Features of Democracy Notes

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Features of Democracy

“Democracy is when the Indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.” – Aristotle

Abraham Lincoln once said, Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.’ Throughout the history of human civilization, we have lived through innumerable rulers, various governments and hundreds of wars. The sole thing that remained common throughout the history of politics is that the voice of the common public was never louder than when they held the right to vote. Let’s learn about the form of government that entitles us to this right, i.e. Democracy, and what are the main features of Democracy.

‘In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all.’ – Mahatma Gandhi

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What is Democracy?

The word ‘Democracy’ is derived from Greek origins and essentially means “rule by the people”. Democracy in the modern world is a form of government where people have the ultimate authority over how the Nation operates.

Types of Democracy

Direct Democracy is a type of Democracy where people carry out direct discourse among each other on various topics to arrive at a decision based on the majority opinion. Every person put forth their opinion in the form of a vote to carry out or stop any law or related action. This type of democracy only works in small-sized organizations, being practically impossible with the immense population of a Country.

Representative Democracy focuses on the principle of people electing their representatives. One of the salient features of this type of democracy is that the elected representatives serve the nation on the public’s behalf by taking up various positions of responsibility. This form of Democracy is much more viable to be translated into a form of government nationwide.

11 Features of Democracy in India

Source – Magnet Brains (YouTube)

Apart from the above-mentioned types of Democracy, different countries have developed their own unique forms of government, incorporating additional features to suit their socio-cultural requirements. These may include Two-party systems, multiple-party systems or indirect methods of representative election. Here are the features of Democracy in points:

  1. Free, Fair and Frequent Elections
  2. Representation of Minorities
  3. Rule within the Constitutional Law
  4. Freedom of Speech, Expression and Choice
  5. Federal Rights
  6. Council Responsibility
  7. Right to Education
  8. Right to Form Association and Union
  9. Same Law for All
  10. Independent Judiciary
  11. Balance of Power

So, let’s understand the main features of Democracy in detail:

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Free, Fair, and Frequent Elections

Amongst the primary features of Democracy, every Democratic country in the world must hold elections, in one way or another, and that too periodically. These elections are the voice of the public, the primary way by which they can control and change the Government as per their wishes. These elections must also have complete Transparency and Impartiality in terms of imparting voting rights to every adult citizen of the country. Every vote must be valued, and every vote must have one value, i.e. it must carry the same weight in electing representatives. Fulfilling this criterion is paramount for every Democracy, as even today some countries don’t give voting rights to women or people with alternate sexuality. This disqualifies them from being a democracy on the fundamental level and makes the spirit of elections meaningless.

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Representation of Minorities

Every nation in the world has minorities, on one basis or the other. It is one of the prominent Features of Democracy to give equal citizenship rights to every one of its countrymen. Exclusion or oppression of minorities should be abhorred, and the legal authority of the country should aid them in holding an equal status of life and livelihood in every possible way. Some Democracies around the world also reserve representative positions for minority groups in proportion to their population size while keeping the rest of the positions free for contention.

Rule within the Constitutional Law

In a Democratic Country, the ruling Government is not paramount. Instead, it is the legislative body that holds the supreme power, as prescribed by the constitution of the Country. As a new government is elected after a fixed period, it only has the powers to make decisions and implement them, while making amends in some of the established laws. All such activities can only be done under the supervision of the country’s legislation, which is independent of the ruling government and the posts are held by the people of the country based on their merit and skills.

Freedom of Speech, Expression, and Choice

A Democracy that suppresses or withholds the public voice is not valid, violating one of the basic features of Democracy. The voice of the public, even if it is critical to the ruling party, should be allowed to flow freely, letting people formulate their own ideas and expressions, without being in fear of persecution. On the same lines, a citizen of a Democratic country should be able to make independent decisions based on their own discretion, as long as they do not pose a threat to the Laws of the land or any other person. Protesting against what a person feels is wrong should be a legal right, as it is basically the only thing that keeps the ruling parties in check with their actions and policies. Once you eliminate that, you take away all the strength of a group of people thus nullifying the concept of democracy itself.

