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From theory to practice
India ‘s constitution defines the country as a democracy, but countries without a consolidated constitution are more democratic in reality
Issue Date - 22/12/2011
In the famous Gettysburg Address (in November 1863 in Pennsylvania), American President Abraham Lincoln described a democratic republic as a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. However, the real forms of democracy prevailing throughout the world vary.

Whether a country will be democratic or not is more or less delineated in its constitution. The Indian constitution is a compilation of the constitutions of various other countries and it declared India to be a “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”. Though the preamble labels India as a “democratic republic”, true democracy is still a chimera even today, some 64 years after independence. In the Democracy Index 2010 (released by Economist Intelligence Unit), only 26 nations (with a mere 12.3% of world population) were considered as being fully democratic and India is languishing at 40 (score 7.28) under the category of flawed democracies. It scores low in particular on the parameters of political participation and political culture.

What is even more shocking is the manner in which India is slipping on several important parameters of measuring democracy. This eventually led to a fall in the score from 7.8 in 2008 to 7.28 in 2010. On the contrary, UK does not even have a written constitution. However, they do have the Magna Carta (1215), which protects the rights of the community, Bill of Rights (1689), which extends the power of parliament and Reform Act (1832), which reformed the system of parliamentary representation. Still, UK is ranked 19 in the 2010 Democracy Index as compared to a rank of 21 in 2008. This proves that an exhaustively prepared constitution is hardly a substitute for an efficiently functioning government.


Mrinmoy Dey           

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