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DEMOCRACY AND DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE

ABSTRACT

Democracy is not a fixed or static concept. It has evolved over a long period of time from
Magna Carta, French and American Revolution and later established as a form of
government. Kelsen defines, Democracy as the only legal order in whose creation every
citizen takes part in.1 It means that there should be equality among those citizens who takes
part in the creation of Democracy, but relating democracy to equality cannot be simplified
easily as equality can also be understood as equal rights to participate in politics and voting
more likely in a liberal Democracy.2 India is also going through the period where major
pressure is constantly on governance.3 But democracy is not just about free and fair election
and public balloting. Democracy is a social instrument for the development of society and
eradicating injustices and social- inequities and can also be centrally linked to Public
Deliberation.4 On the other hand equality could be seen as equality in substance which
could further be related to economic equality and equality of resources, which brings us the
concept of distributive justice.

Every state has different distribution of economic benefits resulting from different political
process and this distribution is very crucial as it directly affects the lives of the citizen of
state.5 By the term distribution one should not presume as mechanism for supply of things.
Distributive justice has been widely discussed in Rawls Theory of justice (1971) in which he
discussed two principles of justice.:
1
KELSEN, General Theory of law and state, Harvard University Press, (284-285),
1949.

2
ANNE PHILLIPS, Which Equalities Matter?, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999.

3
RAMCHANDRA GUHA, India after Gandhi : The History of Worlds largest
Democracy, (2007)

4
JEAN DREZE, AMRATYA SEN, An uncertain glory- India and its contradiction,
243, (2013)
First Principle: Each person has the same claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic
liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all
Second Principle: Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions:
o They are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality
of opportunity,
o There should be the greatest benefit of the disadvantaged members of society. 6
According to this difference principle inequality is justified only if it results into the better off
of the disadvantaged members of society.

In the present paper we will look into how distributive justice works in a democracy and
which form of equality can be achieved through principles of justice. Whether there is any
need of distributive justice in todays society? Whether difference principle can be applicable
in a democracy with such economic disparity like, India?

LITERATURE REVIEW

JEAN DERZE & AMRATYA SEN, An uncertain glory- INDIA and its contradiction (2013).
In article Democracy, Inequality and public reasoning author focused on the evolution of
democracy and the working of democratic institutions. It further identified the failure of
Indias economic and social development and existence of inequalities of different kinds and
explains how these inequalities should be discussed through what Rawls calls the exercise
of public reason. For this we have to look not merely at the nature of Indian politics but also
the characteristics of Indian public communication through reach of media. The present
article helped researcher in analyzing the broader aspect of democracy that it is not just
restricted to elections and voting and helped in understanding the concept of deliberative
Democracy and how its reach to overcome several inequalities in society.

5
Standard encyclopedia of philosophy, available at
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-distributive/.

6
JOHN RAWLS, THEORY OF JUSTICE, Harvard University Press,(191-192)
(1971)
COLLECTED PAPERS OF JOHN RAWLS edited by Samuel freeman (1999). In article
Distributive justice : Some addenda author focused on the two principles of justice and
explained the importance of first principle of equal liberty for political constitution and
second principle of social and economic equality. Researcher also supports the second
principle of Justice which is essential for the upliftment of least advantage group. On the
other hand researcher found that difference principle is not a very practical aspect as
redistribution of resources for benefit of least advantage group is not possible and result into
the infringement of rights and liberty of those who have resources.

AMRATYA SEN, The Idea of Justice (2009), In an article Rawls and beyond author explains
that how for understanding justice one has to look into the Rawls initial idea of justice as
fairness. Author also go beyond the principles of justice given by Rawls and pointed that total
priority of liberty is too extreme given under first principle and how in difference principle he
didnt take into account ability to turn primary goods into good living, for instance a disabled
person wont be able to utilize those primary goods as compare to a able person. Here author
stressed more on freedoms and capabilities than primary goods. Researcher also supports the
notion of author with respect to second principle and relates it with how equality can be
achieved in a democracy through distributive justice since that equality through distribution
of primary goods wont be sufficient.

OLIVIER SIRELLO, Democracy, Equality, and Distributive Justice. In this article author
explains about relation of democracy with equality and how it can be achieved through
distributive justice and also focused on how unequal distribution of resources may affect the
democratic equality. From this paper Researcher is able to understood the relation between
democracy, equality and distributive justice but couldnt agreed upon the point of equal
distribution of resources to gain democratic equality since this concept ignores other aspects
like capabilities, rights, freedoms and liberty.