the poor, illiterate and 4 The interest of voters in election-
underprivileged people vote in related activities has been
larger proportion as compared to increasing over the years. During
the rich and privileged sections. the 2004 elections, more than one-
This is in contrast to western third voters took part in a
democracies. For example in the campaign-related activities. More
United States of America, poor than half of the people identified
people, African Americans and themselves as being close to one
Hispanics vote much less than the or the other political party. One out
rich and the white people. of every seven voters is a member
of a political party.

2 VOTER TURNOUT IN INDIA AND US BY SOCIAL GROUPS, 2004 4 THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED IN ANY
ELECTION RELATED ACTIVITY IN INDIA
INDIA US Source: National Election Study 1996-2004, CSDS.
70
60 61 60
56 58 56
VOTER TURNOUT (%)

60

50

40 40 32
28
30 30
21

(%)
20 20 13
8
10 10

Upper OBC SC ST White Black Hispanic 1996 1998 1999 2004


Caste
SOCIAL GROUPS ELECTION YEAR

Source: Figures for India 3 Common people in India attach a


from National Election
lot of importance to elections. They
Study 2004, CSDS.
Figures for US from feel that through elections they A C T I V I T Y
National Election Study can bring pressure on political
2004, University of
parties to adopt policies and Ask the eligible voters in your family whether they
Michigan.
programmes favourable to them. voted in the last election to the Lok Sabha or to
They also feel that their vote the state assembly. If they did not, ask them why
matters in the way things are run did they not vote. If they did, ask them which
in the country. party and candidate they voted for and why. Also
ask them whether they had participated in any
other election-related activity like attending an
3 DO YOU THINK YOUR VOTE MAKES A DIFFERENCE?
election meeting or rally etc.

A c cceptanc
eptanc
eptancee of ele
elecc tion
15% outcc ome
out
One final test of the free and fairness
18% of election has in the outcome itself.
Has effect 67% If elections are not free or fair, the
outcome always favours the powerful.
Has no effect
Source: National Election In such a situation, the ruling parties
Study 2004, CSDS. Don’t know do not lose elections. Usually, the

E LECTOR AL POLITI
LECT CS
LITICS 71
losing party does not accept the
outcome of a rigged election.
The outcome of India’s elections
speaks for itself:
 The ruling parties routinely lose
elections in India both at the
national and state level. In fact in
every two out of the three elections
held in the last fifteen years, the
ruling party lost.
 In the US, an incumbent or ‘sitting’
elected representative rarely loses

Irfan Khan
an election. In India about half of
the sitting MPs or MLAs lose
elections.
 Candidates who are known to have
spent a lot of money on ‘buying
votes’ and those with known The leader is coming out of a press
criminal connections often lose conference: “What was need to say that we
read
elections. have distributed tickets only amongst suitable the
 Barring very few disputed and winnable family relations?” Do you think
elections, the electoral outcomes that family politics is confined to only a few
cartoon
are usually accepted as ‘people’s states or parties?
verdict’ by the defeated party.
Titled ‘Electoral
C hallenges ttoo free and fair
free Campaigns’, this
ele
elecc tions cartoon was drawn in
All this leads to a simple conclusion: this kind bring the many limitations the Latin American
elections in India are basically free and challenges of Indian elections context. Does this
and fair. The party that wins an elec- to our attention. These include: apply to India
tion and forms government does so and to other
because people have chosen it over democracies
its rivals. This may not be true for in the world?
every constituency. A few candidates
may win purely on the basis of

©Nerilicon, El Economista, Cagle Cartoons Inc.


money power and unfair means. But
the overall verdict of a general elec-
tion still reflects popular preference.
There are very few exceptions to this
rule in the last fifty years in our
country. This is what makes Indian
elections democratic.
Yet the picture looks different if we
ask deeper questions: Are people’s
preferences based on real knowledge?
Are the voters getting a real choice?
Is election really level playing field for
everyone? Can an ordinary citizen
hope to win elections? Questions of

72 D EMOCR
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Is this an accurate
picture of what
happens to the voter
before and after
elections? Must this
always happen in a
democracy? Can you
think of examples
when this did not
happen?

read
the
R.K. Laxman, The Times of India

cartoon

 Candidates and parties with a lot similar to each other both in


of money may not be sure of their policies and practice.
victory but they do enjoy a big and  Smaller parties and independent
unfair advantage over smaller candidates suffer a huge
parties and independents. disadvantage compared to bigger
 In some parts of the country, parties.
candidates with criminal connection These challenges exist not just in
have been able to push others out India but also in many established
of the electoral race and to secure a democracies. These deeper issues
‘ticket’ from major parties. are a matter of concern for those
 Some families tend to dominate who believe in democracy. That is
political parties; tickets are why citizens, social activists and
distributed to relatives from these organisations have been demanding
families. reforms in our electoral system. Can
 Very often elections offer little you think of soem reforms? What
choice to ordinary citizens, for can an ordinary citizen do to face
both the major parties are quite these challenges?

Here are some facts on Indian elections. Comment on each of these to say whether they reflect the
strength or the weakness of our electoral system:

 The Lok Sabha has always had less than 10 percent women members.
CHECK  The Election Commission often refuses to accept the government’s advice about when the elec-
YOUR tions should be held.
 The current Lok Sabha has more than 145 members whose assets are more than Rs.1 crore.
PROGRESS  After losing an election the Chief Minister said: “I respect the people’s verdict”.

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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Booth capturing: Supporters or hired musclemen of party or a candidate
gain physical control of a polling booth and cast false votes by
threatening everyone or by preventing genuine voters from reaching
the polling booth. GLOSSARY
Code of Conduct: A set of norms and guidelines to be followed by political
parties and contesting candidates during election time.
Constituency: Voters in a geographical area who elect a representative to
the legislative bodies.
Incumbent: The current holder of a political office. Usually the choice for
the voters in elections is between the incumbent party or candidate and
those who oppose them.
Level playing field: Condition in which all parties and candidates
contesting in an election have equal opportunities to appeal for votes and
to carry out election campaign.
Rigging: Fraud and malpractices indulged by a party or candidate to
increase its votes. It includes stuffing ballot boxes by a few persons using
the votes of others; recording multiple votes by the same person; and
bribing or coercing polling officers to favour a candidate.
Turnout: The percentage of eligible voters who cast their votes in an election.

1 Which of the following statements about the reasons for conducting exercises
elections are false?
a Elections enable people to judge the performance of the government
b People select the representative of their choice in an election
c Elections enable people to evaluate the performance of the judiciary
d People can indicate which policies they prefer

2 Which of these is not a good reason to say that Indian elections are
democratic?
a India has the largest number of voters in the world
b India’s Election Commission is very powerful
c In India, everyone above the age of 18 has a right to vote
d In India, the losing parties accept the electoral verdict

3 Match the following

It is necessary to keep the there is a fair representation


voters list up to date because of all sections of our society
Some constituencies are everyone has equal
reserved for SCs and STs so opportunity to elect their
that representative
Everyone has one and only one all candidates must have a
vote so that fair chance of competing in
elections
Party in power is not allowed some people may have moved
to use government vehicles away from the area where
because they voted last

74 D EMOCR
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exercises
4 List all the different election related activities mentioned in the chapter
and arrange them in a time sequence, beginning with the first activity
and ending with the last. Some of these activities are given below:
releasing election manifestos; counting of votes; making of voters’
list; election campaign; declaration of election results; casting of votes;
ordering of re-poll; announcing election schedule; filing nomination.

5 Surekha is an officer in-charge of ensuring free and fair elections in


an assembly constituency in a state. Describe what should she focus
on for each of the following stages of election:
a Election campaign
b Polling day
c Counting day

6 The table below gives the proportion of different communities among


the candidates who won elections to the US Congress. Compare these
to the proportion of these communities in the population of the US.
Based on this, would you suggest a system of reservations in the US
Congress? If yes, why and for which communities? If no, why not?

Proportion of the community


(in per cent) in the
House of Population of US
representatives
Blacks 8 13
Hispanics 5 13
Whites 86 70

7 Can we draw the following conclusions from the information given in


this chapter? Give two facts to support your position for each of these.
a Election Commission of India does not have enough powers to
conduct free and fair elections in the country.
b There is a high level of popular participation in the elections in
our country.
c It is very easy for the party in power to win an election.
d Many reforms are needed to make our elections completely free
and fair.

8 Chinappa was convicted for torturing his wife for dowry. Satbir was
held guilty of practicing untouchability. The court did not allow either
of them to contest elections. Does this decision go against the
principles of democratic elections?

9 Here are some reports of electoral malpractices from different parts


of the world. Is there anything that these countries can learn from
India to improve their elections? What would you suggest in each
case?
a During an election in Nigeria, the officer in charge of counting
votes deliberately increased the votes of one candidate and declared

E LECTOR AL POLITI
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him elected. The court later found out that more than five lakh exercises
votes cast for one candidate were counted in favour of another.
b Just before elections in Fiji, a pamphlet was distributed warning
voters that a vote for former Prime Minisiter, Mahendra Chaudhry
will lead to bloodshed. This was a threat to voters of Indian origin.
c In the US, each state has its own method of voting, its own
procedure of counting and its own authority for conducting
elections. Authorities in the state of Florida took many controversial
decisions that favoured Mr. Bush in the presidential elections in
2000. But no one could change those decisions.

10 Here are some reports of malpractices in Indian elections. Identify


what the problem in each case is. What should be done to correct the
situation?
a Following the announcement of elections, the minister promised
to provide financial aid to reopen the closed sugar mill.
b Opposition parties alleged that their statements and campaign
was not given due attention in Doordarshan and All India Radio.
c An inquiry by the Election Commission showed that electoral rolls
of a state contain name of 20 lakh fake voters.
d The hoodlums of a political party were moving with guns, physically
preventing supporters of other political parties to meet the voters
and attacking meetings of other parties.

11 Arun was not in class when this chapter was being taught. He came
the next day and repeated what he had heard from his father. Can
you tell Ramesh what is wrong with these statements?
a Women always vote the way men tell them to. So what is the point
of giving them the right to vote?
b Party politics creates tension in society. Elections should be decided
by consensus not by competition.
c Only graduates should be allowed to stand as candidates for
elections.

