I am sure not many would be aware of this day though it is a United Nation’s calendar day and one of the most important UN observances.
The UN says of the day, “The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.”
So, how do we perform on all these parameters even if most of us are not aware of the day’s observance?
India is the world’s largest democracy which is also the robust one in its weaving. It is performing exceedingly well on some parameters but at the same time, is dragging on many others.
The UN website page dedicated to the day further says, “The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy.”
Yes, India’s credentials in holding free and fair periodic elections is a marvel that the whole world must look up to. We are, in fact, the world’s laboratory in electoral practices, that in spite of being the world’s second most populous nation with the most diverse set of cultures and ethos, has been able to set and hold a gold standard.
What adds more to our impeccable record is that we are still segregated – on caste and community lines – on class and social lines – and on affiliations and ideological lines – yet India holds almost every year free and fair elections in every part of the country – be the national level polls – or polls in the insurgency hit states like Jammu & Kashmir – or polls in disturbed areas like the North-Eastern states. Our universal suffrage mandate and practice is technically flawless.
But when it comes the elements like “values of freedom, natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights and an equitable distribution of wealth, and equality and equity in respect of access to civil and political rights”, it is clearly a mixed bag that makes us a flawed democracy, even if we are too robust, large and naturalized to fail.