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A symbiotic relationship between democracy and development

“A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be ‘great’ or a ‘democracy.’’

           -Theodore Roosevelt

A nation’s strength is tested when its citizens fulfil the greatest duty bestowed upon them by the founding fathers, i.e. exercise their franchise. India has been a democratic nation for 72 years. For 72 years, we, as a country and as a people have had the privilege of choosing our representatives! 

It’s a daunting task, one which must be approached and treated with utmost gravitas as the relationship between Democracy and Development is symbiotic. By casting that ballot, we are not just letting our representatives steer the country but are also entrusting them with the destiny of crores of people. They are our voice in Parliament and have been sent to the highest legislature to ensure that our situations, rights, preferences and key issues are highlighted and put across to the correct audience so that they can make a difference in our lives. 

Democracy embodies four basic principles, i.e. freedom, justice, free participation of citizens and human rights. When, every citizen of a country feels equally important, that is the day we realize the true potential and goal of democracy. According to the panel, Democracy should reflect the specific social, cultural and economic context of a given society. However, in doing so, it is imperative that society must ensure that it does not alienate any specific sections or give special preference to any section which does not actually call for or deserve that attention.

Similarly, when discussing the meaning of ‘Development’, it was concluded that it should include economic, social and cultural progress. This definition of Development clearly shows us the co-relation between Democracy and Development, which is complementary and mutually reinforcing. If a state is democratic, it requires to have a minimum standard of living which needs to be fulfilled. Similarly, without democratic governance, one can hardly see any development happening.

An apt example of this is the two neighbouring nations of India and Pakistan that got independence within hours of each other. When the two countries began their journeys as independent countries both the countries had a level playing field and were destined to achieve great heights. While India chose to take up the democratic form of government, Pakistan was plagued with several dictatorships in its time. The rest, as they say, is history.

India and Pakistan’s different paths and the resultant effect on their destinies show how symbiotic the relationship between Democracy and Development is.

Even today, when The United States of America, one of the most developed democratic nations of the world goes to polls, its key agenda is always development. When running for re-election, President Obama promised to ‘Insure more Americans, provide a variety of insurance options accessible through an exchange and end insurance company abuses’ and to ‘Create or save 1 million jobs with a $25 billion investment in infrastructure projects’. Even after all these years of being called one of the most ‘developed’ nations in the world, Development was still the main reason why Obama won his second term. This goes to show that development is a dynamic process. The wheels of Development are always turning, and Democracy is an essential fuel for the same.

India holds its head high as the world’s largest democracy because it adheres to these basic values that make our system of governance so great and inclusive. A good example of this is reservation for SC’s, ST’s and OBC’s in government jobs and education as well. Even though this move has had its fair share of criticism over the years, it still helped serve the purpose empowering the people from these marginalised groups.

We evaluate the effectiveness of a democracy by the extent to which representation of diverse groups within a society is equal and does justice to them.  Be it the majority, the minority or various other groups within the country, at the end of the day, Development in most cases, means the same thing to everybody.

Democracy and development go hand in hand, as long as the faith of the people is kept intact and is not violated at any time. If the governments work with the best interest of all its people in mind and not just one particular community, that is when democracy is the biggest tool for the development of a nation.

In a nation where informed decisions and critical thinking are the need of the hour, it is the government which needs to stay quick on its feet and reflect the overall attitude of its people. When the people raise the right questions, not only is the government supposed to simply give the right answers, but also act on them as well.




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