Assembly elections are usually held every year in a few states of the country.
You can collect information about the elections that take place during this
session. While collecting news items, divide these into three parts:
 Important events that took place before the election – main agenda
discussed by political parties; information about people’s demand;
role of the Election Commission.
 Important events on the day of the election and counting – turnout
in elections; reports of malpractice; re-polls; the types of predictions
made; and the final outcome.
 Post elections – reasons offered by political parties for winning or
losing elections; analysis of the election verdict by the media;
selection of the Chief Minister.

76 D EMOCR
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77
CHAPTER 5

Working of
Institutions

OVERVIE
VERVIE
VIEWW

Democracy is not just about people electing their rulers. In a democracy


the rulers have to follow some rules and procedures. They have to work
with and within institutions. This chapter is about the working of such
institutions in a democracy. We try to understand this by looking at the
manner in which major decisions are taken and implemented in our
country. We also look at how disputes regarding these decisions are
resolved. In this process we come across three institutions that play a key
role in major decisions – legislature, executive and judiciary.
You have already read something about these institutions in earlier
classes. Here we shall quickly summarise those and move on to asking
larger questions. In the case of each institution we ask: What does this
institution do? How is this institution connected to other institutions?
What makes its functioning more or less democratic? The basic objective
here is to understand how all these institutions together carry on the
work of government. Sometimes we compare these with similar institutions
in other democracies. In this chapter we take our examples from the
working of the national level government called Central Government, Union
Government, or just Government of India. While reading this chapter, you
can think of and discuss examples from the working of the government in
your state.

78 D EMOCR
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5.1 HOW IS A MAJOR POLI
AJO C Y DECISI
LIC ON TAKEN?
ECISIO
A GGoo v e rrnmen
nmen
nmentt Or der
Order Pensions, signed the Order. It was
On August 13, 1990, the Government quite short, barely one page. It
of India issued an Order. It was looked like any ordinary circular or
called an Office Memorandum. Like notice that you may have seen in
all government orders, it had a num- school. The government issues hun-
ber and is known by that: O. M. No. dreds of orders every day on differ-
36012/31/90-Est (SCT), dated ent matters. But this one was very
13.8.1990. The Joint Secretary, an important and became a source of
officer in the Department of Person- controversy for several years. Let us
nel and Training in the Ministry of see how the decision was taken and
Personnel, Public Grievances and what happened later.

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 79
This Order announced a major So, were all these people involved
policy decision. It said that 27 per in this decision regarding the Office
cent of the vacancies in civil posts Memorandum? Let us find out.
and services under the Government
of India are reserved for the Socially
and Economically Backward Classes A C T I V I T Y
(SEBC). SEBC is another name for
all those people who belong to castes  Which points, other than the ones mentioned
that are considered backward by the above, do you recall about these institutions Is every Office
government. The benefit of job res- from the previous class? Discuss in class. Memorandum a
ervation was till then available only  Can you think of a major decision made by major political
to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled your state government? How were the Gover- decision? If not,
Tribes. Now a new third category nor, the Council of Ministers, the state assem- what made this
called SEBC was introduced. Only bly and the courts involved in that decision? one different?
persons who belong to backward
castes were eligible for this quota of This Office Memorandum was the
27 per cent jobs. Others could not culmination of a long chain of
compete for these jobs. events. The Government of India had
appointed the Second Backward
T he D
Dee cision M
Maa kkers
ers Classes Commission in 1979. It was
Who decided to issue this headed by B.P. Mandal. Hence it was
Memorandum? Clearly, such a big popularly called the Mandal
decision could not have been taken Commission. It was asked to
by the person who signed that determine the criteria to identify the
document. The officer was merely socially and educationally backward
implementing the instructions given classes in India and recommend
by the Minister of Personnel, Public steps to be taken for their
Grievances and Pensions, of which advancement. The Commission gave
the Department was a part. We can its Report in 1980 and made many
guess that such a major decision recommendations. One of these was
would have involved other major that 27 per cent of government jobs
functionaries in our country. You be reserved for the socially and
have already read in the previous economically backward classes. The read
class about some of them. Let us go Report and recommendations were
over some of the main points that discussed in the Parliament. the
you covered then: For several years, many ima ge
image
 President is the head of the state parliamentarians and parties kept
and is the highest formal authority demanding the implementation of the
in the country. Commission’s recommendations. Reservation debate
 Prime Minister is the head of the Then came the Lok Sabha election was such an
government and actually exercises of 1989. In its election manifesto, the important issue
all governmental powers. He takes Janata Dal promised that if voted to during 1990-91 that
most of the decisions in the power, it would implement the advertisers used this
Cabinet meetings. Mandal Commission report. The theme to sell their
 Parliament consists of two Houses, Janata Dal did form the government products. Can you
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The after this election. Its leader V. P. spot some references
Prime Minister must have the Singh became the Prime Minister. to political events and
support of a majority of Lok Sabha Several developments took place debates in these Amul
members. after that: Butter hoardings?

80 D EMOCR
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 The President of India in his were full of different views and
address to the Parliament opinions on this issue. It led to
announced the intention of the widespread protests and counter-
government to implement the protests, some of which were violent.
recommendations of the Mandal People reacted strongly because this
Commission. decision affected thousands of job
 On 6 August 1990, the Union opportunities. Some felt that
Cabinet took a formal decision to existence of inequalities among
implement the recommendations. people of different castes in India
Now I can see  Next day Prime Minister V.P. Singh necessitated job reservations. They
clearly! That is why informed the Parliament about felt, this would give a fair
they talk of this decision through a statement opportunity to those communities
Mandalisation of in both the Houses of Parliament. who so far had not adequately been
politics. Don’t they?  The decision of the Cabinet was represented in government
sent to the Department of Personnel employment.
and Training. The senior officers of Others felt that this was unfair as
the Department drafted an order in it would deny equality of opportunity
line with the Cabinet decision and to those who did not belong to
took the minister’s approval. An backward communities. They would
officer signed the order on behalf of be denied jobs even though they
the Union Government. This was could be more qualified. Some felt
how O.M. No. 36012/ 31/90 was that this would perpetuate caste
born on August 13, 1990. feelings among people and hamper
For the next few months, this was national unity. In this chapter we
the most hotly debated issue in the won’t discuss whether the decision
©GCMMF India country. Newspapers and magazines was good or not. We only take this
example to understand how major
decisions are taken and
implemented in the country.
Who resolved this dispute? You
know that the Supreme Court and the
High Courts in India settle disputes
arising out of governmental decisions.
Some persons and associations
opposed to this order filed a number
of cases in the courts. They appealed
to the courts to declare the order
invalid and stop its implementation.
The Supreme Court of India bunched
all these cases together. This case was
known as the ‘Indira Sawhney and
others Vs Union of India case’. Eleven
judges of the Supreme Court heard
arguments of both sides. By a
majority, the Supreme Court judges
in 1992 declared that this order of the
Government of India was valid. At
the same time the Supreme Court
asked the government to modify its

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 81
original order. It said that well-to- Personnel and Training issued
do persons among the backward another Office Memorandum on
classes should be excluded from September 8, 1993. The dispute
getting the benefit of reservation. thus came to an end and this policy
Accordingly, the Department of has been followed since then.

Who did what in this case of reservations for backward classes?


Supreme Court Made formal announcement about this decision
Cabinet Implemented the decision by issuing an order CHECK
President
Government
Officials
Took the decision to give 27% job reservations YOUR
Upheld reservations as valid PROGRESS
N e eedd ffor
or PPolitical
olitical Institutions of each institution. In the example
We have seen one example of how above we saw several such institu-
the government works. Governing a tions at work.
country involves various such  The Prime Minister and the
activities. For example, the Cabinet are institutions that take
government is responsible for all important policy decisions.
ensuring security to the citizens and  The Civil Servants, working
providing facilities for education and together, are responsible for taking
health to all. It collects taxes and steps to implement the ministers’
spends the money thus raised on decisions.
administration, defence and  Supreme Court is an institution
development programmes. It where disputes between citizens
formulates and implements several and the government are finally
welfare schemes. Some persons settled.
have to take decisions on how to go Can you think of some other insti-
about these activities. Others have tutions in this example? What is
to implement these decisions. If their role?
disputes arise on these decisions or Working with institutions is not
in their implementation, there easy. Institutions involve rules and
should be some one to determine regulations. This can bind the hands
what is right and what is wrong. It of leaders. Institutions involve
is important that everyone should meetings, committees and routines.
know who is responsible for doing This often leads to delays and
what. It is also important that these complications. Therefore dealing
activities keep taking place even if with institutions can be frustrating.
the persons in key positions change. One might feel that it is much better
Which institutions
So, to attend to all these tasks, to have one person take all decisions are at work in the
several arrangements are made in without any rules, procedures and running of your
all modern democracies. Such meetings. But that is not the spirit school? Would it
arrangements are called institu- of democracy. Some of the delays be better if one
tions. A democracy works well when and complications introduced by person alone took
these institutions perform functions institutions are very useful. They all the decisions
assigned to them. The Constitution provide an opportunity for a wider regarding
of any country lays down basic set of people to be consulted in any management of
rules on the powers and functions decision. Institutions make it your school?

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difficult to have a good decision through a bad decision. That is why
taken very quickly. But they also democratic governments insist on
make it equally difficult to rush institutions.

5.2 PARLIA MENT


ARLIAMENT
In the example of the Office class and try to imagine what the
Memorandum, do you remember Parliament could have done if it did
the role of the Parliament? Perhaps not approve of the Cabinet’s
not. Since this decision was not decision.
taken by the Parliament, you might
think that the Parliament had no W h y do wwee nee
needd a
role in it. But let us go back to the Pa rrliamen
liamen
liamentt ?
story and see whether Parliament In all democracies, an assembly of
figures in it. Let us recall the points elected representatives exercises
made earlier by completing the supreme political authority on
following sentences: behalf of the people. In India such a
 The Report of the Mandal national assembly of elected
Commission was discussed … representatives is called Parliament.
 The President of India mentioned At the state level this is called
this in his … Legislature or Legislative Assembly.
 The Prime Minister made a … The name may vary in different
The decision was not directly taken countries, but such an assembly
in the Parliament. But Parliamentary exists in every democracy. It
discussions on the Report influenced exercises political authority on
and shaped the decision of the behalf of the people in many ways:
government. They brought pressure
on the government to act on the 1 Parliament is the final authority for
Mandal recommendation. If the making laws in any country. This
Parliament was not in favour of this task of law making or legislation
decision, the Government could not is so crucial that these assemblies
have gone ahead with it. Can you are called legislatures. Parliaments
guess why? Recall what you read all over the world can make new
about the Parliament in the earlier laws, change existing laws, or
abolish existing laws and make
new ones in their place.
2 Parliaments all over the world
exercise some control over those
who run the government. In some
countries like India this control is
direct and full. Those who run the
government can take decisions
only so long as they enjoy support
of the Parliament.
3 Parliaments control all the money
that governments have. In most
countries any the public money
Irfan Khan

can be spent only when the


Parliament sanctions it.

