September 15 was declared the International Day of Democracy by the United Nations. On the occasion, this correspondent spoke to scholars on the achievements and goals of a democratic nation.
In the year 2007, the United Nations announced September 15 as International Day of Democracy to raise awareness of this universal value. The UN strives to achieve its goals of peace, human rights and development and to achieve these goals it believes that human rights and the rule of law are best protected in democratic societies.
This year’s theme of the international day of democracy was to recall that it is all about people. It calls for assertion that the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of Government.
A democratic form of government as in India is run by the elected representatives of the common people and public opinion is its essence. Democracy is linked with factors such as freedom of expression and choosing one’s own representative who works for the welfare of the people and society.
Upholding the democratic system of governance in India, former president of Ganga Mahasabha Purushottam Sharma Gandhiwadi said, “It is on account of democracy only that a person from Gujarat who was tea seller once, has now come to the position of a Prime Minister and is posing challenges to a powerful country like China.”
Deliberating on the usefulness of the system of democracy, Gandhiwadi says that even at village level, through Panchayati Raj system, a common villager elects the head who would ensure welfare activities for the people and due to decentralisation, the welfare fund reaches directly to the Panchayat Ghar through post office rather than any mediator. India has a strong, active and vocal civil society as has been seen in the past years, he added.
However, some opine that India is not fully democratic. There is need for strengthening this democratic structure.
“A successful democratic Government never ignores the masses that work in farms and industries. But the conditions prevailing in some parts of India are unfavorable to the growth and functioning of democracy. Most of the vote bank of our country are illiterate and belong to extremely low-income groups who are misled during elections and sometimes even lured by political parties for vested interests. Unless the country is economically and educationally advanced, it would be unfair to think that the electorate is using their franchise to the best interests of themselves and the country,” reasons SMJN college principal Sunil Kumar Batra.
“It is good to put a check on black money and the tax evading companies must be banned. But why to link the Aadhaar card with bank accounts? Why not link voter’s Id or PAN card with bank account,” questions entrepreneur Geeta Sethi.
“People’s participation in elections is good. They can express opinion, sometimes even an ordinary person’s voice is heard in democracy but it has shortcomings too. Democracy fails when such governance becomes a boon only to a handful of people consisting of capitalist business magnets, some legislators and
bureaucrats,” educationist Nita Nayyar said.