Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Democracy and SDGs

September 15 was celebrated throughout the world as International Day of Democracy. The day was basically designated by United Nations through the resolution A/62/7 in 2007 and at the same time UN General Assembly encouraged the governments of the world to ‘strengthen national programs devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy’. The theme for the Day this year was ‘Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
In September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a plan for achieving a better future for all, laying out a path over 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of the Agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call for mobilizing efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
Among these SDGs the most pertinent is SDG 16, which addresses democracy by calling for inclusive and participatory societies and institutions. It aims to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” And, that should be guideline for the countries that are striving to achieve a stable democracy.
Afghanistan is also struggling in the journey towards democracy. It is important for the country to stick to the essentials of democracy and try to achieve them in the best possible manner.
Democracy requires not merely an absence of ignorance but also that the citizens are adequately educated. Proper education will produce a wise leadership and a vigilant public and 'Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy'. If knowledge remains scanty, fragmentary and confined to narrow circles and if the mass of humanity remains steeped in igno­rance and error, there can be no prospects for the success of democracy. Education makes citizens vigilant and also gives them the boldness to criticize government mea­sures which are ill-conceived or harmful. In fact, education produces wise lead­ership and an enlightened and alert public.
No two human beings can ever think alike, it is natural to come across dissenting opinions at every step, in every field. True democratic spirit lies in overcoming dissent through discussion and persuasion and not through coercion. In a democracy, views are not imposed, views are shaped and molded. Democracy inculcates among the people the habit of tolerance and compromise and teaches them to show due regard for the opinions and sentiments of others.
A free and fair press is another vital necessity for democracy to flourish. It ventilates public opinion and enables the government to frame policies in the interests of the masses.
The newspaper acts as a kind of liaison between the government and the people. It acquaints the people with the policy and principles of the government. At the same time, it reflects the public reaction to this policy and thus enables the government to modify it. Since it gives such extensive publicity to the move­ments of the ministers and other higher-ups, it exercises a very sobering influ­ence on them. It does not let them forget that they are in office as the represen­tatives of the people to whom they are finally answerable. It keeps a powerful check on the corruption and tyranny of the government.
For the health and efficiency of a democracy, an effective, vigilant and working opposition is indispensable. Strong opposition ex­ercises a healthy restraint on the ruling party and prevents it from subjecting the people to arbitrary and despotic rule. No free large country has been without political parties. None has shown how a representative government could efficiently work in the absence of strong political parties. Effective opposition saves a country from turmoil; it safeguards it from coup d'état. If the party in power neglects public welfare, the voters can oust it and give power to the opposition.
However, the competing political parties must not forget that a sense of responsibility and a desire to give topmost priority to public interest against pen or party interest would certainly boost the image of the democracy in the public eye. On the contrary, lack of discipline and constructive approach inevitably leads to instable confusion and reversal of economic progress.
It is now quite a few years since we embarked upon a democratic experi­ment. Today, when we make an appraisal of our democracy, we find it still lacking in certain important requisites. A large majority of our people are still illiterate. Glaring disparities between the rich and the poor not only persist but have become accentuated. There is no economic security; food is scarce, poverty appalling and unemployment rampant. Ethnicity and class exclusiveness still haunt our minds! Provincial and linguistic differences still create distrust and bitterness. The masses also lack civic probity. Corrupt and dishonest administration is eating into the very vitals of our democracy.
Democracy can only flourish in our country when the true essence of democratic values and culture is understood, implemented and practiced devoid of discretion of any sort. Accordingly democratization of society would lead to a prosperous country and people.