"Success of democracy is based on civil society organisations and the legitimacy of political organisations."Discuss giving reference to democratic transition in Tunisia. What lessons in this context India can learn? Opine.

Civil society includes the organized groups and institutions that are independent of the state, voluntary, and self-generating, and self-reliant to some extent. These types of societies include NGOs, independent mass media, think tanks, universities, and different social and religious groups.

Functional contributions

  • Civil society can be the voice of the common man and helps in formulating the people-centric policies.
  • It can aid in the implementation of various government schemes.
  • It can ensure the accountability of the bureaucracy and aid in conducting social audits of schemes.
  • Sometimes it acts like a pressure group to engage governments for the undertaking actions.
  • Acting like the other vigilante groups, it can ensure transparency in the administration.

Democratic transition in Tunisia

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet of civil society institutions in Tunisia came together to play an important in role the transition of Tunisia from a crisis-like situation to a robust democracy. The quartet managed the tortuous political negotiations for a consensus-based Constitution, which was essential for the transition to a robust democracy.

Lessons can be learned by India

India’s own history shows that democratization is invariably a slow and tortuous process. The success is based on the strength of civil society organizations and the legitimacy of political organizations. The lesson from the story of Tunisia’s is that national civil society organizations have a role that goes beyond their traditional work.  The Tunisian quartet’s challenged the idea that inter-state moderation is the best way of solving difficult problems. An internal solution is always a better idea than the intervention of external forces.

Comment

Finding the most suitable approach and engaging the right people with the right skills is not a straightforward method. So strengthening the capacities to mediate and manage complex conflicts will often be essential. The other countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa may follow the path of Tunisia to identify a peaceful path for transition to stable democracies.

Question for UPSC Mains:
“Success of democracy is based on civil society organisations and the legitimacy of political organisations.” Discuss giving reference to democratic transition in Tunisia. What lessons in this context India can learn? Opine.

Published: February 4, 2016 | Modified:September 25, 2020

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