As India completes 60 years of Independence, it can look back with a considerable degree of pride at the shaping of a democratic political system in the country. One of the major achievements of independent India is the parliamentary democratic system that was instituted along with a Republican Constitution. The Constitution provided the scope for people's participation and a voice in politics, which reflects the aspirations of the Indian people in their struggle for national independence.
Despite the narrow basis and the class constraints on the democratic system in a developing capitalist society, it is creditable that parliamentary democracy has retained its vitality over the years. Unlike the experience of many other newly independent countries, the prospects for democracy in India have not shrunk but grown since Independence. This is mainly due to the people and the popular struggles and democratic movements. The participation of ordinary people in the elections at all levels is marked by sustained enthusiasm. This is particularly so in the States where the Left has strong influence.
However, the political system cannot be said to have transformed the lives of people - by securing their livelihood, by abolition of poverty and the structures of exploitation, and providing equity with economic growth. The Constitution of India, in its Directive Principles, directs the state to promote the welfare of the people by securing "a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life." It calls for the state to strive "to minimise the inequalities in income" and to see that the "control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good" and to ensure that the "operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to common detriment."
Six decades later, there is no doubt that the working of the state and policy making are clearly contrary to these goals set out in the Constitution. Most of the conflicts and crises in the system can be traced to this fundamental contradiction: political democracy coexisting with concentration of wealth and economic inequalities