Odisha State Board CHSE Odisha Class 12 Political Science Solutions Unit 1 Democracy in India Long Answer Questions.
CHSE Odisha 12th Class Political Science Unit 1 Democracy in India Long Answer Questions
Long Questions With Answers
Write Meaning of Democracy with giving different definitions of democracy.
Long back, former President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln said, “Democracy is a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” The term ‘democracy’ comes from the Greek word demokratia which means “rule of the people”. It was coined from two words: demos that means “people” and Kratos which refers to “power”. That is, in a democracy the power rests with the people. This meaning is based on the experiences of the governments that existed in some of the Greek city-states, notably Athens.
And, today also, democracy is defined as a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodic free elections. When you examinethe definitions of democracy, as suggested above, you will find that most of those definitions define democracy as a form of government which is run by the elected representatives.
Democracy has been defined in many ways. Bryce believes that “Democracy really means nothing more or less than the rule of the whole people, expressing their Sovereign will by their votes”. Maclver observes, “Democracy is not a way of governing, whether by majority or otherwise, but primarily a way of determining, who shall govern, and broadly to what ends”.
It means more than a mere form of government. In its comprehensive form, democracy means, or ought to mean,
- a form of government,
- a type of state,
- a pattern of social system,
- a design of economic order, and
- a way of life and culture. Therefore, when we say that India is a democracy, we mean not only that its political institutions and processes are democratic but also that the Indian society and every Indian citizen is democratic, reflecting basic democratic values of equality, liberty, fraternity, secularism and justice in the social environment and individual behaviour.
What are the Essential Conditions For Democracy?
A system can be termed as a genuine and comprehensive democracy only when it fulfills both political and socio-economic aspects of people’s participation and satisfaction. Let us identify those. There may be two major categories:
(1) political conditions and
(2) social and economic conditions
The fulfillment of the first leads to political democracy and the second as social democracy. Obviously, the first and the foremost, are political conditions of democracy. It is essential that for a system to be democratic, we must adopt a Constitution and laws that vest supreme power in the people.
The human rights and fundamental rights, such as equality, liberty of thought and expression, belief, movement, communication and association must be protected by the Constitution. The democratic system has to have universal adult franchise as the basis of electing representatives at various levels of the government. Moreover, opportunities for political participation of all the citizens not only in elections at regular interval, but also in other aspects of the political process have to be made available.
There has to be a responsible government in which the executive is answerable to the legislature, the legislature to the people and the Judiciaiy to remain independent. Political institutions like political parties and interest and pressure groups (associations, various non-governmental organizations) must be functional for expressing popular needs, demands and grievances. A democratic system is strengthened if it maintains an enlightened public opinion in its various forms through free press and other communication processes. Political democracy is thus one which incorporates all the above political traits.
What is the social and economic conditions of democracy?
A democratic system has to ensure that the social development is in tune with democratic values and norms reflecting equality of social status and opportunities for development, social security and social welfare. Citizens must avail opportunities of universal and compulsory education. They must also be enabled to utilize means of economic development. The fruits of economic development must reach all and especially to the poor and the deprived sections of the society. Socio-economic development of the people strengths social democracy.
What are the challenges to democracy?
Since independence India has been functioning as a responsible democracy. The same has been appreciated by international community. It has successfully adapted to the challenging situations. There have been free and fair periodic elections for all political offices from the panchayats to the President. There has been smooth transfer of political power from one political party or set of political parties to others, both at national and state levels on many occasions.
You will find many examples in our neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Myanmar and even Bangladesh where transfer of power has been done through military coups. The legislative, executive and judicial organs have been functioning properly.The Parliament and the State Legislatures control the Executives effectively through the means like question hours, etc.
More importantly, some significant enactments like the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, Right to Education 2009 and other welfare means have empowered the people. The mass media, including print and electronic, have full autonomy and play a key role in formulating and influencing public opinion. Significant social change has taken place in almost all walks of life and the nation is moving ahead on course of socio-economic development.