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 83
4 Parliament is the highest forum of Which of the two Houses is more
discussion and debate on public powerful? It might appear that the
issues and national policy in any Rajya Sabha is more powerful, for
country. Parliament can seek sometimes it is called the ‘Upper
information about any matter. Chamber’ and the Lok Sabha the
‘Lower Chamber’. But this does not
Tw o H ouses of PPaa rrliamen
Houses liamen
liamentt mean that Rajya Sabha is more What is the point in
Since the Parliament plays a central powerful than Lok Sabha. This is having so much
role in modern democracies, most just an old style of speaking and not debate and
large countries divide the role and the language used in our discussion in the
powers of the Parliament in two Constitution. Parliament when
parts. They are called Chambers or Our Constitution does give the we know that the
Houses. One House is usually Rajya Sabha some special powers view of the ruling
directly elected by the people and over the states. But on most matters, party is going to
exercises the real power on behalf the Lok Sabha exercises supreme prevail?
of the people. The second House is power. Let us see how:
usually elected indirectly and 1 Any ordinary law needs to be
performs some special functions.
passed by both the Houses. But if
The most common work for the
there is a difference between the
second House is to look after the
two Houses, the final decision is
interests of various states, regions
taken in a joint session in which
or federal units.
members of both the Houses sit
In our country, the Parliament
together. Because of the larger
consists of two Houses. The two
number of members, the view of
Houses are known as the Council of
States (Rajya Sabha) and the House the Lok Sabha is likely to prevail
of the People (Lok Sabha). The in such a meeting.
President of India is a part of the 2 Lok Sabha exercises more powers
Parliament, although she is not a in money matters. Once the Lok
member of either House. That is why Sabha passes the budget of the
all laws made in the Houses come government or any other money
into force only after they receive the related law, the Rajya Sabha
assent of the President. cannot reject it. The Rajya Sabha
You have read about the Indian can only delay it by 14 days or
Parliament in earlier classes. From suggest changes in it. The Lok
the Chapter Four you know how Lok Sabha may or may not accept
Sabha elections take place. Let us these changes.
recall some key differences between
the composition of these two Houses
of Parliament. Answer the following A C T I V I T Y
for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya
Sabha: When the Parliament is in session, there is a spe-
 What is the total number of cial programme everyday on Doordarshan about
members? … the proceedings in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
 Who elects the members? … Watch the proceedings or read about it in the
 What is the length of the term (in newspapers and note the following:
years)? …  Powers o the two Houses of Parliament.
 Can the House be dissolved or is  Role of the Speaker.
it permanent? …  Role of the Opposition.

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3 Most importantly, the Lok Sabha majority of the Lok Sabha members
controls the Council of Ministers. say they have ‘no confidence’ in the
Only a person who enjoys the Council of Ministers, all ministers
support of the majority of the including the Prime Minister, have
members in the Lok Sabha is to quit. the Rajya Sabha does not
appointed the Prime Minister. If the have this power.

A day in Lok Sabha


7 December, 2004, was an ordinary day in the life of Railways in addition to that sanctioned in the
the Fourteenth Lok Sabha. Let us take a look at what Railway Budget.
happened in the course of that day. Identify the role The Minister of Human Resource Development
and powers of the parliament on the basis of the introduced the National Commission for Minority
proceedings for the day as given below. You can Educational Institutions Bill, 2004. He also gave
also enact this day in your classroom. a statement explaining why the government had
to bring an ordinance for this.
11:00 Various ministries gave
written answers to about 250 12:14 Several members highlighted
questions that were asked by some issues, including:
members. These included:
 What is the government’s policy on talking to  The vindictiveness of the Central Bureau of
militant groups in Kashmir? Investigation (CBI) in registering cases against
 What are the figures of atrocities against some leaders in the Tehelka case.
Scheduled Tribes, including those inflicted by  Need to include Rajasthani as an official
the police? language in the Constitution.
 What is the government doing about over-  Need to renew the insurance policies of
pricing of medicines by big companies? farmers and agricultural workers of Andhra
Pradesh.
12:00 A large number of official
documents were presented and were 2:26 Two bills proposed by the
available for discussion. These government were considered and
included: passed. These were:
 Recruitment rules for the Indo-Tibetan Border  The Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill
Police Force  The Enforcement of Security Interest and
 Annual Repor t of the Indian Institute of Recovery of Debts Laws (Amendment) Bill
Technology, Kharagpur
 Report and accounts of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam 4:00 Finally, there was a long
Limited, Visakhapattanam discussion regarding the foreign
policy of the government and the
12:02 The Minister of Development need to continue an independent
of North Eastern Region made a foreign policy in the context of the
statement regarding Revitalisation of situation in Iraq.
the North Eastern Council.
The Minister of State for Railways presented a 7:17 Discussion concluded. House
statement showing the grant needed by the adjourned for next day.

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 85
5.3 POLITICAL EXECUTIVE
LITICAL
Do you remember the story of the executive in the case of the Office
Office Memorandum with which we Memorandum?
started this chapter? We found out You might ask: Why does the
that the person who signed the political executive have more power
document did not take this decision. than the non-political executive?
He was only executing the policy Why is the minister more powerful
decision taken by someone else. We than the civil servant? The civil
noted the role of the Prime Minister servant is usually more educated
in taking that decision. But we also and has more expert knowledge of
know that he could not have taken the subject. The advisors working in
that decision if he did not have the Finance Ministry know more
support from the Lok Sabha. In that about economics than the Finance
sense he was only executing the Minister. Sometimes the ministers
wishes of the Parliament. may know very little about the
Thus, at different levels of any technical matters that come under
government we find functionaries their ministry. This could easily
who take day-to-day decisions but happen in ministries like Defence,
do not exercise supreme power on Industry, Health, Science and
behalf of the people. All those Technology, Mining, etc. Why should
functionaries are collectively known the minister have the final say on
as the executive. They are called these matters?
executive because they are in charge The reason is very simple. In a
of the ‘execution’ of the policies of democracy the will of the people is
the government. Thus, when we talk supreme. The minister is elected by
about ‘the government’ we usually the people and thus empowered to
mean the executive. exercise the will of the people on
their behalf. She is finally
Political and PPee rrmanen
manen
manentt answerable to the people for all the
E x e c utive
utive consequences of her decision. That
In a democratic country, two is why the minister takes all the final
categories make up the executive. decisions. The minister decides the
One that is elected by the people for overall framework and objectives in
a specific period, is called the which decisions on policy should be
political executive. Political leaders made. The minister is not, and is not
who take the big decisions fall in this expected to be, an expert in the
category. In the second category, matters of her ministry. The minister
people are appointed on a long-term takes the advice of experts on all
basis. This is called the permanent technical matters. But very often
executive or civil services. Persons experts hold different opinions or
working in civil services are called place before her more than one
civil servants. They remain in office option. Depending on what the
even when the ruling party changes. overall objective is, the minister
These officers work under political decides.
executive and assist them in Actually this happens in any large
carrying out the day-to-day organisation. Those who understand
administration. Can you recall the the overall picture take the most
role of political and non-political important decisions, not the experts.

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The experts can tell the route, but After the appointment of the Prime
someone with a larger view decides Minister, the President appoints
the destination. In a democracy other ministers on the advice of the
elected ministers perform this role. Prime Minister. The Ministers are
usually from the party or the
P r ime M inist
Minist er and CCouncil
inister ouncil coalition that has the majority in the
of M inist
Ministers
inisters Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister is
Prime Minister is the most important free to choose ministers, as long as
political institution in the country. they are members of Parliament.
read Yet there is no direct election to the Sometimes, a person who is not a
post of the Prime Minister. The member of Parliament can also
the President appoints the Prime become a minister. But such a
cartoon Minister. But the President cannot person has to get elected to one of
appoint anyone she likes. The the Houses of the Parliament within
President appoints the leader of the six months of appointment as
The race to become majority party or the coalition of minister.
minister is not new. parties that commands a majority Council of Ministers is the official
Here is a cartoon in the Lok Sabha, as Prime Minister. name for the body that includes all
depicting ministerial In case no single party or alliance the Ministers. It usually has 60 to
aspirants waiting to gets a majority, the President 80 Ministers of different ranks.
get a berth in Nehru’s appoints the person most likely to  Cabinet Ministers are usually
Cabinet after the secure a majority support. The top-level leaders of the ruling party
1962 elections. Why Prime Minister does not have a fixed or parties who are in charge of the
do you think political tenure. He continues in power so major ministries. Usually the
leaders are so keen to long as he remains the leader of the Cabinet Ministers meet to take
become ministers? majority party or coalition. decisions in the name of the
Council of Ministers. Cabinet is
©Shankar. Don’t Spare Me

thus the inner ring of the Council


of Ministers. It comprises about 20
ministers.
 Ministers of State with indepen-
dent charge are usually in-charge
of smaller Ministries. They
participate in the Cabinet meet-
ings only when specially invited.
 Ministers of State are attached
to and required to assist Cabinet
Ministers.
Since it is not practical for all
ministers to meet regularly and
discuss everything, the decisions are
taken in Cabinet meetings. That is why
parliamentary democracy in most
countries is often known as the
Cabinet form of government. The
Cabinet works as a team. The
ministers may have different views and
opinions, but everyone has to own up
to every decision of the Cabinet.

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 87
No minister can openly criticise any
decision of the government, even if
it is about another Ministry or
Department. Every ministry has
secretaries, who are civil servants.
The secretaries provide the
necessary background information

©R.K. Laxman, The Times of India


to the ministers to take decisions.
The Cabinet as a team is assisted
by the Cabinet Secretariat. This
includes many senior civil servants
who try to coordinate the working of
different ministries.

