Democracy or Hypocrisy in India?

India is one of the most socially and economically diverse countries in the world today. India gained independence in 1947 and has since endorsed the ideals of democracy whole-heartedly. The Nationalist movement with the cooperation of the British helped layout the structure of India’s democratic institutions. So when India gained independence in 1947 it was left with all the required machinery for a democratic republic. India has since maintained these institutions even in the face of many adversaries such as large economic inequality, low levels of education and a large population. The two factors that I consider have left India to endure democracy are firstly due to the way the British left standing democratic ideals when India achieved independence in 1947, and secondly because of India’s large social diversity where democracy is needed in order to prevent one ethnicity or group from taking control of power.

 

When the British left India the major influential figures such as Nehru and Gandhi adopted the British framework of their constitution, Nehru and Gandhi were also both educated in England (KKJ Chap 7). This framework allowed democracy to flourish in India. Secondly because India is so socially diverse a democracy is the only form of governance that allows everyone to be represented, this representation is essential otherwise a social catastrophe might occur since there exist so many minorities in India. So, in essence democracy binds all these social groups together since every individual gets a vote.

 

On the other hand corruption has always plagued Indian democracy. Even though we see India trying to become a better democratic nation by trying to create more transparency and eliminating corruption, such is not the case. An article from the Huffington Post highlights otherwise where it shows that the most recent Indian parliament had in fact more criminals than it ever has before. Data within the article shows that the number of people with criminal charges in the Indian parliament has increased 10 percent since 2004 from being 24 % to 34 % in 2014. The article also shows an increase of individuals in the Indian parliament who have been charged with serious crimes. The article also estimates higher levels of corruption per individual in the Indian parliament; the article depicts average assets per parliamentary individual to have gone up from Rs 1.86 Crore in 2004 to 14.61 Crore in 2014. This shows the Indian government to be in a sense hypocritical because even though they have been pushing for more transparency and elimination of corruption through reforms, the opposite is taking place since they are electing more criminals into their parliament.  This is one of the many challenges that India has to face in order to become the democracy that it claims to be rather than the democracy that it is.

News Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/23/india-parliament-criminal-charges_n_5365225.html

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3 thoughts on “Democracy or Hypocrisy in India?

  1. Strong argument — I agree that the legacy of British rule is an important factor in explaining the persistence of India’s democracy. Diversity is interesting — some would argue that a very diverse population threatens democracy. What do you think?

  2. I understand the argument made here and I think India certainly tries to make their country more democratic and equal but I do not see the diverse population as helping to improve either of those things. With many different ethnic groups, religions, and the fact that the caste system is still somewhat relevant makes it seemingly impossible to keep everyone socially equal when most people do not view it that way. Democracy could bind all of these groups together but they consistently have shown that it doesn’t. I think considering where they started, India has made great strides and it seems unlikely that India will regress democratically, but in general things cannot really change or improve with the obvious lines between social classes

    • I agree that the most prominent reason for India’s ‘enduring’ democracy is the fact that it was a former British colony and therefore inherited the tool’s needed to establish a democratic regime after Independence in 1947. This in fact is similar to most other former British colonies as well. However I think it the success, or strength, of India’s democratic regime can be criticized as there are many aspects of Indian society today that do not adhere to democratic values at all. Factors such as mass-scale rural and urban poverty, severe income inequality and political corruption run rampant in India today, all of which dictate modern day Indian politics and threaten the future of India as a democratic regime. Moreover, the most significant factor that undermines democracy in India today is India’s incredibly diverse population, in terms of ethnicities, religious beliefs and even the socially constructed ‘layered caste-system’ that still exists in India today. This diversity, especially considering India’s incredibly large population, makes it a real challenge for democracy in India to truly be able to equally consider all of its citizen’s interests, which often conflict with one and other. India’s population diversity, coupled with the level of corruption and the ‘political power’ being disproportionally leveraged by the urban industrial ‘elite’ class, means that democracy in India may become increasingly fragile despite enduring for the last 70 odd years.

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