The World's Largest Democracy: A Euphemism for Chaos?

April 12, 2018


It is entirely impossible to rule as diverse a country like India, a multi-ethnic, a multi-lingual country except by consensus. Unity has always been the show of hope for India but is it still the ray of light in a room of darkness? Are we losing the actual essence of being a democracy? Is it because of the misdoings of the political elite we are entering the vicious circle of post-truth politics? I would like to elucidate the reader about these issues faced by our democracy in this article.

The Indian Parliament, where the process of law-making takes place.

Population and Populism:

The issue of population has been haunting our country since independence, after tremendous leaps in the health sector and social welfare schemes, India is witnessing a massive increase in its population which has indirectly been affecting the democratic model of our country. In the US, 435 members of representatives are elected to represent a country with a population of 323.1 million people, i.e., one representative per 7.5 lakh citizens (average). In India, out of the total 552 members in the Lok Sabha, 550 members are elected which in turn divided by her population of 1.3 billion leaves us with one representative for 24 lakh citizens (average). Almost 3 and a half times the same number in the US is reflected in the Indian context questioning the very functioning of our democratic system.

Indian Prime Minister: Narendra Modi in a rally

A solution forethought by many political pundits may be the naive idea of increasing the number of seats in the Lok Sabha and thus reducing the number of people per representative which will in turn help in building a more transparent, liberal and progressive democracy. But, it is often forgotten that this simple process can add load to the already regressive system. Since 1989, until 2014, no single party had gotten the majority to form a government and this tragedy lead to the stalling of more than 200 schemes. Assuming the suppositions put forth by political pundits, we draw out a figure, say increasing the number of seats in the Lok Sabha by 50 seats increasing the total number to 602 in the Lok Sabha. A party will require 302 seats to procure absolute majority, and right now the Bharatiya Janata Party has a total of 282 seats and the NDA constitutes a total of 336 with external support from another 100 MPs across other regional parties would have again resulted in a coalition government making it hard to address demands of local parties and people in general.

Moreover, in a country like India which has more than 20% of its entire population living under the poverty line, it becomes challenging for these people to choose their leader. This crowd tends to get attracted towards populism rather than performance. It is easy for a populist figure to convince these people and get their votes for political advantage rather than delivering on the promises earlier made. India has been subject to a lot of problems on its democratic front, and these checks seem to be easily dodged by politicians having leverage over democratic institutions due to the unbinding support he or she possesses.

Casteism in the Country:

India has around 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes, over 10 major religions and 500 languages spoken all throughout. India is plagued with caste-based politics and sensitive language based extremism and segregation. The problems caused due to caste-based and religion based politics is always based on the utopian model of dividing and ruling. The BJP tries to communalize its voters, and the Congress decides to pamper the minorities for their votes along with a few Hindu votes. Apart from the apparent two, regional parties like the BSP focuses on Dalit support, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra supports Shivaji pride and the Dravidian parties in southern states of the country focus on enhancing language based segregation.
Bharat Bandh in the wake of Supreme Court decision against reservation.

The recent Bharat Bandh against the Supreme court order clearly shows as to how reservation can take a toll on a country's social engineering. The idea of Economic Reservation is and has always been the best method of reservation as spelled out in the 14th Law Commission, but since the idea of Economic reservation has been a far-sighted scenario for the Indians, the rich people amongst the SC/ST people tend to reap better benefits of the reservation system which a poor Dalit landless farmer deserves.

What happens if more and more focus is given on winning seats by analyzing the vote share in a constituency on the basis of caste population? It leads to mere electioneering rather than actual thought processing of the democratic framework. It tends to cut the extra slack which the minorities have by summing up the two largest caste combinations that can work out for a political party. The end result is simply the domination of two castes that have additional social leverage in terms of political muscle over the other lowly populated castes and resulting in a simple jolt for elections being an instrument in promoting equality.

 Excessive Bureaucracy and Slugged Government Systems:

Before Indian Independence, the Indian Civil Service was a complex set of systems with the Governor General and the Viceroy having excessive powers and a separate Cabinet Ministry appointed by her Majesty the Queen herself for the proper administration of the country. Post-independence, the drafting committee found it very hard to administer smooth functioning of the country and thus converted the ICS to the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) division with a vast set of rules and prevented excessive power concentration by a few senior officials in the hierarchy and with several re-engineered processes to ensure it serves the best interests of the people. But the question here is whether the entire steel matrix has gotten rusty after 70 years of independence. 

Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Consultancy Group has rated Indian Bureaucracy, 'the worst in Asia'. This rating comes amidst burgeoning irregularities in the bureaucratic system. Comparing Indian Bureaucracy with that of the incumbent Chinese authorities, India has lost its race in the wake of improvising its economy due to red-tape and lack of accountability in this slugfest a system. The Modi government has always focussed on reducing red tape, reducing the levels of seniority in bureaucracy and also has remained committed to promoting a system of transparent governing. But, a recent survey conducted by LocalCircles seems to show that the scheme 'Startup India' has had a positive impetus only on 20% of the attendants and the remaining 80% felt that the scheme either had no role in promoting their business model and also felt that the scheme had better potential, questioning the mere interest factor of politicos rather than actual performance.


I have listed a few problems faced by our country as a democracy. These problems have always been plaguing our country and none of our lawmakers seem to have addressed these issues. In a recent interview with ex-Supreme Court judge, Markande Katju stated that the country is heading towards a social revolution against its crippled constitution having never provided a proper solution for the problems faced by our countrymen. Increasing prices, income disparities and a 

dwindling Supreme Court in the country seems to add fuel to the fire. It took 20 years to convict Salman Khan in the Poaching case and still his appeal seems to grant him extra leverage in availing a longer wait period for the case. The Gujarat Riots case seems to be an unsolved mystery and most politico related cases have remained unanswered for more than a decade. As of 2017, more than 50,000 cases have been pending in the Supreme Court and justice seems to be a distant dream for the poor. I would like to end this blog here and would continue the next blog by providing a few solutions that can be incorporated to treat this growing tumor faced by our democracy and end this chaos once in for all. 

Thank You.

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