Every year on January 26, Republic Day is celebrated in India. This national holiday commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India entered into force on January 26, 1950, replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as India’s governing document and transforming the country into a newly constituted republic. The day also commemorates India’s transformation from an autonomous Commonwealth country with the British Monarch as the nominal head of the Indian Dominion to a fully sovereign republic in the Commonwealth of Nations with the President of India as the nominal head of the Indian Union.
The Indian Constitution portrayed India as a liberal democracy with checks and balances. These checks and balances have operated inadequately during the last seven decades. The Emergency period dealt a severe blow to the concept of democracy in twentieth-century India. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index has dropped India to 53rd place in its global ranking for 2020. It has had a severe credibility issue in recent years as a result of dwindling spaces for a free press, civil society, and almost non-existent opposition.
Four Pillars of Democracy
The early years of democracy gave rise to the Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, and Media, which joined forces to form the four pillars of democracy.
Legislative: The Legislative is in charge of enacting laws that regulate the nation and its states in order to keep democracy running smoothly. Various bills are introduced in either the House of Parliament or both houses. India has passed several bills based on specific occurrences in society, which are then accepted by Members of Parliament and lawmakers. Some of them are:
- Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021
- Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2021
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Executive: The Executive has concentrated powers in our country to implement or execute the laws and policies created by the legislature. They are directly accountable for the state’s governance and ensuring that the nation’s administration is in order. The Executive Office ensures that laws and policies are carried out.
Judiciary: The Judiciary of India is in charge of ensuring and re-enforcing law and order. However, “justice delayed is justice denied” is a phrase that can be used to describe its current state in a sentence. One of our judicial system’s key flaws is the pending status of a large number of court proceedings.
Press: The press serves as a watchdog, offering information to the public that may or may not be available to them. Citizens can use the media to question those in power and use that information to better equip their fellow citizens. During the Indian Independence War, the media was portrayed as one of the most crucial foundations that sparked the flame among Indian citizens. Unfortunately, today’s media is not what it once was. It is more business-oriented and focused on sales than on serving the public.
Fallacies of Democracy in the Country
Incompetent Representatives: Elected representatives who lack the necessary qualifications or a solid background to ensure that the government of a constituency or the nation is in good hands. Tickets are being awarded to those with significant political ties and muscle strength, casting doubt on the idea that the leaders we chose are the leaders we genuinely deserve.
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Faulty Voting Process: Approximately 35% of the population between the ages of 0 and 17 are ineligible to vote, leaving 88 million individuals with the ability to vote, of which only 61 million votes. The leaders, on the other hand, make promises for everyone while catering to the adult population in order to fill their vote banks. As a result, the concept of equal representation when voting is another myth in our democratic democracy.
Majoritarianism: The elected officials for whom we vote to fill their manifestos with lavish promises to better the nation’s future while merely seeking to placate the elites from whom they gain enormous support in their ascent to power. Thus, the most widespread misconception of Indian democracy is the shared notion of majority unity. To assure no wasted votes, a chance for a newer, more deserving candidate, and to minimise political polarisation, India should use the ranked-choice voting system that began in the US state of Maine in 2018.
Where does our democracy stand today?
Illiteracy among a large portion of India’s population is a big worry for the country’s democratic functioning. It has existed in our culture since our independence 73 years ago and continues to do so. Citizens’ education is critical to the successful operation of democracy as well as the country’s socio-economic progress. Furthermore, it is a necessary requirement for human dignity.
Despite being the world’s largest democracy, our country has had significant faults during the last seven decades. Only when citizens are willing to introspect and reflect on the essential democratic values of responsibility, freedom, equality, social justice, and, most importantly, mutual respect for everyone will Indian democracy achieve its most effective and dynamic form. In a country as diverse as India, peace and growth can only coexist if its people are willing to appreciate one another despite their differences.
We must seize the chances that have been provided to us to participate in the establishment of the government. Being proactive and fulfilling our obligations for the country’s benefit is a need of the hour and hopefully, the future generations would be able to see the gravity of the situation and thus, further actualize the goals of democracy.