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CL IX: Political Science

Chapter-2: What is Democracy? Why Democracy?

Q.1 What is Democracy?


A.1 Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the people.
Q.2 Compare the features of democratic governments and non-democratic
governments (learn any 5 points).

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS NON-DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS


1. Only leaders elected by the People cannot choose their leaders or
people rule the country. They change them. For example, in Saudi
can change their rulers at the Arabia, there are hereditary rulers.
time of elections.
2. People enjoy various People don’t have any freedom. They
freedoms such as freedom of can’t criticise the government. They
expression, association can’t form associations.
etc.
3. Major decisions are taken by People may have elected leaders, as in
the elected leaders. Pakistan, but they can’t take final
decisions which are taken by dictators
or army officers.
4. A democratic government is There are no free and fair elections in a
based on free and fair non-democratic government. For
elections, where those example, in China, only those who are
currently in power have a fair members of the Chinese Communist
chance of losing. Party are allowed to contest in
elections. Thus, in China, elections
don’t offer people any serious choice.
The government is always formed by
the Communist Party.

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5. In a democracy, each adult In a non-democratic government, there
citizen has one vote and are many instances of denial of equal
each vote has one value. rights to vote. In Saudi Arabia, women
There is, therefore, political do not have the right to vote, and there
equality. is therefore no political equality.
6. A democratic government A non-democratic government tries to
rules within limits set by do whatever it likes. For example,
constitutional law and Robert Mugabe is popular, but over the
citizens’ rights. A years his government has changed the
government can’t do what it constitution several times to increase
likes. It has to respect certain the powers of the President and make
basic rules, particularly some him less accountable. There is a law
guarantees to minorities. that limits the right to criticise the
President.
Q.3 Discuss how elections held in China aren’t free and fair.
or
Is China a democratic country or not?
A.3
1. In China, elections are regularly held after every 5 years for electing the country’s
parliament called National People’s Congress.
2. The National People’s Congress has the power to appoint the President of the
country.
3. It has nearly 3000 members from all over China, and some members are elected by
the Army.
4. Before contesting elections, a candidate needs the approval of the Chinese
Communist Party. Only those who are members of the Chinese Communist Party or 8
smaller parties allied to it were allowed to contest elections held in 2002-03. The
government is always formed by the Communist Party.
Q.4 What were the methods or dirty tricks employed by PRI in Mexico during
elections? What were its effects?

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A.4 Until 2000, every election was won by a party called PRI (Institutional Revolutionary
Party). Opposition parties did contest elections, but never managed to win.
The PRI was known to use many dirty tricks to win elections:-
1. All those who were employed in government offices had to attend its party
meetings.
2. Teachers of government schools used to force parents to vote for the PRI.
3. Media largely ignored the activities of opposition political parties, except to
criticise them.
4. Sometimes, the polling booths were shifted from one place to another in
the last minute, which made it difficult for people to cast their votes.
5. The PRI spent a large sum of money in the campaign for its candidates.
Q.5 Although the Principle of Universal Adult Franchise has now come to be
accepted almost all over the world, there are many instances of denial of equal
rights to vote. Explain with examples.
A.5 There are many instances of denial of equal rights to vote…
1. In Saudi Arabia, women don’t have the right to vote.
2. Estonia has made its citizenship rules in such a way that people belonging to
Russian minorities find it difficult to get the right to vote.
3. In Fiji, the electoral system is such that the vote of the indigenous Fiji has more
value than an Indian Fijian.
Q.6 Enlist the features of factors that make Zimbabwe an undemocratic
country.
A.6 Zimbabwe attained independence from white minority rule in 1980. Since then, the
country has been ruled by ZANU-PF, the party that has led the freedom struggle. It’s
leader Robert Mugabe has been ruling the country since Independence. Elections
have been held regularly and always won by ZANU-PF. President Mugabe is popular
but also uses unfair practices in elections.
1. Over the years, his government has changed the Constitution several times to
increase the power of the President and make him less accountable.
2. Opposition party rulers are harassed and their meetings disrupted.
3. Public protest and demonstrations against the government are declared illegal.