Federal Rights

One of the essential features of Democracy is the right of the state government to perform independently and implement rules and regulations for the benefit of the public. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution allows states to make few decisions without interference from the central government. In case, a law is passed by a central government then every state has to follow it.

Council Responsibility

It is the duty and responsibility of the elected government to work in the favour and benefit of the general public. The whole council of the elected party is responsible for all the acts performed under their session, not just a single leader. Democracy allows the decision to be made by the whole council and not any single individual.

Right to Education

Democracy gives the right to all citizens to get an education. There is no favouritism based on caste, colour, creed, or race in education and every individual in India has a right to get an education. This act allows children aged 6 to 14 to get a basic elementary education.

Right to Form Association and Union

India is a democratic nation that allows all individuals to form their own associations or unions. Article 19(1) of the Indian constitution provides the right to all Indian citizens “to form associations, or unions or Co-Operative Societies” It is one of the basic rights of every individual and needs to communicate with other members of the community or society.

Same Law for All

Democracy gives equality in society this means equal rights and laws for all. No celebrity, politician, or government body will be treated with special treatment. The law imposed on common people of the nation will be applied to celebrities or famous individuals as well. Under every circumstance, the law is the same for all people in India.

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No Control on Judiciary

The Judiciary system or courts in India are an autonomous body and not under the control of any government organization or party. The opinions, laws, or acts passed by the judiciary body of India are not influenced by any legislative authority and their independent decision.

Balance of Power

In a democratic society, power is distributed among different branches of government, and between the government and the citizens. This prevents the concentration of power in the hands of a single organisation or individual. This distribution of power is designed to safeguard against abuses of authority and to ensure that no single entity becomes too dominant.

Democracy vs Dictatorship

Criteria Democracy Dictatorship
Definition Government of the people One person or a group rules a population
Key Feature People choose their representatives The dictator rules every aspect of the country.
Power Citizens have the ultimate power in a democracy. The dictator has all the powers.
Freedom The freedom provided in terms of rights and duties No freedom to the people
Justice A wholesome justice system The power to provide justice lies in the hands of the dictator
Government Promotes sovereignty Facilitates domination
Rights Human rights to express, vote, information, social rights, cultural rights, etc. The dictator has all the rights and people are oppressed.

Must Read: Democracy vs Dictatorship

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Democratic Government

Advantages of Democracy  Disadvantages of Democracy 
Since the people of the country elect a government in a democracy, thus it is ultimately answerable to the people for their actions. Since there are many layers of authority in a democracy, the decision-making process is a little slower compared to other types of government.
A democratic government will give more freedom to its people to question the government itself. There is a possibility of corruption in a democratic government since people can use political influence and power to win elections.
Since the people of the country elect a government in a democracy, it is ultimately answerable to the people for their actions. Development projects in a big country like India could be unstable due to a change of political parties every five years.

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FAQs

How to strengthen democracy in India?

Empowering the media coverage, avoiding delays in decision-making, no biased decisions are some of the ways to strengthen democracy in India.

What is Democracy?

Democracy in the modern world is a form of government where people have the ultimate authority over how the Nation operates. Different countries have developed their own unique forms of government, incorporating additional features to suit their socio-cultural requirements. These may include a two-party system, multiple-party systems, or indirect methods of representative election.

What is the importance of democracy in India?

It is an effective method to deal with conflicts and improve the decision-making process. It gives power to the citizens of India to elect a leader that could benefit the nation and its citizens.

What are the three features of democracy?

1. Elected representatives of the people rule and these representatives have the power of making final decisions.
2. Elections are conducted in a free and fair atmosphere.
3. Adult franchise is provided and every vote has equal value.

Why do we need democracy?

Democracy enables people to elect their representatives in a free and transparent manner. Equal rights are provided to all citizens regardless of caste, religion, or sex. Democracy improves both the dignity of citizens and the quality of decision-making.

These are some of the fundamental features of Democracy. Every Nation struggles with its problems and ailments, but that should never translate into posing a threat to the democratic foundations of that country. Interesting in exploring political systems and studying how governments work? Let our Leverage Edu experts assist you in selecting a suitable course and university combination that can help you delve deeper into the study of Political Science and soar towards a rewarding career in this field! Sign up for an e-meeting with us today!

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