Abraham Lincoln is regarded as the great emancipator who gave one of the famous definitions of democracy as “Government of the people ,by the people and for the people”. Thereby,signifying the essence of participation of people in the smooth functioning of a democratic Government. A well formulated public opinion is the hallmark of a vibrant and healthy democracy. But what does the words public opinion signify? Public opinion in its true sense means opinion of the people on any particular matter.It is a sustained and collective perspective of the majority of people regarding issues which directly or indirectly affects their interests(social,economic and political). Democracy depends on public opinion because an alert and intelligent public opinion sets the Govt right before, during and even after elections in a number of ways.One of the important agencies for the formation of public opinion is free press and media.Electronic and print media in its various forms can be termed as the” light house of democracy”. A responsible media and press not only shapes public opinion but also expresses the drift of opinion in society.
Public opinion is reflected through various other forums like political parties in opposition which play a major role in filtering the Government policies by divulging their pros and cons in public arena so much so that people formulate their opinion regarding the existing Govt policies which in consequence becomes a determining factor for its victory or defeat in the next elections. So, Public opinion acts as a safety valve because it keeps a check on every move of the Govt and prevents it from assuming dictatorial powers. Public opinion helps people to become aware of their rights as well as duties thus, enhancing political culture and democratic values in a society public opinion expresses the will of the sovereign that is none else than the people of this country .Thus,a crystallized public opinion plays a pivotal role in upholding legitimate public interests.
Surekha Bhat (Kaw)