Skip to main content

Credibility crisis: India's top institutes increasingly turn inefficient with ripple effect down to the bottom

By Pushkar Raj*
The credibility of India’s top institutions has lately suffered, affecting governance and democracy in the country. Its strong indication came in the form of the impeachment motion against the chief justice of India which was rejected by the vice-president and was subsequently challenged in the highest Court.
When the case challenging legality of the vice president’s action came before the court, the petitioner sought clarification on the bench hearing the case expecting that the chief justice could not pick and choose judges (bench) that heard his own case. But the court refused to give explanation, meaning that the court would not follow the first principle of justice in its own conduct that one cannot be a judge in his/her own case. It is logical that such a court could not be expected to deliver justice fairly and therefore the petition was withdrawn.
It is a crucial self -goal, akin to a sabotage from within putting question marks on the highest court’s ability to enforce the constitution fairly, thus damaging democracy in the country.
But it is not only the Supreme Court that has failed to inspire confidence, even the parliament of India has failed to discuss, debate, moderate and legislate on urgent public issues. For instance, the Lok Sabha functioned for only 33. 6 hours in 28 days during recent budget session passing two bills in 14 minutes. It passed the annual budget for the nation without discussion and the speaker of house disallowed to take up a no confidence motion against the government.
In a cabinet system of government, it is the Prime Minister’s duty to conduct the proceedings of parliament with the help of his/ her cabinet. However, the present prime minister took little interest in doing so, instead after the washout of the parliament session, he observed a day’s fast with his cabinet colleagues and cleared his conscience. It is like sinning to national loss and bathing to personal purity, adding little value to the highest executive office of the country.
The Reserve Bank of India sets the monetary policy of the country but it took merely a day to approve government’s advice on demonetisation without giving thought on its rationale or how it would handle post-demonetisation situation. Consequently, 99 per cent currency came back at the cost of more than a hundred human lives and huge loss to nation as economy slowed down due to unavailability of currency in a cash dependent system.
For democracy to function, election commission must be beyond reproach. However, election commission sullied its image by its conduct during the Gujarat election postponing election dates against norms and by disqualifying AAP legislatures of Delhi assembly without giving them a fair hearing thus inviting Delhi high courts criticism that struck down its decision.
Inefficient and self-perpetuating institutions at top have a ripple effect down to bottom. For example, the Chennai High Court could not decide on the case of disqualification of 18 legislators for five months, causing a government to continue in the office that might be found to be functioning illegally for all these months. It finally delivered a split verdict recently lingering the matter indefinitely, more in line with other high courts across the country where 4.2 million cases are waiting to be heard.
Similarly, the state assemblies of UP, Gujarat and Rajasthan functioned for 17, 25 and 33 days in 2017, and the latter passed a legislation granting a 'former chief minister' an official bungalow with 9 employees for life , under the patronage of sitting Chief minister who hopes to become a 'former chief minister' soon as election are due shortly in the state.
The institutions are the last resort of the people for getting justice in a democratic society. If they are unable to do so because the institutions are weak, self-perpetuating, unaccountable and politically influenced, then democracy becomes a farce and the leader who presides over such a spectacle is judged by the history harshly, be it Indira Gandhi or Narender Modi.
In this context, learning from history is useful. India’s first prime minister, Pandit Nehru is revered largely because he built, nurtured and respected institutions that, he recognised, outlast individuals who, howsoever popular or clever, are merely slaves of time in a democracy.
---
*Melbourne based researcher and author, former national general secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties ​

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
Just looking at the picture of Sinha felicitating those accused of lynching and justifying this by saying they are innocent until proved guilty is sickening. What about the victims? Weren't they held guilty without being given the chance to prove themselves innocent?

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”