India is one of the largest democracies but only the use of the term did not ensure its justifiable working and implementation, where diversity and heterogeneity are hallmarks of the society with variety of religious practices, languages, castes and tribes and vast amount of economic disparity among people belonging to different socio-economic background where the ‘rich is getting richer and the poor is getting worse off’. Taking all these into considerations in contemporary times the Indian democracy is faced with challenges, social and economic inequality, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, casteism, communalism, regionalism, population explosion, corruption which needs to be tackled making it the need of the hour.Essential elements of democracy comprises of a government elected by all citizens, transparency and accountability in the exercise of power, participation in public affairs and the spirit of debate and deliberation. The foreground to maintain all these elements is laid by the conduction of legitimate and fair electoral process and turning to the ground realties, the undeniable fact is that corruption and criminalisation have bedevilled the process of fair and free elections. With the vote bank becoming largely parochial and involving communal and castiest politics at every stage has come out to be one of the greatest hindrance to the working of democracy as it results into fatal consequences of what we see in today’s time as politics of identity diving people along various lines and formation of a system of ineffective governance.
The challenge to democracy was famously pointes out by Dr. BR Ambedkar during the last sitting of Constituent Assembly of India warning of a system of political equality in the background of acute socio-economic inequality is bound to be a challenge. As the Constitution via Article 14 recognises that the worth of every individual is the same in a society which consisted of and continues to have deep inequalities in its social economic political sphere thereby defeating democracy and therefore making it necessary to handle social inequality on a urgent basis and as critique of democracy Marxists, argue that without social equality, democracy is only a facade. It is this criticism which gives us insight to the that that mostly rich and influential people win the elections and thereby control the politics, permitting people with criminal background to contest elections. Thus, money and muscle power and criminal elements have seeped in politics and have contributed to the pervasive denegration of standards in the credibility political and public life which is largely reflected in the shoddy quality of governance and of the governing process.
Even after seven decades of independence and democracy the provisions of the constitution to protect the civil and social rights of various alienated and discriminated sections of society in the past, the Indian democracy has not been able to remove caste inequalities which are visible in various state instituation and which are greatly internalised in our everyday practices. Heterogeneity or lack of relative homogeneity in terms of common language and religion in a democratic society gives rise to issues of mutual accommodation and power sharing and nations who fail to handle this situation of diversity experience civil war like situation. Therefore when democracy emerges in societies with complex diversities the challenge assumes more serious proportions in our case India, the burden on democracy becomes more complicated.
Political scholars are of the opinion that Indian democracy tends to become majoritarian where a numerically powerful group entitles to get attention and power on one hand and on the other hand,the rising demands by various linguistic, religious and ethnic groups to be treated as separate units claiming a share in power resulting in democracy merely becoming a ground for community based negotiations rather than pursuit of common goal and unfolding of public reason and maintaing a balance of demands of various communities thereby leading to the constructing symbols, consolidating identities and creation of boundaries on communal and cultural lines rather than the embodiment of Pluralism, which is the soul of democracy.
Although there is an increase in the participation the the electoral processes and various sections of society have gained confidence to agitate against the government for their demands but as Rajini khotari points out towards failed state Indian democracy tracing it back to the period of 1950’s when the state that was putatively influenced by powerful sections of society to the contemporary times, in which the state is is captured by national elites and thier association with powerful institutions making the state incapable of catering to needs of a large section of socio-economically deprived groups, by allowing the excess of comsumer capitalism as a free rein. One of the major consequences of this moral and political crisis is the upsurge of reactionary forms of religious and community based voilence, prevalence of corruption, increase in violence against women despite the presence of several constitutional provisions for safety and security for them but as one can note all these isssues arising due to the failure of institution of legislature and judiciary in forming and implementation of the provisions to deal with the problem at grassroot level which eventually takes a bigger form over a passage of this.
Hence there is an urgent need for the radical revision of the role of state and its governance, policy and panning that would include diminished party political action and widespread popular participation in the working of public affairs along with reorientation of educational procedures and setup to inculcate a more holistic understanding of one’s own society and the contemporary world.