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The Hindu Daily Editorial Discussion 6th Feb, 2019 By Ashish Singh
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Page 8 Page 9 Cracks in the framework With the systematic weakening of institutions, the government risks pushing all resistance to the streets The 2019 election is going to be all about alliances' .The global investor on the coming general election, the anti-incumbency trend and A series of unfortunate missteps Fixing the federal fallout of the Kerala flood relief funding row requires care ut of the Kerala flood reliefhy he thinks the Indian Risks to global growth Instead of resorting to nationalism and unilateral action, countries should strengthen the multilateral framework A series of unfortunate missteps funding row requires care Timely review be reconsidered .Fixing the federal fallout of the Kerala flood relief The very idea of an 'angel tax' on start-ups must
Cracks in the framework GS PAPER 2 Functions and responsibilities of the Union Institutions
Cracks in the framework The Government of India has reportedly suppressed its own data on current employment, or rather job loss, in the country. It has, thereby, compromised the autonomy and the standing of the National Statistical Commission. This is the latest instalment in the rather sordid story of institutional decay in India, overseen by the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) This is not to suggest that previous governments did not undermine institutions.
The internal Emergency imposed on the country from 1975 to 1977 initiated the process. . The government tried to tame bureaucrats as well as the highest court in the land. Postings and appointments were manipulated to suit the ruling dispensation. The BJP government has, however, earned the dubious distinction of sabotaging the autonomy of several political institutions in rapid succession
Cracks in the framework Institutional decay occasions worry because it affects ordinary citizens in disastrous ways. All governments, even those which have been democratically elected, betray an inexorable will to power. Expectedly, expansion of government power violates constitutional rights to freedom, equality and justice. The only way citizens can be protected against any arbitrary and unlawful exercise of power is by limiting the power of Krovernment. Liberal democrats, always sceptical of state power, have tried to contain dramatic surges of power by charting out of constitutions and institutional design. Institutions, as the embodiment of formal and informal rules, assure citzens that the government exercises power according to some norms that enable as well as regulate state capacity.
This makes for good political sense when we remember that most human activity is structured by systems of rules take the intricate and rule-bound game of chess or cricket. Relationships, households, the economy, society, the games we play and do not play take place and develop within the framework of rules. Human beings are social, but we cannot be social unless we know what is expected of us, and what we should do or not do. Without rules that govern relationships- for example, the norm that friendship is based on trust- we will not know what is worthwhile and what is not, what is preferable and what should be avoided, and what is appropriate and what is expedient.
The Canadian political philosopher Charles Taylor has argued in his famous work, Sources of the Self (1989), that institutions embody 'strong evaluations'. We learn to discriminate between right and wrong, better and worse, and higher and lower. . These evaluations are not judged subiectively by our own desires or impulses. Institutions, which stand independently of us, give us standards that allow us to evaluate. Following Taylor, we can rightly wonder why political power should be exercised, implemented and executed without rules Assertions of political power adversely affect our interests and our projects. We should be in a position to judge when this power is exercised fairly or unfairly. Rules in a democracy assure us that justice is synonymous with fairness
Moreover, rules make our worlds predictable. . We know what the boundaries of the freedom of expression are, we know that if the police arrests us tomorrow, we have the right to appoint a lawyer and appeal to the judiciary. Without institutions and rules our life would be chancy, unpredictable and fickle. . We would inhabit a space empty of certainties, expectations, aspirations and evaluations.
Rules, not whims In a democracy, individuals are governed by institutions, and not by men. If we do not live in an institutional universe, we will be at the mercy of capricious individuals. Democrats would rather be administered by a system of rules we can scrutinise and evaluate. Of course, rules can be, and are, unfair. But at least we can struggle against rules. We do not have to commit murders to get the ruling dispensation out of power. .We might have to carry out a thousand peaceful demonstrations, approach the courts, lobby our legislative representatives, engage in civil disobedience, or withhold our vote. In a world stamped by the decline of institutions and the exercise of arbitrary power, the only way to dislodge a government is through violence.
The present government has tampered with institutions by appointing its own people to positions of authority, and by using the Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax authorities, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the police as bulldozers to flatten out any site of opposition. In civil society, human rights organisations have been pulverised by blockage of funds, raids and arrests. .The shameful way in which human rights activists have been incarcerated without a shred of evidence testifies to the subversion of the rule of law. The ultimate aim of government action is to dismantle institutions, and the delicate relationship of checks and balances among them. This bodes ill for democracy.
The Indian Constitution established major political institutions Parliament, executive and the judiciary, laid out the relationship between them, provided for judicial review, and codified political and civil rights. The constitutional framework does not provide thick or substantive conceptions of how we shall think, and in what we shall believe. It provides us with a thin framework that guarantees constitutional morality, or respect for the Constitution as the basis of political life. s the basis of political life. lis;
Ultimately institutionalised power that is subject to regulation, and that can withstand the scrutiny of the political public, is meant to protect citizens Unfortunately, in the India of today institutions are used to protect the ruling class, and its sins of omission and commission. . The people who rule us should know that when the relationship between citizens and the state is governed not by institutions but by individuals, politics takes to the streets. And then a thousand revolts happen. We pay heavily for institutional decline,
In its ostensibly even-handed intervention in the stand-off between the Central and West Bengal governments over the manner of investigation of the Saradha Chit Fund case, the Supreme Court has de-escalated political tensions at least for novw The decision allowed both sides in the face-off to claim "moral victory" even if it was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was forced to climb down from the aggressive posture she took in denying the Central Bureau of Investigation room to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
However, while ordering him to cooperate with the CBI in "neutral" Shillong, the Court restrained the CBI from taking any coercive action against Mr. Kumar . The Police Commissioner and his Special Investigation Team investigating the chit fund case had been served a number of notices to appear before the CBI before it sent a team to his house in Kolkata. Ca hile s to his house in toore . While Ms. Banerjee may have reason to believe that the timing of the CBI's operation was politically motivated, her government's response manhandling and detaining the CBl officials was shocking and inexcusable. In the polarised political atmosphere, her belligerence expectedly secured the backing of a large number of Opposition parties, and even had the Congress rally around her during an impromptu sit-in protest.
However, in attempting to obstruct the CBl action in a court-ordered investigation, Ms. Baneriee once again demonstrated that she is prone to taking arguments over administrative procedures to the streets. . A decade ago, she burnished her credentials as the Opposition leader who would dethrone the Left Front combine in West Bengal with her agitation over the Singur land acquisition. But her attempt now to bring the State, where she heads the government, to a grinding halt speaks poorly of her political maturity. Ms. Banerjee is free to read political motives into the actions of a Central agency - but she must conduct that fight politically and by heeding her responsibilities as a Chief Minister. To hold a dharna in aid of an officer credit who is reauired for questioning does her no
There are bound to be questions whether this matter should have been escalated to such an unpleasant level, . The CBl says there was no proper response to the earlier summonses it sent to the Police Commissioner, and alleges that he could have destroyed evidence that was initially gathered by the Special Investigation Team that he had supervised in the initial stage of the probe. But it is doubtful whether descending on a senior officer's residence on a Sunday evening with a large team of officers was the right course of action for the CBI, as it was liable to be interpreted as a high-handed attempt to browbeat and embarrass the State government.