Question 1. How does democracy produce an accountable, responsive and legitimate government?
Answer 1. Accountable Government: Democracy is an accountable government because it is the government of the people and made by people and for the people. The representatives elected by the people are responsible to them. If the people are not happy with the government they can change the leaders in coming elections.
2. Responsive Government: A citizen who wants to know if a decision was taken through the correct procedures can find this out. He has the right and the means to examine the process of decision making. This type of transparency is not available in nondemocratic government.
3. Legitimate Government: There is one aspect 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 people’s own government. So people wish to be ruled by representatives elected by them.
Question 2. What are the conditions under which democracies accommodate social diversities?
Answer 2 No society can fully and permanently resolve conflicts among different groups. But we can certainly learn to respect these differences and we can also evolve mechanisms to negotiate the differences.
Democracy is best suited to produce this outcome. Non-democratic regimes often turn a blind eye to or suppress internal social differences. Ability to handle social differences, divisions and conflicts is thus a definite plus point of democratic regimes.
Democracy continues to be democracy as long as all citizens have a chance to be part of majority at any point of time. If someone is debarred from being part of majority on the basis of birth then democracy is said to be concentrated in a few hands. Example of Sri Lanka reminds us that a democracy must fulfill two conditions in order to achieve this outcome:
1. It is necessary to understand that democracy is not simply rule by majority opinion. The majority always needs to work with the minority so that government can function to represent the opinion of common people.
2. The rule of majority should not be ruled by majority on the basis of religion or race or linguistic group etc. Rule by majority means that in case of every decision or in case of every election, different persons and groups may form a majority.
Question 3. Give arguments to support or oppose the following assertions:
(a) Industrialised countries can afford democracy but the poor need dictatorship to become rich.
(b) Democracy can’t reduce inequality of incomes between different citizens.
(c) Government in poor countries should spend less on poverty reduction, health, education and spend more on industries and infrastructure.
(d) In democracy all citizens have one vote, which means that there is absence of any domination and conflict.
Answer 3 (a) This statement is incorrect. In 1947, India was included in the Third World nations, but now, it is one of the fast-growing economies in the world. On the other hand, Zimbabwe, which was a fairly prosperous nation, has run into huge international debt with the progression of Robert Mugabe’s regime.
(b) This statement is incorrect. The Minimum Wages Act enacted by the government and other policies regulate the basic price at which agricultural producers and small industries sell their goods, have helped increase the per capita income of the country, thereby making its citizens more prosperous.
(c) This is not a wise option as in poor countries the people cannot afford health and education services.
(d) This is a true statement. Democracy stands for political equality and guarantees right to vote to every adult citizen of the country. This reduces the chance of political domination and conflict.
Question 4. Identify the challenges to democracy in the following descriptions. Also suggest policy/institutional mechanism to deepen democracy in the given situations:
(a) Following a High Court directive a temple in Orissa that had separate entry doors for dalits and nondalits allowed entry for all from the same door.
(b) A large number of farmers are committing suicide in different states of India.
(c) Following allegation of killing of three civilians in Gandwara in a fake encounter by Jammu and Kashmir police, an enquiry has been ordered.
Answer 4 (a) The challenge to democracy is to provide equal status to all citizens.
(b) The challenge to democracy is to provide farmers with subsidies which will help them earn profits and have a satisfactory level of livelihood.
(c) The challenge to democracy is to preserve the people’s trust in government armed forces like the police.
Question 5. 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 marginalised sections are to be treated
D. the idea of political inequality
Answer 5 D) the idea of political inequality.
Question 6. 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
Answer 6 C) majority rule.
Question 7. 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.
Answer 7 A) Inequalities exist in democracies
Question 8. Read the passage below: Nannu is a daily wage earner. He lives in Welcome Mazdoor Colony, a slum habitation in East Delhi. He lost his ration card and applied for a duplicate one in January 2004. He made several rounds to the local Food and Civil Supplies office for the next three months. But the clerks and officials would not even look at him, leave alone do his job or bother to tell him the status of his application. Ultimately, he filed an application under the Right to Information Act asking for the daily progress made on his application, names of the officials, who were supposed to act on his application and what action would be taken against these officials for their inaction. Within a week of filing application under the Right to Information Act, he was visited by an inspector from the Food Department, who informed him that the card had been made and he could collect it from the office. When Nannu went to collect his card next day, he was given a very warm treatment by the Food and Supply Officer (FSO), who is the head of a Circle. The FSO offered him tea and requested him to withdraw his application under the Right to Information, since his work had already been done.
What does Nannu’s example show? What impact did Nannu’s action have on officials? Ask your parents their experiences when they approach government officials to attend to their problems.
Answer 8 Nannu’s example shows that government officials shun away from their duties and look for all possible excuses to get rid of their work. It’s because they have job security. Usually they work when they get pressure from their seniors or they get fear of losing job or some action being taken against them, as it happened in Nannu’s case. Once my parents also went to a government hospital to take my grandmother to the doctor where the doctors were gossiping and having tea party with their colleagues and the patients were waiting for long for them. My father got really upset seeing all that. He went inside the C.E.O. room and complained against all the doctors who were not doing their duties properly and immediately a meeting was called and a strict action was taken against them.