The Erosion of Democracy in India

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The Erosion of Democracy in India Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The arrest of Delhi Chief Minister has sparked widespread concern about the erosion of democracy in India.
  • This event represents a culmination of tactics employed by the ruling government to consolidate power and suppress dissent.
  • Amid these developments, analysing the political implications, the erosion of democratic norms, the role of institutions, and the imperative for oppositional response, it becomes evident that Kejriwal's arrest signifies a critical juncture in India's democratic trajectory.

Perceived Implications of the ED Arrest of Delhi CM

  • Authoritarian Drift
    • The arrest of Delhi CM exemplifies a broader trend towards authoritarianism in Indian politics.
    • Over recent years, there has been a steady erosion of democratic norms and institutions, with the ruling government exhibiting an increasing propensity to wield power unchecked.
    • The selective targeting of opposition figures through agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the misuse of legal provisions demonstrate a calculated effort to suppress dissent and undermine democratic principles.
  • Electoral Politics
    • The timing of Delhi CM's arrest amidst an election cycle raises questions about the government's electoral strategy.
    • By detaining a prominent opposition leader, the government may seek to divert attention from contentious issues or project an image of strength and control.
    • Furthermore, the arrest may serve as a warning to other political adversaries, signalling the consequences of challenging the ruling regime.
    • This manipulation of electoral dynamics threatens the integrity of the democratic process and undermines the principles of free and fair elections.
  • Threat to Democracy
    • The arrest of Delhi CM serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of India's democratic institutions.
    • The subversion of democratic norms and the erosion of institutional checks and balances pose a grave threat to the democratic fabric of the country.
    • If left unchecked, such authoritarian tendencies could undermine the foundations of democracy and pave the way for autocratic rule.
  • Erosion of Democratic Norms
    • The arrest of Delhi CM has implications for India’s democracy, revealing the underlying fragility of its democratic institutions.
    • The government's manipulation of laws and institutions to stifle opposition voices undermines the foundational principles of democracy.
    • The façade of legality is exposed as laws are applied in a discretionary manner to suppress dissent and subvert democratic processes.
    • The government's actions not only undermine the rule of law but also erode public trust in democratic institutions.

The Role of Institutions in Mitigating Authoritarian Drift in Indian Politics

  • Importance of Judicial Independence
    • The judiciary serves as a bulwark against executive overreach and plays a pivotal role in upholding the rule of law.
    • However, the effectiveness of the judiciary in safeguarding democratic principles depends on its independence and impartiality.
    • In the case of Kejriwal's arrest, the judiciary's response will be closely scrutinized to assess its commitment to upholding constitutional values.
    • Any perceived compromise of judicial independence or reluctance to hold the government accountable could further undermine public trust in democratic institutions.
  • Checks and Balances
    • The principle of checks and balances is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic system.
    • Institutions such as the judiciary, legislature, and executive are designed to act as checks on each other's power, preventing any one branch from monopolising authority.
    • However, the erosion of institutional checks and balances in recent years has emboldened the executive to circumvent democratic processes and wield power unchecked.
    • The judiciary's role in restoring the balance of power and upholding constitutional norms is therefore paramount in safeguarding democracy.
  • Rule of Law
    • At the heart of democratic governance lies the principle of the rule of law, which ensures that all individuals, including those in positions of power, are subject to legal constraints and accountability.
    • However, the selective application of laws and legal provisions for political purposes undermines the rule of law and erodes public trust in the justice system.
    • The judiciary's adherence to the rule of law, free from political interference or influence, is essential in upholding the integrity of democratic institutions.
  • Accountability and Transparency
    • Democratic institutions must be accountable to the people they serve and operate with transparency to foster public trust and confidence.
    • In the context of Kejriwal's arrest, accountability mechanisms within institutions such as the judiciary are crucial in ensuring that decisions are made impartially and in accordance with constitutional norms.
    • Transparency in judicial proceedings and decision-making processes is essential to prevent the abuse of power and uphold the principles of democracy.

Way Forward: Formulation of Strategies for Oppositional Response

  • Unity and Solidarity
    • Opposition leaders must demonstrate unity and solidarity in response to Delhi CM's arrest, recognising the broader implications for democracy in India.
    • Despite ideological differences, opposition parties must set aside personal agendas and come together to collectively oppose authoritarian tendencies and defend democratic principles.
    • A united front against the ruling government's authoritarianism is essential to effectively challenge its power and protect democratic institutions.
  • Political Mobilisation
    • Beyond legal and administrative battles, opposition leaders must mobilise public support through political activism and mass mobilisation.
    • Street protests, rallies, and public demonstrations serve as powerful tools to galvanise public opinion and pressure the government to retract authoritarian measures.
    • By mobilising supporters and galvanising public outrage, opposition parties can amplify their message and demonstrate popular opposition to the government's authoritarian tactics.
  • Grassroots Engagement
    • Opposition leaders must engage with grassroots activists, civil society organisations, and ordinary citizens to build a broad-based movement in defence of democracy.
    • Grassroots engagement is critical in empowering local communities to resist authoritarianism and assert their democratic rights.
    • By fostering grassroots activism and civic engagement, opposition parties can mobilise a groundswell of support that transcends traditional party lines and strengthens the broader democratic movement.


  • The arrest of Delhi CM represents a watershed moment in India's democratic journey, signalling the encroachment of authoritarianism on its cherished democratic ideals.
  • There is a need for a united front against the erosion of democratic norms, institutional reform to safeguard democratic principles, and active citizen engagement to uphold the values of democracy.

Failure to resist the government's authoritarian tendencies poses a grave threat to India's freedom and democratic future.

Q1) What are the key provisions of PMLA in India?

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in India empowers authorities to confiscate and seize proceeds of crime, establishes a reporting mechanism for suspicious transactions, and mandates the maintenance of records by financial institutions to aid investigations into money laundering activities.

Q2) How does PMLA in India ensure compliance with international standards?

PMLA in India aligns with international standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, as prescribed by organisations like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It includes provisions for customer due diligence, reporting of suspicious transactions, and international cooperation in investigations to foster a robust anti-money laundering regime.

Source: The Indian Express