The notion of democracy, unlike other forms of government, focuses much on the functions and values of the political system rather than the structure. This is the reason why many governments with varied political structures claim to be democratic. The ideas that form the basis of democracy are equality, fundamental rights, liberty and welfare of the people. Thus democracy is not just about universal suffrage, parliamentary legislation and judicial appraisal. While the existence of these institutions and processes will facilitate the safeguarding of values that constitute democracy, political systems like dictatorship and monarchy will undermine the values, at least, in a course of time.
There is a general consensus among all social thinkers that there is a steady subversion in the democratic ideals as well as in democratic institutions in the countries that are said to be democratic.
In terms of quantity, that is, population, India, with no doubt, is the biggest democracy in the world. But if we analyze qualitatively, the scope of democracy in India is becoming smaller and smaller. Though India might have achieved an enduring electoral democracy, we fail to establish a sustainable functional democracy.
Declining democracy in India can be studied in two aspects.
i ) Subversion of democratic ideals: Rapid increase in inequality, deprioritizing ‘welfare of the people’, Government’s aversion towards farmers, neglecting poorer section of the society from policy making, privatization of natural resources, parallel economy, corruption, increase of arbitrariness and impunity, corporate owned media, corporate corruption, rapid privatization, environmental racism etcetera.
ii) Misuse of democratic institutions: Vote-bank politics, increased corporate lobbying in politics, family politics, cash for votes, fake votes and other electoral frauds, culture of impunity etcetera.
If we analyze empirically, we could establish a correlation between the above two aspects.
Our Indian Constitution, especially Part III (Fundamental rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles), serves as an exemplary of democratic ideals that are needed to be followed to establish and ‘sustain’ a democracy. But none of the Directive Principles are followed by our policy makers and the scope of fundamental rights is diminished by continuous amendments.