International Day of Democracy : 2016

Ranjan K Baruah *

Every individual want food and shelter; education and health care and more economic opportunity. All of us want to live without fear. People want to be able to trust their Governments and global, national and local institutions.

Everyone must get human rights ad government must make sure that people have human rights. When we talk about people and their rights and government one word that strikes our mind is democracy.

In India, democracy is one of the most commonly used words. Democracy is vital in Indian politics as well as global politics. India being the largest democracy needs to re look at the true spirit of democracy because it still in confusing due to some instances whether it is farce or reality.

In simple democracy is with the common people or masses where a system a managed or governed by the people. There is no monarchy or there is no king as the people are supreme. People are governed by the people who are elected through voting or other means of democratic selection.

In September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a plan for achieving a better future for all, laying out a path over 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet.

At the heart of the Agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for mobilizing efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 addresses democracy by calling for inclusive and participatory societies and institutions. It aims to "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels."

The Goal is both an end in itself and a crucial part of delivering sustainable development in all countries. It has been seen by many commentators as the transformational goal and key to ensuring that the Agenda can be accomplished.

To achieve SDGs democracy is important. Every nation especially developing nations must focus on good governance and transparency. To avoid corruption and make sure that poor people gets benefits, it is important to have accountability in government activities. In spite of being the largest democracy India must work for the welfare of its citizen as there are millions without some of the basic amenities.

The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. 15th September has been observed as International Day of Democracy. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.

The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. In turn, democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.

These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies.

The rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and subsequent human rights instruments covering group rights (e.g. indigenous peoples, minorities, people with disabilities) are equally essential for democracy as they ensure an equitable distribution of wealth, and equality and equity in respect of access to civil and political rights.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General's Message for 2016 has said that "democratic principles run through the Agenda like a golden thread, from universal access to public goods, health care and education, as well as safe places to live and decent work opportunities for all. Goal 16 addresses democracy directly: it calls for inclusive societies and accountable institutions."

He also added that "our new Agenda aims to leave no one behind, which means we must reach those who are rarely seen or heard, and who have no voice or group to speak on their behalf. The implementation of the Goals must be underpinned by a strong and active civil society that includes the weak and the marginalized. We must defend civil society's freedom to operate and do this essential job."

Apart from government, civil society, media also has to play vital role. There must be space for civil society who can make the democracy more vibrant.

The future is secured and vibrant when there is democracy in true sense. When there is act like Armed Forces Special Power Act then we need to think whether democracy is farce or fact.

Let us make our democracy more vibrant and government also needs to look the acts or policies which are not pro people and they must be scrapped. Human right is integral in democracy and violation is human rights is a challenge.

Let there be more transparency and accountability around the world so that Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved by 2030. Together we can all contribute towards sustainable future and let us take part in achieving SDGs.

* Ranjan K Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at bkranjan(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 19, 2016.

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