Q What are the conditions under which demo-cracies accommodate social diversities?

Ans Democracy accommodates social diversity as it allows for equal and fair representation to all irrespective of caste, creed, colour, gender, language, race or religion. It also ensures that the government should not be formed just by the majority, but it should also have the representation of minorities and the will of the few should not be imposed on many.

Q Studies on political and social inequalities in democracy show that :

  • (i) Democracy and development go together.
  • (ii) Inequalities exist in democracies.
  • (iii) Inequalities do not exist under dictatorship.
  • (iv) Dictatorship is better than democracy.

Ans (i) Democracy and development go together.

Q In the context of democracies, which of the following ideas is correct—Democracies have successfully eliminated :

  • (i) Conflicts among people.
  • (ii) Economic inequalities among people.
  • (iii) Differences of opinion about how marginalised sections are to be treated.
  • (iv) The idea of political inequality.

Ans (iii) Differences of opinion about how marginalized sections are to be treated.

Q How does democracy produce an account-able, responsive and legitimate government?

  • 1. Democracy produces an accountable government : People choose their representatives through elections and it is the duty of their representative to fulfill their demands and consider their interests. If they will not do so then they will lose the power to rule the government in the next elections.
  • 2. Democracy produces a responsive government: It is elected by the people and is responsible towards the needs of the people. It promotes the formation of public opinion and takes care of the needs and aspirations of the people.
  • 3. Democracy produces a legitimate government: Elections are held regularly and people get a chance to elect their representatives. The party which gets majority votes forms the government and rules. It has to resign if it is not able to win majority in the next elections and their authority is recognised by people in democracy.

Q Identify the challenges to democracy in the following descriptions. Also suggest policy/institutional mechanisms to deepen democracy in the given situations :

  • 1. Following a High Court directive, a temple in Odisha (Orissa) that had separate entry doors for dalits and non-dalits allowed entry to all from the same door.
  • 2. A large number of farmers are committing suicide in different states of India.
  • 3. Following allegation of killing of three civilians in Gandwara in a fake encounter by Jammu and Kashmir police, an enquiry has been ordered.
  • Ans 1. The challenge to democracy is that Dalits were denied equality in accessing a place of worship. Though, the policies can help in resolving the situation to some extent; what is needed is to create awareness among people against castism which can help in abolishing such a practice.
  • 2. The challenge to democracy is poverty and indebtedness among different sections; for resolving the situation, loans should be offered to the poor farmers at low interest rates. For this purpose, cooperative societies should be established to help farmers. Crop insurance policy should be offered for handling the situation like crop failure.

Q Give arguments to support or oppose the following assertions:

  • (i) Industrialised countries can afford democracy but the poor need dictatorship to become rich.
  • (ii) Democracy can’t reduce inequality of incomes between different citizens.
  • (iii) Government in poor countries should spend less on poverty reduction, health, education and spend more on industries and infrastructure.
  • (iv) In a democracy , all citizens have one vote, which means that there is absence of any domination and conflict.
  • Ans (i) This argument is wrong as example of various poor countries have revealed great economic progress under democracy. A democratic system offers political equality to the poor. The economic resources are also distributed in a way to ensure the welfare and upliftment of the poor sections of the society.
  • (ii) This statement is wrong as democratic system offers basic amenities and healthcare facilities to the poor for improving their living standards. Hence, it helps in lowering the inequalities of wealth between different citizens.
  • (iii) This statement is wrong because along with spending on industries and infrastructure, the government also spend on eradication of poverty and improving healthcare and educational facilities. This will help in producing educated, well informed and productive citizens who will contribute towards the growth and development of the country. Moreover, such citizens will also prove to be an asset for industrial and infrastructural development.
  • (iv) One person-one vote-one value ensures political equality among citizens. However, it doesn’t ensure absence of domination or conflict. Although, there are conflicting interests and domination between different groups of the society, yet, democracy provides ways to resolve them.

Q Read the passage given below and answer the question that follows :

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.

Ans This example shows that democracy has a system in which citizens can demand answer from the officials through Right To Information Act (RTI). The procedure can force the officials to quickly take actions for avoiding release of information under RTI.

Q Cartoons below tell us about the disparities between the rich and poor. Should the gains of economic growth be evenly distributed ? How can the poor get a voice for a better share in a nation ? What can the poor countries do to receive a greater share in the world’s wealth ?

