The crisis of Indian democracy

The crisis of Indian democracy: While India’s economy has received periodic attention, mostly during critical moments defined by food shortages and foreign exchange outages, the workings of its democracy have received next to none...

July 27, 2016
Democracy and reforms

Perhaps by coincidence, two scholarly articles, one by Pulapre Balakrishnan on “The crisis of Indian democracy” and another by C Rangarajan on reforms appeared in The Hindu on the same day (July 27). Both raise some basic issues which have a bearing on governance and economic growth.
The top-down approach to democratic processes worked well during the first two decades of Indian republic. From 1970’s, political leadership started showing signs of disintegration and the federal system slowly started becoming a stumbling block in taking forward even the well-intentioned developmental measures. We refused to pay enough attention to literacy and did not give adequate attention to removal of poverty. This approach resulted in people not participating in democratic processes.
The 1991 crisis thrust upon the country the responsibility of implementing LPG (Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation) reforms which were not tailor-made for experimenting in the Indian context. The cut and paste approach to reforms in all sectors including finance, industry, information technology and pension resulted in avoidable frictions and inefficient implementation of otherwise excellent projects and programmes.
The two articles, one by a professor of repute and another by one who has been guiding financial sector leadership and GOI for decades, can form the basis for a healthy debate on changes in outlook needed to transform India in the direction Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to take the country’s profile.

M G Warrier, Mumbai


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