Democracy is not a mere form of government. It is a type of state as well as an
order of society. Some tried to define democracy
According to J.R.Lowell: -
"Democracy is only ‘an experiment’ in government."
According to Abraham Lincoln: -
"Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
According to Seeley: -
"Democracy is a government in which every one has a share."
In the Dictionary Definition,
"Democracy is a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in
the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a
free electoral system."
A democratic government implies a democratic state but a democratic state does
not necessarily mean a democratic govt. A democratic state mean is that
the community, as a whole possesses sovereign authority and maintains ultimate
controlling and dismissing a government.
In addition to being a form of government and a type of state, democracy is an
order of society. A democratic is one in which the spirit of equality and
fraternity prevails. Such a society does not necessarily imply a democratic
state or a democratic government. The meaning of democracy is not exhausted even
after interpreting it as a form of government, a type of state, and an order of
society. Democracy has made great strides in the social and political fields, it
has made very little advance in the economic or industrial field and social as
the next step in democracy.
Democracy embodies a moral principle. It means that every man has value. It
enshrines the truth that government does not exist for its own sake, but for the
enrichment of personality. No government has a right to be called a democracy if
it does not bring out the best in man.
Present day experience shows that democracy of the pure and direct type is an
absolutely unattainable ideal. The only type, which is possible for us today, is
the indirect or representative type. According to it the actual administration
of affairs is taken from the hands of the people and is vested in delegates. The
nearest approach that we find to direct democracy is some modern states is in
the form of referendum, initiative, recall democracy and parliamentary. There
are different types of democratic governments today: -
1. They can exist under republic or a nominal monarchy
2. They can exist under a rigid or flexible constitution.
The value of personality, which is the crux of democracy, does not mean that all
individuals are alike or equal.
Democracy in practice is the hypothesis, that all men are equal which is used
in order to discover who are the best.
The Austin Theory of Law does not fit in this as the view of democratic society
as the Austin theory in inadequate as this theory only gives a formal view of
the nature of law without explaining its substance. There has been a growing
movement toward a less formal and more realistic jurisprudence the relation
between sociology and law as grown ever intimate and jurisprudence of formal
concept now satisfy few save the veterans of an earlier age to say that the law
is a sovereign merely explains the mode of its formulation. The content of the
law can be known only by a reference to the economic relations of a given
society. Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are
not synonymous. Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom,
but it also consists of a set of practices and procedures that have been molded
through a long, often tortuous history. In short, democracy is the
institutionalization of freedom. For this reason, it is possible to identify the
time-tested fundamentals of constitutional government, human rights, and
equality before the law that any society must possess to be properly called
So far as the preamble of our Indian constitution is concerned it declares India
to be a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic’. The term democracy
in its broader sense embraces in addition to political democracy also social and
economic democracy. The term democratic is used in this very sense in the
preamble. It is republic because the head of the state is not a hereditary
monarch. In republic the political sovereignty vests in the people and the head
of the state is only a person elected by the people for a fixed term. In our
constitution there is a president who is the head of the executive and who is
elected, as opposed to hereditary, and hold office for a fixed term of five
years. The term democratic indicates that the constitution has established a
form of government, which gets its authority from the will of the people. The
rulers are elected by the people and are responsible to them. The democratic set
up can be of two types:-
1. Direct &
In a direct democracy the legal and political sovereignty vests in the people
.In the indirect system of democracy, it is the representatives of the people
who exercise the power of legal as well as political sovereignty. The electorate
chooses their representatives who carry on the government. It is for this reason
that this kind of democracy is called representative democracy.
"When a representative democracy operates in accordance with a constitution that
limits the powers of the government and guarantees fundamental rights to all
citizens, this form of government is a constitutional democracy. In such a
society, the majority rules, and the rights of minorities are protected by law
and through the institutionalization of law."