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4. There is a law that limits the right to criticise the President. Television and radio are
also controlled by the government and only give the ruling parties version.
5. There are independent newspapers but the government harasses those journalists
who go against it.
6. The government has ignored some court judgements that went against it and
pressurised judges.
(learn any 5 points)
Q.7 How can popular governments be undemocratic. What factors are necessary
for the functioning of a democracy?
A.7 The example of Zimbabwe shows that popular approval of the rulers is necessary
in a democracy but it is not sufficient. Popular governments can be undemocratic.
Popular leaders can be autocratic. If we wish to assess a democracy, it is important to
look at the elections. But it is equally important to look before and after the elections.
The factors necessary for the smooth functioning of a government are:
1. There should be sufficient room for normal political activity including political
opposition in the period before elections.
2. This requires that the State should respect some basic rights of citizens.
3. They should be free to think, to have opinions, to express themselves in public,
to form associations, to protest and take other political actions.
4. Everyone should be equal in the eyes of law.
5. These rights must be protected by an independent judiciary whose orders are
obeyed by everyone.
Q.8 “A democratic government rules within the limits set by the constitutional
law and citizens’ rights.” Explain.
A.8
1. A democratic government cannot do whatever it likes simply because it has won an
election.
2. It has to respect some guarantees to the minorities.
3. Every major decision has to go through a series of consultations.
4. Every office bearer has certain rights and responsibilities assigned by the
Constitution and the law.

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5. Each of these is accountable not only to the people, but also to other independent
officials.

Question 9- Define ‘democracy’. Explain its four features.


Answer- Democracy is a form of government in which the rulers are elected by the
people. The four features of democracy are as follows-
1. Rulers elected by the people take all the major decisions.
2. Elections offer a choice and fair opportunities to the people to change their
current ruler.
3. This choice and opportunity is available to all the people and on an equal basis.
4. The exercise of this choice leads to a government limited by basic rules of the
constitution and citizen’s rights.
Question 10- Give arguments in the favour of democracy.
Answer-
1. A democratic government is a better government because it is a more
accountable form of government.
2. Democracy improves the quality of decision making.
3. Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and conflicts.
4. Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens.
5. Democracy allows us to correct it own mistakes.
Question 11- Give arguments against Democracy.
Answer-
1. Leaders keep changing in democracy. This leads to instability.
2. Democracy is all about political competition and power play. There is no scope
for morality.
3. So many people have to be consulted in a democracy that it leads to delays.
4. Selected leaders don’t know the best interests of the people. It leads to bad
decisions.
5. Ordinary people don’t know what is good for them. They should not decide
anything.
6. Democracy leads to corruption for it is based on electoral competition.
Question 12- Even though economic conditions of China and India were almost
the same during the period of 1958-61, China faced a severe famine and India
didn’t. What do economists think about this?
Answer-

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1. China’s famine of 1958-61 was the worst recorded famine in the history of the
world. Nearly 3 crore people died in this famine.
2. During those days, India’s economic condition wasn’t much better than China,
yet India didn’t have a famine of the kind China had.
3. Economists think that this was a different government policy in the two countries.
The existence of democracy in India made the Indian government respond to
food scarcity in a way that the Chinese government didn’t.
4. They point out that no large scale famine has taken place in an independent and
democratic country.
5. If China too had multi-party elections, an opposition party and a free press to
criticize the government, then so many people may not have died in the famine.

