Democracy is defined as ‘The Government of the people, for the people, and by the people’, but there are many challenges facing democracy in many countries across the world. India is a perfect example of a nation that is ‘fully democratic’ even as it develops and faces several challenges. This paper is divided into two different parts showing the problems facing Indian Democracy. The first part briefly talks about the Inequality among peoples in India. Inequality is also divided into three main categories such as Geographic, Social and Demographic. The second part is an approach to identify the problem of corruption among political leaders and discussing the development of criminalization of politics.
One of the major issues facing Indian democracy today is Inequality among the citizens of India, weather it is Geographic Inequality, Social Inequality, or Demographic Inequality. First of all, Geographic inequality occurs when a government and citizens of different regions have unequal parliament representation. Geographic inequality is a big issue India is facing today because of its uneven density of representatives per population (D.Joshi, 2012,402). Geographic inequality also occurs when the party they are choosing does not represent voters in a district. In statistics it showed that, in 2009, India’s 543 LS constituencies averaged 14.9 candidates, but only one representative was elected by each district (D.Joshi, 2012, 402). The statistics showed that it was only half of the voters in every constituency with no representation at district level.
Another big issue Indian democracy is facing is Demographic Inequality, this type of inequality occurs when the government of the nation fails to reflect the class, gender, age, ethnic, religious and ethnic makeup of its population. One of the things that D.Joshi points out (2012) is that elderly people in India are over – represented and young people are twice as under- represented in India. However, the greatest inequality a country could have is less female representatives. Increasing female representatives in India could help them reduce gender inequality. India is a nation where discrimination against women is widely spread across the country, whereas men are considered a source of income and prosperity. With lack of women education and power, the nation is facing a devastating challenge’s towards its democracy. In some areas of India, women are not allowed to participate in any voting elections.
Moreover, the third type of Inequality that Indian democracy is facing is social inequality. Although, every person or citizen in a democratic society has the right to vote or fight elections, but in some nation’s like India, only rich upper class citizens have the chance to win the elections. Also, upper class people are usually elected as representatives who make the law and frame policies that only favor’s them. Furthermore, another challenge Indian Democracy facing today is the caste system among the people.
In India, upper class Hindus make promises using voters as a tool to gain power in an election. However, low caste majority are usually forced to participate in an electoral process. Unfortunately, the ‘social class system in India is based on the notion of purity and pollution in which upper class does not interact with [equal rights] with the low castes’ (Anwar, 2012). It neglects the rights of citizens for having freedom of expression, right to elect their own representatives, freedom of religious practices and other rights in a democratic state.
Moreover, because Indian population is so large and it is a diversely mixed society, people in India have wide identity available to them. Manor (1996) stated that, ‘there are [various] types of caste identities, religious identities and identification with clans and linages’ (463). As a result of having various types of identities, tensions among these groups become strikingly high and could tear a democratic institution apart. An example will illustrate how this could have an impact in Democracy. In an election in India in 1971, conflict and anger widely spread, after the state government made an unjust treatment. A party representing swept winning ten seats in the parliament but political leaders started to bargaining the movement and after few years, people shifted their concerns to other member’s identities such as caste and class. Keeping in mind their identities, the congress party won every seat in the parliament
Despite the wide identity available to the citizens, there is also another issue that follows this problem’s; this includes the discrimination on minorities, undermining order and development. Discrimination against minority groups can trigger the demand for justice. However, evidence in recent studies has showed that there is a declining influence on caste system in Indian politics.
Political corruption and inefficiency is another severe problem Indian democracy is facing today. In a study that showed, 20- 33 percent of middle class citizens had to pay ‘ a bribe for getting a service or getting out of problem with a government agency’ (Jefferlot, C., 2002, 77). Former Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi has admitted that only 15 percent of isolated area reached their potential beneficiaries.
India’s political leaders are responsible of the corruption that is on going for a long time in Indian Democracy. In fact, the congress party in India conducted corrupt practices when they formed ministries in 1937. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, was known as the ‘cleanest political leader of India’ but for instance, some political leaders today say that it was because of him that Indian political corruption has turned into an epidemic.
One of the reasons why Nehru is known for spreading the corruption among political leaders is because he kept protecting his congress leaders who were indulged in corrupt practices. There have been events that took place during his ruling party. Krishna Menno, the Indian high commissioner in London, 1948 was asked to buy 4,000 jeeps for Indian army who were fighting the Pakistanis at that time, only 155 jeeps reached in India (Jefferlot, C., 2002, 79). Nehru’s government rejected the incident that took place and declared that case was closed. This is a good example of a politician in Indian democracy; who are dishonest and can get away with it because of their other political colleagues.
