Outlines of Social and Economic Democracy
By Dr. Rajkumar Singh
In contrast to the conventional definition of economic democracy, which often conflated with industrial democracy and mainly focuses on collective bargaining and trade union representation or the existence of cooperative ownership, while under new components which took an expanded view of economic democracy emphasis is on ‘workplace plus employment rights.
It includes levels of employment protection and insecurity, employee participation and managerial attitudes; ‘degree of associational economic democracy’, involving levels of trade union organisation, employees ’organisation and collective ownership, distribution of economic decision-making powers’, a range of measures of the concentration of economic power, and transparency and democratic engagement in macroeconomic decisionmaking. According to findings done in the era of globalisation the countries such as Norway, Denmark and Iceland having higher levels of economic democracy, have much lower levels of inequality and poverty than the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK).
This policy wisdom brings a suggestion for combination of individual employment security, decentralised economic decisionmaking, and a greater transparency and democratic engagement in macroeconomic decision-making can enhance economic democracy and counter the pressures associated with rising inequality and poverty.
In the context, although no perfect model has been developed to eradicate discrimination and inequality, the two common features of strong performing countries indicated that high levels of individual employment rights, which provide largely the protection of income levels when people become unemployed and strong social partnership and collective governance institutions. In a nutshell, in the current global economic scenario the inequality and unemployment are likely to increase in days to come.
Contexts of Ideology
Originally, the concept of social democracy began as a political ideology and advocated an evolutionary and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism using established political processes in contrast to the revolutionary approach to transition associated with orthodox Marxism. In the early years of the post-war era in Western Europe social democratic parties rejected the Stalinist political and economic model and adopted an alternative model between capitalism and Marxist Socialism. Further, it is characterised by a commitment to policies aimed at curbing inequality, eliminating oppression of underprivileged groups, and eradicating poverty as well as support for universally accessible public services, like care for elderly, child care, education, health care and workers’ compensation.
When on 15 August 1947, India became Independent, the Constitution of India was already in the making and its framers were well aware of the glaring social inequalities that existed in Indian society. In the prevailing situation they understood the need to provide a form of justice which could fulfil the expectations of the freedom movements as put before the Constituent Assembly.
First work of this assembly is to make India independent by a new Constitution through which starving people will get complete meal and clothes, and each Indian will get best option that he can progress himself’. As a result, this exercise fully reflected in its totality in the Preamble of the Constitution which sought to attain Justice-social, economic and political, Liberty-of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, Equality-of status and of opportunity and promotion of Fraternityassuring the dignity if the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
Indian Model of Democracy
In fact, the Indian model of social democracy will be totally different from the social democracy as emerged in northern Europe in relatively small, homogeneous, highly educated and wealthy countries with export-oriented economies. Compared to northern Europe, India differs on every one of those counts and the challenge of specifying an Indian social democracy is in every respect greater than Europe’s politicians and intellectuals ever faced and in the given situation we need and also have a chance to create our own alternative: an Indian social democracy.
Despite our impressive growth path, we should recognise the fact that it also brings insecurities and social risk and these two coming together form the problem of workers and citizen security. The political leaders and intelligentsia know only how to make growth, claim for monopoly of wisdom, over how to distribute the benefits of growth but they lack the idea to sustain them.
In the context, the policy of the government may be highly fruitful and useful, it however, becomes political strategies for delivering votes and not a way of thinking about social justice. Both election and social justice are separate things and need to be handled apart to avoid inequality, frustration, alienation, sense of insecurity and economic fear and the social security of the poorest is uppermost as failing of this will have a wider implication for our future.
In nutshell, our growth will largely depend on domestic consumption as well as increase of the purchasing power of most Indians, which involves some degree of redistribution of income and entitlement. In other words, the main challenge for the Indian model of social democracy is to create both-social protection and social opportunities.
Theme of Working
At the time the political democracy was adopted and implemented in India in the form of Parliamentary System of Government, mostly following the British pattern, it however, was unmatched with the public mood and basic eligibility applied to a democratic rule across the world, particularly in Western countries.
In the established system the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution felt proud to make it a Sovereign Democratic Republic where all sovereign power vested in the people with no internal or external superior and where people themselves became their own masters. It works together with an integrated Legislature and Executive and a separate Judiciary, which was constitutionally made guardian and chief interpreter of the rule of law.
The President, who is Head of the State, is elected indirectly by a national electoral college which comprises members of legislatures from all over India for the period of five years. The Parliamentary System operates through bicameral legislature-Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, also called Lower and Upper House respectively. The Supreme Court of India is situated at the head of Indian Judiciary, headed by the Chief Justice of India with 21 High Courts and a large number of Trial Courts.
The political change that took place in 1947 preferred an intermediate way between traditional and modern with the hope that new leadership and institutions will offer economic opportunity, administrative patronage, and position of power essential for the modern network and outlook to move further the society and politics as well. The system, so established, undoubtedly worked for several years following India’s independence.
About the Author: Dr. Rajkumar Singh, Professor and Head Department of Political Science; Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University Madhepura-852113. Bihar, India. [email protected]