Essay on Democracy – Its Merits and Demerits (free to read). The English word ‘Democracy’ is derived from two Greek words ‘Demos’ and ‘Kratia’ or ‘cratos’. Demos means crowd and ‘Kratia’ or ‘cratos’ means power.
This is why the critics of Democracy have described it as Mobocracy. But in reality Democracy is not mobocracy but rule by majority of the people according to certain rules and regulations which are accepted by the people of a country.
In the beginning there was direct Democracy. For example, in our country the villagers used to elect their representatives for village ‘Panchayat’ by raising their hands in favour of their candidate. But now people cast their votes in favour of their candidates who stand for Parliament or Legislative Assemblies of states. The most famous definition which is generally quoted is of Abraham Lincoln, the great President of America. According to Lincoln, “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
The system of Democracy has the following merits:
1. It gives equal opportunities to make progress to all the people.
2. It is above any kind of undue favour to any religion, caste, creed or colour.
3. The people are supreme and cannot be exploited by any dictator or group of persons.
4. It gives freedom of expression to the masses. It develops the intellectual level of the country.
5. In a democratic country a citizen is free to follow ‘ any kind of religion, trade etc. This helps the citizens to develop their inherent capabilities which contribute to the progress of the country.
Demerits of the Democracy:
1. Government by popular majorities means rule by the average man, who is generally unintelligent, controlled in his conduct more by emotions than by reason and of limited knowledge. What standard of judgment can make us believe the opinion of 51 per cent of the people to be wiser than 49 percent?
2. It is necessary to make long-range plans and policies to achieve any great success. But in a democratic system the representatives of the people are bound to face the electorate after 5 years. The general public does not want to make sacrifices for the good results, which will be available only in future. So a country cannot make real progress by following democratic system.
3. The capitalists, industrialists, bosses of mafia type groups and religious leaders play a dominant part in influencing voters in general elections. So honest and capable leaders do not get an opportunity to form the government.
4. Democracy needs educated, enlightened and patriotic people to make it a success. So in a country where the percentage of literacy is less than 50, a democratic system is useless and harmful for the welfare of the people.
In a democratic system of government, the principle of balance of power is used and consequently legislature, judiciary and executive—the three branches of government—are separated. So the power of the government is limited by the laws of the constitution. It helps in smooth running of the system. But only a state of literate, well disciplined and patriotic people can enjoy the real fruits of Democracy.