Different Contexts, Different Challenges

Challenges To Democracy of Class 10


Now that you have noted down all these challenges, let us group these together into some broad categories. Given below are some spheres or sites of democratic politics. You may place against each of these the specific challenges that you noted for one or more countries or cartoons in the previous section. In addition to that write one item for India for each of these spheres. In case you find that some challenges do not fit into any of the categories given below, you can create new categories and put some items under that.

Case and context

Your description of the challenge for democracy in that situation

Chile :General Pinochle’s government defeated, but military still in control of many institutions.

[Example] Establishing civilian control over all governmental institutions, holding the first multi-party elections, recalling all political leaders from exile.

Poland :After the first success of Solidarity, the government imposed martial law and banned solidarity.

The Foundational Challenge:Poland became a democracy and Lech Walesa its first popularly elected President installed the Democratic government.

Ghana :Just attained independence, Kwame Nkrumah elected president.

Challenge of Expansion:He promoted the concept of Pan-Africanism. Living standard of people improved. He deviated from the path of democracy and his major flaw was· absolute power

Myanmar :Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than 15 years, army rulers getting global acceptance.

Challenge of Power (muscle) in the form of Military (Army) Rule:Power is in the hands of army and not exercised by the elected representatives. Freedom of speech and expression does not exist.

International Organisations : US as the only super power disregards the UN and takes unilateral action.

Authoritarian:Being global institution/International organisations do not function in a democratic manner. Though every member nation has one vote in the UN General Assembly yet all crucial decisions are taken by 'Security Council'.

Mexico :Second free election after the defeat of PRI in 2000; defeated candidate alleges rigging.

Deepening Democracy:It takes measures to stifle the growth of opposition and uses other underhand measures to remain in power. But, elections do not offer any political alternatives.

China :Communist Party adopts economic reforms but maintains monopoly over political power.

Expansion of Democracy:Here, in China elections do not offer any choice to the people. People have to vote for the ruling party (Communist Party) and the candidates approved by it.

Pakistan :General Musharraf holds referendum, allegations of fraud in voters' list.

Challenge of Muscle Power Military Rule:The work of civilian cabinet is supervised by a "National Security Council" which is dominated by military officers.  

Iraq :Widespread sectarian violence as the new government fails to establish its authority.


Foundational Challenge: Iraq: 'Saddam Hussain a leading Bath (Renaissance) party leader formed the government. After becoming the president of Iraq in 1979 Saddam ran dictatorial government and suppressed any dissent or opposition to his rule.

South Africa :Nelson Mandela retires from active politics, pressure on his successor Mbeki to withdraw some concessions given to White minority.

Deepening of Democracy:In 1993, a democratic Constitution was established and apartheid government ended giving way to the formation of a multi-racial government.

Case and context

Your description of the challenge for democracy in that situation

US, Guantanamo Bay : UN Secretary General calls this a violation of international law, US refuses to respond.

Challenge to Expansion of Democracy and Challenge of Muscle Power : This involves the government of one country denying rights to citizens of another country.

Saudi Arabia : Women not allowed to take part in public activities, no freedom of religion for minorities.

Deepening of Democracy : People do not elect their rulers and have no say in "decision-making".

Yugoslavia : Ethnic tension between Serbs and Albanians on the rise in the province of Kosovo. Yugoslavia disintegrated.

Expansion of Democracy : Political competition along religious and ethnic lines led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia into six independent countries.

Belgium : One round of constitutional change taken place, but the Dutch speakers not satisfied; they want more autonomy.

Deepening Democracy : Leaders realised that the unity of the country is possible only by respecting the feelings and interests of different communities. So, mutually acceptable arrangement for power sharing was made.

Sri Lanka : The peace talks between the government and the LTTE break down, renewed violence.

Expansion of Democracy : Sri Lankan Tamils launched parties and struggles demanding an independent Tamil Eelam (state) in Sri Lanka. But, majority Rule/Dominance established.

US, Civil Rights : Blacks have won equal rights, but are still poor, less educated and marginalised.

Deepening Democracy : This movement praciticed non-violent methods of civil disobedience against racially discriminatory laws and practices.

Northern Ireland : The civil war has ended but Catholics and Protestants yet to develop trust.

Expansion of Democracy: In Northern Ireland class and religion overlap each other. This created the possibilities of deep social divisions and tensions.

Nepal : Constituent Assembly about to be elected, unrest in Terai areas, Maoists have not surrendered arms.

The Foundational Challenge : Here the popular struggle was about the foundation of the country's politics, i.e., the demand for restoration of parliament and power to all party government.

Bolivia : Morales, a supporter of water struggle, becomes Prime Minister, MNCs threaten to leave the country.

Challenge of Money Power : Bolivia's popular struggle was about one specific policy and claims on an elected, democratic government. The power of the people forced the officials of MNCs to flee and made the government concede to all the demands of the protesters.


Constitutional design

Foundational challenge related to constituent Assembly and framing of constitution.

Democratic rights

Deepening and expansion of democracy in dictatorships

Working of institutions

The Foundational challenges in non-democratic countries


Deepening democracy in the way of free, fair election and popular participation.

Federalism decentralization

Deepening democracy at grass-root levels i.e. local self government.

Accommodation of diversity

Expansion of Democracy towards socio-economic equality.

Political organsisations

The fundamental challenges in democratic and non-democratic institutions in the forms of pressure groups and political parties.

Affidavit concerned with politics

Challenge of corruption in Indian politics regarding politicians criminal records and possessions.

Free and fair election

Challenge of criminalization in Indian Politics in the way of use of money and muscle power.


Each challenge is linked to the possibility of reforms. Generally all the suggestions or proposals about overcoming various challenges to democracy are called 'democratic reforms' or `political reforms'. Some broad guidelines to be kept in mind while devising ways and means for political reforms in India.

  • Law has an important role to play in political reform. Carefully devised changes in law can help to discourage wrong political practices and encourage good ones. But legal-constitutional changes by themselves cannot overcome challenges to democracy. Political activists, parties, movements and politically conscious citizens.
  • Any legal change must carefully look at what results it will have on politics. Sometimes the results may by counter-productive. Generally, laws that seek to ban something are not very successful in good things have more chances of working. The best laws are those which empower people to carry out democratic reforms. Such a law helps to control corruption and supplements the existing laws that banned corruption and imposed strict penalties.

Different Contexts, Different Challenges

  • Democratic reforms are to be brought about principally through political practice. Therefore, the main focus of political reforms should be on ways to strengthen democratic practice. The most important concern should be to increase and improve the quality of political participation by ordinary citizens.
  • Any proposal for political reforms should think not only about what is a good solution but also about who will implement it and how. It is not very wise to think that the legislatures will pass legislations that go against the interest of all the political parties and MPs. But measures that rely on democratic movements, citizen’s organisations and the media are likely to succeed.

Different Contexts, Different Challenges

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