Democracy is more than a set of constitutional rules and procedures that
determine how a government functions. In a democracy, government is only one
element coexisting in a social fabric of many and varied institutions, political
parties, organizations, and associations. This diversity is called pluralism,
and it assumes that the many organized groups and institutions in a democratic
society do not depend upon government for their existence, legitimacy, or
Thousands of private organizations operate in a democratic society, some local,
and some national. Many of them serve a mediating role between individuals and
the complex social and governmental institutions of which they are a part,
filling roles not given to the government and offering individuals opportunities
to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.
These groups represent the interests of their members in a variety of ways--by
supporting candidates for public office, debating issues, and trying to
influence policy decisions. Through such groups, individuals have an avenue for
meaningful participation both in government and in there own communities.
The Pillars Of Democracy
Sovereignty of the people.
Government based upon consent of the governed.
Guarantee of basic human rights.
Free and fair elections.
Equality before the law.
Due process of law.
Constitutional limits on government.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
their Creator endows them with certain inalienable rights that among these are
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights,
government is instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent
of the governed.
Inalienable rights include: -
1. Freedom of speech and expression,
2. Freedom of religion and conscience,
3. Freedom of assembly, and
4. The right to equal protection before the law.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the rights that citizens enjoy in a
democracy. Democratic societies also assert such civil rights as the right to a
fair trial, but it does constitute the core rights that any democratic
government must uphold. Since they exist independently of government, these
rights cannot be legislated away, nor they are subject to the momentary whim of
an electoral majority.
The detailed formulation of laws and procedures concerning these basic human
rights will necessarily vary from society to society, but every democracy is
charged with the task of building the constitutional, legal, and social
structures that will ensure their protection.
Freedom of Speech and Expression
In Indian Constitution Freedom of speech and expression that is enriched in
article 19 which is the lifeblood of any democracy. To debate and vote, to
assemble and protest, to worship, to ensure justice for all, these all rely upon
the unrestricted flow of speech and information. "Democracy is communication:
people talking to one another about their common problems and forging a common
destiny. Before people can govern themselves, they must be free to express
Democracy depends upon a literate, knowledgeable citizenry whose access to the
broadest possible range of information enables them to participate as fully as
possible in the public life of their society. Ignorance breeds apathy. Democracy
thrives upon the energy of citizens who are sustained by the unimpeded flow of
ideas, data, opinions, and speculation.
But what should the government do in cases where the news media or other
organizations abuse freedom of speech with information that, in the opinion of
the majority, is false, repugnant, irresponsible, or simply in bad taste? The
answer, by and large, is nothing. It is simply not the business of government to
judge such matters. In general, the cure for free speech is more free speech. It
may seem a paradox, but in the name of free speech, a democracy must sometimes
defend the rights of individuals and groups who themselves advocate such
non-democratic policies as repressing free speech. Citizens in a democratic
society defend this right out of the conviction that, in the end, open debate
will lead to greater truth and wiser public actions than if speech and dissent
The corollary to freedom of speech is the right of the people to assemble and
peacefully demand that the government hears their grievances. Without this right
to gather and be heard, freedom of speech would be devalued. For this reason,
freedom of speech is considered closely linked to, if not inseparable from, the
right to gather, protests, and demand change. Democratic governments can
legitimately regulate the time and place of political rallies and marches to
maintain the peace, but they cannot use that authority to suppress protest or to
prevent dissident groups from making their voices heard.
Freedom and Faith
Freedom of religion (article25), or more broadly freedom of conscience, means
that no person should be required to profess any religion or other belief
against his or her desires. Additionally, no one should be punished or penalized
in any way because he or she chooses one religion over another or, indeed, opts
for no religion at all. The democratic state recognizes that a person's
religious faith is a profoundly personal matter.
In a related sense, freedom of religion means that no one can be compelled by
government to recognize an official church or faith. Children cannot be
compelled to go to a particular religious school, and no one can be required to
attend religious services, to pray, or to participate in religious activities
against his or her will.
