MIXED MESSAGES
India Today|January 31, 2022
While Indian citizens worry about the state of Indian democracy, they are optimistic about corruption and eager for change
AMARNATH K . MENON

Public concern about the current state of Indian democracy remains high, according to the India today MOTN (Mood of the Nation) poll. With 43.7 per cent of respondents in the latest poll saying they thought that democracy is in danger—though marginally less than in the previous MOTN in August 21—the trend of thought has remained worryingly constant.

In healthy democracies, citizens participate vigorously and effectively in the shaping of the policies and laws by which they are governed. Democratic constitutions provide for elected assemblies for citizens’ representatives to formulate new polices and pass laws. What is imperative is a process of democratic deliberation among citizens themselves.

In the opinion of 34 per cent of MOTN respondents, of the four pillars of democracy in India, the judiciary does the best job in upholding democratic norms, followed by the media at 20.3 per cent. While the legislature got only 13.4 per cent—probably a reflection of a dysfunctional Parliament— sadly, the executive has the confidence of only 10.4 per cent. Clearly, the courts are the surest bastion of citizens’ rights—or sentiments. There is also a growing belief that the judiciary must counterbalance government excesses, with 56 per cent of respondents saying so, a two percentage point increase since August 2021. There is also a drop from 32 per cent to 29 per cent in the same period in the perception that the judiciary is unnecessarily interfering in matters relating to governance. These are arguably urgent signals of growing public disquiet at the darkening shadows of elected authoritarianism and the need to build robust institutions for citizens’ participation in democratic governance.

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