Group Discussion IMM : Is Direct Democracy possible in India ?

Direct Democracy can be defined as a form or system of democracy giving citizens an extraordinary amount of participation in the legislation process and granting them a maximum of political self-determination.

Can this work in India ?

In Favour

In a well-developed democratic country like India, direct democracy cannot be installed in the house of parliament causing inconvenience to the millions of citizens in the country. The Preamble of the constitution declares India as a sovereign, federal and social country. Direct democracy can sometimes work against the rules and regulations of the functioning government.

Direct democracy can also bring about corruption in the country where fundamental rights would be refused and millions of citizens casting their votes would not benefit from such an act of the Parliamentary form. Direct democracy form of government is not possible to function where various states and union territories would function under the common system of rules and regulations as framed by the constitution.

In a vast populated country such as India the direct form of democracy would not function properly creating a chaos in the political, social and liberty of the nation. Direct democracy cannot function properly under the Presidential form of the government. The judicial powers would be removed from the parliament and total in-discrepancy would set in the country destabilising the moral of the citizens in the country. The path of direct democracy cannot be taken up by the government as the parliamentary form of powers vested would be treated as invalid and the total process of the electoral form of government would not function properly as citizens would avail of benefit and corruption, rape cases, number would happen often too soon.

Due to the recent day and developments in the modern science and technology, direct democratic form of government would refuse all the civil liberties to the citizens and the power sections would remain helpless at the hands of destiny of the politicians and ministers of the state and union territories in a vast country like India. Direct democracy would fail to communicate in export-import, trade relations and unification of the country.

Direct form of democracy has many difficulties related to set-up of the political scenario and polling of votes of candidates in the elections. Political parties would suffer at the hands of the direct government and the entire elections would come to halt of existence. The direct form of parliamentary democracy would install a feeling of insecurity in the minds of the citizens in the country and the foreign countries would take advantage of such a chaotic situations to prevail their benefits in the country.

So, finally the government has taken stringent steps not to allow the infusion of direct democracy in a country such as India to criticize the ill-effects of such a democracy to hamper the overall functioning of the government. The citizens are granted acceptance of their civil, social and economic liberties to lead a free, uncorrupted and secure life at the hands of a parliamentary system of government.

Against

Individual consent is the edifice on which the structure of democracy stands. Then, how ironic it is, that in the world’s largest democracy, it is the masses and not the government which has a ‘limited’ role to choose representatives who will form policies without any actual involvement of the citizens.

Indirect democracy, what we have in our vast country, is the process by which the electorate chooses representatives hoping them to carry on the state affairs according to the wishes of the electorates. But the grim reality is that the representatives so chosen forgets that they are to serve the ‘people’ and not their ‘own interests’. As it is not possible to have a morality check of each and every election seeking candidate, it is easier to have a system of direct democracy in the country.

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Direct democracy in the system in which citizens decide their own issues and the ways to address the same without involving any intermediary in between. Referendums are a form of it. As far as possibilities of direct democracy in a vast country like ours is concerned, it is not only feasible but also the only panacea to all our social, political and economic ills.

Some of the ways by which it can be realised effectively are:
• Let people be allowed to vote for a particular set of issues and the verdict should not be binding on the government, at least in the initial phase.
• Issues set on voting can range from the questions of commodities to construction of school or hospital in a locality to fixing the minimum support price for farmers and soon and so forth.
• Public consent and expert advice should be taken to make the process hassle free over the years.
• Let social and politically active individuals and organizations be allowed to spread awareness about the pros and cons of the issues both in rural and urban areas.
• Village panchayats can popularise the issues demanding urgency and people be encouraged to give their verdict.
• Similarly, in urban areas ‘Mohalla Sabhas’ can contribute their share of pie.
• Each region should vote for different set of issues as each area has a different set of social and political problem.
• Complex issues like securities and foreign policies can be exempted from public votes as these require expert counsel.

The advantage of such a system are manifold. As stated earlier direct democracy and corruption can never co-exist Let us see how? If people vote on issue rather than on parties or individuals, cases of bribing voters, horse trading will be precipitous fall. Political parties spend a lot of money on campaigning during elections.

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Secondly, it leads to greater decentralization of power, ‘Satyameva Jayate’ a TV show, showcased how a village in Kerala reaped the benefits of direct democracy. The Gram Sabha had its direct say in the development projects in the area with individuals giving their consent on the issues and as a result, the village has become a model village. Why cannot we adopt the same in urban areas? Why wait for the mercy of ruling elite to shower its grace?

Thirdly, Representative democracy requires a voter to agree on everything, the party espouses. For example, if I am with a party on its stand on FDI but don’t approve of its stand on poverty, I have no recourse. Thus, direct democracy can approve of a particular agenda, not compelled to agree to the whole ideology of the concerned party.

Fourthly, embracing direct democracy will lead to speedy implementation of decisions about infrastructure projects, health and education works. Voters will elect governments on the basis of the public decided policies successfully implemented by the state. So this method also ensures better accountability on the part of the government.

The term democracy is involved every now and then to address the multiple issues confronting us. But there is no genie to settle all our predicaments in a whisker. WE THE PEOPLE (opening words of the Preamble) need to take the responsibility on our shoulders to introduce ‘real’ democracy in the country. If you ask me whether Direct Democracy is a magic wand then I say yes, it is a magic wand which will change the fate of our country and the vast size of the country being an obstacle in its realisation is nothing but a mind-forged manacle, the only need being political and public determination.

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Group Discussion IMM : Is Direct Democracy possible in India ?

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