India is a very large country full of diversities – linguistically, culturally, religiously. At the time of independence it was economically underdeveloped. There were enormous regional disparities, widespread poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and shortage of almost all public welfare means. Citizens had enormous expectations from independence.
As mentioned above, India has changed a lot. Yet, there are various challenges that the country faces in terms of fulfillment of expectations of various sections of society. The challenges come both from prevailing domestic and international conditions as well as lack of adequate prerequisites for a smooth functioning of democracy. These are discussed below.
How Illiteracy is a factor challenging democracy?
Illiteracy among people was a matter of grave concern for the successful functioning of democracy in India on the eve of independence and it still continues to be a major challenge. The level of education of citizens is a key to both the successful functioning of democracy and socio-economic development of the country. And perhaps, more importantly, it is an essential condition for human dignity. But the state of formal literacy was almost dismal when India achieved independence.
The literacy rate in 1951 was mere 18.33 per cent and female literacy was negligible with 8.9 percent. It was, therefore, feared by many that the citizens would not be able to play their roles effectively and exercise their right to vote meaningfully which is an individual’s expression of the power of the people, this apprehension, however, has been proved wrong by the Indian electorate over the years.
In spite of a substantial number of them being illiterates, they have demonstrated maturity in the exercise of their right to vote on more than one occasion thus resulting peaceful transfer of political power since independence. The Indian National Congress under the leadership of Ms. Indira Gandhi was very popular and powerful during the early part of 1970s.
But in 1977’s general election, the people of India rejected her primarily because of the misuse of power during emergency in 1975-1977 and provided an opportunity to the. first nomCongress government at the Centre in form of the Janata Party. After that there have been changes in the governments both at the Centre and in the States almost regularly. Literacy is necessary not simply for enabling citizens to participate in elections and exercise their right to vote effectively, it has other important implications as well. Literacy enables citizens to be aware of various issues, problems, demands, and interests in the country.
It also makes them conscious of the principles of liberty and equality of all and ensures that the representatives elected by them truly represent all the interests in the society.Universal literacy is therefore a must for the successful functioning of Indian democracy. Although according to 2011 Census, the literacy rate has risen to 74.04 per cent, the female literacy rate is still lagging at 65.46 per cent.
This means that over one-fourth of the country’s population is still illiterate while among women nearly one out of three is not literate. If the children have access to basic education, the problem of illiteracy can be checked. Recently, the Right to Education is provided as a fundamental right. We hope that this will help the cause of educating the children universally.
How Poverty is affecting democracy?
It is generally said that for a hungry person right to vote does not have any meaning. For him/her the first requirement is food. Therefore, poverty is considered as the greatest bane of democracy. It is, in fact, the root cause of all kinds of deprivations and inequalities. It is the state of denial of opportunities to people to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Of course, India inherited poverty from the long exploitative British colonial rule, but it continues to be one of the gravest problems today.
Even now a considerable proportion of Indian population lives below poverty line, called ‘BPL’. The poverty line means an income level below which human beings cannot provide for their basic necessities of food, much less for clothes and shelter. The governmental definition of poverty line during the 1960s sought to measure ihe extent of poverty on the amount of income requiredto purchase a barest minimum desirable food having nutritional standards of caloric intake by a person.
According to it, in Indian conditions, a person in rural areas needs an average of 2400 calories per day and in urban areas an average of 2100 calories per day in order to keep himself above the poverty line.
During the 1990s non-food items’like clothes, employment, shelter, education, etc. got included in the definition of poverty. Poverty in the contemporary phase is linked with systemic deprivation of rights. It is also associated with the notion of Human Development Index (HDI) as championed by Mabud-ul-Haq and Amartya Sen. Viewed from the HDI perspective, the definition of poverty also includes socio-economic-political and human rights issues under its ambit.
