Disarray in Institutions of Governance

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Post independence, the Institutions of Governance (IOG) are the one who are credited with the stability of India as a nation & for the creation and maintenance of the structure of a democratic state.
So, study of the institutions from the time of its formation in post independence environment is very important.
Though, IOG have disintegrated in terms of its quality it would be wrong to say that India is a state in crisis. In spite of problems, IOG have been able to thrive & sustain & are still holding India.
IOG would consist of:
1. Parliament
2. The Cabinet
3. The Judiciary
4. Public Administration & Bureaucracy
5. The Police
6. The Armed Forces
7. Centre-State relations
8. Political parties
IOG are not able to respond adequately to the challenges arising from economic development & social change.
They are losing their moral authority.
It’s in a crisis of governability which takes on different forms like: unstable governments, frequent elections and changes of electoral moods & inability to accommodate.
Major culprit for the weakening of the IOG is the poor quality of the political leadership. Through the years, political leadership has functioned without any strategic design or perspective, ideology or well-thought-out tactics for managing the political system.
IOG NO. 1 The Parliament
Parliament is the symbol of democracy. It denotes the rule of law & rule of people.
Parliament & the State Legislatures are the supreme organs for the formulation of policies & are the “watchdogs” of the functioning of government.
Over the years, the performance of Parliament has severely downgraded.
In the times of J.L. Nehru, policies were formulated by taking into consideration the views of opposition parties. But the situation rapidly after 1960.
From that time, parliament started becoming in effective. Its role began to degenerate. Frequent walk-outs, unruly scenes, rowdy behavior, etc. has become a common scene of Parliament these days.
Policies are being formulated without taking opposition into consideration & opposition are opposing any government policy irrespective of their merit.
Proper discussions over any policy is a rare scene in Parliament.
Defection had become very frequent in 1977. But after the Defection Law of 1985, it stopped though the other type of it i.e. Alliance (Coalitions) & its breakage has emerged.
In short, from 1960, performance of Parliament has decreased. They have declined in authority among the people & are playing a diminishing role in policy formulation & governance.
But they haven’t become completely dysfunctional.
They continue to perform but inadequately the roles assigned by Constitution & give some rare voices to Public by which it has been elected.
The real executive of our country is the Prime Minister along with the Cabinet.
The strength of a government is measured by the strength of its cabinet.
However, there has been a serious decline in the role being played by the Cabinet after 1969 particularly after Indira Gandhi.
Mostly, today decisions & suggestions of the Cabinet are bypassed by the Prime Minister.
Though the Cabinet continues to play minor role in the decision making.
Less power with the cabinet is being witnessed because of the increased centralization of power in the hand of Prime Minister.
Second factor for such decrease in the power is because of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, generally called as PMO (Prime Minister Office). PMO is acting as the parallel executive to the already existing cabinet & are carrying out the same functions that should be carried out by the Cabinet.
  The increased concentration in the hands of Prime Minister is derogatory to the creation of policies. Cabinet are not able to give suggestions & are not able to participate effectively in the policy formulation.
While it is necessary that an effective leadership should be present in the form of Prime Minister, it is equally important that even the cabinet should also have power. After all they are also elected by the public.
Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court (SC), is one of the pillar of the Indian democracy.
It is the protector & enforcer of the Constitution.
Fundamental Rights of the people have been well protected by the judiciary.
It was previously criticised that Judiciary is insensitive to social issues and movements. For example Supreme Court’s interpretation of the right to property against land reforms.
But the conservative rulings of the Supreme Court have been changed now by the amendment procedure of the Constitution.
Now we can see that Supreme Court is more sensitive to social issues, from the rights of women, workers and minorities, to ecology, human rights, social justice and equally and social discrimination.
Two major problems with the current Judiciary:
1. high cost of getting justice.
2. Long delays in giving justice.
Judicial activism: Court in recent times is acting Suo Moto that is on its own while dealing with any particular problem or situation. Judicial activism is the term used for this phenomenon.
Judicial despotism: it is the phenomena were Supreme Court is criticized of exercising the powers of executive and legislature. In short it means that Supreme Court is crossing the limits of its powers. Judicial despotism is the aggressive form of judicial activism.
Quality of public administration and the bureaucracy has severely decreased.
Indian bureaucracy, is very rigid, conservative, pro-status quo and resistant to social change.
Public work is strangled with prevailing inefficiency, undue delays, low standards of integrity, corruption and non-accountability
Harassment of the common man is often seen.
One more problem with the bureaucracy is their relationship with the politicians. Bureaucracy can’t be blamed for the positive relationship they have with the politicians. It is just that all their promotions transfers and the things related to their service is all in the hands of politicians and so they are obliged to follow the orders of politicians.
Most positive thing of the bureaucracy today is its tradition of political neutrality. Bureaucracy has never been seen complaining about the programs of the government. Even the communist parties in Kerala and West Bengal have not been seen complaining about the bureaucracy.