Corruption among political leaders has affected Indian democracy in two different ways. One, for supplying and making black money from businessmen’s, especially after foreign companies started emerging into Indian market. Secondly, Politicians made money, which they were suppose to spend on their campaigns, which Indian businessmen’s and foreign investors have raised. As Jefferlot (2002) stated that ‘ Indian political leaders took bribe from arm dealers who were important foreign players in the political and economic game’ which then increasingly took advantage of multinationals entering India (89). Another example of corrupt politician is, Prabhakar Rao, who was involved in scandals of importing sugar and urea. He took bribe from foreigner manufacturer, to obtain import of newsprints and paper pulp.
Democracy can become negated when it assumes such proportions of corruption. Another issue in Indian politics is development of criminalization of politics, which is severely alarming in recent years. The link between crime industry and politicians in Indian are long standing. Gangs need protection from politicians for their activities, these activities involve trafficking of drugs, arms and other illegal trade business. Politicians protect gang members in various situations such as from police investigation.
An example of politician involved with gang member was The Chief Minister, who not only granted to builders land reserved for civic purposes but also protected gangsters in the building businesses (Jefferlot, C., 2002, 92). Politicians also seek for protection from gang members. For example, a losing candidate may for instance, ask the gangsters for the most common fraud known as ‘booth capturing’. This activity involves gangs to seize the ballot boxes during an election.
Many other election- related Incident’s have taken place in India. Most common type of Incidents involves clashes between political parties. Violence can also take place during elections, when a politician fears losing vote against his opponent candidates. Politicians also use gangs during riots. This often involves conflict between social groups such as Hindus and Muslims. While politicians protect crime industry, there has been growing numbers of criminals entering politics in India. Jefferlot (2002) stated that ‘ convicted criminals who are not systematically disqualified can stand for elections, even if they are accused for important crime’ (95).
Corruption and criminalization of politics is a direct threat to Indian democratic society. Corruption in Indian democracy arose from socioeconomic and political conditions. India is facing corruption in its politics, the criminalization of state has become a serious chronic disease over the decades (Jefferlot, C., 2002, 113). Former Prime Ministers of India are considered to have prepared the foundation of corruption during their time period. As a result of this, citizens of India do no take interest in elections and have no faith in government officials. Media also has significant impact on exposing corruption in the Indian establishment. Another worrying factor here is the problem for bribing journalists for covering election campaigns. The change in Indian democracy may be possible but the pressure against corruption needs to come from collective groups rather than individual enterprises.
To summarize, Indian democracy is facing severe problems to its democratic society over the years. Some of the problems include inequality among social groups. However, Indian government faces three major kinds of Inequality. First, it deals with unequal parliament representation, whereas, the demographic inequality deals with negligence of class, gender, age, ethnic and religious ethnicities that makeup the population. Finally, the third major Inequality is social inequality, even as today, minority groups or poor people in India do not get to vote in elections. Whereas, upper class citizens make the laws and policies which only favor’s them. Lastly, corruption is significantly a major issue India is facing today in its democratic government.
Corruption in a democratic government can scare divert resources from poor and disadvantage the citizens. However, corruption continues unchecked because people in India turn away from involvement on how the country is being governed and put little interest in elections, because of their trust in politicians is damaged. Along with corruption, criminalization of politics has major concerns over the years. Politics in India has become lucrative and beneficial business, criminals can invest money and power to win elections with the support of other politicians and can enjoy unfettered power and respect among the society. Thus, criminalization of politics cannot be prevented as long as criminals are present in politics in India and, it has become a direct threat to India democracy.
Manor, James. 1996. “`Ethnicity’ and politics in India.”
_International Affairs_ 72, no. 3: 459.
_Academic Search Complete_, EBSCO_host_
(Accessed March 1, 2014)
Joshi, Devin. “Who gets unequal parliamentary representation? A comparison of India and Sri Lanka.”
_Contemporary South Asia_ 20, no. 3 (September 2012): 401-406.
_Academic Search Complete_, EBSCO_host_
(Accessed February 11, 2014).
Jaffrelot, Christophe. 2002. “Indian Democracy: The Rule of Law on Trial.”
_India Review_ 1, no. 1: 77.
_Academic Search Complete_, EBSCO_host_
(Accessed February 16, 2014).
M, Anwar. 2012. ‘Indian Democracy and Caste System’
(Accessed February 20, 2014)