The persisting phenomenon of poverty is attributed to any factors, one of which is mass unemployment and under-employmenf. A large number of people in rural areas do not have regular and adequate work. In urban areas also the number of educated unemployed is very high. The growing population is regarded as a reason for poverty, though population is considered as,rthe greatest resource in the country. In fact, the process of economic development has not been able to ensure social justice and gap between rich and poor has not been bridged. Because of all this, poverty continues to remain a great challenge to Indian democracy.
How Gender Discrimination is affecting democracy?
Discrimination against girls and women exists in every walk of life. You must have had such experiences of prevailing gender inequality in our society and polity. But we know that gender equality is one of the basic principles of democracy. The Constitution of India enjoins upon the State to ensure that men and women are treated as equals and there is no discrimination against women.
Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties as well as the Directive Principles of State Policy make these intensions very clear. But the discrimination against females continues to be a fact of life. It is clearly reflected in the sex ratio, child sex ratio and maternal mortality rate. The number of females in comparison to males has been declining ever since 1901. In 1901, the sex ratio was 972 females per 1000 males. It came down to 927 females per 1000 males in 1991.
According to 2011 Census it is 940 females per 1000 males which is still very unfavourable to females. In some of the States, the 2011 Census reported a very low sex ratio of 877 females per 1000 males (Haryana), the lowest being 618 in Daman & Diu and 866 in the NCT of Delhi. The child sex ratio is a matter of greater concern. According to 2011 Census, the child sex ratio (0-6 years) in India is only 914 female children per 1000 male children. This is lower than the 2001 Census which reported child sex ratio of927 female children per 1000 male children.
It has been declining because of several factors, like the prevailing preference for male child, discriminatory treatment against the girl child right after birth, and the increasing incidence of female infanticides and female foeticides. By using technology, people are forcing mothers td get the fetus of a female child aborted. The infant mortality rate among girl children is high, as compared to that among boy children. The maternal mortality ratio as per the Sample Registration System 2004-06 is 254 per lakh live births, which is considered very high.
How Casteism, Communalism, Religious Fundamentalism is challenge for democracy?
The Indian democracy faces serious challenges also from casteism, communalism and religious fundamentalism. They weaken the functioning and stability of democratic system.
(a) Casteism: The caste system which presumably originated in the division of labour in the ancient society has become a more or less rigid group classification, based on birth. Have you ever experienced the role of caste in your life and society? You will agree that the most detrimental and inhuman aspect of the caste system is the practice of untouchability which is continuing in spite of the constitutional ban imposed on it.
This has led to segregation of so called low castes or ‘Dalits’, depriving them of education and other social benefits.The Dalits have been typically performing menial labour and some of the hardest physical work in society. Casteism has played a negative role even in the democratic political processes, in fact, casteism has become notorious as a strategy of exploitation of caste consciousness for narrow political gains. The caste system acts against the roots of democracy.
The democratic facilities – like fundamental rights relating to equality, freedom of speech, expression and association, participation in the electoral process, free media and press, and even legislative forums – are misused for maintaining casteist identity.Casteism has also been contributing towards continuation of socio-economic inequalities. It is true that India has been an unequal society from times immemorial. The Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and the backward classes have suffered down the ages from socio-economic deprivations.
There are enormous inequalities in our society which are posing serious challenge to Indian democracy. What is more alarming is the mixing of caste and politics resulting into‘politicization of caste’ and ‘casteization of politics’ in contemporary Indian polity which has become a grave challenge to our democracy. Despite the era of liberalization and globalization caste consciousness has not been eroded in our society and castes are being increasingly used as vote bank politics.
(b) Communalism: Communalism and religious fundamentalism have acquired a very dangerous form and alarming proportion in India. They disrupt the pattern of co-existence in our multi-religious society. Communalism is-an affront to India’s nationalist identity and a tragic setback to its evolving secular culture. It is subversive of our democratic political stability and destroyer of our glorious heritage of humanism and composite culture. Quite often, communalism is wrongly used as a synonym for religion or conservatism. Adherence to a religion or attachment to a religious community is not communalism.