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Ans Yes, economic gains should be distributed evenly to eliminate economic inequalities. The poor gets a voice for a better share in a nation through their representation and participation in the decision-making process. The poor countries can receive a greater share in the world’s wealth when they eliminate their mutual differences and internal conflicts.

Moreover , they have to hone the professional skills of the natives and have to exploit the natural resources and develop their technologies.

Q The two images below depict two different kinds of effects democratic politics can have on social divisions. Take one example for each image and write a paragraph each on the outcome of democratic politics in both situations.

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Ans The first image refers to a system where democratic politics is based on caste, religion, race etc. It leads to conflicting situations by further dividing the society. Such a situation is not desirable in a democratic setup.

The second image refers to a situation where people join hands by giving up all the differences based on colour, race, caste, creed or language. Such a situation leads to peace and harmony and paves the way for growth and prosperity of the country.

Q Arguments about democracy tend to be very passionate. This is how it should be, for democracy appeals to some of our deep values. These debates cannot be resolved in a simple manner. But some debates about democracy can and should be resolved by referring to some facts and figures. The debate about the economic outcomes of democracy is one such debate. Over the years many students of democracy have gathered careful evidence to see what the relationship of democracy with economic growth and economic inequalities is. The tables and the cartoon here present some of the evidences : Table 1 : Rates of economic growth for different countries, 1950-2000.

Table 1 : Rates of economic growth for different countries, 1950-2000.

Type of regimes and countries Growth rate
All democratic regimes 3·95
All dictatorial regimes 4·92
Poor countries under dictatorship 4·34
Poor countries under democracy 4·28

Table 2 : Inequality of income in selected count

% Share of National Income
Name of the Countries Top 20% Bottom 20%
South Africa 64·8 2·9
Brazil 63·0 2·6
Russia 53·7 4·4
USA 50·0 4·0
United Kingdom 45·0 6·0
Denmark 34·5 9·6
Hungary 34·4 10·0
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Table 1 : It shows that on average dictatorial regimes have had a slightly better record of economic growth. But when we compare their record only in poor countries, there is virtually no difference.
Table 2 : It shows that within democracies there can be 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 per cent for the bottom 20 per cent population. Countries like Denmark and Hungary are much better in this respect. You can see in the cartoon, there is often inequality of opportunities available to the poorer sections.

What would be your verdict on democracy if you had to base it purely on economic performance of democratic regimes in terms of growth and equal distribution?

Ans We can see through the Table 1 that dictatorship regimes (4.92%) have performed better than the democratic regimes (3.95%), but there is not much difference between economic performance of the poor countries (4.34%) under dictatorship and 4.28% for poor countries under democracy). Table 2 indicates that in most of the countries more than 30% share goes to top 20 percent people and bottom 20 percent get less than 10% of the total wealth. This indicates that economic disparities exist in all the countries, irrespective of whether these have democratic or dictatorial regimes. I will go with democracy as it offers ample opportunities for economic growth and for reducing the economic inequalities.

Q Democracy is a rule of the majority. The poor are in majority. So democracy must be a rule of the poor. How can this not be the case?

Ans The rule of majority means that rule by majority views, it doesn’t refer to majority in terms of religion, caste or wealth. In elections, any group can form a majority. Forming a different majority group by poor will further divide the society and can lead to conflicts. Democracy provides a chance to any one to form a majority at any point of time.

Q All you are saying is that democracy ensures that people do not break each other’s head. This is not harmony. Should we be happy about it?

Ans A democratic system tries to accommodate social diversity, but it doesn’t simply mean to ensure that people do not break each other’s head. This is not harmony. Social differences exist in each society and democracy, teaches us to respect these differences and evolve ways to negotiate them.

Q Can you think of what and how the government knows about you and your family (for example ration cards and voter identity cards)? What are the sources of information for you about the government?

Ans Census survey is conducted after every ten years for gathering demographic date regarding age, gender, education, caste and religion of the people. At the time of birth, death or marriage; registrations are done at the government institutions. Such a census data and birth/death certificates help in maintaining the demographic data about citizens of a country.

The citizens of a country can also acquire information regarding the working of the government through :

  • 1. Right to Information.
  • 2. Candidates manifesto declared before elections regarding the policies and decisions taken by the government.

Q The above cartoon and graph. Illustrates a point made in this section (Dignity and freedom of the citizens). Underline the sentences from this section which connect to the cartoon or graph.

Ans The cartoon shows the gender based discrimination against women, here she is denied of her basic rights.

The graph depicts that in spite of several complaints, democracy is the most desired form of government in South Asian countries.