Question 13- ‘A democratic government is a better government because it is a


more accountable form of government.’ Discuss.
Answer- Democracy is considered the best form of government. Democracy is
better than any other form of government in responding to the needs of people. A
non-democratic government may and can respond to the people’s needs, but it all
depends on the wishes of the people who rule. If the rulers don’t want to, they don’t
have to act according to the wishes of the people. A democracy requires that the
rulers have to attend to the needs of the people. China’s famine of 1958-61 was the
worst recorded famine in the history of the world. Nearly 3 crore people died in this
famine. During these days, India’s economic condition wasn’t much better than
China, yet India didn’t have a famine of the kind China
Question 14- ‘Democracy improves the quality of decision making.’ Explain.
Answer-
1. Democracy is based on consultation and discussion. A democratic decision
always involves many persons, discussions and meetings.
2. When a number of people put their heads together, they are able to point out
possible mistakes in any decision.
3. This takes time, but reduces the chances of irresponsible decisions.
Question 15- Democracy provides a method to deal with differences and
conflicts. Explain.
OR
In a country like India, democracy keeps our country together.’ Explain with an
example.
Answer-

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1. In any society, people are bound to have difference of opinions and interests.
These differences are particularly sharp in a country like ours, which has an
amazing social diversity. People belong to different regions, speak different
languages, practice different religions and have different castes.
2. They look at the world very differently and have different opinions.
3. The preference of any group can clash with those of other groups. The conflict
can be solved by brutal power. Whichever group is more powerful will dictate its
terms and others will have to accept that. But that would lead to resentment and
unhappiness.
4. Different groups may not be able to live together for so long in such a way.
5. Democracy provides the only peaceful solution to this problem. In a democracy,
no one is a permanent winner and no one is a permanent loser. Different groups
can live with one another peacefully.
In a diverse country like India, democracy keeps our country together.
Question 16-‘Democracy enhances the dignity of citizens’. Explain.
Answer-
1. Democracy is based on the principle of political equality, on recognizing that the
poorest and the least educated have the same status as the rich and the
educated.
2. People are not subjects of a ruler, they are the rulers themselves.
3. Even when they make mistakes, they are responsible for their conduct.
Question 17- ‘Democracy is better than other forms of government because it
allows us to correct our mistakes.’ Explain.
Answer-
1. There is no guarantee that mistakes cannot be made in a democracy. No form of
government can guarantee that.
2. The advantage in a democracy is that such mistakes cannot be hidden for long.
There is a space for public discussion on these mistakes, and there is room for
correction.
3. Either the rulers have to change their decisions, or the rulers can be changed.
This cannot happen in a non-democratic government.
Question 18- Even though democracy can’t get us everything, and is not the
solution to all problems, but it is clearly better than any other alternative that we
have or know. Explain.
Answer-
1. Democracy cannot get us everything and is not the solution to all problems. But
is clearly better than any alternative that we have or know,

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2. It offers better chances of a good decision, it is likely to respect own wishes and
allows different kinds of people to live together.
3. Even when it fails to do some of those things, it allows a way of correcting its
mistakes and offer more dignity to all the citizens. That is why democracy is
considered as the best form of government,
Question 19(a)- What is the most common form that democracy takes in our
times?
Answer- The most common form that democracy takes in our times is that of a
Representative Democracy.
Question 19(b)- What is a representative democracy?
Answer- A representative democracy is one in which people elect their representatives
to legislature. These representatives, in turn, form the government and govern the
country. In this type of democracy, the government based on the majority is allowed to
take decisions on behalf of all the people.
Question 20- Why are Modern democracies Representative?
Answer-
1. Modern democracies involve such a large number of people that it is physically
impossible for them to sit together and take a collective decision.
2. Even if they could, citizens do not have the time, desire or skills to take part in all the elections.

Question 21- Distinguish between Nominal Democracy and Ideal Democracy.


Answer- A Nominal democracy refers to a system of governance which is run by the
people elected representatives.

An Ideal democracy is a broader concept. An ideal democracy is a system in which


every citizen must be able to play equal role in the decision-making. For this, one does
not need just an equal right to vote. Every citizen needs to have equal information, basic
education, equal resource and a lot of commitment.

There may not be any country in the world which passes a test of this kind of
democracy. Yet an understanding of democracy as an ideal reminds us of why we value
democracy.