Religious fundamentalism also reinforces communalists in exploiting both religion and politics. In fact, fundamentalism acts as an ideology which advocates a return to orthodoxy and a strict compliance to the fundamental tenets of religion. Religious fundamentalists vehemently oppose progressive reforms in order to establish their exclusive control on their respective communities.
Indian democracy has also been struggling with regionalism which is primarily an outcome of regional disparities and imbalances in development. We all know that India is a plural country with diversities of religions, languages, communities, tribes and cultures. A number of cultural and linguistic groups are concentrated in certain territorial segments. Although development process in the country aims at growth and development of all regions, the regional disparities and imbalances in terms of differences in per capita income, literacy rates, state of health and educational infrastructure and services, population situation and levels of industrial and agricultural development continue to exist.
Existence and continuation of regional inequalities both among States and within a State create a feeling of neglect, deprivation and discrimination. This situation has led to regionalism manifested in demands for creation of new States, autonomy or more powers to States or even secession from the country. It is true that regionalism and sub-regionalism are unavoidable in a vast and plural country like India. It is not always correct to consider every attempt to support or defend regional or sub-regional interests as divisive, fissiparous and unpatriotic.
The problem begins when these interests are politicized and regional movements are promoted for ulterior political motives. Such unhealthy regional or sub-regional patriotism is cancerous and disruptive. The continuing regional imbalances have given rise to militant movements in certain parts of our country. Separatist demands in Jammu and Kashmir or by ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) in Assam or by different groups in the North-Eastern region are matters of grave concern for Indian polity.
Corruption in public life has been a major concern in India. In 2011, India was ranked 95th of 183 countries defined as corrupt in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In fact, corruption is rampant in all walks of life, be it land and property, health, education, commerce and industry, agriculture, transport, police, armed forces, even religious institutions or so called places of spiritual pursuits.
Corruption continues to exist in covert and overt ways at all three levels – political, bureaucratic and corporate sector. One can see the nexus between the politicians, the bureaucrats and the industrialists which has resulted into corruption and corrupt practices. The tentacles of corruption have affected all organs of government, including the judiciary.
Criminalization of Politics
In recent years, criminalization of politics in India has become a debatable issue. There have been allegations that there are some elements in politics who do not have faith in democratic values and practices. They indulge in violence and take refuge in otjter unhealthy, undemocratic methods to win elections. Undoubtedly, this is not a healthy trend in politics and there is an urgent need to apply serious check on such tendencies.
Criminalization of politics is tke very negation of democratic values and has no place in a ‘ democratic set up. Democracy can be strengthened by adopting and promoting democratic values and shunning criminal activities. Recently, the judiciary, while taking a serious , note of criminal tendencies in politics, has showed signs of adopting remedial measures to apply a serious check on such elements.
The Central government and many State governments have been taking steps to address this issue effectively. This is a matter of great satisfaction and a healthy sign for the successful functioning of democracy in our country. We, as awakened citizens and as voters of the largest democracy in the world, can also contribute by discouraging such persons who have a criminal background, from contesting elections.
How to tackle the challenges of Democracy?
It is thus clear that democracy in India faces certain serious challenges. These are causes of serious concern to all. In fact, the leadership.of the freedom movement and especially the framers of the Indian Constitution themselves were very much aware of these issues, they made a number of constitutional provisions to address the same. Since independence governments have taken various measures to respond to many of these challenges.
There have been significant improvements in some of these. However, lots still have to be done. For that, efforts have been going on. These is need for collaboration among governmental agencies, political parties, civil society and citizens in general. Certain . significant corrective measures that have been adopted and can be initiated are as follows:
Universal Literacy ‘Education for All’
The significance and necessity of education for efficient functioning of democracy , was appreciated by the framers of the Indian Constitution. Which is why, free and compulsory education to all children up to the fourteen years of age continued to remain constitutional commitment in IndiaA arious governments at national and state levels have i been making efforts to attain this goal.
As a follow up of the National Policy on Education1986, a National Literacy Mission was set up in 1988 to plan and implement programmes for the removal of illiteracy under the platform, Sarva Shiksha Abhiy an. But the goal of universal literacy is yet to be attained.
