Democracy: Definition and Meaning

Democracy is a form of government in which individuals directly exercise authority or elect representatives from among themselves to create a governing body, such as a parliament. The majority rule is another term for it. Power cannot be inherited here. People vote for their leaders. Representatives contest elections, and residents vote for their preferred candidate. The representative who receives the most votes is elected.

What is Democracy?

Democracy simply means "people's rule." The term derives from the Greek demokratia, which was coined in the middle of the fifth century BCE from the terms “dmos” (people) and “kratos” (rule) to characterize the political systems in several Greek city-states at the time, most notably Athens. The term democracy's etymological roots imply a slew of major difficulties that go far beyond semantics. To form a government of or for the people, at least five essential concerns must be settled from the start, with two more almost certain to be raised if a democratic republic is to be perpetuated.

History of Democracy

The concept of "democracy" first appeared in classical Greek political and philosophical concept in the city-state of Athens. The term derived from the Greek words demos (common people) and kratos (strength). It was founded by the Athenians in 508–507 BC, under the command of Cleisthenes. Cleisthenes is often described as "the father of Athenian democracy"

How does Democracy Work?

The idea of equality for all people in society is one of the basic principles of democracy. The individual vote must reflect this equality in order for it to work. Denying groups the ability to vote runs counter to the purpose of a democracy, which is a form of governance in which each individual's vote has equal weight. A republic, or a form of democracy where elected officials carry out the will of the people, is the form of government used in the United States.

Democracy in India

India is the world's most populous democracy. Following its attainment of independence in 1947, India became a democratic country. Following that, Indian citizens were granted the opportunity to vote and choose their leaders. In India, people have the right to vote regardless of caste, color, race, religion, or gender. It adheres to five democratic principles: sovereignty, socialism, secularism, democracy, and republicanism.

Democracy Principles

Major principles are −

  • The term "democracy" is derived from Greek. It’s made up of two shorter words: "demos," which refers to the entire population of a city-state, and "kratos," which refers to power or rule.

  • According to popular opinion, liberal democracies are based on four basic notions.

  • There is faith in the person since he or she is regarded as both moral and logical.

  • A faith in logic and progress: based on the idea that human growth and development is a natural state and that politics is the art of compromise.

  • A belief in a consensual society: one that values order and collaboration over chaos and conflict.

  • Based on a distrust of centralized authority and a belief in shared power.

Features of Democracy

Major features are −

Free, Fair, and Frequent Elections

As one of the fundamental qualities of democracy, a democratic society should hold elections on a regular basis, in some form or another. These elections are the people's voice, the primary mechanism through which they may influence and change the government to their liking. Elections must be completely open and fair in order to give every adult citizen of the country the right to vote.

Representation of Minorities

Countries must ensure that their citizens enjoy equal citizenship rights. Minorities should not be excluded or mistreated, and the country's legal authorities should support them in reaching equal status in life and livelihood in any way possible.

Freedom of Speech, Expression, and Choice

A democracy that limits or silences the public voice is unconstitutional. Even if it is critical of the ruling party, the public's voice should be heard openly, allowing individuals to form their own ideas and express themselves without fear of punishment.

Federal Rights

Article 1 of the Indian Constitution permits states to make a limited number of decisions without the interference of the federal government. If the federal government makes a law, all states must obey it.

Right to Education

In a democratic society, all citizens have the right to education. Every Indian has a right to an education, and there is no discrimination in the field of education based on caste, color, creed, or race. This legislation ensures that children aged 6 to 14 have a basic primary education.

Same Law for All

Democracy achieves societal equality by implying that everyone has the same rights and regulations. Celebrities and well-known individuals will be subject to the same laws as ordinary residents. In India, the law applies to everyone in every situation.

Challenges to Democracy

Major challenges that democracy usually faces are −

  • As shown in India's 1990s coalition politics, which resulted in short-term governments, frequent elections and conflicting political ideologies result in unstable and weak administrations.

  • Despite the crisis's immediacy, democratic processes cause delays in decision-making.

  • Elected rulers may make decisions that are not in the best interests of the people but for their own political purposes and perks, such as discrepancies based on caste, class, gender, and so on.


In a nutshell, the constitution is not a fixed, unchanging, or hallowed document in and of itself; rather, its "morality" and "democratic spirit," which are significant to it, are what make it sacred. The formation of constitutional democracy has benefited Indian citizens in understanding the importance of democracy and establishing democratic sensibilities in them. In order to sustain "constitutional governance," the public's confidence in the government must be sustained, and both the courts and the administration must cooperate.


Q1. What does India's democracy entail?

Ans. India is a parliamentary democratic secular republic in which the president of India serves as the head of state and the prime minister serves as the head of government. Even if the word "federal government" is not used in the Constitution, it is founded on it.

Q2. In a democracy, why is the Constitution so important?

Ans. A constitution is a set of regulations that governs a country. It is a collection of rules and regulations that, in a democratic context, place the authority of the government in the hands of the people. It is crucial because it protects individual liberty as well as the country's foundational principles.

Q3. What is the origin of democracy?

Ans. The concepts (and names) of democracy and the constitution as a system of governance arose in ancient Athens circa 508 BCE.

Q4. Why is the Constitution necessary in democratic countries?

Ans. A constitution is a set of principles or precedents that govern a state. It is a system of laws and regulations that, in a democratic arrangement, leaves the authority of the government in the hands of the public. It is significant because it safeguards individual liberty and the fundamental ideas that govern a society.

Q5. Is India a democratic nation?

Ans. India is a democratic republic because the people elect the President. A democratic republic is a form of governance in which the people have power. People have a voice, and the majority has the last word.

Updated on: 17-Mar-2023


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