Citizenship: Rights and Responsibilities
Democracies rest upon the principle that government exists to serve the people;
the people do not exist to serve the government. In other words, the people are
citizens of the democratic state, not its subjects. While the state protects the
rights of its citizens, in return, the citizens give the state their loyalty.
Under an authoritarian system, on the other hand, the state, as an entity
separate from the society, demands loyalty and service from its people without
any reciprocal obligation to secure their consent for its actions. The citizens
in a democracy are exercising their right and responsibility to determine who
shall rule in their name.
Similarly, citizens in a democracy enjoy the right to join organizations of
their choosing that are independent of government and to participate freely in
the public life of their society. At the same time, citizens must accept the
responsibility that such participation entails: educating themselves about the
issues, demonstrating tolerance in dealing with those holding opposing views,
and compromising when necessary to reach agreement.
Citizenship in these examples entails a broad definition of rights and
responsibilities, since they are opposite sides of the same coin. An
individual's exercise of his rights is also his responsibility to protect and
enhance those rights for himself and for others. Even citizens of
well-established democracies often misunderstand this equation, and too often
take advantage of rights while ignoring responsibilities.
"Democracy is often understood as the rule of the majority, and rights are
understood more and more as the private possessions of individuals and thus as
necessarily antagonistic to majoritarian democracy. But this is to misunderstand
both rights and democracy."
The essence of democratic action is the active, freely chosen participation of
its citizens in the public life of their community and nation. Without this
broad, sustaining participation, democracy will begin to wither and become the
preserve of a small, select number of groups and organizations."Democracy is a process, a way of living and working together. It is
evolutionary, not static. It requires cooperation, compromise, and tolerance
among all citizens. Making it work is hard, not easy. Freedom means
responsibility, not freedom from responsibility."
Democracy embodies ideals of freedom and self-expression, but it is also
clear-eyed about human nature. It does not demand that citizens be universally
virtuous, only that they will be responsible.
Human Rights and Political Goals
In recent times, there has been a tendency, especially among Indians, to expand
the list of basic human rights. To fundamental freedoms of speech and equal
treatment before the law, these groups have added rights to employment, to
education, to one's own culture or nationality, and to adequate standards of
Governments protect inalienable rights, such as freedom of speech, through
restraint, by limiting their own actions. Funding education, providing health
care, or guaranteeing employment demand the opposite: the active involvement of
government in promoting certain policies and programs. Adequate health care and
educational opportunities should be the birthright of every child. The sad fact
is that they are not, and the ability of societies to achieve such goals will
vary widely from country to country. By transforming every human aspiration into
a right, however, governments run the risk of increasing cynicism and inviting a
disregard of all human rights.
Basic Human Rights
Freedom of speech, expression and the press.
Freedom of religion.
Freedom of assembly and association.
Right to equal protection of the law.
Right to due process and fair trial.
The Rule Of Law
Equality and the Law
The right to equality before the law, or equal protection of the law as it is
often phrased, is fundamental to any just and democratic society. Whether rich
or poor, ethnic majority or religious minority, politically of the state or
opponent, all are entitled to equal protection before the law.
The democratic state cannot guarantee that life will treat everyone equally, and
it has no responsibility to do so. However, writes constitutional law expert
John P. Frank, "Under no circumstances should the state impose additional
inequalities; it should be required to deal evenly and equally with all of its
No one is above the law, which is, after all, the creation of the people, not
something imposed upon them. The citizens of a democracy submit to the law
because they recognize that, however indirectly, they are submitting to
themselves as makers of the law. When laws are established by thess people, then
have to obey them, both law and democracy are served.
The criminal justice system holds power with the potential for abuse and
tyranny. In the name of the state, individuals have been imprisoned, had their
property seized, and been tortured, exiled and executed without legal
justification--and often without any formal charges ever being brought. No
democratic society can tolerate such abuses.
