Many political thinkers and observers believe that without social and economic prerequisites, the smooth functioning of parliamentary democracy in India cannot be achieved. They suggest that before a society or state decides to be governed democratically, it is essential for it to have a minimum level of social and economic development. Many others, however, believe that democracy itself provides a better and successful means for attainment of social and economic development. The framers of Indian Constitution were fully committed to this view.
However, Indian democracy is flawed in many respects. India has not been able to acquire a stable national unity and the political system has not been able to fulfill the aspirations of all groups, sections and classes. A vast majority of the Indian people are caught in the situation of abject poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment. More than 60 per cent of the Indian population does not have access to basic sanitation.
There is almost a collapse of public health. The population has increased more than three times since independence. Of course, the Gross National Products (GNP) has increased fourfold and in the last decade alone per capita GDP has doubled. But in view of increase in population and concentration of benefits in few hands this increase remains insufficient.
Result is about 50 per cent of all children below 5 years of age are under weight and malnourished. Another obstacle of parliamentary democracy has been the practice of discrimination based on exploitation. Politicians wanting their votes have played up this feeling but have taken no concrete caution to see that the weaker sections were given a participatory and effective role in the socio-economic development of the country.
Consequently, people are getting alienated from the system and losing faith in the electoral system. To keep them in the game of elections, ambitious individuals have started counting on caste base, communal, linguistic and regional loyalties. Elections, as such, have become ends in themselves, instruments of the status quo and of self promotion rather than change. With this another serious factor has emerged; it is politicisation of crime and criminalisation of politics. During the last 58 years of India’s independence, India has witnessed failures in running the democratic processes.