Yes, we can say that India is a democratic country. A former and highly prized colony of the British Empire—India was considered “the jewel in the crown” of the empire—Independent India adopted a parliamentary system of government modeled on that of the British. Part III of India’s constitution, which is far more voluminous than that of the United States, specifies the rights of the country’s citizens, including such fundamental concerns as speech, assembly, and religion. Section 19 of this provision reads as follows:
19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc:
All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression;
• Freedom of expression b. to assemble peaceably and without arms;
• Freedom of assembly c. to form associations or unions or co-operative societies;
• Freedom of association
• Right to join trade unions
• Freedom of movement d. to move freely throughout the territory of India; e. to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; . . .
India’s constitution establishes an office of the president and a bicameral parliamentary structure (the Council of States and the House of the People are the two chambers). It also delineates divisions of authority between branches of government. The citizenry votes for members of Parliament, and an electoral college casts ballots for the president. A prime minister is elected from the majority party in Parliament and is responsible for most of the day-to-day duties of a chief executive. In short, India is a democracy. Political representation reflects the will of the electorate.
An example of India as a functioning democracy occurs with every national election. These take place at least every five years. While India is not without its problems, including political corruption, its electoral processes are widely perceived as legitimate, and the country is considered the world’s largest democracy by virtue of its enormous population (1.3 billion).