A C T I V I T Y
who is the most powerful. The
 List the names of five Cabinet Ministers and powers of the Prime Minister in all
their ministries each at the Union level and in parliamentary democracies of the read
your state. world have increased so much in the
 Meet the Mayor or Municipal Chairperson of recent decades that parliamentary
your town or the President of Zila Parishad of democracies are some times seen as cartoon
your district and ask him or her about how the Prime Ministerial form of
city, town or district is administered. government. As political parties have
come to play a major role in politics, This cartoon depicts
a cabinet meeting
Po w ers of the the Prime Minister controls the
chaired by Prime
P r ime M inist
inistee r
Minist Cabinet and Parliament through the
Minister Indira Gandhi
The Constitution does not say very party. The media also contributes to
this trend by making politics and in early 1970s, at the
much about the powers of the Prime
elections as a competition between peak of her popularity.
Minister or the ministers or their
top leaders of parties. In India too Do you think similar
relationship with each other. But as
we have seen such a tendency cartoons could be
head of the government, the Prime
towards the concentration of powers drawn about other
Minister has wide ranging powers.
in the hands of the Prime Minister. prime ministers who
He chairs Cabinet meetings. He
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime followed her?
coordinates the work of different
Departments. His decisions are final Minister of India, exercised
in case disagreements arise between enormous authority because he had
Departments. He exercises general great influence over the public.
supervision of different ministries. Indira Gandhi was also a very
All ministers work under his powerful leader compared to her
leadership. The Prime Minister colleagues in the Cabinet. Of course,
distributes and redistributes work the extent of power wielded by a
to the ministers. He also has the Prime Minister also depends on the
power to dismiss ministers. When personality of the person holding
the Prime Minister quits, the entire that position.
ministry quits. However, in recent years the rise
Thus, if the Cabinet is the most of coalition politics has imposed
powerful institution in India, within certain constraints on the power of
the Cabinet it is the Prime Minister the Prime Minister. The Prime

88 D EMOCR
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Minister of a coalition government directly by the people. All the
cannot take decisions as he likes. Members of Parliament (MPs) and
He has to accommodate different Members of State Legislative
groups and factions in his party as Assemblies (MLAs) elect her. A
well as among alliance partners. He candidate standing for President’s
Why does this
book refer to the
also has to heed to the views and post has to get a majority of votes to
President as ‘she’? positions of the coalition partners win the election. This ensures that
Have we ever had and other parties, on whose support the President can be seen to
a woman President the survival of the government represent the entire nation. At the
in our country? depends. same time the President can never
claim the kind of direct popular
T he PPrresiden
esidentt mandate that the Prime Minister
While the Prime Minister is the head can. This ensures that she remains
of the government, the President is only a nominal executive.
the head of the State. In our political The same is true of the powers of
system the head of the State exercises the President. If you casually read
Did you protest only nominal powers. The President the Constitution you would think
when the book of India is like the Queen of Britain that there is nothing that she cannot
referred to the whose functions are to a large extent do. All governmental activities take
Prime Minister as ceremonial. The President supervises place in the name of the President.
‘he’? Have we not the overall functioning of all the All laws and major policy decisions
had a woman political institutions in the country so of the government are issued in her
Prime Minister? that they operate in harmony to name. All major appointments are
Why should we achieve the objectives of the state. made in the name of the President.
assume that all the
The President is not elected These include the appointment of
important positions
Press Information Bureau

are held by men?

The President,
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
administering the oath of
office to Prime Minister,
Dr. Manmohan Singh.

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 89
the Chief Justice of India, the When no party or coalition gets a
Judges of the Supreme Court and majority in the Lok Sabha, the
the High Courts of the states, the President exercises her discretion.
Governors of the states, the Election The President appoints a leader who
Commissioners, ambassadors to in her opinion can muster majority read
other countries, etc. All international support in the Lok Sabha. In such a the
treaties and agreements are made in case, the President can ask the
the name of the President. The newly appointed Prime Minister to ima ge
image
President is the supreme commander prove majority support in the Lok
of the defence forces of India. Sabha within a specified time.
But we should remember that the
President exercises all these powers The Presidential System
only on the advice of the Council of
Ministers. The President can ask the Presidents all over the world are not always nomi-
Council of Ministers to reconsider its nal executives like the President of India. In many
advice. But if the same advice is countries of the world, the President is both the
given again, she is bound to act head of the state and the head of the govern-
according to it. Similarly, a bill ment. The President of the United States of
passed by the Parliament becomes America is the most well known example of this
a law only after the President gives kind of President. The US President is directly
assent to it. If the President wants, elected by the people. He personally chooses and
she can delay this for some time and appoints all Ministers. The law making is still done
send the bill back to the Parliament by the legislature (called the Congress in the US),
for reconsideration. But if the but the president can veto any law. Most impor-
Parliament passes the bill again, she tantly, the president does not need the support
has to sign it. of the majority of members in the Congress and
So you may wonder what does the neither is he answerable to them. He has a fixed
President really do? Can she do tenure of four years and completes it even if his
anything on her own at all? There is party does not have a majority in the Congress. What is better for a
one very important thing she should This model is followed in most of the coun- democracy: A
do on her own: appoint the Prime tries of Latin America and many of the ex-Soviet Prime Minister who
Minister. When a party or coalition Union countries. Given the centrality of the Presi- can do whatever
of parties secures a clear majority dent, this system of government is called the he wishes or a
in the elections, the President, has Presidential form of government. In countries like Prime Minister who
to appoint the leader of the majority ours that follow the British model, the parliament needs to consult
party or the coalition that enjoys is supreme. Therefore our system is called the other leaders and
majority support in the Lok Sabha. parliamentary system of government. parties?

Eliamma, Annakutti and Marymol read the section on the President. Each of them had a question.
Can you help them in answering these questions?
Eliamma: What happens if the President and the Prime Minister disagree about some policy? Does
the view of the Prime Minister always prevail? CHECK
Annakutti: I find it funny that the President is the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces. I doubt if the YOUR
President can even lift a heavy gun. What is the point in making the President the Com-
mander? PROGRESS
Marymol: I would say, what is the point in having a President at all if all the real powers are with the
Prime Minister?

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5.4 THE JUD
UDIICIARY
CIARY
It is quite common in Let us return, one final time, to the
the US for judges to story of Office Memorandum that we A C T I V I T Y
be nominated on the started with. This time let us not
basis of well-known recall the story, but imagine how Follow the news about any major court case in a
political opinions and different the story could have been. High Court or the Supreme Court. What was the
affiliations. This Remember, the story came to a original verdict? Did the High Cour t or the
fictitious satisfactory end because the Supreme Court change it? What was the reason?
advertisement Supreme Court gave a verdict that
appeared in the US in was accepted by everyone. Imagine This is why an independent and
2005 when President what would have happened in the powerful judiciary is considered
Bush was considering following situations: essential for democracies. All the
various candidates for  If there was nothing like a courts at different levels in a country
nomination to the US Supreme Court in the country. put together are called the judiciary.
supreme court. What  Even if there was a Supreme The Indian judiciary consists of a
does this cartoon say Court, if it had no power to judge Supreme Court for the entire nation,
about the actions of the government. High Courts in the states, District
independence of the  Even if it had the power, if no one Courts and the courts at local level.
judiciary? Why do trusted the Supreme Court to give India has an integrated judiciary. It
such cartoons not a fair verdict. means the Supreme Court controls
appear in our  Even if it gave a fair judgement, if the judicial administration in the
country? Does this those who appealed against the country. Its decisions are binding on
demonstrate the Government Order did not accept all other courts of the country. It can
independence of our the judgement. take up any dispute
judiciary?  Between citizens of the country;
 Between citizens and government;
 Between two or more state
governments; and
 Between governments at the union
and state level.
It is the highest court of appeal in
civil and criminal cases. It can hear
appeals against the decisions of the
High Courts.
Independence of the judiciary
means that it is not under the
©M.E. Cohen, National, Cagle Cartoons Inc.

control of the legislature or the


executive. The judges do not act on
the direction of the government or
according to the wishes of the party
in power. That is why all modern
democracies have courts that are
independent of the legislature and
the executive. India has achieved
this. The judges of the Supreme
Court and the High Courts are
appointed by the President on the
advice of the Prime Minister and in

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 91
consultation with the Chief Justice Constitution. Thus they can
of the Supreme Court. In practice it determine the Constitutional validity
now means that the senior judges of any legislation or action of the
of the Supreme Court select the new executive in the country, when it is
judges of the Supreme Court and the challenged before them. This is
High Courts. There is very little known as the judicial review. The
scope for interference by the political Supreme Court of India has also
executive. The senior most judge of ruled that the core or basic Why are people
the Supreme Court is usually principles of the Constitution cannot allowed to go to
appointed the Chief Justice. Once a be changed by the Parliament. courts against the
person is appointed as judge of the The powers and the independence government’s
Supreme Court or the High Court it of the Indian judiciary allow it to act decisions?
is nearly impossible to remove him as the guardian of the Fundamental
or her from that position. It is as Rights. We shall see in the next
difficult as removing the President chapter that the citizens have a
of India. A judge can be removed right to approach the courts to seek
only by an impeachment motion remedy in case of any violation of
passed separately by two-thirds their rights. In recent years the
members of the two Houses of the Courts have given several
Parliament. It has never happened judgments and directives to protect
in the history of Indian democracy. public interest and human rights.
The judiciary in India is also one Any one can approach the courts if
of the most powerful in the world. public interest is hurt by the actions
The Supreme Court and the High of government. This is called public
Courts have the power to interpret interest litigation. The courts
the Constitution of the country. They intervene to prevent the misuse of
can declare invalid any law of the the government’s power to make
legislature or the actions of the decisions. They check malpractices
executive, whether at the Union level on the part of public officials. That
or at the state level, if they find such is why the judiciary enjoys a high
a law or action is against the level of confidence among the people.

