Masses lose faith in democracy: SDSA
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 22-Jul-2013

undefinedNew Delhi, July 22: The preliminary data from the State of Democracy in South Asia (SDSA)-II report shows democracy in India is thriving though the level of belief in the system has shown a sharp decline since 2005.

Findings of the three-nation survey conducted in Sri Lanka, Nepal and India was unveiled here recently. The survey in Pakistan would take place over next few months.

Indian survey, conducted by Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in early this year, shows that percentage of people who believe in democracy declined to 47% from 55% in the first SDSA in 2005.

Even the percentage of people who were undecided (30%) has come down to 18% in the latest survey. Result of Indian survey was presented by political scientists Suhas Palshikar, Sanjay Kumar and Sandeep Shastri.

Conducted over 22 states with a sample size of 5,465 and consisting of fair representation of all social categories, the highlight of the survey is that men are more satisfied with democracy and most importantly all minorities compared to majority prefer more democracy.

Among the minorities, 51% preferred democracy that found favour only among 43% of majority community. Among the minorities, 10% said under some circumstances an authoritarian government can be preferable to a democracy; 17% said it didn't matter to them whether there is a democratic or a non-democratic government. In the majority community, 11% were in favour of an authoritarian government and 16% didn't care.Interestingly, 30% of the majority community did not respond unlike only 22% of minorities.

But the irony is that 54% of people surveyed did not know the meaning of democracy. Only 10% said it is about people's rule, for 4% about parties and elections, for 5% about law and institutions and another 4% said it is about social justice and equality and for 9% about development & welfare. In fact, there has been discernible decline in perception of democracy since 2005.

Around 41% said government should consider opinions of all ordinary citizens, 24% wanted government to consult local government and 19% said government can take decisions by itself.

As for participation in political activities, majority said they have never got together to raise an issue or seen a petition or attended a demonstration. It also comes out that the majority (54%) consider government as their employee and some (26%) look to it as their parent.

The survey shows that government employees were most contacted to solve problems, even more than politicians. Most surprisingly more than half the people polled preferred government control over media.

Representative democracy was again favoured (86%) in comparison to rule by experts, strong leader, military rule or rule by a religious leader. However, in the last survey support for representative democracy was 94%.

Call it a reflection of changing character of politics, preference for strong leader, military rule (39% from 24% in 2005) and even religious leader has gone up. Among those who supported rule by religious leader, 32% are non-literate, minorities (30%), majority (26%), youth (26%) and only 19% highly educated. But preference for military rule is higher among the majority community (42%), non-literate (43%), highly educated (36%) and minority (32%).

 (Additional inputs from agencies)