Democratic Politics

Chapter : 3. Outcomes of Democracy

Dignity And Freedom Of The Citizens

Dignity And Freedom Of The Citizens
Democracy stands much superior to any other form of government in promoting dignity and freedom of the individual. Every individual wants to receive respect from fellow beings. Often conflicts arise among individuals because some fell that they are not treated with due respect. The passion for respect and freedom are the basis of democracy. Democracies throughout the world have recognised this, at least in principle. This has been achieved in various degrees in various democracies. Democratic regimes do not always value the liberty of its citizens in practice.
(1) Yet, for societies, which have been built for long on the basis of subordination and domination, it is not a simple matter to recognize that all individuals are equal.
(2) Take the case of dignity of women. Most societies across world were historically male dominated societies.
Long struggle by women have created some sensitivity today that respect and equal treatment of women are necessary ingredients of a democratic society. That does not mean that women are actually always treated with respect. But once the principle is recognised, it becomes easier for women to wage a struggle against what is now unacceptable legally and morally.
(3) In a non-democratic set up, this unacceptably would not have legal basis because the principle of individual freedom and dignity would not have the legal and normal force there.
(4) The same is true of caste inequalities.
(5) Democracy in India has strengthened the claims of the disadvantaged and discriminated caste for equal status and equal opportunity. There are still instances of caste-based inequalities and atrocities, but these lack the moral and legal foundation. Perhaps it is this recognition that makes ordinary citizen value their democratic rights.
(6) People believe that their vote makes a difference to the ways the government is run and to their own self-respect.
(7) Expectations from democracy also function as the criteria for judging any democratic country.
(8) Democracy examination never gets over. As it passes one test, it produce another test. As people get some benefits of democracy they ask for more and want to make democracy even better. The fact that people are complaining is itself a testimony to the success of democracy.

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