It is true that overthrow of the inflexible bureaucracy today is not possible or realistic. It is also not feasible to get rid of bureaucracy.
But it is definitely true that radical reforms are definitely needed in the field of bureaucracy. They should be made independent of the political will. But this should come along with accountability of them. Otherwise it would be very hard to stop bureaucracy from being autocratic.
Indian police is in a bad shape. Law and order situation has deteriorated.
Indian police are not seen doing their traditional job of crime prevention and investigation and punishment of criminals.
Reasons for these:
1. Police inefficiency
2. Poor training of policemen
3. Their partnership with the criminals for bribes
4. Slow-moving courts
5. Reluctance of the ordinary citizen to give evidence against criminals as they are afraid of the consequences
Bigger problem with the Indian police: their negative attitude towards common people. They show inhumanity, ruthlessness, violence and brutality towards common people. So even the common man is afraid to go towards police for their prompt.
Also political interference and manipulation is a common scene.
Problems of the police:
1. Their pay and service conditions
2. Promotional chances and social status are poor
Police reforms are the most neglected topics in the Indian politics. Even the recommendations of the National police commission report of 1979 have not been implemented fully which could have seen clearly changed the police department.
Indian military remains highly disciplined and professional nonpolitical force.
They have maintained the tradition of respecting democratic institutions and have always functions under civil supremacy and control.
The basic contours of defence policy are determined by civil authority even though the Army has full operational authority during armed conflict.
Indian political parties have maintained a tradition of not mixing defence affairs and military as a part of political debate or interparty struggle.
Apolitical nature of military has strengthened India’s democracy.
Today’s military is very much different from the military of colonial times. Britishers used to create military from specific sections only which were loyal to them. But today we can see that, military is open to all the sections of the society. So standing for a particular view or even as a military mutiny is a distant dream today. That is why, they have mostly remained loyal to the India as a nation.
Though military intervention in political affairs is not seen in Indian society, but political parties are seeing today glorifying the military and the military ethos.
Indian politics has a federal structure. That means there is clear demarcation between the powers Centre and the State.
Basically our Constitution has been created keeping in view that the Centre would be strong. Also the situation of the India was such that Centre became more and more powerful as the time passed.
Strong Centre was very much needed in India as it was multireligious, multilingual and multi-ethnic. Strong Centre was also needed for stopping the regional economic disparities.
It is not true that the federal character of Indian politics has suffered.
States on the other hand have enjoyed completely the autonomy provided by the Constitution. It has full rights over the state subjects mentioned in the Constitution on which Centre can do nothing.
Also, the government’s plans and policies are implemented through the states administrative machinery.
It has been seen that even with the Strong Centre State relations, there have been economic disparities between the states. This is not because of Central intervention or lack of state autonomy. It is because of maladministration of the state.
The only real intervention of the Centre in the states of the is by using the constitutional provision of imposing President’s rule under article 356. It was used in the 70s to dismiss such state governments which are opposite to the Central government. But such provisions have been amended and properly taken care of to avoid such problems.
Federation is not a weaker form of union. It is a strong form of union. It gives equal rights to the Centre as well as the states. It is good for a diverse society particularly like India.
Sarkaria commission of 1980 said that greater devolution of power and decentralisation of decision-making would improve the Centre State relations.
Accordingly the local self government bodies were strengthened and the 3 tire structure came into existence.
Local self-government has increased political participation of the people and involves those people who are from the locality to deal with the local problems.
But over the years, local self government’s have been overpowered by the local politicians and elite group.
Many of the problems of the local self-government have been solved by their respective constitutional amendments that is 73rd and 74th
Among all the institutions, political parties are the weakest one.
This suffer with various problems.
The number of political parties has significantly increased in India. It is seen that none of the political parties today have a definite political agenda or political ideology. Nor do they have definite strategy for the nation to increase its development.
Most of the political parties today are formed for dividing the vote banks.
Defection was a regular practice till 80’s. Thanks to the anti-defection law, it has stopped. With defection in practice at that time, frequent change of parties was a common scene because of which it brought a great instability in the government.
Today instability is not because of defection. It is because of the coalition governments. Often the political parties in the coalition differ in their ideologies and the things they have promised to the public (particularly their vote banks). So whenever an issue arises there appears a crack in the coalition government. They use threatening politics to get that demands addressed.
Many political parties are seen strangled with various scams.
To retain power political parties are using populism strategy. Irrespective of the development their programs will bring, they are implementing such programs which will ensure that their political party will remain in power for longer duration.
Political leadership has been losing authority in the society. Entire political arena has become devalued.
But it is also true that political parties are very much needed for a political democracy to work. But their needs radical and pragmatic reforms in the way the political parties perform and implement programs.
Political parties are also suffering with the problem of strong political leadership.
In recent years a large number of regional parties are coming into existence because of the local problems and the incapacity of the Centre to deal with those problems effectively. It is increasing the distribution of power among the political parties.
Practice Questions