“To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India. To fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease. To build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions that will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.”
– Jawaharlal Nehru’s to the nation on August 15, 1947.
- Among the countries that emerged from Britain’s vast South Asian empire in 1947, India alone has maintained some stability and has remained as a democracy throughout its history.
The need and function of Democracy
- Democracy is not only about the protocols of governance but also about the outcomes that it produces.
- It must be a government by discussion and decision-making under a democracy ought to be participatory.
- The significance of democracy is that it aims to empower the individual to lead the kind of life that he or she values.
- Hence the value of a democracy must be evaluated with the extent to which it has advanced human development.
- India may not have succeeded in achieving economic democracy but has remained a vibrant political democracy.
- Gender-based inequality is rampant in India as within every social group, women are worse off than men.
- They are less nourished, less educated (literacy rate is 82.14 for males and 65.46 for females) and have a representation in the institutions of governance (78 out of 542 MPs in Lok Sabha) far lower than their share of the population.
- The very low female labor force participation (25.1% in India/46% globally in FY 21) in India compared to the rest of the world reinforces their secondary position in society by adding economic deprivation to the social restriction.
- However, there is a regional differentiation when it comes to development.
- NITI Aayog in 2021 showed multi-dimensional poverty in Bihar to be over 50% while it is only a little more than 1% in Kerala.
- Despite the progress made, the imprint of patriarchy and caste, respectively, remain writ large over the social map of even States which are more developed, pointing to the distance to be travelled to the attainment of equality of opportunity.