ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Democracy by Courtesy?

The constitutional provisions for fundamental rights and basic freedom that can be exercised within the democratic sphere, by logic, rule out political practice that is based on a moral element such as courtesy. Courtesy acquires salience in acquiescence that is shaped by an asymmetrical power relation, which constitutes a binary between those who are privileged to favour another, where those at the receiving end of this favour seem to attribute this to the courteousness of those who are powerful. It is in this sense that courtesy takes the moral shape of civic protocol that involves an acknowledgement of “favour,” which is why it does not fit in a democratic framework. Such a democratic framework is necessarily based not on favour but on the language of assertion, which is shaped and sharpened by the rights and freedom as defined in the Indian Constitution.

Hence, political interaction between the voters and political parties, for example, is not mediated by an extra constitutional element such as courtesy of the powerful few, but by the language of rights and freedom available to many. The realisation of the rights and freedom does not accrue from the courteousness of those who have the power to do favour for others. On the contrary, it is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Put differently, in an ideal democratic set-up, voters are expected to vote for a party not with the sense of doing a favour to a particular party. In fact, the most reflective decision to vote for a particular political party is taken in one’s own “favour” or in the common interest.

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Updated On : 20th Nov, 2021
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