10 Questions and Answers on Democracy
1. Here is some information about four countries. Based on this information, how would you classify each of these countries? Write ‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
(а) Country A: People who do not accept the country’s official religion do not have a right to vote.
(b) Country B: The same party has been winning elections for the last twenty years.
(c) Country C: Ruling party has lost in the last three elections.
(d) Country D: There is no independent election commission.
Ans. (a) Undemocratic
2. Here is some information about four countries. Based on this information, how would you classify each of these countries? Write ‘democratic’, ‘undemocratic’ or ‘not sure’ against each of these.
(a) Country P: The parliament cannot pass a law about the army without the consent of the Chief of Army.
(b) Country Q: The parliament cannot pass a law reducing the powers of the judiciary.
(c) Country R: The country’s leaders cannot sign any treaty with another country without taking permission from its neighbouring country.
(d) Country S: All the major economic decisions about the country are taken by officials of the central bank which the ministers cannot change.
Ans. (a) Undemocratic
3. Which of these is not a good argument in favour of democracy? Why?
(a) People feel free and equal in a democracy.
(b) Democracies resolve conflict in a better way than others.
(c) Democratic government is more accountable to the people.
(d) Democracies are more prosperous than others.
Ans. (d) it is not necessary that a democratic country is more prosperous than others. Prosperity of the people depends on the economic development and not on the form of government. We have many examples where the government is democratic but people are not very prosperous. India is such an example.
4. Each of these statements contains a democratic and an undemocratic element. Write out the two separately for each statement.
(a) A minister said that some laws have to be passed by the parliament in order to conform to the regulations decided by the World Trade Organisation.
(b) The Election Commission ordered re-polling in a constituency where large scale rigging was reported.
(c) Women’s representation in the parliament has never reached 10 per cent. This led women’ organisations to demand one-third seats for women.
Ans. (а) Passing of laws by the Parliament is democratic whereas passing it in conformity to the regulations decided by W.T.O. is undemocratic.
(b) To order repoll in a constituency by the Election Commission is democratic whereas rigging is undemocratic.
(c) Demand by Women’s Organisation to reserve one-third seats for women democratic whereas less than 10 per cent women’s representation in the Parliament is undemocratic.
5. Which of these is not a valid reason for arguing that there is a lesser possibility of famine in a democratic country?
Opposition parties can draw attention to hunger and starvation.
Free press can report suffering from famine in different parts of the country.
Government fears its defeat in the next elections.
People are free to believe in and practice any religion.
Ans. (d) People are free to believe in and practice any religion.
6. There are 40 villages in a district where the government has made no provision for drinking water. These villagers met and considered many methods of forcing the government to respond to their need. Which of these is not a democratic method?
(a) Filing a case in the courts claiming that water is part of right to life.
(b) Boycotting the next elections to give a message to all parties.
(c) Organising public meetings against government’s policies.
(d) Paying money to government officials to get water.
Ans. (a) Paying money to government officials to get water is not a democratic method.
7. Write a response to the following arguments against democracy:
(a) Army is the most disciplined and corruption-free organisation in the country. Therefore army should rule the country.
(b) Rule of the majority means the rule of ignorant people. What we need is the rule of the wise, even if they are in small numbers.
(c) If we want religious leaders to guide us in spiritual matters, why not invite them to guide us in politics as well. The country should be ruled by religious leaders.
Ans. (а) Army rule is always undemocratic. Under this system, people do not enjoy freedom of speech and expression and are not allowed to criticise the government. Military rule is another name for dictatorship. Moreover, many army men are not disciplined and are corrupt.
(b) Rule of majority is democratic as it represents the views of all sections of the people.
(c) Rule by religious leaders is not democratic. It arouses communal feeling among the people which sometimes lead to communal riots. Besides, many religious leaders do not have any experience of administration.
8. Are the following statements in keeping with democracy as a value? Why?
(a) Father to daughter: I don’t want to hear your opinion about your marriage. In our family children marry where the parents tell them to.
(b) Teacher to student: Don’t disturb my concentration by asking me questions in the classroom.
(c) Employee to the officer: Our working hours must be reduced according to the law.
Ans. (a) Not in keeping with democratic values. Every citizen has the right to marry according to his/her choice. Forcing a daughter to marry according to one will is undemocratic.
(b) Undemocratic. Students have the right to ask questions from their teacher in the class.
(c) Democratic. Employees enjoy the right to work for fixed hours as fixed by law.
9. Consider the following facts about a country and decide if you would call it a democracy. Give reasons to support your decision.
(a) All the citizens of the country have right to vote. Elections are held regularly.
(b) The country took loan from international agencies. One of the conditions for giving loan was that the government would reduce its expenses on education and health.
(c) People speak more than seven languages but education is available only in one language, the language spoken by 52 percent people of that country.
(d) Several organisations have given a call for peaceful demonstrations and nation wide strikes in the country to oppose these policies. Government has arrested these leaders.
(e) The government owns the radio and television in the country. All the newspapers have to get permission from the government to publish any news about government’s policies and protests.
Ans. (a) Yes. Since all the citizens of the country enjoy the right to vote and elections are held regularly, it is a democratic country.
(b) The country is democratic. Since all the international agencies fact certain conditions while giving loans, the country does not become undemocratic.
(c) It is not a democracy since all the people do not enjoy the freedom to have education in their own language.
(d) All democratic countries give their citizens the right to strike. It is democratic.
(e) It is undemocratic. In democracy radio, television and all other means of communication like newspapers are free to express their views about the policies of the government.
10. In 2004, a report published in USA pointed to the increasing inequalities in that country. Inequalities in income reflected in the participation of people in democracy. It also shaped their abilities to influence the decisions taken by the government. The report highlighted that:
i. If an average Black family earns $100 then the income of average White family is $ 162. A White family has twelve times more wealth than the average Black family.
ii. In a President’s election nearly 9 out of 10 individuals in families with income over $ 75,000 have voted. These people are the top 20% of the population in terms of their income. On the other hand, only 5 people out of 10 from families with income less than $ 15,000 have voted. They are the bottom 20% of the population in terms of their income.
iii. About 95% contribution to the political parties comes from the rich. This gives them opportunity to express their opinions and concerns, which is not available to most citizens.
iv. As poor sections participate less in politics, the government does not listen to their concerns – coming out of poverty, getting job, education, health care and housing form them. Politicians hear most regularly about the concerns of business and the richest.
Write an essay on ‘Democracy and Poverty’ using the information given in this report but using examples from India.
Ans. Modern democracy is in fact capitalistic-it is a government by the rich. Electioneering is carried out with money. Rich people even purchase votes of the poor.
It cares a fig for the poor. The rich control the media and use it for their own benefit. They contribute liberally to political parties who look after their interests. Influence of the rich over politics is clearly visible in countries like U.S.A., England and India.
In India only rich can contest the election votes of the poor are brought and sold. Poor cannot fight election and get elected. As a result, their interests like getting job health services and education remain unfulfilled. Policies are formed by the government which favour the rich and safeguard their interest.