Every state must have the power to maintain order and punish criminal acts, but
the rules and procedures by which the state enforces its laws must be public and
explicit, not secret, arbitrary, or subject to political manipulation by the
The rock upon which a democratic government rests is its constitution--the
formal statement of its fundamental obligations, limitations, procedures, and
institutions. The constitution of the country is the supreme law of the land,
and all citizens, Prime minister to peasants alike, are subject to its
provisions. At a minimum, the constitution, which is usually codified in a
single written document, establishes the authority of the national government,
provides guarantees for fundamental human rights, and sets forth the
government's basic operating procedures.
This pattern of constitutional evolution takes place in every democracy. In
general, there are two schools of thought about the process of amending, or
changing, a nation's constitution. One is to adopt a difficult procedure,
requiring many steps and large majorities. As a result, the constitution is
changed infrequently, and then only for compelling reasons that receives
substantial public support. Constitution is a brief statement of the general
principles, powers, and limits of government, together with a more specific
listing of duties, procedures, and, in the Bill of Rights, the fundamental
rights of individual citizens.
A much simpler method of amendment, which many nations use, is to provide that
any amendment may be adopted by approval of the legislature and passed by the
voters at the next election. Constitutions able to be changed in this fashion
can be quite lengthy, with specific provisions that differ little from the
general body of legislation.
Free and Fair Elections
Elections are the central institution of democratic representative governments.
Why? Because, in a democracy, the authority of the government derives solely
from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that
consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections.
Voting in the election of public officials is the most visible and common form
of participation in modern democracies and also the most fundamental. The
ability to conduct free and fair elections is at the core of what it means to
call a society democratic.
Democracy and Power
For critics, a common misapprehension is that democracies, lacking the power to
oppress, also lack the authority to govern. This view is fundamentally wrong:
Democracies require that their governments be limited, not that they be weak.
Democracies have also demonstrated remarkable resiliency over time and have
shown that, with the commitment and informed dedication of their citizens, they
can overcome severe economic hardship, reconcile social and ethnic division,
and, when necessary.
It is the very aspects of democracy cited most frequently by its critics that
democratic decision-making in a large, complex society can be a messy, grueling,
and time-consuming process. But in the end, a government resting upon the
consent of the governed can speak and act with a confidence and authority
lacking in a regime whose power is perched uneasily on the narrow ledge of
military force or an unelected party apparatus.
Checks and Balances
One of the most important contributions to democratic practice has been the
development of a system of checks and balances to ensure that political power is
dispersed and decentralized. It is a system founded on the deeply held belief
that government is best when its potential for abuse is curbed and when it is
held as close to the people as possible.
The motivations of voters are as numerous as the societies and interests that
they represent. Voters obviously cast their ballots for candidates who will
represent their interests, but other factors influence voter preference as well.
Party affiliation is one: Individuals who identify strongly with a political
party are much more likely to vote than those who identify themselves as
independent. Indeed, in systems of proportional representation, voters may only
be able to vote for a political party, not for individual candidates.
In a democratic society, citizens have a right to gather peacefully and protest
the policies of their government or the actions of other groups with
demonstrations, marches, petitions, boycotts, strikes, and other forms of direct
Direct action is open to everyone in a democracy, but it traditionally has been
used by oppressed, disadvantaged, or minority groups who feel excluded from
other means of influencing government policies. Such protests have always been
part of democratic society.
Democracy itself guarantees nothing. It offers instead the opportunity to
succeed as well as the risk of failure. The promise of democracy is
liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Democracy is then both a promise and a challenge. It is a promise that free
human beings, working together, can govern themselves in a manner that will
serve their aspirations for personal freedom, economic opportunity, and social
justice. It is a challenge because the success of the democratic enterprise
rests upon the shoulders of its citizens and no one else.
Government of and by the people means that the citizens of a democratic society
share in its benefits and in its burdens. By accepting the task of
self-government, one generation seeks to preserve the legacy of individual
freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.
In the end, we get the government we deserve.
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