Give one reason each to argue that Indian judiciary is independent with respect to:
Appointment of judges: …
CHECK
Removal of judges: … YOUR
Powers of the judiciary: … PROGRESS

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Coalition government: A government formed by an alliance of two or
more political parties, usually when no single party enjoys majority support
of the members in a legislature.
GLOSSARY Executive: A body of persons having authority to initiate major policies,
make decisions and implement them on the basis of the Constitution and
laws of the country.
Government: A set of institutions that have the power to make, implement
and interpret laws so as to ensure an orderly life. In its broad sense,
government administers and supervises over citicens and resources of a
country.
Judiciary: An institution empowered to administer justice and provide a
mechanism for the resolution of legal disputes. All the courts in the country
are collectively referred to as judiciary.
Legislature: An assembly of people’s representatives with the power to
enact laws for a country. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures have
authority to raise taxes and adopt the budget and other money bills.
Office Memorandum: A communication issued by an appropriate authority
stating the policy or decision of the government.
Political Institution: A set of procedures for regulating the conduct of
government and political life in the country.
Reservations: A policy that declares some positions in government
employment and educational institutions ‘reserved’ for people and
communities who have been discriminated against, are disadvantaged and
backward.
State: Political association occupying a definite territory, having an
organised government and possessing power to make domestic and foreign
policies. Governments may change, but the state continues. In common
speech, the terms country, nation and state are used as synonyms.

exercises 1 If you are elected as the President of India which of the following
decision can you take on your own?
a Select the person you like as Prime Minister.
b Dismiss a Prime Minister who has a majority in Lok Sabha.
c Ask for reconsideration of a bill passed by both the Houses.
d Nominate the leaders of your choice to the Council of Ministers.

2 Who among the following is a part of the political executive?


a District Collector
b Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs
c Home Minister
d Director General of Police

3 Which of the following statements about the judiciary is false?


a Every law passed by the Parliament needs approval of the Supreme
Court
b Judiciary can strike down a law if it goes against the spirit of the
Constitution
c Judiciary is independent of the Executive
d Any citizen can approach the courts if her rights are violated

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 93
exercises
4 Which of the following institutions can make changes to an existing
law of the country?
a The Supreme Court
b The President
c The Prime Minister
d The Parliament

5 Match the ministry with the news that the ministry may have released:

A new policy is being made to Ministry of Defence


increase the jute exports from
the country.
Telephone services will be Ministry of Health
made more accessible to rural
areas.
The price of rice and wheat sold Ministry of Agriculture, Food
under the Public Distribution and Public Distribution
System will go down.
A pulse polio campaign will be Ministry of Commerce
launched. and Industry
The allowances of the soldiers Ministry of Communications
posted on high altitudes will be and Information Technology
increased.

6 Of all the institutions that we have studied in this chapter, name the
one that exercises the powers on each of the following matters.
a Decision on allocation of money for developing infrastructure like
roads, irrigation etc. and different welfare activities for the citizens
b Considers the recommendation of a Committee on a law to regulate
the stock exchange
c Decides on a legal dispute between two state governments
d Implements the decision to provide relief for the victims of an
earthquake.

7 Why is the Prime Minister in India not directly elected by the people?
Choose the most appropriate answer and give reasons for your choice.
a In a Parliamentary democracy only the leader of the majority party
in the Lok Sabha can become the Prime Minister.
b Lok Sabha can remove the Prime Minister and the council of
Minister even before the expiry of their term.
c Since the Prime Minister in appointed by the president there is no
need for it.
d Direct election of the Prime Minister will involve lot of expenditure
on election.

8 Three friends went to watch a film that showed the hero becoming
Chief Minister for a day and making big changes in the state. Imran
said this is what the country needs. Rizwan said this kind of a personal
rule without institutions is dangerous. Shankar said all this is a

94 D EMOCR
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exercises fantasy. No minister can do anything in one day. What would be
your reaction to such a film?

9 A teacher was making preparations for a mock parliament. She called


two students to act as leaders of two political parties. She gave them
an option: Each one could choose to have a majority either in the
mock Lok Sabha or in the mock Rajya Sabha. If this choice was given
to you, which one would you choose and why?

10 After reading the example of the reservation order, three students


had different reactions about the role of the judiciary. Which view,
according to you, is a correct reading of the role of judiciary?
a Srinivas argues that since the Supreme Court agreed with the
government, it is not independent.
b Anjaiah says that judiciary is independent because it could have
given a verdict against the government order. The Supreme Court
did direct the government to modify it.
c Vijaya thinks that the judiciary is neither independent nor
conformist, but acts as a mediator between opposing parties. The
court struck a good balance between those who supported and
those who opposed the order.

Collect newspapers for the last one week and and classify the news related
to the working of any of the institutions discussed in this chapter into four
groups:
 Working of the legislatures
 Working of the political executive
 Working of the civil services
 Working of the judiciary

W ORKING OF INSTITUTIONS
NSTITUTIO 95
CHAPTER 6

DEMOCRATIC
RIGHTS

OVERVIE
VERVIE
VIEWW

In the previous two chapters we have looked at two major elements of a


democratic government. In Chapter Four we saw how a democratic
government has to be periodically elected by the people in a free and fair
manner. In Chapter Five we learnt that a democracy must be based on
institutions that follow certain rules and procedures. These elements are
necessary but not sufficient for a democracy. Elections and institutions
need to be combined with a third element – enjoyment of rights – to make
a government democratic. Even the most properly elected rulers working
through the established institutional process must learn not to cross some
limits. Citizens’ democratic rights set those limits in a democracy.
This is what we take up in this final chapter of the book. We begin by
discussing some real life cases to imagine what it means to live without
rights. This leads to a discussion on what we mean by rights and why do
we need them. As in the previous chapters, the general discussion is
followed by a focus on India. We discuss one by one the Fundamental
Rights in the Indian Constitution. Then we turn to how these rights can
be used by ordinary citizens. Who will protect and enforce them? Finally
we take a look at how the scope of rights has been expanding.

96 D EMOCR
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6. 1 LIFE WITHOUT RI
WITHOUT GHT
RIGHTS
GHTS
In this book we have mentioned Chapter Three: Our Constitution
rights again and again. If you makers believed that fundamental
remember, we have discussed rights rights were quite central to the
in each of the five preceding Constitution because …
chapters. Can you fill in the blanks Chapter Four: Every adult citizen of
by recalling the rights dimension in India has the right to ... and to be ...
each chapter? Chapter Five: If a law is against the
Chapter One: Chile under Pinochet Constitution, every citizen has the
and Poland under Jaruzelsky were right to approach …
not democratic because … Let us now begin with three
Chapter Two: A comprehensive examples of what it means to live in
definition of democracy includes … the absence of rights.

P r ison in GGuan
uantanamo BBaa y
uantanamo
About 600 people were secretly
Dear Mr Tony Blair, picked up by the US forces from all
over the world and put in a prison
Firstly, how are you? I sent a in Guantanamo Bay, an area near
letter two years ago, why didn’t Cuba controlled by Amercian Navy.
you reply?!? I was waiting for a Anas’s father, Jamil El-Banna, was
long time but you did not reply. among them. The American
Please can you give me an answer government said that they were
to my question? Why is my dad in enemies of the US and linked to the
prison? Why is he far away in attack on New York on 11
that Guantánamo Bay?! I miss my September 2001. In most cases the
dad so much. I have not seen my governments of their countries were
dad for three years. I know my not asked or even informed about
dad has not done anything, their imprisonment. Like other
because he is a good man. I hear prisoners, El-Banna’s family got to
everybody speak about my dad in know that he was in that prison only
a nice way. Your children spend through the media. Families of
Christmas with you, but me and prisoners, media or even UN
my brothers, and sisters have representatives were not allowed to
spent Eid alone without our dad meet them. The US army arrested
for 3 years. What do you think them, interrogated them and
about that? decided whether to keep them there
I hope you will answer me this or not. There was no trial before any
time. magistrate in the US. Nor could
Thank you, these prisoners approach courts in
their own country.
From: Anas Jamil El-Banna, Amnesty International, an
9 years old. international human rights
7/12/2005 organisation, collected information
on the condition of the prisoners in
Guantanamo Bay and reported that
the prisoners were being tortured in
ways that violated the US laws. They

D EMOCR
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GHTS 97
were being denied the treatment that E thnic massacr
massacree in KKoso
oso
osovv o
even prisoners of war must get as per You might think that this is possible
international treaties. Many prisoners in an absolute monarchy but not
had tried protesting against these in countries which choose their
conditions by going on a hunger fast. rulers. Just consider this story from
Prisoners were not released even after Kosovo. This was a province of
they were officially declared not guilty.
Yugoslavia before its split. In this
An independent inquiry by the UN
province the population was
supported these findings. The UN
overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian. If you were a Serb,
Secretary General said the prison in
But in the entire country, Serbs would you support
Guantanamo Bay should be closed
down. The US government refused to were in majority. A narrow minded what Milosevic did
Serb nationalist Milosevic in Kosovo? Do you
accept these pleas.
(pronounced Miloshevich) had won think his project of
the election. His government was establishing Serb
C itizens
ens’’ RRigh
itizens ights in
ights dominance was
S audi AArr abia very hostile to the Kosovo
good for the
The case of Guantanamo Bay looks Albanians. He wanted the Serbs to
Serbs?
like an exception, for it involves the dominate the country. Many Serb
government of one country denying leaders thought that Ethnic
rights to citizens of another country. minorities like Albanians should
Let us therefore look at the case of either leave the country or accept
Saudi Arabia and the position of the the dominance of the Serbs.
citizens with regard to their This is what happened to an
government. Consider these facts: Albanian family in a town in Kosovo
 The country is ruled by a in April 1999:
hereditary king and the people 74-year-old Batisha Hoxha was
have no role in electing or sitting in her kitchen with her 77-
changing their rulers. year–old husband Izet, staying warm
 The king selects the legislature as by the stove. They had heard
well as the executive. He appoints explosions but did not realise that
the judges and can change any of Serbian troops had already entered
their decisions. the town. The next thing she knew,
 Citizens cannot form political par-
five or six soldiers had burst through
ties or any political organisations.
the front door and were demanding
Media cannot report anything that
“Where are your children?”
the monarch does not like.
“… they shot Izet three times in the chest”
 There is no freedom of religion.
recalls Batisha. With her husband
Every citizen is required to be
Muslim. Non-Muslim residents dying before her, the soldiers pulled
can follow their religion in private, the wedding ring off her finger and
but not in public. told her to get out. “I was not even
 Women are subjected to many
outside the gate when they burnt the
public restrictions. The testimony house” … She was standing on the
of one man is considered equal to street in the rain with no house, no
that of two women. husband, no possessions but the
This is true not just of Saudi clothes she was wearing.
Arabia. There are many countries in This news report was typical of
the world where several of these what happened to thousands of
conditions exist. Albanians in that period. Do

98 D EMOCR
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remember that this massacre was
being carried out by the army of
their own country, working under A C T I V I T Y
the direction of a leader who came
to power through democratic  Write a letter to Anas Jamil in UK, describing
elections. This was one of the worst your reactions after reading his letter to Tony
instances of killings based on ethnic Blair.
prejudices in recent times. Finally  Write a letter from Batisha in Kosovo to a
several other countries intervened woman who faced a similar situation in
to stop this massacre. Milosevic lost India.
power and was tried by an  Write a memorandum on behalf of women in
International Court of Justice for Saudi Arabia to the Secretary General of the
crimes against humanity. United Nations.

