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The Democratic Governance Paradox

By Venkatasubramanian Srinivasan

Democratic governance refers to a system of government where institutions operate according to democratic processes and norms, both internally and in their interactions with other institutions. It emphasizes openness and transparency in both the public and private sectors, holding decision-makers accountable for their actions and ensuring they answer to the citizens they serve. Essential for a functioning democracy, democratic governance promotes citizen participation, transparency, and accountability.

However, democratic governance faces a myriad of challenges, both perennial and emerging, as societies evolve and confront new realities. Some of these challenges include:

• Polarization along political lines, hindering consensus on key issues and fostering distrust and division.
• Threats to democratic norms and institutions, including attacks on the rule of law, freedom of the press, and independent judiciaries.
• Corruption weakening institutions, eroding public trust, and distorting resource allocation.
• Economic inequality marginalizing segments of society and fostering resentment towards established democratic systems.
• Rapid technological advancement presenting both opportunities and challenges, such as digital privacy and disinformation.
• Globalization leading to challenges like loss of sovereignty and job outsourcing.
• Climate change requiring coordinated action at various levels of governance.
• Changing demographics posing challenges in ensuring representation and addressing diverse needs.
• Security threats undermining democratic governance and civil liberties.
• The rise of populist and authoritarian leaders eroding democratic institutions and concentrating power.

India’s democratic journey involves navigating geopolitical dynamics while upholding democratic principles through global leadership and regional diplomacy.

Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach, including adaptability, strengthening institutions, promoting transparency and accountability, fostering civic engagement, and adapting to changing landscapes.

Balancing interests among government branches is vital for upholding democracy, including implementing checks and balances, clarifying roles, upholding judicial independence, promoting transparency, and encouraging dialogue.

Media neutrality is crucial but challenging due to ownership influence, editorial bias, and political pressure. Solutions include promoting diversity, robust editorial guidelines, press freedom safeguards, diverse revenue streams, media literacy promotion, and transparent content moderation policies.

[The author is a retired international civil servant of the United Nations, presently Founder & Principal Consultant, India i.e., Bharat Knowledge Exchange, and Founder & CEO, Quill & Juris]

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