Currently a nation-wide programme known as Saakshar Bharat is being implemented. It aims at developing functional literacy and numeracy to non-literate and non-numerate adults in the age group of fifteen and above, to enable them to continue their learning beyond basic literacy and acquire equivalence to formal educational system. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a flagship programme for universalization of elementary education for children between 6-14 years of age. Further, the Parliament of India in 2009 passed the Right to Education Act through which education has become a fundamental right for all children of age group’6-14 years.
From the 1970s, a number of programmes have been implemented for alleviation of poverty in India. These programmes fall into two broad categories:
(1) There are programmes to lift beneficiaries above poverty line by providing them with productive assets or skills or both, so that they can employ themselves usefully and earn greater income,
(2) Programmes are also being implemented to provide temporary wage employment for the poor and the landless.
Elimination of Gender Discrimination
It is now being recognized that the goals of democracy “of the people, for the people and by the people” can not be fully realized if the female population are not included in all ways in the processes of socio-economic and political development. That is why, besides constitutional provisions, several laws have been enacted, policies have been made and implemented and institutional reforms have been carried out for the development of women.
The 73rd and 74th Amendments of Indian Constitution in 1993 are the milestones in the process of political empowerment of women. These Amendments have reserved one-third of the seats in the Panchayati Raj Institutions, Municipalities and Municipal Corporations. Another significant development has been the adoption of the National Policy for Empowerment of Women in 2001, the overarching goal of which is to “bring about the advancement, development and empowerment cf women.” But a lot needs to be done to attain this goal.
Removal of Regional Imbalance
Redressing regional imbalances has indeed been a vital objective of the planning process in India. Efforts are on to reduce regional disparities. Besides, the Statespecific efforts for reducing intra-State regional disparities, a number of Centrally Sponsored Programmes have been in operation for the last two to three decades for taking care of specific aspects of backwardness of such regions.
Administrative and Judicial Reforms
The success of all the above stated corrective measures primarily depends on the efficient functioning of administration and independence and righteousness of the judicial system. But on both counts, a lot needs to be done. The performance of public administration in India has come under close scrutiny in the last few years. Rampant corruption, inefficiencies, wastages and irresponsiveness to the needs of citizens are some of the , commonly acknowledged problems afflicting the administration.
No doubt, the Indian judiciary lias remained independent and neutral; there are serious problems of
(1) slow disposal of cases leading to delays as well as accumulation of backlog, and
(2) very low rate of prosecution in criminal cases.
Administrative reforms have continuously been on the agenda of the government ever since independence. A number of Commissions and Committees have been set up in this regard. But bureaucratic reluctance to change has prevented the reforms to take place in full measure; The recommendations of various Commissions and Committees focus around the need
(1) to make administration accountable and citizen friendly,
(2) to build its capacity for quality governance,
(3) to orient administration for promoting peoples’ participation, decentralization and devolution of powers,
(4) to make administrative decision-making process transparent,
(5) to improve the performance and integrity of the public services,
(6) to reinforce ethics in administration.
(7) to inculcate readiness for e-govemance. Judicial reform also has been a critical concern since long. Various recommendations have been made on many occasions. The major issues that need consideration in this regard are:
- Simplification of Rules and Procedures,
- Repealing Out-dated Laws,
- Increase in the Judge Population Ratio,
- Time-bound filling of Vacant Posts in Judiciary,
- Transparency in Appointment, Promotion and Transfer of Judges,
- Judicial Accountability; and
- Transparency of Court Proceedings.
Sustainable Development (Economic, Social, Environmental)
Indian democracy can adequately respond to all the challenges when it moves forward on the path of sustainable development. A model of development without taking into account the basic needs of millions, today as well as in the future, can not be conducive for the survival of democracy. Development has to be human-centred and directed towards improvement of quality of life of all the people. It has to be focused on removal of poverty, ignorance, discrimination, disease and unemployment. The development process has to aim at sustained economic, social and environmental development.
what is SGSY?