For each of the three cases of life without rights, mention an example from India. These could include
the following:
 Newspaper reports on custodial violence.
CHECK  Newspaper Reports on force-feeding of prisoners who go on huger strike.
 Ethnic massacre in any part of our country.
YOUR  Reports regarding unequal treatment of women.
PROGRESS
List the similarities and differences between the earlier case and the Indian example. It is not necessary
that for each of these cases you must find an exact Indian parallel.

6.2 RIGHTS
GHTS IN A DEMOCR AC
EMOCRAC
ACYY

Think of all the examples that we everything. One has to be reasonable


have discussed so far. Think of the in what one expects and demands of
victims in each example: the everyone else, for one has to grant
prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the same to everyone. But you might
women in Saudi Arabia, Albanians insist that the assurance does not
in Kosovo. If you were in their remain on paper, that there is
position, what would you have someone to enforce these
wished? If you could, what would assurances, that those who violate
you do to ensure that such things these are punished. In other words,
do not happen to anyone? you might want a system where at
You would perhaps desire a least a minimum is guaranteed to
system where security, dignity and everyone – powerful or weak, rich
fair play are assured to everyone. or poor, majority or minority. This
You might want, for example, that is the spirit behind thinking about
no one should be arrested without rights.
proper reason and information. And
if someone is arrested, he or she W h aatt ar
aree rrigh
ights?
ights?
should have a fair chance to defend Rights are claims of a person over
themselves. You might agree that other fellow beings, over the society
such assurance cannot apply to and over the government. All of us

D EMOCR
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GHTS 99
want to live happily, without fear enforceable. We can then demand
and without being subjected to their application. When fellow
degraded treatment. For this we citizens or the government do not
expect others to behave in such a respect these rights we call it
way that does not harm us or hurt violation or infringement of our
us. Equally, our actions should not rights. In such circumstances
also harm or hurt others. So a right citizens can approach courts to
is possible when you make a claim protect their rights. So, if we want What are the
that is equally possible for others. to call any claim a right, it has to examples of
You cannot have a right that harms have these three qualities. Rights elected
or hurts others. You cannot have a are reasonable claims of persons governments not
right to play a game in such a way recognised by society and protecting or even
that it breaks the neighbour’s sanctioned by law. attacking the rights
window. The Serbs in Yugoslavia of their own
could not have claimed the whole W h y do w
wee neeneedd rrigh
ights in a
ights citizens? Why do
country for themselves. The claims democr
democraa ccyy ? they do that?
we make should be reasonable. Rights are necessary for the very
They should be such that can be sustenance of a democracy. In a
made available to others in an equal democracy every citizen has to have
measure. Thus, a right comes with the right to vote and the right to be
an obligation to respect other rights. elected to government. For
Just because we claim some thing democratic elections to take place it
it does not become our right. It has is necessary that citizens should
to be recognised by the society we have the right to express their
live in. Rights acquire meaning only opinion, form political parties and
in society. Every society makes take part in political activities.
certain rules to regulate our Rights also perform a very special
conduct. They tell us what is right role in a democracy. Rights protect
and what is wrong. What is minorities from the oppression of
recognised by the society as rightful majority. They ensure that the
becomes the basis of rights. That is majority cannot do whatever it likes.
why the notion of rights changes Rights are guarantees which can be
from time to time and society to used when things go wrong. Things
society. Two hundred years ago may go wrong when some citizens
anyone who said that women should may wish to take away the rights of
have right to vote would have others. This usually happens when
sounded strange. Today not granting those in majority want to dominate
them vote in Saudi Arabia appears those in minority. The government
strange. should protect the citizens’ rights in
When the socially recognised such a situation. But sometimes
claims are written into law they elected governments may not
acquire real force. Otherwise they protect or may even attack the rights
remain merely as natural or moral of their own citizens. That is why
rights. The prisoners in some rights need to be placed higher
Guantanamo Bay had a moral claim than the government, so that the
not to be tortured or humiliated. But government cannot violate these. In
they could not go to anyone to most democracies the basic rights
enforce this claim. When law of the citizen are written down in the
recognises some claims they become constitution.

100 D EMOCR
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6.3 RIGHTS
GHTS IN THE IND IAN CONSTITUTI
NDIAN ON
NSTITUTIO
In India, like most other R igh
ightt ttoo EEqualit
qualit
qualityy
democracies in the world, these The Constitution says that the
rights are mentioned in the government shall not deny to any
Constitution. Some rights which are person in India equality before the law
fundamental to our life are given a or the equal protection of the laws. It
special status. They are called means that the laws apply in the
same manner to all, regardless of a
Fundamental Rights. We have
person’s status. This is called the rule
already read in Chapter Three the
of law. Rule of law is the foundation
preamble to our Constitution. It
of any democracy. It means that no
talks about securing for all its person is above the law. There cannot
citizens equality, liberty and justice. be any distinction between a political
Fundamental Rights put this leader, government official and an
promise into effect. They are an ordinary citizen.
important basic feature of India’s Every citizen, from the Prime
Everyone knows Constitution. Minister to a small farmer in a
that the rich can You already know our Constitution remote village, is subjected to the
have better lawyers
provides for six Fundamental Rights. same laws. No person can legally
in the courts. What
Can you recall these? What exactly claim any special treatment or
is the point in
do these rights mean for an ordinary privilege just because he or she
talking about
equality before citizen? Let us look at these one by happens to be an important person.
For example, a few years ago a

Å
law? one.
former Prime Minister of the country
faced a court case on charges of
cheating. The court finally declared
Cultural that he was not guilty. But as long
and as the case continued, he had to go
Educa- to the court, give evidence and file
tional papers, just like any other citizen.
Right Right to This basic position is further
Rights
against Freedom clarified in the Constitution by
Exploitation of Religion spelling out some implications of the
Right to Equality. The government
shall not discriminate against any
citizen on grounds of religion, caste,
ethnicity, sex or place of birth. Every
F U N D A M E N T A L R I G H T S citizen shall have access to public
places like shops, restaurants,
hotels, and cinema halls. Similarly,
there shall be no restriction with
regard to the use of wells, tanks,
Right to Right to bathing ghats, roads, playgrounds
Equality Freedom and places of public resorts
Right to maintained by government or
Constitu- dedicated to the use of general
tional public. This might appear very
Remedies obvious, but it was necessary to

D EMOCR
EMOCRAATIC RIGHT
TIC S
GHTS 101
incorporate these rights in the
Constitution of our country where the
traditional caste system did not allow
people from some communities to
access all public places.
The same principle applies to
public jobs. All citizens have equality
of opportunity in matters relating to
employment or appointment to any
position in the government. No
citizen shall be discriminated
against or made ineligible for
employment on the grounds
mentioned above. You have read in
Chapter Five that the Government
of India has provided reservations
for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled
Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
Various governments have different
schemes for giving preference to
women, poor or physically
handicapped in some kinds of jobs.
Are these reservations against the A C T I V I T Y
right to equality? They are not. For
equality does not mean giving  Go to the playground of the school or any sta-
everyone the same treatment, no dium and watch a 400 metre race on any track.
matter what they need. Equality Why are the competitors in the outer lane placed
means giving everyone an equal ahead of those in the inner lane at the starting
opportunity to achieve whatever one point of the race? What would happen if all the
is capable of. Sometimes it is competitors start the race from the same line?
necessary to give special treatment Which of these two would be an equal and fair
to someone in order to ensure equal race? Apply this example to a competition for
opportunity. This is what job jobs.
reservations do. Just to clarify this,  Observe any big public building. Is there a ramp
the Constitution says that for physically handicapped? Are there any other
reservations of this kind are not a facilities that make it possible for physically
violation of the Right to Equality. handicapped to use the building in the same
The principle of non-discrimination way as any one else? Should these special fa-
extends to social life as well. The cilities be provided, if it leads to extra expendi-
Constitution mentions one extreme ture on the building? Do these special provi-
form of social discrimination, the sions go against the principle of equality?
practice of untouchability, and
clearly directs the government to put practice which looks down upon
an end to it. The practice of people on account of their birth with
untouchability has been forbidden certain caste labels. Such practice
in any form. Untouchability here denies them interaction with others
does not only mean refusal to touch or access to public places as equal
people belonging to certain castes. citizens. So the Constitution made
It refers to any belief or social untouchability a punishable offence.

