Let us keep democracy alive

Let us keep democracy alive






THE best definition of Democracy was given by the late US President Abraham Lincoln. Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. There is no clearer definition than this one. The main ingredient of democracy is the Constitution, which is developed by the people and approved and sometimes amended by the people’s representatives. There are many democratic countries in the world, the oldest being the USA and the largest being theRepublic of India.

What is a Republic? It is a form of government ruled by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people though who is included and excluded from the category of people varied across history. A Republic is a form of government where the citizens have the supreme power, and they exercise that power by voting, making decisions and governing. Republics come in different forms of government, but the common one is democracy.

We have established that all democracies are republics and in all those countries the power is with the people. Another important function of democracy is to conduct democratic elections where all adult citizens have the right to choose their representatives or voting rights of all adult citizens are an integral part of democracy. This means that they should be allowed to vote and provide the tools to vote. In modern democracies like India 60 to 75 percent of eligible citizens vote and in the USA, the oldest democracy 50 to 60 percent vote.

There are different types of a democratic system of government. In the USA, it is the presidential system of government where the Chief Executive, the president of the country or the head of State in a State or a big city, is elected directly by vote.

Legislators both in the upper house and the lower house are voted separately, the upper house or the Senate in the USA has a six-year term with the third retiring every two years and each State has two senators.

Out of the three branches of government, the Chief Executive and the legislators are elected by the same voters and the judicial body is nominated by the Chief Executive and nomination approved by the upper house.

In the USA, the judicial body is separate for the country, states and cities. Federal judges take federal cases, state judges take state cases and city judges take city cases, and all three are separate.

The Chief Executive, the president, the governor of the state or the Mayor of the City appoint their own cabinet from the citizens, who volunteer to serve and they also become part of the executive branch of government.

In the USA there are only two main parties whose representatives conduct elections. One difference is that before the final election, there is a primary election when each party's candidates contest to become the party’s candidates. Some people run as an independent candidate, but they seldom win.

Countries like India have a parliamentary system where the members of the Central Parliament or State legislators are elected by the citizens and the leader of the majority party becomes either the Prime Minister of the country or the Chief Minister of the State, or the Chief Executives. These Chief Executives select their cabinet from the legislative body and they become part of the Executive branch. In India, there is a huge executive branch consisting of IFS, IAS, IPS, IRS, etc. that supports the elected executive branch or the head of government.

In fact, this strong executive branch together with the military makes the government stable during a political crisis. India has too many political parties and there are coalition governments consisting of several parties in central and most of the states. India has only one judicial system from the district level to the State level to the Supreme Court of India. All judges are appointed by the ruling party and they are supposed to be neutral once become judges.

I described two systems in the two most popular democracies in the world. These two democracies run well to sustain the democratic system of government except after the last presidential election when was an attempt by the failed candidate to change the election through illegal means. It is very difficult for such attempts to win in a democratic system of government. But the democratic system of government always has the problem of systemic corruption at all levels of government.

Political parties for their survival do favoritism and show nepotism. If one part becomes strong and gets a big majority, then there is room for more corruption, they have to make a lot of people happy. Aside from political corruption, there is bureaucratic corruption. This means that democracy needs a good law informant and an effective judicial system. India also has a ceremonial president elected by the legislators from the Centre and the States.

There are many other forms of democracies with various structures where leaders are elected by citizen voting. Then there are military dictatorships and one-party rule like in China where only the Communist arty members can vote, which is only 5 percent of the total population and there are kingdoms like in Gulf countries.

Democracy in its purest form like in the USA and India give people power and there are many other successful democratic countries. When political leaders start misusing their power and become corrupt,  democracies fail, and people instead of beneficiaries of the government become victims.

In an autocracy, kingdom or one-party rule, individual opinions are not respected and individual freedom is controlled. In a democracy, you have the freedom of expression and support the political party or individual candidate who upholds your policy or ideas.

In a democracy even though the rights of minorities are protected, the ruling majority makes all the decisions, and most of them may be against the minority policies. This sometimes creates big division in the society, especially among the people of different opinions on every issue.

The good thing is that if a majority party does not do the right thing, after the tenure you can elect the other party to rule. Democracy has the opportunity to change the rulers after their elected term of office. People are the rulers and therefore they have freedom.

Let us keep democracy alive.