Meaning of Democracy

Democracy is a system of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people of a country and people elect their representatives either directly or indirectly through fair and free elections, which are usually held periodically.


According to Mahatma Gandhi, “True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people of every village”.

Salient Features of Democracy

✓Elected representatives of people and final decision-making power to the representatives.
✓Free and fair elections.
✓Voting right is with equal value to those who have attained the age of 18.
✓Fundamental rights and protection of individual freedom.

Evolution of Democracy

Democracy began 2,500 years ago in some of the city-states of ancient Greece. It is important to know that democratic institutions existed in India as early as the Vedic period. Chanakya’s Arthashastra tells us that in ancient India, an autonomous village community was the basic unit of the local government. During the later chola period ancient Tamil Nadu, Kudavolai system was a very notable and unique feature of the village administration of the Cholas. The evolution towards a democracy is represented by the following values: freedom, equality, fraternity, accountability, transparency and trust.

Forms of Democratic government

Types of Democracy

There are two types of democracies
✓Direct democracy
✓Indirect (representative) democracy

Direct Democracy

When the people themselves directly express their will on public affairs, the type of government is called pure or direct democracy.
Example: Ancient Greek city-states, Switzerland

Indirect Democracy

When the people express their will on public affairs, through their elected representatives, the type of government is called Indirect or representative democracy.

Democracy in India

India has a parliamentary form of democracy. The Indian Parliament comprises the elected representatives of people and makes the laws for the country. The participation of people in the decision making and the consent of citizens are the two important elements of the parliamentary form of government in India.

India is the largest democratic country in the world. Democracy in India works on five basic principles. These are sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic.

Election in India

India has a quasi-federal government, with elected representatives at the federal, state and local levels. The general elections are conducted by the Election Commission of India. At the national level, the president of India, appoints the Prime Minister, who enjoys majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India.

The First Elections in Democratic India

General elections to the first Lok Sabha since independence were held in India between 25 October 1951 and 21 February 1952. The Indian National Congress emerged victorious by winning 364 of the 489 seats. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the country.

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