102 D EMOCR
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Many Forms of Untouchability manner that violates others’ right to
freedom. Your freedoms should not
In 1999, P. Sainath wrote a series of newsreports cause public nuisance or disorder.
in The Hindu describing untouchability and caste You are free to do everything which
discrimination that was still being practiced injures no one else. Freedom is not
against Dalits or persons belonging to Scheduled unlimited license to do what one
Castes. He travelled to various parts of the coun- wants. Accordingly, the government
try and found that in many places: can impose certain reasonable
 Tea stalls kept two kinds of cups, one for Dalits
restrictions on our freedoms in the
one for others; larger interests of the society
 Barbers refused to serve dalit clients;
Freedom of speech and
 Dalit students were made to sit separately in the
expression is one of the essential
classroom or drink water from separate picher; features of any democracy. Our ideas
 Dalit grooms were not allowed to ride a horse
and personality develop only when we
in the wedding procession; and are able to freely communicate with
 Dalits were not allowed to use common
others. You may think differently
handpump or if they did, the handpump was from others. Even if a hundred
washed to purify it. people think in one way, you should
have the freedom to think differently
All these fall under the definition of untouchability. and express your views accordingly.
Can you think of some examples from your own You may disagree with a policy of
area? government or activities of an
association. You are free to criticise
R igh
ightt ttoo FFrr e eedom
dom the government or the activities of
Freedom means absence of the association in your
constraints. In practical life it means conversations with parents, friends
absence of interference in our affairs and relatives. You may publicise
by others – be it other individuals your views through a pamphlet,
or the government. We want to live magazine or newspaper. You can do
in society, but we want to be free. it through paintings, poetry or
We want to do things in the way we songs. However, you cannot use this
want to do them. Others should not freedom to instigate violence against
dictate us what we should do. So, others. You cannot use it to incite
under the Indian Constitution all people to rebel against government.
citizens have the right to
 Freedom of speech and expression

Irfan Khan
 Assembly in a peaceful manner
 Form associations and unions
 Move freely throughout the
country
Should the
 Reside in any part of the country,
freedom of
expression be and
extended to those  Practice any profession, or to carry

who are spreading on any occupation, trade or


wrong and narrow- business.
minded ideas? You should remember that every
Should they be citizen has the right to all these
allowed to confuse freedoms. That means you cannot
the public? exercise your freedom in such a

D EMOCR
EMOCRAATIC RIGHT
TIC S
GHTS 103
Neither can you use it to defame
others by saying false and mean
things that cause damage to a
person’s reputation.
Citizens have the freedom to
hold meetings, processions, rallies
and demonstrations on any issue.
They may want to discuss a
problem, exchange ideas, mobilise
public support to a cause, or seek
votes for a candidate or party in an

Irfan Khan
election. But such meetings have to
be peaceful. They should not lead
to public disorder or breach of peace procedure established by law. It
in society. Those who participate in means that no person can be killed
these activities and meetings should unless the court has ordered a death
not carry weapons with them. sentence. It also means that a
Citizens also can form associations. government or police officer can
For example workers in a factory can arrest or detain any citizen unless
form a workers’ union to promote he has proper legal justification.
their interests. Some people in a Even when they do, they have to
town may come together to form an follow some procedures:
association to campaign against  A person who is arrested and
corruption or pollution. detained in custody will have to be
As citizens we have the freedom to informed of the reasons for such
travel to any part of the country. arrest and detention.
We are free to reside and settle in any  A person who is arrested and
party of the territory of India. Let us detained shall be produced before
say a person who belongs to the state the nearest magistrate within a
of Assam wants to start a business period of 24 hours of arrest.
in Hyderabad. He may not have any  Such a person has the right to
connection with that city, he may not consult a lawyer or engage a
have even seen it ever. Yet as a citizen lawyer for his defence.
of India he has the right to set up base
there. This right allows lakhs of
people to migrate from villages to
towns and from poorer regions of the
countries to prosperous regions and
big cities. The same freedom extends
to choice of occupations. No one can
force you to do or not to do a certain
job. Women cannot be told that some
kinds of occupations are not for them.
People from deprived castes cannot
be kept to their traditional
occupations.
The Constitution says that no
Irfan Khan

person can be deprived of his life or


personal liberty except according to

104 D EMOCR
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Let us recall the cases of threat to the most basic of all
Guantanamo Bay and Kosovo. The liberties, the protection of individual
victims in both these cases faced a life and personal liberty.

Are these cases instances of violation of right to freedom? If yes, which constitutional provision does
each of these violate?
 The government of India banned Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses on the ground that it was
CHECK disrespectful to Prophet Mohammed and was likely to hurt the feelings of Muslim community.
 Every film has to be approved by the Censor Board of the government before it can be shown to
YOUR the public. But there is no such restriction if the same story if published in a book or a magazine.
PROGRESS  The government is considering a proposal that there will be industrial zones or sectors of economy
where workers will not be allowed to form unions or go on strike.
 City administration has imposed a ban on use of public microphones after 10 p.m. in view of the
approaching secondary school examinations.

R igh
ightt against EExploita
xploitation
xploitation any form. ‘Begar’ is a practice where
Once the right to liberty and equality the worker is forced to render service
is granted, it follows that every to the ‘master’ free of charge or at a
citizen has a right not to be nominal remuneration. When this
exploited. Yet the Constitution practice takes place on a life-long
makers thought is was necessary to basis, it is called the practice of
write down certain clear provisions bonded labour.
to prevent exploitation of the weaker Finally, the Constitution also
sections of the society. prohibits child labour. No one can
The Constitution mentions three employ a child below the age of
specific evils and declares these fourteen to work in any factory or
illegal. First, the Constitution mine or in any other hazardous
prohibits ‘traffic in human beings’. work, such as railways and ports.
Traffic here means selling and Using this as a basis many laws have
buying of human beings, usually been made to prohibit children from
women, for immoral purposes. working in industries such as beedi
Second, our Constitution also making, firecrackers and matches,
CHECK prohibits forced labour or begar in printing and dyeing.
YOUR On the basis of these news reports write a letter to the editor or a petition to a court highlighting the
PROGRESS violation of right against exploitation:
The latest annual survey
A petition was filed in the Children, from the age of five,
conducted by the National
Madras High Court. The were employed in the iron ore
Sample Survey Organisation
mines in the Hospet, Sandur and
petitioner said a large number found that the number of female
the Ikal areas in Karnataka.
of children aged between child labourers was growing both
Children were forced to carry out
seven and 12 were taken from digging, breaking stones, loading, in rural and urban areas. The
villages in Salem district and dumping, transporting and survey revealed there were 41
sold at auctions at Olur Nagar processing of iron ore with no female child labourers per
in Kerala’s Thrissur district. safety equipment, fixed wages and thousand worker population in
The petitioner requested the working hours. They handled a rural areas as against the
courts to order the government high-level of toxic wastes and previous figure of 34 per
to check these facts. were exposed to mine dust, which thousand. The figure for male
(March 2005) was above the permissible level. child had remained at 31. (April
The school dropout rate in the 2005)
region was very high. (May 2005)

D EMOCR
EMOCRAATIC RIGHT
TIC S
GHTS 105
religion. For example, one cannot
sacrifice animals or human beings
A C T I V I T Y as offerings to supernatural forces
or gods. Religious practices which
Do you know what the minimum wages in your treat women as inferior or those that
state are? If not, can you find out? Speak to five infringe women’s freedom are not
people doing different types of work in your allowed. For example, one cannot
neighbourhood and find out if they are earning force a widowed woman to shave The Constitution
the minimum wages or not. Ask them if they know head or wear white clothes. does not give
what the minimum wages are. Ask them if men A secular state is one that does not people their
and women are getting the same wages. confer any privilege or favour on any religion. Then how
particular religion. Nor does it pun- can it give people
R igh
ightt ttoo FFrre eedom
dom of RReligion
eligion ish or discriminate against people the right to practice
Right to freedom includes right to on the basis of religion they follow. their religion?
freedom of religion as well. In this case Thus the government cannot com-
too, the Constitution makers were pel any person to pay any taxes for
very particular to state it clearly. You the promotion or maintenance of
have already read in Chapter Three any particular religion or religious
that India is a secular state. Most institution. There shall be no
people in India, like anywhere else in religious instruction in the govern-
the world, follow different religions. ment educational institutions. In
Some may not believe in any religion. educational institutions managed by
Secularism is based on the idea that private bodies no person shall be
the state is concerned only with compelled to take part in any
relations among human beings, and religious instruction or to attend any
not with the relation between human religious worship.
beings and God. A secular state is one
that does not establish any one C ultur
ulturalal and EEduca
ducational
ducational
religion as official religion. Indian R igh
ightt s
secularism practices an attitude of a You might wonder why were the
principled and equal distance from Constitution makers were so
all religions. The state has to be particular in providing written
neutral and impartial in dealing with guarantees of the rights of the
all religions. minorities. Why are there no special
Every person has a right to guarantees for the majority? Well, for
profess, practice and propagate the simple reason that the working
the religion he or she believes in. of democracy gives power to the
Every religious group or sect is free majority. It is the language, culture
to manage its religious affairs. A and religion of minorities that needs
right to propagate one’s religion, special protection. Otherwise, they
however, does not mean that a may get neglected or undermined
person has right to compel another under the impact of the language,
person to convert into his religion by religion and culture of the majority.
means of force, fraud, inducement or That is why the Constitution speci-
allurement. Of course, a person is free fies the cultural and educational
to change religion on his or her own rights of the minorities:
will. Freedom to practice religion  Any section of citizens with a
does not mean that a person can do distinct language or culture have
whatever he wants in the name of a right to conserve it.

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 Admission to any educational level. In some places people
institution maintained by speaking a particular language are
government or receiving in majority; people speaking a
government aid cannot be denied different language are in a minority.
to any citizen on the ground of For example, Telugu speaking
religion or language. people form a majority in Andhra
 All minorities have the right to es- Pradesh. But they are a minority in
tablish and administer educa- the neighbouring State of Karnataka.
tional institutions of their choice. Sikhs constitute a majority in Punjab.
Here minority does not mean only But they are a minority in Rajasthan,
religious minority at the national Haryana and Delhi.

