All of us are familiar with the most favourable form of government called ‘democracy’, which prevails in most countries in modern times. Since its inception in ancient Greece, several hundreds of years ago, it has continued to exist in this modern era popularly, although a lot has changed in its modern variation.
The emergence of modern democracy can again be traced to the West, in the aftermath of the Civil War in Britain, in the seventeenth century.
With the industrial revolutions and political revolutions in the eighteenth century, more countries such as France and America succeeded in attaining this popular form of government.
Well, in the aftermath of World War I, in order to bring peace and prevent war further, world leaders started promoting the ideals of democracy across the globe.
Unfortunately, with the rise of Fascism and Nazism, a devastating war broke out again in Europe in 1939, later spreading in almost all major countries of the world.
India, then a British colony also had to participate in the great war. However, finally, it attained independence from the British, and eventually, emerged as a sovereign, democratic, and republic nation.
As such, the period of decolonisation saw many newly independent nations in Asia and Africa emerging democratic.
With India’s independence, our leaders of the freedom struggle envisaged an idea of inclusive India – a country for all, irrespective of faith, caste, creed, class, etc. and wrote a constitution, incorporating the best ideals of the constitutions of over 30 countries.
Many had then opined that this democracy wouldn’t survive, keeping in mind the diverse populace in the country. But, today, even after seventy years, we, the 133 crore Indians, are proud to boast ourselves as the largest democracy of the world.
India has always stood united, setting a perfect synonym for ‘unity-in-diversity’. For this, it’s never enough to recall that India, where we are proud to live in, is because of the contributions and sacrifices of scores of men and women of a different faith, sects, caste, creed, etc. who all named their lives for the country.
Moreover, independent India, under the first Prime-ministership of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, rightly paved India towards a successful democracy in its initial decades. Nehru’s domestic and foreign policies, both, including the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) placed India in a new independent order.
Perhaps, these were what sustained India’s democracy in its very years, unlike in other countries, such as Pakistan or Sri Lanka, wherein in a very short span of time, democracy saw its worst resulted by military coups and alike.
However, India’s democracy has also undergone crucial phases in the past decades. For instance – during Indira Gandhi’s regime, clashes between the government and the judiciary saw great heights.
But, eventually, judicial interventions, time and again, have strengthened the democratic and constitutional fabric of the nation. Notwithstanding, the emergency years marked various unfavourable instances and unfortunate sufferings across the country, which had then, certainly undermined the democratic values and left scars in the political history of India.
As it is known, a major drawback that appears in a democratic government is when a single majority party comes in power and forms the government. They get the power to bring any law or regulation, which many a time, may not be favourable to its own people.
For instance – among many of the laws and amendments brought by Indira Gandhi’s legislature, the exercise of power arbitrarily sought in aiming certain political interests. Fortunately, the judiciary successfully overruled many of those legislations.
Subsequently, in the later period of post-cold war and unipolar world order, democracies saw binding with each other: be it in economic or political aspects, through international organisations creating a new order in the world democracy.
It seems, as believed by the liberal political philosophers, that the nations which are democratic are more likely to progress and flourish in the global village.
But, yet again, at the domestic front, under the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime, formed by the thumping majority, we are witnessing an unfavourable scenario in India’s polity.
All of this is happening at a time when the economy is undergoing a regressive slowdown, legislations such as a religion-based Citizenship (Amendment) Act and nationwide NRC create a hue and cry amongst the common masses.
For the first time, the religious parameters of the legislation have left questions on the table of the apex court to test its constitutionality. And as far as the state of Assam is concerned, the CAA violating the historic Assam Accord has to meet serious judicial intervention.
Also, under Modi’s regime, there has been a rise in the political ideology of Hindutva, across the nation. It remains to be seen how long India’s democracy and constitutional ideals will sustain.
Well, as of now, it is high time the other pillars of the democracy – judiciary and the press – serve their independent and unbiased positions.