Etymologically, the term ‘Democracy‘ is derived from two Greek words ‘Demos’ which means ‘the people’ and ‘kratos which means power. Thus, the literal meaning of the word ‘democracy’ is ‘power of the people’. Aristotle defined democracy ‘as a government by many’. According to Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is a rule of the people, by the people and for the people.” It means that in a democracy, the ruling power of the country is not given in the hands of a particular person or a group of persons, but in the members of the community as a whole, without any distinction of caste, colour, creed or sex.
But this is only a concept of political democracy. True democracy, as we understand by the term now, is not merely a political ideal, but a complete social philosophy. It is a way of life and as such, it includes all the social, political, religious, moral and economic aspects.
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In such a democracy, different classes of people have free inter-changes of thought and action which promotes the development of all and hinders the progress of bone. John Dewey says, “Democracy is more than a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience.
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Democracy inevitably carries with it increased respect for the individual, greater opportunity for freedom, independence, and initiative in conduct and thought, and correspondingly demand for fraternal regard and for self-imposed and voluntarily borne responsibilities.” A good society is located in two traits, i.e., the number and the variety of interests that individuals consciously and mutually shape in society and the extent and freedom of inter-play between one social group and the other, Both these traits point to democracy.
According to Radhakrishnan Committee Report “Democracy is the way of life and not a mere political arrangement. It is based on the principle of equal freedom and equal rights for all its members, regardless of race religion, sex, occupation or economic status.” The Preamble of the Constitution of India reads, ‘The Sovereign Democratic Republic of India will secure to all its citizens’ justice social, economic and political, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and equality of rights and opportunity.
It will further promote among them all “fraternity, assuming the dignity of individual and unity of the nation.” Thus democracy in India is based on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. While the last three slogans have come down to us from the French Revolution, the first, i.e., justice, has been added to it by India, making democracy a four-square pattern.” It means that – true democracy can be achieved through justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.