“Of the people, by the people, for the people”
The term ‘democracy’ is derived from the Greek root ‘demos’ which means the people, and ‘kratos’ that mean power. So democracy can be explained as “the power of the people”. Democracy as a form of government signifies that the ultimate authority of the government is vested in the common people so that public policy is made to conform to the will of the people and to serve the interests of the people. Today, in India, we have indirect democracy where government is conducted by the representatives of people, who are elected at regular intervals.
The defeat of Germany and Japan in the Second World War and the disintegration over forty years later of the Russian Empire finally saved the world from domination by one dictatorship or another. The United Nations after the war stressed to work in the direction of democracy based on universal suffrage and human rights. Effective democracy requires principles and working institutions. The principles of democracy must be expressed in a constitution which defines the roles of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms and ensures that executive and legislative powers are exercised by elected representatives of the people.
India and Pakistan, both the neighboring countries have democratic form of government. Here, let us try to compare democracy existing in the two countries:-
There are certain conditions which are absolutely necessary for the successful functioning of a democratic government. One of the most important essentials is to have a constitution. Constitution provides highest priority to a rule of law rather than of men. It always curbs despotic tendencies of the rulers and safeguards the rights of the people. India and Pakistan, both the countries have a written constitution. The constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as on 26 November, 1949 and became effective on 26 January, 1950. While the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, also known as the 1973 constitution was drafted by the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. It was approved by the Parliament on 10th April and ratified on 14 August, 1973.
An effective opposition is indispensible for the sound health of democracy. Therefore, there should be a number of political parties that should work in a democratic set up. An effective opposition safeguards the interests of masses and prevents the government from being arbitrary. It keeps a close watch into the activities of the government and warns it where the need arises. If the party in power does not work for the welfare of public, the voters can vote against it and give power to the other party. In India and Pakistan, there is a similarity that opposition has always played its role effectively and helped to establish democracy.
Absence of militarism is another important requirement for the success of democracy. Democracy rules out the use of force. It recognizes the worth of man as man, implying widest possible opportunity of development to everyone. Since no two human beings can ever think alike, it is natural to come across dissenting opinions at every step, in every field. True democratic spirit lies in dealing with dissent through discussion and persuasion and not through coercion. In a democracy, views are not imposed, but are shaped and molded. Democracy inculcate among the people the habit of tolerance and compromise and teaches them to show due regard for the opinions and sentiments of others. In India, a military coup has never taken place. Perhaps the main reason contributing to this fact is that Indian Army is disciplined and highly professional. On the other hand, In Pakistan, a number of times military coup has taken place. On March 09, 1951 first failed military coup attempted by Major General Akbar Khan against the government of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. After that on October 27, 1958 Field Marshal Ayub Khan couped against Iskander Mirza, on March 25, 1969 by General Yahya Khan against Ajub Khan, on July 04, 1977 by General Muhammad Zial-ul-Haq against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and on October 12, 1999 by General Parvez Musharraf against Nawaz Sharif. In this sense, It can be said that In Pakistan, a number of times democracy has failed to operate.
Freedom of press is also considered a pillar to democracy. The newspapers and news channels act as a link between the government and the peoples. Press informs the people about the policies of the government and also the reaction of the masses to these policies. It helps the government to modify their policies according to the wishes of the people. The press keeps a check upon the corrupt politicians. It is the duty of the press to spread political awareness among the masses. In India, the press is free to a large extent. There is only one instance, when the government imposed censorship on the press. It was during the government of Indira Gandhi in 1975. While in Pakistan, reasonable restrictions are there on the freedom of press. During 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2016 freedom of press was censored in one way or the other.
In brief, we can say that success of democracy depends upon the people living there. If the people are educated, they will be aware of their rights. Certainly, there will be a written constitution. The military will be disciplined and responsible. An effective and vigilant opposition will be there and the press will work to spread awareness among the people. May the democratic set up in both the countries flourish forever!
Author Bio– Laksh Garg, 14 years old student from Maur Mandi, District- Bathinda, Punjab.A participant of International Monthly Essay Competition, April, 2019