NCERT Class 9 Political Science Chapter 2: What is Democracy? Why Democracy? YouTube Lecture Handouts

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NCERT Class 9 Political Science / Polity / Civics Chapter 2: What is Democracy? Why Democracy?

Differentiate Democratic vs Non-Democratic Government

  • We saw democracy is expanding but what makes it better
  • Examples of Chile, Poland & Ghana
  • Only by using the word, we come to understand the meaning (so we used democracy first and then explained its meaning like rain, pen etc.)
  • Need definition of rain only when we distinguish drizzle and cloudburst
  • Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people - Abraham Lincoln
  • Greek word ‘Demokratia.’ In Greek ‘demos’ means people and ‘kratia’ means rule. So, democracy is rule by the people.
  • Monarchy – king՚s rule (Nepal & Saudi Arabia)
  • Differentiate democracy vs. government that pretends to be democracy
  • In Democracy:
    • Who are the rulers?
    • What kind of elections?
    • Who are the people?
    • What kind of a form of government?
  • Final decision-making power must rest with those elected by the people

Pakistan

  • General Musharraf in 1999
  • Overthrew govt. & declared himself “Chief Executive”
  • Changed designation to President & in 2002 held referendum for 5-year extension
  • Media believed it was based on malpractices and fraud
  • In August 2002, Legal Framework Order amended Constitution of Pakistan. Now, President can dismiss national and provincial assemblies.
  • The work of the civilian cabinet is supervised by a National Security Council which is dominated by military officers
  • Elected representatives had some power but most power rests with military officers and Musharraf himself.
  • They formally have an elected parliament and government but the real power is with those who are not elected

Free & Fair Electoral Competition

  • China – elections held every 5 years for country՚s parliament Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (National People՚s Congress) with 3000 members (some elected by army) & power to appoint President.
  • Till 2002 - 03: Only those who are members of the Chinese Communist Party or eight smaller parties allied to it were allowed to contest elections – govt. is formed by Communist party
  • Mexico – hold selections every six years to elect President since 1930, never under military rule. Till 2000, all elections won by PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) – it was known to use many dirty tricks to win elections (teachers forced parents to vote for PRI) , it spent huge sum of money in campaigning
  • In China the elections do not offer the people any serious choice.
  • In Mexico, people seemed to really have a choice but in practice they had no choice (no fair elections)
  • Therefore, elections must be fair and offer real choice b/w political alternatives. Also, those currently in power must have a fair chance of losing.

One Person, One Vote and One Value

Democracy linked to demand for universal adult franchise

Principle of political equality - in a democracy, each adult citizen must have one vote and each vote must have one value

  • In Saudi Arabia women do not have the right to vote.
  • Estonia has made its citizenship rules in such a way that people belonging to Russian minority find it difficult to get the right to vote.
  • In Fiji, the electoral system is such that the vote of an indigenous Fiji has more value than that of an Indian-Fijian.

Rule of Law & Respect of Rights

  • Democratic Party rules within the limits set by constitutional law and citizen՚s rights
  • Zimbabwe attained independence from White Minority in 1980. Since then, it was under rule of ZANU-PF (party that led freedom struggle) under leader Robert Mugabe
  • Known for use of unfair practices in elections – he changed constitution many times to increase power of President and make him less accountable
  • Public protests government are declared illegal – law that limits the right to criticize president
  • Newspaper and media can՚t go against the government
  • Popular govt. can be autocratic and undemocratic – it՚s important to look at elections (also before and after elections)
  • What govt. should respect – basic rights to think, have opinions, express in public, form associations, to protest & take political actions – all should be equal before law & protected by independent judiciary
  • Democratic govt. must respect some guarantees to minorities, all major decisions through consultations, each office bearer has rights and responsibilities

Summary

  • Rulers elected by the people take all the major decisions
  • Elections offer a choice and fair opportunity to the people to change the current rulers
  • This choice and opportunity are available to all the people on an equal basis
  • The exercise of this choice leads to a government limited by basic rules of the constitution and citizens՚ rights

Arguments Against Democracy

  • Leaders keep changing & cause instability
  • Its political competition and power play with no morality
  • Many consultations lead to delays
  • Elected leaders lead to bad decisions as they don՚t know best interests
  • Leads to corruption and electoral competition
  • Ordinary people shouldn՚t decide anything as they don՚t know what is good for them
  • Not the only solution – as not ended poverty

Arguments for Democracy

China famine – 1958 - 61 – where 3 crore people died (prevented if there was free press to criticize, multiparty election & good opposition)

India responded to food scarcity but China did not

  • Democracy is better than any other form of government in responding to the needs of the people
  • It is more accountable form of government
  • Democracy is based on consultation and discussion – improves quality of decision making
  • It provides method to deal with conflicts and differences – peaceful solution with no permanent winner or loser
  • It enhances dignity of the citizens – political equality to rich and poor
  • It allows us to correct our own mistakes
  • Respect people՚s own wishes and allows different people to live together

Broader Meaning

  • Collective decisions are not possible as people can՚t sit together and take a common decision (huge population)
  • Even if they could, citizens don՚t have time, desire, and skills to take part in decision
  • Those who are not powerful have the same say in taking the decision as those who are powerful
  • Distinguish b/w minimal & good democracy
  • Require active involvement of all citizens

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