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Question 1: How does democracy produce an accountable, responsive and legitimate government?
Answer: Democracy produces an accountable, responsive and legitimate government by giving the citizen the right to examine the process by which decisions are made. These decisions are made according to norms and procedures which make the decisions more acceptable to the people. Added to this is the basic fact that in a democracy, the people have a right to elect their own government, and the candidate which is elected is thought to be capable enough to fulfil the demands of the people.
Question 2: What are the conditions under which democracies accommodate social diversities?
Answer: Democracies accommodate social diversities when it is well understood that democracy is not just the rule of the majority, and that the rule of the majority is not just the rule of a single religious or social community.
Question 3: Give arguments to support or oppose the following assertions:
• Industrialised countries can afford democracy but the poor need dictatorship to become rich.
• Democracy can’t reduce inequality of incomes between different citizens.
• Government in poor countries should spend less on poverty reduction, health, education and spend more on industries and infrastructure.
• In democracy all citizens have one vote, which means that there is absence of any domination and conflict.
Answer: Industrialised countries can afford democracy but the poor need dictatorship to become rich. This statement is incorrect as can be seen from the examples of India and Zimbabwe. In 1947, India was included in the Third World nations, but now, it is one of the fast-growing economies in the world. On the other hand, Zimbabwe, which was a fairly prosperous nation, has run into huge international debt with the progression of Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Democracy can’t reduce inequality of incomes between different citizens. This statement is incorrect. The Minimum Wages Act enacted by the government and other policies which regulate the basic price at which agricultural producers and small industries sell their goods, have helped increase the per capita income of the country, thereby making its citizens more prosperous.
Government in poor countries should spend less on poverty reduction, health, education and spend more on industries and infrastructure. This is not a wise option as in poor countries, the people cannot afford health and education services.
In democracy all citizens have one vote, which means that there is absence of any domination and conflict. This is not true as conflict can be eliminated only in an ideal situation. In real democracies, though every person has one vote, there are divisions among the people. These divisions lead to conflict
Question 4: Identify the challenges to democracy in the following descriptions. Also suggest policy/institutional mechanism to deepen democracy in the given situations:
• Following a High Court directive a temple in Orissa that had separate entry doors for dalits and non-dalits allowed entry for all from the same door.
• A large number of farmers are committing suicide in different states of India.
• Following allegation of killing of three civilians in Gandwara in a fake encounter by Jammu and Kashmir police, an enquiry has been ordered.
Answer: The challenge to democracy in the first statement is to provide equal status to all its citizens in spite of their caste.
The challenge to democracy in the second instance is providing farmers with subsidies which will help them to earn profits and have a satisfactory level of livelihood. The challenge to democracy is to preserve the people’s trust in government arms like the police.
Question 5: In the context of democracies, which of the following ideas is correct − democracies have successfully eliminated:
Α. conflicts among people
Β. economic inequalities among people
C. differences of opinion about how marginalised sections are to be treated
D. the idea of political inequality
Answer: D. the idea of political inequality
Question 6: In the context of assessing democracy which among the following is odd one out. Democracies need to ensure:
Α. free and fair elections
Β. dignity of the individual
C. majority rule
D. equal treatment before law Answer:
C. majority rule
Question 7: Studies on political and social inequalities in democracy show that
Α. democracy and development go together
Β. inequalities exist in democracies
C. inequalities do not exist under dictatorship
D. dictatorship is better than democracy
Answer: Β. inequalities exist in democracies
Question 8: Read the passage below:
Nannu is a daily wage earner. He lives in Welcome Mazdoor Colony, a slum habitation in East Delhi. He lost his ration card and applied for a duplicate one in January 2004. He made several rounds to the local Food & Civil Supplies office for the next three months. But the clerks and officials would not even look at him, leave alone do his job or bother to tell him the status of his application. Ultimately, he filed an application under the Right to Information Act asking for the daily progress made on his application, names of the officials, who were supposed to act on his application and what action would be taken against these officials for their inaction. Within a week of filing application under the Right to Information Act, he was visited by an inspector from the Food Department, who informed him that the card had been made and he could collect it from the office. When Nannu went to collect his card next day, he was given a very warm treatment by the Food & Supply Officer (FSO), who is the head of a Circle. The FSO offered him tea and requested him to withdraw his application under the Right to Information, since his work had already been done.
What does Nannu’s example show? What impact did Nannu’s action have on officials? Ask your parents their experiences when they approach government officials to attend to their problems.
Answer: Attempt this question on your own.