In 1999, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) was conceived as a holistic programme of micro enterprise development in rural areas with emphasis on organizing the rural poor into self-help groups (SHGs), capacity building, planning of activity clusters, infrastructure support, technology, credit and marketing linkages. This programme has impacted many rural poor, for example, in Mathur, a village of the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, 100 women from eight self-help groups were trained in fruit processing by a non-government organization (NGO).
They availed assistance under SGSY to run a fruit processing unit registered under the name of Sathyamurthi Mahalir Mandram in May 2000, The unit produces fruit squash, jam, readyto- serve beverages, pickle, etc. Apart from raising the economic status of the group members, this venture has made the members more aware and they are actively involved in the government schemes, camps and campaigns. They have made significant representations for ensuring provision of basic facilities in their village and by bringing overall development of the area.
Write the meaning and role of political parties.
Human beings have always organised themselves in groups and larger formations. Political parties have emerged as one of these human organisations. In modern age the ideal form of government is run through one or the other method of representative institutions. All representative governments and representative institutions require the existence of political parties.
A political party is an organised body of people who share certain common principles and goals regarding the political system of a country. The main purpose of political parties is to acquire and retain political power. Political parties which run the government are called the ruling party. In a coalition government, there may be more than one ruling party. Those who sit in the opposition and criticise and analyse the performance of-the ruling party/ parties generally or on specific issues are called opposition parties. Apolitical party as such should have the following essential features:
- it must be an organised body of people with a formal membership;
- it must have clearly spelt out policies and programmes;
- its members should agree with its ideology, policies and programmes;
- it must aim at getting power through the democratic process;
- it must have a clear and acceptable leadership; and
- it must focus on broad issues and major areas of government policies.
Write about the types of party system.
India has a multi-party system- Indian politics is dominated by several national and regional parties. There are countries where there is one-party system or two-party system. Erstwhile Soviet Union and Yugoslavia had single party systems. Similarly, China has one-party system. Earlier in Germany there existed only one-party – the Nazi Party; so was the case in Italy where the only party was known as the Fascist Party. In a two party or bi-party system there are two main political parties.
The United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), Australia and New Zealand have bi-party systems. There may exist other parties but their role is generally insignificant. For example in UK, there are two main parties, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. In the USA the two main parties are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Japan, France, Germany and Switzerland have multi-party systems.
Write about the evlution of party system in India.
The evolution of Indian party system can be traced to the formation of the Congress, as a political platform in 1885. Other parties and groups originated later. The Indian National Congress was formed as a response to the colonial rule and to achieve independence from the British rule. After independence and with the adoption of a democratic Constitution, a new party system emerged in the wake of the first general elections based on universal adult franchise in 1952.
In preceding lesson you have learnt about the universal adult franchise in detail. During the post-independence period, the party system passed through various phases.The first phase is known as the phase of one-party dominance because with the exception of Kerala during 1956-59, the ruling party both at the Centre and in the states was the Congress. The second phase (1967-1975) saw the emergence of a multi-party system in India. In the Assembly elections in 1967, Congress was defeated in eight States.
For the first time non-Congress parties formed governments in these states. These parties formed coalition governments. Then came the split in Congress into Congress (O) and Congress (N). However, the Congress again became a dominant force at the Centre after winning 1971 mid-term poll. Then came the emergency period (1975-77) which is known as the authoritarian period of Indian democracy.
With the lifting of emergency, the dominance of Congress ended. In the general elections of 1977 Congress was defeated by the Janata Party. Janata Party came into existence as a result of the merger of many opposition parties. But again in 1980 general elections Congress came back to power and remained in power till 1989. Janata Party emerged out of the merger of Congress (O) led by Moraiji Desai, Bharatiya Lok Dal led by Ch. Charan Singh, Congress for Democracy (CFD) led by Jagjivan Ram and H.N. Bahuguna, the socialists led by George Fernandes and Jana Sangh led by L.K. Advani.
