Democracy is one of the most used words in the socio-political arena of India. We have seen the Government using these words while passing laws of various nature, and the opposition using these words while criticising the aforementioned laws. Moreover, the civil society also refers to the concept of democracy while showcasing their dissent or support towards the laws made by the legislature.
Many times we have seen people subscribing to two extremes approaches when talking about democracy in the nation – some say there is too much democracy, while others say that democracy is dead in India and we are moving towards dictatorship.
Not pledging to any of the extremes, we, at Policharcha, want to talk about democracy from the standpoint of the Constitution of India, and the best place to look at and gain some perspective is the Preamble to the Constitution of India.
The Supreme Court of India, in the Kesavanandan Bharati case, has observed that the Preamble is of extreme importance, and the Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the grand and noble vision expressed in the Preamble.
The Preamble is a short summary of the Constitution bringing out its philosophy. In this regard, the various phrases of the Preamble are not randomly placed, rather they are arranged in a cause-effect sequence. This cause-effect relationship is what that brings out the philosophy of the Constitution.
Let’s start from the end of the Preamble to get an understanding of the message prescribed in it.
The final purpose towards which our Constitution is working is to assure dignity to every individual and unity and integrity of the nation. However, this is not possible without promoting fraternity or brotherhood among the citizens of India.
India is a very diverse society where we have people following different religions, having different faiths, speaking different languages, wearing different types of clothes, worshipping different gods, and so on. Therefore, to promote brotherhood among the different people, the society has to become egalitarian.
Now, how does a society become egalitarian? A State is deemed as an egalitarian society when justice, liberty, and equality are secured to all its citizens.
However, this is only possible if the country is constituted along the ideals of sovereignty, socialism, secularism, democracy, and republic.
This type of the structure can be achieved only by WE THE PEOPLE.
The words ‘Sovereign’, ‘Secular’, ‘Socialist’, ‘Democratic’, and ‘Republic’ refer to Political Democracy, which means citizens have the right to vote, while the words ‘Justice’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Equality’, and ‘Fraternity’ refer to Socio-economic Democracy, which means a welfare state set-up.
: Sovereignty is what India fought for against colonial forces. It means that India is free to handle herself according to her own choice. It is independent to conduct its internal and external affairs, and in doing so, India does not depend on anyone. Being a sovereign state, India can either acquire a foreign territory or cede a part of its own territory to a foreign state.
: This term was added through the 42nd Amendment in 1972, but even before the amendment, the constitution has a socialist structure in the form of Directive Principles of State Policy. Indian economy practices its own brand of socialism called the Democratic Socialism that is inspired from the idea of mixed economy, where both public and private sectors can co-exist.
: It was also added through the 42nd Amendment in 1972, but secularism was already prescribed in the Constitution through Article 25 to Article 28, which are part of the fundamental rights. Secularism is thought to be inherent in the Indian society that is incomparably diverse. India defines secularism as treating every faith, religion, and sect equally while the state being neutral itself.
: Indirect democracy or Representative democracy is practiced in India where people choose their representatives through voting, and then these representatives have the power to run the Government and make the laws. We prescribe to Parliamentary form of indirect democracy, the other is Presidential form.
: It means that the head of the State, the President, is an elected one, and is elected for a stipulated period of time of 5 years, unlike a monarch, who inherits this position.
: Three types of justice is talked about here – Social, Economic, and Political. Social justice guarantees equal treatment of all citizens without any social distinction based on caste, colour, race, sex, religion and so on. Economic justice means non-discrimination between people on the basis of economic factors, and Political justice means that all the citizens have equal right to hold any public office or any political position.
: It is essential for a democracy that its citizens and institutes have liberty that is freedom of thought, expression, belief and worship, though there may be some constitutional and reasonable limits applied to these libertarian rights.
: Along with liberty, equality is fundamental to a democracy. It refers to that everybody is equal before law and have equal protection of law. Any kind of negative discrimination is strictly prohibited, while positive discrimination in the matters of public employment, admissions into academic institutions, and some other domains is there.
: It means a feeling of brotherhood (harmony), and unity should prevail among all the citizens. The citizens should overcome communalism, regionalism, radicalism, secessionism to protect and maintain the unity and integrity of the nation of India, as well as dignity of an individual.
Political democracy, thus, works for the establishment of socio-economic democracy.