Being a democracy, Indian people enjoy more freedom of expression unlike in countries like Pakistan, China, etc. There are no shackles on the media which is very proactive and vigilant when it comes to citizens’ rights in India. The democratic system has also provided opportunities for lower castes and under­privileged sections to rise to power.

The UP chief minister, Mayawati, a Dalit, is a perfect example of how Indian democracy has empowered the oppressed classes. Similarly, former President, K. R. Narayan, hailed from a scheduled caste. But in the rural hinterland, it is a different story. Abject poverty, agricultural failures, farmers’ suicides, caste discrimination and feudalism still thrive in remote pockets of the country.

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Here there are no pucca roads, no electricity or schools or even primary health centers. This does not reflect well on Indian democracy. Unless development and progress reach every Indian, there is no point tom-tomming that we are the world’s largest democracy.

In some states, minorities are oppressed. The rise of militant Hinduism as a response to militant Islam is a cause for worry. It may even lead to the emergence of a Hindu Taliban. The Mangalore incidents are an example. India cannot afford such a leap into the past.

A nation where women’s rights are not respected will never rise to become a superpower. Corrupt politicians have done much to erode the gains made after independence. The people of India have to be ever vigilant that the rights and privileges won after nearly a century of struggle should not be destroyed by self-seeking and corrupt politicians.