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The most basic outcome of democracy is to provide political and social quality to the citizens. The democracy is expected to produce a government that works according to the needs and expectations of citizens.
Assessment of Outcomes of Democracy
The expected and actual outcomes of democracy can be assessed by quality of government, economic well-being, inequality, social differences, freedom and dignity. After assessing outcomes of democracy, it can be recognised that democracy is a form of government which can create conditions for achieving its goal. The citizens can take advantage of those conditions and achieve their goals.
Democracy has been considered a better form of government than other alternatives because it
- promotes equality among citizens
- enhances the dignity of an individual
- improves the quality of decision-making
- provides a method to resolve conflicts
- allows room to correct mistakes
The political outcomes of democracy are to produce accountable, responsive and legitimate government.
Accountable, Responsive and Legitimate Government
In a democracy, accountable and responsive government is the one that is answerable to its citizens. It is responsible for making all decisions on behalf of its citizens and according to their needs and expectations. Before taking any decision, it is the responsibility of the government to follow procedures. If the government has made wrong decision then it has to accept and correct it immediately.
On the other hand, non-democratic governments do not care about complains of citizens. They are also not worried about public opinions. It takes decision very fast and decisions which are not acceptable to the citizens. Therefore, the outcome of democracy is to produce a government that follows procedure and is accountable to the people.
Transparency and Decision-Making
Transparency means openness, communication and accountability of the government. It means that government should be operated in such a way that it is easy for citizens to see what actions are performed while decision-making.
The democratic government should develop mechanisms for citizens to hold the government accountable and mechanism for citizens to take part in decision making whenever they think it is possible.
Transparency is considered missing in non-democratic government. But in reality, democratic governments also do not have very good record to share information of decision-making with its citizens.
Democracy can be measured by the regular, free and fair elections, open public debate on major policies and the legislation. Most democracies do not have regular elections that provide a fair chance to all in participating in public debate.
Moreover, it is believed that democracy is attentive to the needs and demands of the people and is largely free of corruption. But there is nothing to prove that these two are available in democracy.
In democracy, a legitimate government is a government where all the laws of the country are equally applicable to all its citizens. In this government, people are governed without fear or favour as well. A legitimate government should be attentive to the needs and demands of the people.
A democratic government may be slow, less efficient and not always responsive but it is people’s own government. That is why, there is an overwhelming support for the idea of democracy all over the world. Thus, it is certainly a better and more legitimate form of government.
Economic growth, development, reduction of poverty and inequality are the prominent economic outcomes of democracy.
Economic Growth and Development
It is expected from a government that it should bring economic growth and development. However, many democracies of the world are unable to fulfil this expectation. It is because of population size, global situation, cooperation from other countries, economic priorities, etc.
There are some significant differences between rates of economic growth among countries which are under dictatorship and democracy.
Reduction of Inequality and Poverty
Democracy is based on political equality and all individuals have equal right to choose their representative. Along with political equality there is a growing economic inequality among the individuals.
A small number of ultra-rich enjoy a highly disproportionate share of wealth and incomes. Due to this reason, their share in total income of the country is increasing. On the other hand, the income of poor is declining.
Sometimes the poor find it difficult to meet their basic needs of life, such as food, clothing, house, education and health. Poor constitute a large proportion of voters, but still the democratic governments are not serious enough to improve their conditions.
The situation is much worse in some countries. In Bangladesh, more than half of its population lives in poverty. People of poor countries are now dependent on the rich countries for food supplies.
The social outcomes of a democracy should be accommodating social diversity and providing dignity and freedom to the citizens.
Accommodation of Social Diversity Democracies usually develop a procedure to accommodate various social divisions. This reduces the possibility of social tensions becoming explosive or violent. No society can fully and permanently resolve conflicts among different groups. But democracy is best to handle social differences, divisions and conflicts.
A democracy must fulfil the following two conditions in order to achieve its goal
(i) It is necessary to understand that democracy is not simply ruled by majority opinion. The majority always needs to protect the interest of the minority, thus the government’s function is regarded as representation of general interest.
(ii) It is also necessary that rule by majority does not become rule by majority community in terms of religion or race or linguistic group, etc. Rule by majority means that in case of every decision or in case of every election, different persons and groups may and can form a majority. Thus, democracy remains only as long as every citizen has a chance of being in majority at some point of time. If someone is barred from being in majority on the basis of birth, then the democratic rule ceases to be accommodative for that person or group. Non-democratic regimes often suppress internal social differences.
Dignity and Freedom of the Citizens Democracy stands much superior to any other form of government for promoting dignity and freedom of the individual. Every individual wants to receive respect from fellow beings. Sometimes conflict arises among individual as they feel 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 and achieved this (respect and freedom) in various degrees. But it is not a simple matter to recognise that all individuals are equal.
Dignity and Freedom of Women
The long struggles by women have created some sensitivity today that respect and equal treatment of women are necessary for democratic societies.
But women are not always treated with respect. Once the ‘respect’ is recognised, it becomes easier for women to struggle for it. In a non-democratic set-up, the principle of individual freedom and dignity sometimes have no legal force.
Dignity and Freedom of Disadvantaged Groups
Democracy in India has strengthened the claims of the disadvantaged and discriminated castes for equal status and equal opportunity.
There are still cases of caste-based inequalities and atrocities, but these lack the moral and legal foundations. It is the recognition that makes ordinary citizens to value their democratic rights.
