Outcomes of Democracy Class 10 Notes Social Science Civics Chapter 7
Assessment of Democracy’s Outcomes
Democracy is a better form of government when compared with dictatorship or any other alternative.
We feel that democracy was better because it
- Promotes equality among citizens;
- Enhances the dignity of the individual;
- Improves the quality of decision making;
- Provides a method to resolve conflicts; and
- Allows room to correct mistakes.
Most people support democracies over the rule by a monarch, military or religious leaders in theory. Democracy is seen to be good in principle, but not considered as efficient in practice.
More than a hundred countries across the world claim to practice some kind of democratic politics. This is facilitated through formal constitutions such as elections and the presence of political parties.
These states have also guaranteed rights to citizens. Despite the similarities, these democracies are different from one another in terms of their social situations, their economic achievements and their cultures. Consequently, the ideals achieved or not achieved under each of these democracies will be very different.
Our generic expectations from democracy are that it can address all socio-economic and political problems. Any underachievement pushes us to complain about the principle of democracy. We question the idea or existence of democracy itself.
It is necessary to recognise that democracy is just a form of government. It can only create conducive conditions for achievement of some goals. To realise them, citizens have to avail those opportunities and achieve those goals.
Accountable, Responsive and Legitimate Government
In a democracy, it is important to ensure that people have the right to choose their rulers and people have control over the rulers. Whenever possible and necessary, citizens should be able to participate in making decisions on matters that affect them all. The most basic outcome of democracy should be to produce a competent government, accountable to the citizens and responsive to the needs and expectations of the citizens.
It is a common belief that democracy produces less effective government. Non-democratic rulers do not have to bother about deliberation in assemblies or worry about consensus and public opinion and thus the decision-making is quick and simple, and the implementation, efficient and effective.
The following are a few features of democracies:
1. Democracy is based on the idea of deliberation and negotiation.
- Democracy ensures that decision-making will be based on norms and procedures. It is bound to take some time to reach a consensus and decide.
- Even though the decisions are slow because the procedure takes a lot of time, they are popular and accepted by the public- which leads to greater compliance. The cost of time that is paid by democratic governments is thus worth it.
2. A democratic government has to be transparent. It should facilitate its citizens if they want to know whether a decision was taken through the correct procedure, right information within a decent time period.
Every citizen has the right and the means to examine the process of decision-making. This factor is often missing from a non-democratic government.
3. A significant outcome of a democracy is to produce a government that follows procedures and is accountable to the people.
It can be expected that the democratic government develops mechanisms for citizens to hold the government accountable. It should also build mechanisms for citizens to participate in decision making whenever they think fit.
To measure if a country does well on these parameters, the following institutions or practices must be checked:
- Regular, free, and fair elections;
- Open public debate on major policies and legislations:
- Citizens’ right to information about the government and its functioning. Democracies show an average performance on these parameters.
- Democracies have had greater success in setting up regular and free elections and in setting up conditions for open public debate. Most democracies fall short of free and fair elections.
- Democratic governments do not have a very good record when it comes to sharing information with citizens. Democratic governments are better than non-democratic governments in this respect.
Read the source given below and answer the questions that follow:
The routine tales of corruption are enough to convince us that democracy is not free of this evil. At the same time, there is nothing to show that non-democracies are less corrupt or more sensitive to the people.
There is one respect in which democratic government is certainly better than its alternatives: democratic government is legitimate government. It may be slow, less efficient, not always very responsive or clean.
But a democratic government is the people’s own government. That is why there is an overwhelming support for the idea of democracy all over the world. As the accompanying evidence from South Asia shows, the support exists in countries with democratic regimes as well as countries without democratic regimes.
(A) Which country in South Asia shows less support for democracy?
(d) Sri Lanka
(B) Why is democratic government a legitimate government?
Democratic government is a legitimate government because it has been elected by popular support.
(C) Which of the following evils are not found in a democracy?
(b) Economic Inequalities
(c) Political Inequality
(c) Political inequality
Explanation: Democracy is based on political equality. It provides so by universal adult franchise.
(D) Assertion (A): Democracy is slow and inefficient.
Reason (R): It is a rule of minority.
(a) Both (A) and (R) are true and (R) is the correct explanation of (A).
(b) Both (A) and (R) are true but (R) is not the correct explanation of (A).
(c) (A) is correct but (R) is wrong.
(d) (A) is wrong but (R) is correct.