In 1989 elections, the National Front joined government with the support of BJP and the Left Front.But this formation could not last its tenure and elections for the tenth Lok Sabha were held in May- June, 1991. Congress again formed government at the Centre. In 1.996 general elections BJP emerged as the single largest party and was asked to form government at the Centre. Since it could not prove its majority within the given time it had to resign. The United Front which was a combination of thirteen parties, formed the government at the Centre with the external support of the Congress and the CPI(M).
But this government also could not last its full term. Although the coalition government formed under the leadership of BJP after 1998 elections was defeated in Lok Sabha, the 1999 elections again provided them the opportunity to form government which lasted its full term under a multi-party coalition, known as National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In the 14th general elections held in 2004, Congress emerged as the single largest party.
It formed alliance with like minded parties and formed government at the Centre. The phase of Indian party system which began in 1989 and is still continuing has been aptly called a phase of coalition politics. No single party has been able to form government on its own at the Centre.
Write about two types of major parties in India.
India has two types of political parties – national parties and regional parties. National parties are those which generally have influence all over the country. It is not necessary that a national party will have equal strength in all the states; it varies from State to State. A party is recognised as a national party by the Election Commission on the basis of a formula. The political party which has secured not less than four percent of the total valid votes in the previous general elections at least in four states, is given the status of a national party.
The number of national parties has been changing. In the year 2006, Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], Communist Party of India (CPI), Bahujan Samaj Party, and the Nationalist Congress Party were national parties. However, there are other parties in India, which do not enjoy national influence. Their activities and influence are restricted to particular states or regions. Sometimes these parties are formed to voice demands of a specific region.
These parties are neither weak nor short-lived. Sometimes they prove to be very powerful in their respective regions. These are known as regional parties. Major regional parties are AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu, Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, Akali Dal in Punjab, National Conference in Jammu dnd Kashmir, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Jharkhand, Asam Gana Parishad in Assam and Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
Write about Indian National Congress.
As you have already read, Indian National Congress was formed in the year 1885 in Bombay. W.C. Banarjee was the first President of the Indian National Congress. To begin with, Congress was an organisation of middle class intellectuals who were primarily concerned with political reforms in the British colonial rule. In the twenties under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, the Congress became a mass based organisation. The party started enjoying the support of the common people and played a very significant role in the freedom struggle.
After independence Jawahar Lai Nehru became the Prime Minsiter and led the Congress till his death in 1°64. As already mentioned in an earlier paragraph, this was known as the ‘Nehru era’. The Congress party won first five general elections in 1952, 1957, 1962,1967 and 1971. In 1975 national emergency was declared which went on till 1977. In the elections of 1977, the Congress was defeated.
However, in 1980 general elections, the Congress Party led by Indira Gandhi came back to power. Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 and during 1985 general elections, Rajiv Gandhi was the leader of the party. Congress won the 1985 general elections with a larger majority. In 1989 though Congress could not get absolute majority, it was the single largest party. In the tenth general
elections in 1991.
Congress again emerged as the single largest party and formed the government at the Centre. In the 1996, general elections Congress could not form government at the Centre. In the 12th general elections in 1998, Congress could get only 140.Lok Sabha seats. In the 1999 general elections Congress’s strength was further reduced to 112. But in the 14th general elections Congress entered into alliance with other secular parties and secured the number of seats that provided it an opportunity to form a coalition government.
Write about The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1980. Since then it has extended its influence in the Hindi belt, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Since 1989, it has been trying to extend its base in South India also. Since its formation in 1980, the BJP has been increasing its number of seats in the Lok Sabha gradually. In 1984, general elections it secured only two seats. In 1989 the number of seats increased to 88. In 1991 general elections BJP’s strength in the Lok Sabha increased to 122 which rose to 161 in the 1996 elections.
In 1998 it won 180 seats and in 1999 its number in Lok Sabha increased to 182. In the 1999 general elections, BJP contested as an alliance partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). In the recent 2004 general elections BJP as an alliance of NDA could not get the required majority. It is playing the role of the opposition party. The BJP has emerged as a significant national party but its support base as yet is limited to certain areas, rather than spread all over India.
