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Day 76 – Q 3.What is the ethical foundation of democracy? Analyse.

3. What is the ethical foundation of democracy? Analyse. 

लोकतंत्र की नैतिक नींव क्या है? विश्लेषण करें।


“Real democracy is possible only when people truly imbibe democratic principles and respect ethical values above everything else”.


Ethical foundation of democracy:

  • Principle of mutual respect: every citizen is given equal rights and everyone owes others when they make decisions that affect others. E.g. Right of religion as an individual affair.
    • Minority rights: with majority not being authoritarian and respect minorities as individuals with equal rights.
    • Freedom of expression: to every individual including the right to criticize the very government they elect. 
  • Social equality: every person is given due opportunity in economy, political space and social space regardless of their social class background.
  • Deference to the majority: decisions must be taken taking due considerations of the minorities as well. The end goal is to come to consensus-based decision making. 
  • Integrity: of the elected government to implement the promises made, of the appointed officials to work with honesty and dedication to public service. 
  • Power: sovereignty of the public with the principle by the public, for the public of the public. No person can retain power for eternity and total absence of Authoritarian regimes and leadership. E.g. Change of power after emergency.
  • Transparency and accountability: Government as the representative of the public interest, guardian of public resources. For the same reason, we have meritorious and watch dogs like UPSC, CAG and so on.
  • Welfare state: Democratically elected government is the protector of individual rights and act in interests of public to uplift them. Thus, every decision taken by the government must benefit the public and should have wide approval. E.g. Brexit when citizens favour it, right to recall etc.,
  • Equity and effectiveness: the principle of ‘putting the last first’ of John rawls theory of justice is followed which is also enshrined in the Indian constitution as equal protection of law under Article 14.

The legal regulations and formal rules of democracy alone are not enough to hold a society together and govern its processes. Ethics of its citizens as well as the democratically elected representatives provide a just administration in any democratic country/society.

The majority community should not misuse/ dictate power on minorities and act ethically with the principles of secularism, equality and fraternity. One has to follow the principle of ‘do not unto others what you don’t want other unto you’.


Social contract theory of John locke premises the ethical foundation as a part of democracy where in the citizens give up their rights to be ruled in a civil society and the elected will be a philosopher king who works for societal development. Democracy is driven ‘by the people’, but is just only as long as the one driving it and the one being driven are ethical. 

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