International Day of Democracy
The International Day of Democracy is celebrated around the world on 15 September each year. It was established through a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007, encouraging governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy.
The International Day is an opportunity to review the state of democracy around the world. It is an opportunity to highlight the important role of parliaments, and to celebrate their capacity and mandate to deliver on justice, peace, development and human rights.
Democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life. The link between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
The word democracy comes from Greek “demos”, it means people and those who hold sovereign power. Thus, democracy is closely interrelated to metacognition of feelings and fundamental principles of others. The term democracy first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city-state of Athens during classical antiquity. … All eligible citizens were allowed to speak and vote in the assembly, which set the laws of the city state. Although this Athenian democracy survived for only two centuries, its invention by Cleisthenes, “The Father of Democracy,” was one of ancient Greece’s most enduring contributions to the modern world. The Greek system of direct democracy would pave the way for representative democracies across the globe.
There are different types of democracies existing in the world which include: Direct democracy, Representative democracy, Constitutional democracy, Monitory democracy. The most common form of democracy in today’s world is representative democracy.
Representative democracy or indirect democracy is when people choose to vote for who will represent them in a parliament. This is the most common form of democracy found across the world. Its emphasis lies on protecting the rights of not only the majority of the people in the state, but also the minorities.
The most democratic nations in the world are: Norway, Iceland ,Sweden followed by New Zealand. According to the Democracy Index, whic measures the states of democracy, several nations are classified as “flawed democracies.” While elections are free and fair and there are basic civil liberties, there are faults in other aspects, such as low levels of participation in politics and civics or an underdeveloped political culture.
These nations tend to have the most corruption. Norway has the highest Democracy Index 9.87 followed by Iceland 9.58. India has Democracy Index as 6.9 and Pakistan 4.2. Various countries in the world are non-democratic which include: Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Vietnam, Jordan, China, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Cuba, Libya, Morocco, Qatar.
India, officially the Republic of India, is the most populous democracy in the world. According to World Forum on Democracy, electoral democracies now represent 120 of the 192 existing countries and constitute 58.2 percent of the world’s population.
“I understand democracy as something that gives the weak the same chance as the strong.” – M K Gandhi
“If you live in a place where you can participate in the political process, please do. The only way that we can protect all our rights is if we protect our right to choose our own leaders.” – Anthony Banbury
(The author is Principal(I/C) Abhedananda Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children, Solina, Rambagh)