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During the last few decades, democracy, as the most preferred form of government, has been repeatedly revisited. Considerable literature has grown up round the concepts of inclusive governance and social responsibility as essential elements of democracy. Besides the learned scholars, some international organizations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Programme have become involved in this discussion. In the so-called developing world of South Asia and Africa, the fruits of freedom, rule of law and economic growth have been cornered by the few and not shared by all. The worst sufferers have been the most deprived and marginalized sections: women, tribals, people with disabilities, ethnic, religious or other minorities, the aged, social outcasts and the poor and least developed. For the debate on inclusive government and socially accountable democracy to be meaningful to ordinary citizens, the first categorical imperative is to shear it of much of its jargon. Democracy today is believed to be a system under which the people govern themselves, through the representatives they elect, under a system they choose. Yet representative democracy must graduate to participatory democracy, where the people are conscious of their rights and obligations, assume responsibilities and partake in decision-making processes. Furthermore, democracy has to be inclusive of the interests of all, equally and without discrimination. Special attention has to be paid to the disadvantaged and deprived. Good governance has to be democratic, citizen-friendly, clean and free of corruption. All the state functionaries, at all times, must be answerable and accountable to the ultimate masters in democracy: the people. Inclusive governance requires decentralization of power, equal participation of the people, equality of all before law and real empowerment of the people, with a bottom-up approach.
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- Democracy, Inclusive Governance and Social Accountability in South Asia
Subhash C. Kashyap
- Chapter 13
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