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Looking back on the International Day of Democracy

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Democracy is a form of government in which people have the right and authority to choose their governing legislation. On September 15, 1997, the “Universal Declaration on Democracy” was adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international organization of national parliaments. The declaration established the principles, the elements and the exercise of a democratic nation. The process for International Conferences on New and Restored Democracies (ICNRD) began in 1988 when the Philippines overthrew the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon C. Aquino took over as its first President.

In 2006, the sixth conference of the ICNRD that took place in Doha, Qatar, decided to promote an International Day of Democracy. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy and invited all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness. Amidst the pandemic, the UN observed this day and UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged world governments to be transparent, responsive, and accountable in their COVID-19 response and ensure that all emergency measures are legal, rational, necessary, and devoid of discrimination. “The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law,” he said.

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India too is a democratic nation but seemingly the very rights and acts of dissent assigned to us by the constitution are being reciprocated with outrage and witch hunts. As the world marks the International Day of Democracy with new aspirations and aims to make democratic nations a better place for people, India is fumbling in the standards of democracy with each passing day. Whether it be stifling dissenting voices or unheard pleas of migrant workers, unemployment or women safety, transparency (denial of information under RTI), political and religious intolerance, violation of human rights (Kashmir abrupt net ban, if you remember), freedom of speech and expression, we are in shambles.
It’s high time that we wake up from the deep sleep of political fodder fed to us and practice our rights and duties make others aware of the same.

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