(c) (A) is correct but (R.) is wrong.
Explanation: Democracy is a rule of majority. It is slow because to get the consent of the majority and think of every citizen’s well-being requires deliberation and hence cannot be taken without proper procedures and discussions.
Support for Democracy:
A democratic government should be attentive to the needs and demands of the people. It is also very common to expect a democracy to be largely free of corruption. However, democracies do not fare well on these two counts. Democracies frustrate the needs of the people and often ignore the demands of a majority of its population. Democratic governments and administration are filled with corrupt officials. However, no study proves that non-democracies are less corrupt or more sensitive to the needs of the people.
Democratic government is certainly better than its alternatives in one respect- it is a legitimate government.
It may be slow, less efficient, not always very responsive or clean. It is however a popular government. A democratic government is people’s own government. Democracy is supported all around the world.
Democracy is preferred over dictatorships everywhere except in Pakistan.
With accompanying evidence South Asia shows, this support exists in countries with democratic regimes as well as countries without democratic regimes. People wish to be ruled by representatives elected by them. Democracy’s ability to generate its own support is one of the most important outcomes of democracy.
On an average dictatorial regime have had a slightly better record of economic growth. But when we compare their record only in poor countries, there is virtually no difference.
Within democracies there can be a very high degree of inequalities. In democratic countries like South Africa and Brazil, the top 20 per cent people take away more than 60 per cent of the national income, leaving less than 3 percent for the bottom 20 per cent population. Countries like Denmark and Hungary are much better in this respect.
Economic Growth and Development
Democracies are expected to produce both good governance and development. However, democracies have not been able to fulfil these expectations. During the period between 1950-2000, a comparison between democracy and dictatorships shows that dictatorships have a slightly higher rate of growth.
The inability of democracy to achieve higher economic development is concerning. However, the concept of democracy can just not be rejected because it gives slightly less economic growth.
Economic development depends on several factors:
- A country’s population size,
- Its global situation,
- Cooperation from other countries
- Economic priorities adopted by the country, etc.
The difference in the rates of economic development between less developed countries with dictatorships and democracies is negligible. Democracy cannot be called a guarantee of economic development. However due to the nature of democracy, people expect democracy not to lag behind dictatorships in terms of economic development.
Frequently Asked w Despite differences in the rates of economic growth between countries under dictatorship and democracy, it is better to prefer democracy as it has several positive outcomes.
Reduction of Inequality and Poverty
It is reasonable to expect democracies to reduce economic disparities. It is a common dilemma whether a democratic country achieves economic growth, so that the wealth will be distributed in a way that benefits all classes of citizens equally. It is a common question whether a democracy will lead to a just distribution of goods and opportunities. Questions such as will the wealth be distributed in such a way that all citizens of the country have a better life will be in minds of people.
Economic growth in democracies is accompanied by increased inequalities among the people.
Democracies lead to a just distribution of goods and opportunities. Democracies are based on political equality. All individuals have equal weight in electing representatives. Parallel to promoting political participation, economic inequalities grow in a democracy.
A small number of ultra-rich enjoy a large amount of wealth and income. This share keeps increasing. The poorest classes do not have much resources to depend upon. Their incomes have been declining to the point that sometimes meeting basic needs of life, such as food, clothing, house, education and health becomes difficult.
However, democracies are not very successful in reducing economic inequalities. The poor voters make or break a party in elections but even then, the democratically elected governments do not appear to be as keen to address the question of poverty. In most countries, the situation is terrible.
In Bangladesh, more than half of its population live in poverty. People in several poor countries are now dependent on the rich countries even for food supplies.
Accommodation of Social Diversity
It is a fair expectation that democracy should produce a harmonious social life. Democracies accommodate various social divisions. Belgium has successfully negotiated differences among ethnic populations. A harmonious social life can only be attained in case of accommodation and provision of equal respect to all social groups and tribes.
Democracies develop a procedure to conduct their competition. This reduces the possibility of these tensions becoming explosive or violent.
No society is capable of resolving conflicts among different groups.
We have to learn to accommodate the differences and evolve mechanisms to negotiate the differences.
Democracy is best suited to produce this outcome. Non-democratic regimes suppress internal social differences. Ability to handle social differences, divisions and conflicts is thus a definite plus point of democratic regimes.
