Notes of Ch 1 Democracy in the Contemporary World| Class 9th Civics

Study Material and Notes of Ch 1 Democracy in the Contemporary World Class 9th Civics

Topics in the Chapter

• Struggle for Democracy
• Two Tales of Democracy
→ Military Coup of 1973
→ Restoration of Democracy
→ Democracy in Poland
→ Two Features of Democracy
• The Changing Map of Democracy
• Phases in the Expansion of Democracy
→ The Beginning
→ End of Colonialism
→ Recent Phase
• Democracy at the Global Level?
→ International Organisations
→ Are these decisions democratic?
→ Democracy Promotion

Struggle for Democracy

• The expansion of democracy has not been smooth and straight. There were several ups and downs in different countries. It still remains an unstable and uncertain achievement.

Two Tales of Democracy

Democracy in Chile

• Chile is a country in South America.

• Salvador Allende was the founder leader of the Socialist Party of Chile who won the presidential
election in 1970.

• After being President, He adopted several policies to help poor and the workers which included:
→ reform of the educational system
→ free milk for children and redistribution of land to the landless farmers
→ opposing foreign companies that are taking away natural resources like copper from the country.

• But, the policies were opposed by landlords, the rich and the church and also by some other political parties.

• His government was overthrown by the military on 11 September 1973.

Military Coup of 1973

• On the morning of 11 September 1973, the military took over the seaport and arrested Defence Minister when he arrived at his office.

• The military commanders asked President Allende to resign but he refused to resign or leave the country.
→ Then the military surrounded the President’s house and started bombing it. President Allende died in the military attack.

• The military coup was led by General Augusto Pinochet, an Army general.
→ The government of the United States of America was unhappy with Allende’s rule and is known to have supported and funded activities that led to the coup.

• Pinochet became the President of the country and ruled it for the next 17 years.

• From a democratic government, a military dictatorship was established in Chile.
→ Pinochet’s government tortured and killed several of those who supported Allende and those who wanted democracy to be restored.

Restoration of Democracy

• Pinochet hold a referendum in 1988 as he felt confident that in this referendum, the people would say ‘yes’ to his continuing in power.
→ But the people of Chile say 'no' to Pinochet and his military dictatorship ended.
→ Political freedom in Chile restored.

• Slowly, the army’s role in the country’s government has been eliminated.

• The elected government that came to power ordered inquiries that showed that his government was not only very brutal, but also very corrupt.

• In January 2006, Michelle Bachelet, daughter of General Alberto Bachelet was elected President of Chile.
→ In the presidential elections, she defeated one of Chile’s richest men.

Democracy in Poland

• In 1980, Poland was ruled by the Polish United Workers’ Party, a communist party.
→ In the country, no other political party was allowed to function.
→ The people could not freely choose the leaders and those who spoke against the leaders or the party or the government were put in prison.

• The government in Poland was supported and controlled by the government of the Soviet Union
(USSR), a vast and powerful communist state.

Strike of Lenin Shipyard Workers

• On 14 August 1980, the workers of Lenin Shipyard, owned by the government in the city of Gdansk went on a strike.
→ The strike began with a demand to take back a crane operator, a woman worker, who was unjustly dismissed from service.
→ This strike was illegal because trade unions independent of the ruling party were not allowed in Poland.

• Lech Walesa, a former electrician of the shipyard who was dismissed from service in 1976 for demanding higher pay joined the strikers.
→  The strike began to spread across the whole city and they started raising larger demands.
→ They wanted the right to form independent trade unions.
→ They also demanded the release of political prisoners and an end to censorship on press.

• Finally, the government had to give in and the workers led by Walesa signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike.
→ The government agreed to recognise the workers’ right to form independent trade unions and their right to strike.

• After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new trade union called Solidarity (Solidarnosc in Polish) was formed.
→ It was the first time an independent trade union was formed in any of the communist states.

• Revelations of widespread corruption  and mismanagement in the government made matters worse for the rulers.

• The government, led by General Jaruzelski, grew anxious and imposed martial law in December 1981.

• Thousands of Solidarity members were put in prison.
→ Freedom to organise, protest and express opinions were once again taken away.

Restoration of Democracy

• In 1988. Solidarity again organised the strikes.
→ This time the Polish government was weaker, the support from Soviet Union uncertain and the economy was in decline.

• In April 1989, another round of negotiations with Walesa resulted in an agreement for free elections.

• Solidarity contested all the 100 seats of the Senate and won 99 of them.

•  In October 1990, Poland had its first presidential elections in which more than one party could contest.
→ Walesa was elected President of Poland.

Two Features of Democracy

• Democracy is a form of government that allows people to choose their rulers.

• Two features of democracy are:
 → only leaders elected by people should rule the country, and
→ people have the freedom to express views, freedom to organise and freedom to protest.

The Changing Map of Democracy

• In 1900, there were few democracies in the world. Countries like USA, France, England, etc.

• In 1950, Many Asian countries achieved independence from colonisation and opted for democracies. Countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar etc.

• In 1975, more countries opted democracies in the world. However, in many countries, democratic government was overthrown by dictators.

• By 2000, more than half of the countries of the world followed democracy. The disintegration of USSR and support from other democratic countries paved the way for democracy.

Phases in the Expansion of Democracy

The Begining

• The French Revolution of 1789 did not establish a secure and stable democracy in France.
→ However, it inspired many struggles for democracy all over Europe.

• Through the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, series of political events reduced the power of monarchy and feudal lords.

• In 1776, the British colonies in North America declared themselves independent and came together
to form the United States of America.
→ They adopted a democratic constitution in 1787 but the right to vote was limited to very few men.