The most distinctive feature about democracy is that, its examination never ends. As people get some benefits, they ask for more and want to make democracy even better. Thus, people always come up with more expectations and many complaints. It shows that people have developed awareness and the ability to expect.
Democracy transforms people from the status of a subject into that of a citizen. Today most of the individuals believe that their vote definitely makes a difference to the way the government is run and to their own self-interest.
CBSE Class 10 SST Chapter Outcomes of Democracy Quick Revision Notes
How do We Assess Democracy’s Outcomes?
Is Democracy a better form of government when compared with dictatorship or any other
Democracy is better because:
- It promotes equality among citizens.
- It enhances the dignity of the individual.
- It improves the quality of decision-making.
- It provides a method to resolve conflicts.
- It allows room to correct mistakes.
Is the Democratic government efficient? Is it effective?
Imagine that other forms of government may take decisions very fast. But it may take decisions that are not accepted by the people and may, therefore, face problems.
Democracy is based on the idea of deliberation and negotiation. So, some delay is bound to take place.
In contrast, the democratic government will take more time to follow procedures before arriving at a decision.
But because it has followed procedures, its decisions may be both more acceptable to the people and more effective.
So, the cost of time that democracy pays is perhaps worth it.
Outcomes out of every Democracy:
- As a political outcome of Democracy, we expect an accountable, responsive and legitimate government.
- As an economic outcome, we expect that democracies produce economic growth and development, and
- reduce poverty and inequality.
- As a social outcome, we expect democracy to accommodate the social diversity in a society, and provide
- dignity and freedom to all citizens.
Democracy is an accountable, responsive and legitimate government:
- Democracy ensures that decision-making is based on norms and procedures. So, a citizen
has the right and the means to examine the process of decision-making. This is known as
transparency. Democracy follows standard procedures and is accountable to the people.
- Democratic governments have a very good record when it comes to sharing information with
citizens and are much better than any non-democratic regime in this respect. Democracy is
attentive to the needs and demands of the people and is largely free of corruption.
- There is one respect in which democratic government is certainly better than its
alternatives. Democratic government is a legitimate government. It may be slow, less
efficient, not always very responsive or clean. But a democratic government is the people’s own government.
Economic growth and development
- Economic development depends on several factors—country’s population size, global
- situation, cooperation from other countries, economic priorities adopted by the country, etc.
- However, the difference in the rates of economic development between less developed
- countries with dictatorships and democracies is negligible.
- Overall, we cannot say that democracy is a guarantee of economic development. But we
- can expect democracy not to lag behind dictatorships in economic development.
Democracy reduces economic inequality and poverty
- Democracies have growing economic inequalities. A small number of ultra-rich enjoy a
- lion’s share of wealth and those at the bottom of the society have very little to depend
- upon and find it very difficult to meet their basic needs of life, such as food, clothing,
- house, education and health.
- Democratically elected governments address the question of poverty by making various
- welfare schemes to remove poverty.
- Democracies not only make welfare schemes but also give reservations for socially and
- economically backward people in jobs, elections and educational institutions.
Democracy accommodates social diversity
- Democracies usually develop a procedure to accommodate various social groups. This reduces the possibility
- of social tensions becoming explosive or violent.
- No society can fully and permanently resolve conflicts among different groups. But
- democracy is best to handle social differences, divisions and conflicts.
An example of Sri Lanka reminds us that democracy must fulfil two conditions to achieve
an accommodation of social divisions:
- It is necessary to understand that democracy is not simply ruled by the majority opinion.
- The majority always needs to work with the minority so that governments function to
- represent the general view.
- It is also necessary that rule by the majority does not become rule by the majority
- community in terms of religion or race or linguistic group, etc. Rule by majority means
- rule by the majority’s choice.
Democracy promotes the dignity and freedom of the citizens
- Democracy stands much superior to any other form of government in promoting the dignity and freedom of the individual by providing Fundamental Rights.
- Every individual wants to receive respect from fellow beings.
- The passion for respect and freedom is 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.
- Take the case of the dignity of women, most societies across the world were historically male-dominated societies.
- Long struggles by women have created some sensitivity today that respect for equal treatment of women is necessary ingredient of a Democratic society.
- Democracy in India has strengthened the claims of the disadvantaged and discriminated castes for equal
status and equal opportunity.
- A Democracy always strives towards a better goal. People constantly demand more benefits in a Democracy.
- There are always more expectations.
- People now look critically at the work of those who hold power, the rich. They express their dissatisfaction
- loudly. It shows they are no longer subjects but citizens of a Democratic country.
Outcomes of Democracy Important Terms
- Dictatorship: Under Dictatorship, all the powers are vested in a single person or in a group of people.
- Legitimate government: Legally chosen government is called a Legitimate government.
- Transparency: To examine the process of decision making in a Democracy.
- Accountable government: The government is elected by the people and therefore responsible to them.
- Responsive government: The government in which people have the right to know the process of decision-making.
- Economic Development: It is the development of economic wealth of countries, regions or communities for the well-being of their inhabitants.
- Dictatorship: A form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations.
- Economic Inequality: It is the difference found in various measures of the economic well-being among individuals in a group, among groups in a population or among countries.
- Social Diversity: It is all of the ways that people within a single culture are set apart from each other. Elements of social diversity can include ethnicity, lifestyle, religion, language, tastes and preferences.
- Social Divisions: When social differences amongst different communities increase and one community are
discriminated against because of the differences, it becomes a social division. For example, the social difference between the upper castes and lower castes becomes a social division as the Dalits are generally poor and face injustice and discrimination.
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