India’s Institutional Crisis.

It’s usually said that the success of a democracy lies in its four pillars: Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and the Media. Needless to say, instead of all four of them being equally robust, India’s four pillars are all equally weak. The legislature can’t get anything meaningful done and makes its counterparts in Washington look effective. The executive can’t get anything done by itself, and this is not to say that it would even if it could. The less said about the third pillar the better. The judiciary has long moved on from interpreting the law to setting it. Can anyone blame the judiciary though. It probably thought we can do better than these dolts in the other two branches. And last but not the least, the media. Ah, to be specific, the 8th wonder of the world that is the Indian media. Its wonder lies not in the top-notch factual/investigative reporting it practices, but in the fact that it makes the BJP and Congress seem bipartisan. If only the media actually wanted to practice reporting rather than curry favoring with politicians, and when they’re not, practicing journalism through tv ratings. It’s frankly a miracle that the country as a whole has survived this long. This post is my two cents on why I think the problem exists and what we can do to rectify it.

Alexander Hamilton once said to Aaron Burr,” Those who stand for nothing fall for everything.” India’s institutional crisis doesn’t stem from a lack of want, but rather from a lack of anything resembling a coherent ideology. The lack of a coherent ideology when it comes to political parties might be more design than flaw. It lets voters project whatever they want on to their leaders without fully knowing what they think. The problem is that the lack of anything resembling an ideology has creeped into society as a whole. For example, the “RW” that most of us are familiar with on twitter isn’t really right-wing or even center-right when it comes to policy. It’s just that India’s leftists are so far left on the spectrum that the “RW” really is only center-left at best when it comes to policy.

The problem that plagues India is the same that plagues democracies worldwide. Most citizens, even if they have an idea of what the end game looks like, disagree on how best to get there. But the problem is that most of us haven’t fully fleshed out our approach. We all have a vision for how we see our country developing, but really how many of us have actually thought through the consequences of our approach? Frankly, as common folks we’re not supposed to fully think through various policy agendas and read through all the literature out there. It’s why we defer to intellectuals whose job it is to do so. Most of us are too busy with our day-to-day lives to spend any meaningful time formulating a policy agenda. The drawback with India though is that those who call themselves intellectuals are quite frankly dreadful at their job. So dreadful in fact that sometimes it feels like their parody versions, seemingly role-playing to be on TV. The problem with India’s institutions is that their foundations are weak. In most cases because there wasn’t one to begin with, and now they’ve outgrown their supposed role. The role of an ideology is to mold those checks on power so the people can accurately question those responsible.

India’s masses lack an ideological framework and so do our intellectuals, politicians, and judges. For leaders, an ideological framework might act as a compass during troubling, uncharted times. An ideological framework might not tell you what to do exactly, but it’ll point you in the right direction (If India’s leaders and institutions feel rudderless too often, maybe this answers why). It might be the same for its supporters, and is what encourages them to keep the faith during those troubling times. If India needs to outgrow its institutional mess we need to shed our timidness when it comes to ideologies/policy agendas. Not everyone with an ideology/policy agenda is out to destroy India’s social fabric. We need a new breed of intellectuals and think tanks that engage in a battle of ideas and provide evidence based commentary. And we need them to cover the whole spectrum and not just be plainly defined as left or right. Being flexible and open to differing views isn’t a bad thing, it’s a must in a democracy. But you do have to stand up for your principles.

(P.S. – If India’s RW needs to be taken seriously and have any sort of long-lasting impact it needs to have ideologically rigorous solutions to current problems. It needs its own Kirk’s & Buckley’s, and Heritage & Cato’s. The positions don’t need to be ideologically driven at first, but it needs to support its solutions through research. Research based commentary that will eventually lead to an ideologically driven movement. A movement that will hopefully influence generations of young minds to come and translate into having a long lasting impact. It needs to ask itself why it thinks so? and if there’s any research to back up the why. I think many within the RW would be pleasantly surprised that they don’t know why or have any research to back it up. In its quest to be different from the left, I feel its lost sight of that why. The movement is also currently too dependent on individuals and hence beholden to whims of electoral politics. It needs to outgrow its dependency, and outgrow it soon.

2 responses

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  2. That great Blogger yash keep it up proud of you

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