India slipped two places to 53rd position in the 2020 Democracy Index’s global ranking, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, which said the “democratic backsliding” by authorities and “crackdowns” on civil liberties has led to a further decline in the country’s ranking.
How without economic equality, true democratic freedom is unattainable
- In India’s case, inequality is the very base historically. Democracy is a means to an end that should be socially defined and determined. For instance, development, in a democratic sense, must be inclusive, equitable and sustainable.
- There are three critical interlocking pillars to economic democracy: individual economic rights, diverse forms of democratic collective ownership of companies, and the need for greater public participation in economic decision-making.
- With more economic freedom, citizens will have more time and power to delve into democracy
- Education and awareness is improved when more economic power is acquired. This leads to better decision making in democratic setup
- By economic freedom, income and wealth inequality lessens over time and thereby creating better representation in the democracy
- Ex: MGNREGA allocation must be utilised not for creating wage-employment but for building the asset base of the poor, developing entrepreneurship (business as well as social) among them, building idea/incubation centres and helping undertake production/ business units, individually or on a group basis.
Real democracy is economic democracy, as Ambedkar stressed. A starting point is ensuring economic security to all, not through an income transfer programme (universal basic income), but through the provision of universal property rights. The poor should be treated not as welfare scroungers, but as consumers, active producers, and potential entrepreneurs.