The word ‘democracy’ is derived from a Greek word which means rule by the people. To put it in simpler words, Democracy is a form of government where power is held in the hands of citizens. The significance of democracy lies in the fact that it is based on the principle of promoting equality among all and to provide freedom to all its citizens. Democracy allows all the people to have an equal voice irrespective of caste, color, gender, and sex. International Democracy Day is therefore celebrated to create awareness about democratic values among people.
International Democracy Day is celebrated around the world on 15th September every year. This day is significant because of democracy:
- provides a platform to value freedom
- reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights
- holds honest elections by giving every citizen a right to vote
These are the elements of democracy that are written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The day was established in 2007 through a resolution passed by the General Assembly, an organ of the United Nations Organisation, to encourage the government of different countries to strengthen their faith in democracy.
First International Democracy Day:
15th September 2008 was observed as the first International Democracy Day. The same day when the 20th anniversary of the First International Conference of New or Resorted Democracies was marked. Henceforth, it provides an opportunity for people to promote the significance of a democratic society.
Democracy is the main 2030 agenda for sustainable development. To realize the importance that democracy holds and to recognize the links of individuals between peaceful societies, the main agenda is to address the value of democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16. It will also help people and the government to understand and respect democracy and will urge citizens to participate in a democratic system.
Events and Celebrations:
In order to encourage and deepen the awareness about democracy, various events and celebrations are organized worldwide by non- government organizations, government agencies, and other important organizations. The main purpose of these events is to generate awareness and honor democracy. Events like press conferences (involving leaders, keynote speakers, and educationists), debate competitions, workshops, meetings, discussions, radio phone-ins, and photo competitions are organized all over the world.
Moreover, many universities, schools, and public institutions place posters, flyers, notices, and other relevant information to create awareness about democracy and how fundamental rights (especially freedom to speech and expression and freedom to choose the right representative or political leader) are important.
The general idea behind organizing the events is to make people understand that democracy is the need of any country. It leads a country to not only political but also human development. A country with no democratic rights can not lead forward as basic human rights are important to take any country to heights.
Educating the masses:
Paulo Freire has rightly said that “Leaders do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people- they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated- they oppress.” So, it has become necessary to educate the masses that basic human rights are curtailed when a state does not consider to function democratically. Masses need to understand the issues of concern and should try to reinforce the humanitarian values of democracy. A state needs to function according to some pre-decided rules and regulations to deliver peace, justice, and security to its citizens and this can be possible only when democracy is valued in any state. Hence, International Democracy Day is an essential part of global development.
Winston Churchill once said that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” Of course, any system of government comes with flaws but if we compare it with other forms of government then democracy is the only system that protects the rights of several people. As Bertrand Russell also says that “In a democracy: the fools have a right to vote. And in a dictatorship; the fools have a right to rule.” So, we have to make the right choice. As democracy itself means “rule of the government”, we as local masses can understand the significance of this day and can utilize the day for a global cause. Therefore, we should respect the importance of democracy.