Read these news reports and identify the right that is being debated in each of these cases:
 An emergency session of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) rejected the
proposal to form a separate body to manage the affairs of Sikh shrines in Haryana. It warned the
CHECK government that the Sikh community would not tolerate any interference in their religious affairs.
YOUR (June 2005)
PROGRESS  The Allahabad High Court quashed the Central law, which gave Aligarh Muslim University its minority
status, and held illegal the reservation of seats for Muslims in its postgraduate medical courses.
(January 2006)
 The Rajasthan Government has decided to enact an anti-conversion law. Christian leaders have said
that the Bill would aggravate the sense of insecurity and fear in the minds of minorities. (March 2005)

H o w can w
wee se
secc u rree these Fundamental Rights are
r ights?
ights? guaranteed against the actions of
If rights are like guarantees, they are the Legislatures, the Executive, and
of no use if there is no one to honour any other authorities instituted by
them. The fundamental rights in the the government. There can be no law
Constitution are important because or action that violates the
they are enforceable. We have a right Fundamental Rights. If any act of the
to seek the enforcement of the above Legislature or the Executive takes
mentioned rights. This is called the away or limits any of the
Right to Constitutional Remedies. Fundamental Rights it will be
This itself is a Fundamental Right. invalid. We can challenge such laws
This right makes other rights of the central and state
effective. It is possible that governments, the policies and
sometimes our rights may be actions of the government or the
violated by fellow citizens, private governmental organisations like the
bodies or by the government. When nationalised banks or electricity
any of our rights are violated we can boards. Courts also enforce the
Can the President seek remedy through courts. If it is a Fundamental Rights against private
of India stop you Fundamental Right we can directly individuals and bodies. The
from approaching approach the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court and High Courts
the Supreme Court High Court of a state. That is why Dr. have the power to issue directions,
to secure your Ambedkar called the Right to orders or writs for the enforcement
fundamental Constitutional Remedies, ‘the heart of the Fundamental Rights. They can
rights? and soul’ of our Constitution. also award compensation to the

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National Human Rights Commission
Do you notice a reference to the National Human The NHRC cannot by itself punish the guilty.
Rights Commission (NHRC) in the news collage That is the responsibility of courts. The NHRC is
on this page? This was in the context of the riots there to make independent and credible inquiry
in Gujarat in 2002. A large number of cases were into any case of violation of human rights. It also
filed in the courts against those accused of rioting inquires into any case of abetment of such
and massacre of nearly 2000 persons, mostly violation or negligence in controlling it by any
Muslims. Human rights organisations and the government officer and takes other general steps
media were saying that the state government was to promote human rights in the country. The
not serious about pursuing these cases or Commission present its findings and
catching the culprits. recommendations to the government or intervene
Someone had to intervene on behalf of the vic- in the court on behalf of the victims. It has wide
tims. This is where the National Human Rights ranging powers to carry out its inquiry. Like any
Commission stepped in. This is an independent court it can summon witnesses, question any
commission set up by law in 1993. Like judi- government official, demand any official paper,
ciary, the Commission is independent of the gov- visit any prison for inspection or send its own
ernment. The Commission is appointed by the team for on-the-spot inquiry.
President and includes retired judges, officers and Any citizen of India can write a letter to this
eminent citizens. Yet it does not have the burden of address to complain against the violation of hu-
deciding court cases. So it can focus on helping man rights: National Human Rights Commission,
the victims secure their human rights. These Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi
include all the rights granted to the citizens by 110001. There is no fee or any formal procedure
the Constitution. For NHRC human rights also to approach the NHRC. Like NHRC, there are State
include the rights mentioned in the UN sponsored Human Rights Commissions in 14 states of the
international treaties that India has signed. country.

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victims and punishment to the PIL any citizen or group of citizens
violators. We have already seen in can approach the Supreme Court or
Chapter Five that the judiciary in a High Court for the protection of
our country is independent of the public interest against a particular
government and the parliament. We law or action of the government. One
also noted that our judiciary is very can write to the judges even on a
powerful and can do whatever is postcard. The court will take up the
needed to protect the rights of the matter if the judges find it in public
citizens. interest.
In case of any violation of a
Fundamental Right the aggrieved
person can go to a court for remedy. A C T I V I T Y
But now, any person can go to court
against the violation of the Is there a State Human Rights Commission in
Fundamental Right, if it is of social your state? Find out about its activities.
or public interest. It is called Public Write a petition to the NHRC if you know any
Interest Litigation (PIL). Under the instances of human rights violation in your area.

6.4 EXPAND
XPANDING
ANDING SCOPE OF RI
SCO GHT
RIGHT S
GHTS
We began this chapter by discussing information to the citizens. This Act
the significance of rights. In much was made under the Fundamental
of the chapter we have focussed only Right to freedom of thought and
on Fundamental Rights in the expression. We have a right to seek
Constitution. You might think that information from government
Fundamental Rights granted by the offices. Recently the Supreme Court
Constitution are the only rights has expanded the meaning of the
citizen have. This is not true. While right to life to include the right to
Are these rights Fundamental Rights are the source food. Also, rights are not limited only
only for adults? of all rights, our Constitution and to Fundamental Rights as
Which of these law offers a wider range of rights. enumerated in the Constitution.
rights are available
Over the years the scope of rights Constitution provides many more
to children?
has expanded. rights, which may not be Fundamental
Sometimes it leads to expansion Rights. For example the right to
in the legal rights that the citizen can property is not a Fundamental Right
enjoy. From time to time, the courts but it is a constitutional right. Right to
gave judgments to expand the scope vote in elections is an important
of rights. Certain rights like right to constitutional right.
freedom of press, right to Sometimes the expansion takes
information, and right to education place in what is called human rights.
are derived from the Fundamental These are universal moral claims that
Rights. Now school education has may or may not have been recognised
become a right for Indian citizens. by law. In that sense these claims are
The governments are responsible for not rights going by the definition that
providing free and compulsory we presented earlier. With the
education to all children up to the expansion of democracy all over the
age of 14 years. Parliament has world, there is greater pressure on
enacted a law giving the right to governments to accept these claims.

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Some international covenants have Thus the scope of rights has been
also contributed to the expansion of expanding and new rights are
rights. evolving over time. They are result
of struggle of the people. New rights
International Covenant on emerge as societies develop or as
Economic, Social and Cultural new constitutions are made. The
Rights Constitution of South Africa guarantees
its citizens several kinds of new rights:
This international covenant recognises many  Right to privacy, so that citizens
rights that are not directly a par t of the or their home cannot be searched,
Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution. their phones cannot be tapped,
This has not yet become an international treaty. their communication cannot be
But human right activists all over the world see opened.
this as a standard of human rights. These include:  Right to an environment that is not
 right to work: opportunity to everyone to earn harmful to their health or well-
livelihood by working being;
 right to safe and healthy working conditions,  Right to have access to adequate
fair wages that can provide decent standard of housing.
living for the workers and their families  Right to have access to health care
 right to adequate standard of living including services, sufficient food and water;
adequate food, clothing and housing no one may be refused emergency
 right to social security and insurance medical treatment.
 right to health: medial care during illness, Many people think that the right to
special care for women during childbirth and work, right to health, right to minimum
prevention of epidemics livelihood and right to privacy should
 right to education: free and compulsory primary be made fundamental rights in India
education, equal access to higher education. as well. What do you think?

Amnesty International: An international organisation of volunteers who


campaign for human rights. This organisation brings out independent
reports on the violation of human rights all over the world.
Claim: Demand for legal or moral entitlements a person makes on fellow
GLOSSARY
citizens, society or the government.
Covenant: Promise made by individuals, groups or countries to uphold a
rule or principle. It is legally binding on the signatories to the agreement
or statement.
Dalit: A person who belongs to the castes which were considered low and
not touchable by others. Dalits are also known by other names such as
the Scheduled Castes, Depressed Classes etc.
Ethnic group: An ethnic group is a human population whose members
usually identify with each other on the basis of a common ancestry. People
of an ethnic group are united by cultural practices, religious beliefs and
historical memories.
Traffic: Selling and buying of men, women or children for immoral
purposes.
Summon: An order issued by a court asking a person to appear before it.
Writ: A formal document containing an order of the court to the government
issued only by High Court or the Supreme Court.

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exercises
1 Which of the following is not an instance of an exercise of a
fundamental right?
a Workers from Bihar go to the Punjab to work on the farms
b Christian missions set up a chain of missionary schools
c Men and women government employees get the same salary
d Parents’ property is inherited by their children

2 Which of the following freedoms is not available to an Indian citizen?


a Freedom to criticise the government
b Freedom to participate in armed revolution
c Freedom to start a movement to change the government
d Freedom to oppose the central values of the Constitution

3 Which of the following rights is available under the Indian


Constitution?
a Right to work
b Right to adequate livelihood
c Right to protect one’s culture
d Right to privacy

4 Name the Fundamental Right under which each of the following rights
falls:
a Freedom to propagate one’s religion
b Right to life
c Abolition of untouchability
d Ban on bonded labour

5 Which of these statements about the relationship between democracy


and rights is more valid? Give reasons for your preference.
a Every country that is a democracy gives rights to its citizens.
b Every country that gives rights to its citizens is a democracy
c Giving rights is good, but it is not necessary for a democracy

6 Are these restrictions on the right to freedom justified? Give reasons


for your answer.
a Indian citizens need permission to visit some border areas of the
country for reasons of security
b Outsiders are not allowed to buy property in some areas to protect
the interest of the local population
c The government bans the publication of a book that can go against
the ruling party in the next elections

7 Manoj went to a college to apply for admission into an MBA course.


The clerk refused to take his application and said “You, the son of a
sweeper, wish to be a manager! Has anyone done this job in your
community? Go to the municipality office and apply for a sweeper’s
position”. Which of Manoj’s fundamental rights are being violated in
this instance? Spell these out in a letter from Manoj to the district
collector.

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8 When Madhurima went to the property registration office, the exercises
Registrar told her, “You can’t write your name as Madhurima Banerjee
d/o A. K. Banerjee. You are married, so you must give your husband’s
name. Your husband’s surname is Rao. So your name should be
changed to Madhurima Rao.” She did not agree. She said “If my
husband’s name has not changed after marriage, why should mine?”
In your opinion who is right in this dispute? And why?

9 Thousands of tribals and other forest dwellers gathered at Piparia in


Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh to protest against their
proposed displacement from the Satpura National Park, Bori Wildlife
Sanctuary and Panchmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary. They argue that such
a displacement is an attack on their livelihood and beliefs. Government
claims that their displacement is essential for the development of
the area and for protection of wildlife. Write a petition on behalf of
the forest dwellers to the NHRC, a response from the government
and a report of the NHRC on this matter.

10 Draw a web interconnecting different rights discussed in this chapter.


For example right to freedom of movement is connected to the freedom
of occupation. One reason for this is that freedom of movement enables
a person to go to place of work within one’s village or city or to another
village, city or state. Similarly this right can be used for pilgrimage,
connected with freedom to follow one’s religion. Draw a circle for
each right and mark arrows that show connection between or among
different rights. For each arrow, give an example that shows the
linkage.

In every chapter we have done an exercise on reading the newspaper. Let


us now try to write for the newspaper. Take any example from the reports
discussed in this chapter or any other local example that you are familiar
with and write the following:
 Letter to the editor highlighting a case of human rights violation.
 Press release by a human rights organisation.
 A headline and a news item concerning a Supreme Court order
related to Fundamental Rights.
 Editorial on growing incidents of custodial violence.

Put these together and make a newspaper for your school notice board.

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