Democracy and Development
Introduction: In the democratic system of governance effectiveness of institutions, rules and political processes involves transparency, participation, responsiveness, accountability and the rule of law. All are important for development-especially since ineffective institutions usually cause harm to poor and vulnerable people. However democracy for development, especially human development, is much more than effective institutions and rules. For three reasons, it must also be concerned with whether institutions and rules are fair and whether all people have a say in how they operate:
1. Participating in the rules and institutions that shape one’s community is a basic human right and part of human development.
2. More inclusive governance can be more effective.
3. More participatory governance can also be more equitable.
Concept of Democracy and Development : Democracy is a universally recognized ideal based on values
common to people everywhere regardless of cultural, political, social or economic differences. As an ideal, democracy aims to protect and promote the dignity and fundamental rights justice, foster economic and social development.
Beside, democracy, as a political system, system, enables people to freely choose an effective, honest, transparent and accountable government. Democracy is based on two core principles :
Participation and accountability. It presupposes a genuine partnership between men and women in conducting the affairs or society. Democracy is also inseparable from human right and founded on primacy of law, for which judicial institutions and independent, impartial, effective oversight mechanisms are the guarantors. So, prerequisites for democratic governance involves properly structured and well functioning institutions including a parliament representing all parts of society. An active civil society is also essential to develop conditions conducive to the genuine exercise of participatory rights.
The concept of development is also multi-dimensional and ever changing. At present development is not merely the increase in per-capita income and growth. Besides, development today is only for the people, rather development means development of the people themselves which is known commonly as human development. Even the traditional identification of human development index (HDI) is being criticized. Because, it overlooked the political ‘freedoms, participation in the life of one’s community and physical security. But such capabilities are as universal and fundamental as being able to read or to enjoy good health. They are valued by all people and without them other choices are foreclosed.
Democracy and development : An interrelationship : It is not possible to simplify the relationship between democracy and development. Some researchers argue that democracies are better guarantors or property rights than non-democracies and that enforcing property rights and contracts is essential for investment and growth. Democracies also appear to be better at managing and consolidating economic refer democracies are better at winning the support of groups that lose out from reforms. So relation democracy and development may be clarified as under:
First, democracies are better than authoritarian regimes at managing conflicts. Because, the political space and the institutions that provide for open contests give opponents hope that change is possible without destroying the system. Some politicians argue that democracy leads to political instability, undermining development. But empirical studies show the reverse relation. Socio-political unrest and handovers of power occur more often in democracies than in dictatorships, but they do not disrupt development. However the history says that wars caused greater economic hardship in dictatorships than in democracies. Democracies can mitigate internal conflicts systematically. Hence, they don’t fall into political crisis and economic turmoil usually.
The same relationship holds in the opposite direction—that is, higher incomes help democracies survive once they emerge and the likelihood of reverting to authoritarianism declines as income. Higher incomes also contribute to political stability.
Second, democracies are better at avoiding catastrophes and at managing sudden down turns that threaten human survival. As Amartya Sen argued—’Democratic institutions and processes provide strong incentives for governments to prevent famines.’
Political incentives in democracies also seem to help societies to avoid other disasters especially economic ruin and the collapse of development. The worst economic crisis in democracies have been much less severe than the worst under dictatorships. True some of the highest economic growth has been achieved under non-democratic rule, notably in the East Asian tigers between 1960s and 1980s’. But authoritarian regimes have also taken countries to economic ruin-in Mobutu’s Congo, Papa and Bede Doc’s Haiti and Idi Amin’s Uganda.
Third, democracies help to spread the word about critical health issues, such as the negative implications for women of large number of births, the benefits of breast feeding and the dangers of unprotected sex in the context of HIV/AIDS. in these areas, open dialogue and public debate can disseminate information and open debates are the cornerstone of constructive role that democracies can play in promoting development.
Fourth, political freedom and the ability to participate in the life or one’s community are capabilities that are
for human development as being able to read and write and being in good health. People a Pont cal Freedom have far fewer choices in life. And being able to participate in the life of one’s community is fundamental to human existence.
Fifth, participation through democratic governance promotes collective agency as well as individual agency. They are important for development as collective action through social and political movements has often been a motor of progress for central issues of human development protecting the environment, promoting gender equality, fostering human rights. Besides, political freedom empower the people to claim their political and social rights, while education increases their ability to demand economic and social policies that respond to their priorities.
In the other extremes question arises that does economic development increase the likelihood of a country being democratic? Modernization theory holds that the conversion to democracy is an inevitable result if economic development, making richer countries more likely to transition to democracy. However, some research findings reveal that in Latin America, the level of economic development has no significant effect on the rate of change to democracy for any of seven measures of democracy. Even so, high income countries are more likely to be more democratic one other factors are taken into account. So democracy and growth are compatible.
However, some research also exhibit conflicting effect-According to Tavares and Waezairg; democracy increases human capital accumulation and decreases income inequality, increases growth but it also lowers physical capital accumulation and raises government consumption, lowering growth. Another robust finding is that while the economic performance of dictatorships varies from terrible to excellent, democracies tend to cluster in the middle. The faster growing countries have typically been dictatorships, but no democracy has ever performed as badly as the worst dictatorships. The same is true for poverty reduction. Thus, democracy appears to prevent the worst outcomes, even if it does not guarantee the best ones.
In fine democracy and development have something else in common. They are both mere a journey than a Latination-a promise rather than a list. However, no society is ever completely democratic or fully developed what matter is moving forward, and not slipping back.