The elements of democracy in Bharat can be traced back to ancient Bharat, even though the journey of Bharat’s democracy in its modern sense, began with the country’s independence from British rule in 1947. The Constitution of Bharat, which was adopted in 1950, established the framework for a democratic government, with separation of powers among the executive, legislature, and judicial branches.
In the initial years after independence, Bharat faced several challenges, including poverty, illiteracy, and communal tensions. Despite these challenges, the country’s democratic institutions upheld their autonomy and functioned without any executive interference.
In the 1960s, the Congress Party, which had led the independence movement, began to lose its grip on power, and a number of regional parties emerged. This increased the diversity of political representation in the country. Opposition ruled state governments began to highlight regional disparities at the national level. Some States went as far to set up Committees to look into federal issues. The P.V. Rajamannar Committee established by the Tamil Nadu government in 1969 is a case in point.
Through the 1970s, Bharat faced scathing political challenges. The nation was suffering from a food crisis, and political instability.The situation was exacerbated by the Bangladesh Liberation war. While the war (and the subsequent Pokhran Tests of 1974) elated Indira Gandhi, and her government to an all time high, nonetheless, the darkest period would soon follow with the imposition of Emergency in 1975. The decade of the 1970s was also marked by massive socio-political movements in Bharat. The Navanirman Andolan in Gujarat led to the dissolution of the Assembly, whereas, the JP Movement rocked the Union government with massive protests and labor strikes. This period has been regarded as the most challenging period in Bharat’s democratic history.
These challenges also continued in the 1980s. By now, the nation faced several economic challenges, including high inflation, and a Balance of Payments crisis. The rise in separatist movements in Nagaland, Kashmir Valley, and Punjab brought with them, perils of insurgency and violent uprisings in these States. To tame the worsening situation, a number of economic and political reforms were introduced, which helped stabilize the country and set the stage for a period of economic growth in the 1990s and 2000s.
In recent years, Bharat’s democracy has been tested by a number of issues, including rising religious polarization, economic inequality, and a decline in the independence of autonomous institutions such as the judiciary and the press. Despite these challenges, Bharat’s democratic system has remained resilient, with regular and peaceful transfer of power between different political parties.
Overall, the journey of Bharat’s democracy has been marked by challenges, but also by a commitment to democratic values and institutions. The country has a robust system of checks and balances, regular elections and a reasonably free press, which have helped it to sustain and grow as a democratic nation.
Today, Bharat is the world’s largest democracy, with a population of over 1.3 billion people. The country has a federal system of government, with power divided between the central government and the states. The army is firmly under civilian control and the President of Bharat acts as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Since Independence, there has never been an instance of a coup-d’etat and thus, the Bharat’s armed forces are one of the most professional personnels in the World.
The President is the head of state, and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The President is elected by the members of the Electoral College, which is made up of members of the parliament and state legislative assemblies. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and is usually the leader of the party (or coalition) with the majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Bharat’s parliament.
Bharat’s parliament consists of two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the members of the state legislative assemblies, while members of the Lok Sabha are elected by popular vote in single-member constituencies.
The judiciary in Bharat is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government and is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the Constitution. Acting as the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court has played a phenomenal role in safeguarding civil liberties, and upholding federal spirit.
Nonetheless, concerns have been raised regarding religious freedom, press freedom, minority rights, violation of civil liberties, draconian terror laws, pending cases, rundown on political opposition, misuse of autonomous institutions, and ever growing social strife. However, it must be categorically stated that the democratic credentials are vested not in the Bharat’s State alone, but also in the Bharat’s people. The compounding system of checks and balances makes Bharat’s democracy vibrant, and self-correcting.