• The nation struggling for democracy wanted voting right granted universally to all adults — men or women, rich or poor, white or black called ‘universal adult franchise’ or ‘universal suffrage’.

• Early democracies were established in Europe, North America and Latin America.

End of Colonialism

• Many countries became democracies immediately after the end of the Second World War in 1945.

• However, many could not remain democracies for long.

• Ghana, a country in western Africa used to be a British colony named Gold Coast.
→ It became independent in 1957.
→ It was among the first countries in Africa to gain independence and inspired other African countries to struggle for freedom.
→ Nkrumah who was active in the independence struggle of his country became the first prime minister and then the president of Ghana.
→ He got himself elected president for life but soon after, in 1966, he was overthrown by the military.

• Like Ghana, most countries that became democracies after gaining independence had a mixed record.

Recent Phase

• After 1980, democracy started spreading more quickly.
→ The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 accelerated this process.
→ The Soviet Union comprised 15 Republics which emerged as independent countries and most of them became democracies.

• Democracy was revived in several countries of Latin America.

• Pakistan and Bangladesh made a transition from army rule to democracy in 1990s.
→ However, changes were not permanent in Pakistan as in 1999 General Musharraf brought back army rule there.

• In Nepal, the king gave up many of his powers to become a constitutional monarch to be guided by elected leaders.
→ In 2005 the new king of Nepal dismissed the elected government and took back political freedoms that people had won in the previous decade.

• Myanmar, a neighbouring country of India, gained freedom from colonial rule in 1948 and became a democracy.
→ But the democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup.
→ The National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won the election in 1990 elections.
→ But the military leaders of Myanmar refused to step down and did not recognise the election results. Instead, the military put the elected pro-democracy leaders, including Suu Kyi, under house arrest.
→ Anyone caught publicly airing views or issuing statements critical of the regime can be sentenced up to twenty years in prison.
→ Due to the coercive policies of the military-ruled government in Myanmar, about 6 to 10 lakh people in that country have been uprooted from their homes and have taken shelter elsewhere.
→ Despite being under house arrest, Suu Kyi continued to campaign for democracy. her struggle has won international recognition. She has also been awarded the Noble Peace prize.
→ Yet the people in Myanmar are still struggling to establish democratic government in their country.

• By 2005, about 140 countries were holding multi-party elections, higher than ever before.

International Organisations

• There is no government of the world can pass any law that will apply to all the people of the world.
→ But there are many institutions in the world that perform partially the functions of such  a  government.
→ These organisations cannot command countries and citizens in a way a government can, but they do make rules that put limits on what governments can do.

• Various International Organisations are:

United Nations (UN): It is a global association of nations of the world to help cooperation in international law, security, economic development and social equity. The UN Secretary General is its chief administrative officer.

UN Security Council: It is an organ of the UN, is responsible for maintaining peace and security among countries. It can put together an international army and take action against the wrongdoer.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank lends money to governments when they need it. Before lending. they ask the concerned government to show all its accounts and direct it to make changes in its economic policy.

Are these decisions democratic?

• The institutions functioning as world government do not hold democratic decisions.
→ Not every country has free and equal say in the decisions that affect them.

Case of UN

• Every one of the 193 member states (as on 1 September 2012) of the UN has one vote in the UN General Assembly.
→ General Assembly is like the parliament where all the discussion takes place.
→ It meets in regular yearly sessions under a president elected from among the representatives of the member countries.
→ But the General Assembly cannot take any decision about what action should be taken in a conflict between different countries.
→ The fifteen-member Security Council of the UN takes such crucial decisions. The Council has
five permanent members – US, Russia, UK, France and China and ten other members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms.
→ The real power is with five permanent  members.
→ Each permanent member has veto power. It means that the Council cannot take a decision if any permanent member says no to that decision.
→ This system has led more and more people and countries to protest and demand that the UN becomes more democratic.
→ The permanent members, especially the US, contribute most of the money needed for the maintenance of the UN.

Case of IMF

• International Monetary Fund (IMF) is one of the biggest moneylenders for any country in the world.
→ Its 188 member states (as on 1 September 2012) do not have equal voting rights.
→ The vote of each country is weighed by how much money it has contributed to the IMF.
→ More than 52% of the voting power in the IMF is in the hands of only ten countries (US, Japan, Germany, France, UK, China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Russia).
→ The remaining 178 countries have very little say in how these international organisations take decisions.

Case of World Bank

• World Bank also has similar system of voting. 
→ The President of the World Bank has always been a citizen of the US, conventionally nominated by the Treasury Secretary (Finance Minister) of the US government.

Democracy Promotion

• Iraq is a country in Western Asia which became independent from British rule in 1932. 
→ Three decades later there were a series of coups by military officers. 
→ Since 1968, it was ruled by Arab Socialist Ba’th Party whose leader, Saddam Hussein, a played a
key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to power. 
→ This government abolished traditional Islamic law and gave women the right to vote and several freedoms not granted in other west Asian countries. 
→ After becoming the president of Iraq in 1979, Saddam ran a dictatorial government and suppressed any dissent or opposition to his rule.

• The US and its allies like Britain alleged that Iraq possessed secret nuclear weapons and other
‘weapons of mass destruction’ which posed a big threat to the world.
→ But when a UN team went to Iraq to search for such weapons, it did not find any.
→ Still the US and its allies invaded Iraq, occupied it and removed Saddam Hussein from power in 2003. 
→ The US installed an interim government of its preference.
→ It is argued that it was important to end the dictatorial rule and set up a democratic
government in the country.

• The war against Iraq was not authorised by the UN Security Council. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, said that the US war on Iraq was illegal.


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