Write short notes on the Communist Parties.
The two Communist Parties are the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]. Next to the Congress, the Communist Party is the oldest in India. The communist movement began in the early twenties, and the Communist Party was founded in 1925. The communists participated in the national movement, though often they had serious differences with the Congress. The communists assert that the people should be economically equal and the society should not be divided into classes of rich and poor.
The workers and peasants and other toiling people who do most of the productive work for the society, should be given due recognition and power.The communists were the main opposition in the Lok Sabha throughout the Nehru Era. In the firstLok Sabha they had 26 members, in the second and the third Lok Sabha, they had 27 and 29 members respectively. In 1957, the CPI won absolute majority in the Kerala Assembly and formed the first Communist government in India. In the early sixties specially after the Chinese aggression of 1962 there were serious differences among the members of the Communist Party. As a result, the party split into two.
Those who broke away from CPI formed CPI(M) in 1964. The CPI(M)’s main support base has been concentrated in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, though it has registered its presence in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Punjab. The CPI has its pockets of influence in states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Manipur, Odisha, Pondicherry, Punjab, etc. Moreover, CPI has been a part of the left-front coalition in Kerala and West Bengal. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2004, both the CPI and the CPI (M) were alliance partners of the Congress. They are supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre from outside.
Write short notes on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The BSP acquired the status of a national party in 1996. The BSP champions the cause of those sections which belong to low castes, deprived groups, and minorities. In fact, these sections of Indian society (the Bahujan Samaj) form the majority of the Indian population. The BSP believes that this ‘ Samaj ’ should be freed from the exploitation of the upper castes and by forming their own government. BSP’s influence lies in states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. In 1995 and 1997 BSP was a partner in the coalition governments in Uttar Pradesh.
Describe the one-party dominance in early phases.
The results of the first general election did n<?t surprise anyone. The Indian National Congress was expected to win this election. The Congress party, as it was popularly known, had inherited the legacy of the national movement. It was the only party then to have an organization spread all over the country. And finally, in Jawaharlal Nehru, the party had the most popular and charismatic leader in Indian politics.
He led the Congress campaign and toured the country. When the final results were declared, the extent of the victory of the Congress did surprise many. The party won 364 of the 489 seats in the first Lok Sabha and finished way ahead of any other challenger. The Communist Party of India came next in terms of seats winning only 16 seats. The state elections were held with the Lok Sabha elections. Congress scored a big victory in those elections as well.
It won a majority of seats in all the states except Travancore-Cochin (part of today’s Kerala), Madras, and Odisha. Finally even in these states Congress’formed the government. So the party ruled all over the country at the national and the state level. As expected, Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister after the first general election. In the second and the third general elections, held in 1957 and 1962 respectively, the Congress maintained the same position in the Lok Sabha by winning three-fourths of the seats. None of the opposition parties could win even one-tenth of the number of seats won by the Congress. In the state assembly elections, Congress did not get a majority in a few cases.
The most significant of these cases was in Kerala in 1957 when a coalition led by the CPI formed the government. Apart from exceptions like this, Congress controlled the national and all the state governments. The extent of the victory of the Congress was artificially boosted by our electoral system. The Congress won three out of every four seats but it did not get even half of the votes. In 1952, for example, Congress obtained 45 percent of the total votes. But it managed to win 74 percent of the seats.
The Socialist Party, the second-largest party in terms of votes, secured more than 10 percent of the votes all over the country. But it could not even win three percent of the seats. How did this happen? For this, you need to recall the discussion about the first-past-the-post method in your textbook ‘Constitution at Work last year. In this system of election, adopted in our country, the party that gets more votes than others tends to get much more than its proportional share.
That is exactly what worked in favour of Congress. If we add up the votes of all the non-Congress candidates it was more than the votes of the Congress. But the non-Congress votes were divided between different rival parties and candidates. So the Congress was still way ahead of the opposition and managed to win.