The situations in Sri Lanka reminds us that a democracy must fulfil two conditions in order to achieve this outcome:
1. Democracy is not simply ruled by majority opinion. The majority has to work with the minority so that governments function to represent the general view. Majority and minority opinions are not permanent.
2. It is also necessary that rule by the majority does not become rule by majority community in terms of religion or race or linguistic group, etc. Rule by majority might make that government despotic. In case of every election, different persons and groups may and can form a majority. Democracy can be called democracy only as long as every citizen has a chance of being in majority at some point of time. If there is discrimination in those terms, then the democratic rule ceases to be accommodative for that person or group.
In the context of democracies, which of the following ideas is correct – democracies have successfully eliminated:
(a) conflicts among people.
(b) economic inequalities among people.
(c) differences of opinion about how marginalized sections are to be treated.
(d) the idea of political inequality.
(d) the idea of political inequality
Explanation: Democracies provide political equality through universal adult franchise. It promotes equality of treatment.
In the context of assessing democracy which among the following is odd one out. Democracies need to ensure:
(a) free and fair elections.
(b) dignity of the individual.
(c) majority rule.
(d) equal treatment before law.
(c) majority rule
Explanation: Democracy ensures rule of the will of the people.
Studies on political and social inequalities in democracy show that:
(a) democracy and development go together.
(b) inequalities exist in democracies.
(c) inequalities do not exist under dictatorship.
(d) dictatorship is better than democracy.
(b) inequalities exist in democracies.
Explanation: Inequalities exist but they are better accommodated.
Dignity and Freedom of The Citizens
Democracy is superior to any other form of government in promoting dignity and freedom of the individual. Conflicts arise among individuals if they feel they are not being treated with respect. The passion for respect and freedom are the basis of democracy. Democratic governments recognise that, at least in principle.
Non-democratic societies are built on the basis of subordination and domination. They are unable to recognize that all individuals are equal. Most societies across the world were historically male-dominated societies.
Long struggles by women have changed the mindset of the society. It has now been established that respect and equal treatment of women are necessary ingredients of a democratic society. However, women are not actually always treated with respect. Recognition of a principle makes it easier for women to wage a struggle against unacceptable behaviour legally and morally. In a non-democratic set up, this unacceptability would not have legal basis because the principle of individual freedom and dignity does not have the legal and moral force there. This can also be said in case of caste inequalities.
Democracy in India has strengthened the claims of the disadvantaged and discriminated castes for equal status and equal opportunity.
Instances of caste-based inequalities and atrocities are still reported, but these lack the moral and legal foundations. The recognition of their claims makes ordinary citizens value their democratic rights.
Expectations from democracy can be used as parameters to judge any democratic country. For a democracy, its examination is never over. As democracy passes one test, it produces another test. As people get some benefits of democracy, they ask for more and want to make democracy even better.
Give arguments to support or oppose the following assertions:
1. Industrialised countries can afford democracy but the poor need dictatorship to become rich.
Dictatorships guarantee better economic growth but they do not guarantee reduction of economic inequality. Dictatorships are not dedicated to promote the dignity of each individual or provide them equal opportunities for development.
2. Democracy can’t reduce inequality of incomes between different citizens.
Democracy makes effort to reduce inequalities and at least recognises its intention of doing so. Dictatorships do not make an effort.
3. Governments in poor countries should spend less on poverty reduction, health, education and spend more on industries and infrastructure.
Governments in poor countries should spend equally on both to encourage development both economically and that of lifestyles and standards.
4. In democracy all citizens have one vote, which means that there is absence of any domination and conflict.
Conflicts are present but they are better accommodated. Domination is also possible but again better accounted for.
Because its test never ends, people always come up with more expectations, and many complaints.
The fact that people are complaining is itself a testimony to the success of democracy: Because it shows that people have developed awareness and the ability to expect and critically analyse power holders and people with authority.
A public expression of dissatisfaction with democracy shows that a democratic project is successful: it transforms people from the status of a subject into that of a citizen. Individuals have begun to believe that their votes make a difference to the way the government is run and to their own self-interest.
→ Dictatorship: A type of government in which a state is ruled by one person and all authority resides in him.
→ Military rule: A type of government in which the control of the state/government is with the military.
→ Accountable: Responsible and answerable.
→ Deliberation: Discussion and debates.
→ Transparency: State where all procedures of the government and administration are open to the examination of the citizens.
→ Legitimate: Approved by majority.
→ Atrocities: Incidences of violence against citizens.