He has been involved in designing and coordinating the National Election Studies, the most comprehensive series of academic surveys of the Indian electorate, from to In Professor Yadav was awarded the Malcom Adishesiah Award for contribution to development studies. In the International Political Science Association honoured Professor Yogendra Yadav with the first Global South Solidarity Award "in recognition of outstanding work on the politics of the developing world". News Sign up to our newsletter to receive a promo code.
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And in a quarter of Italians voted for a party founded by Beppe Grillo, a comedian. All this popular cynicism about politics might be healthy if people demanded little from their governments, but they continue to want a great deal. The result can be a toxic and unstable mixture: dependency on government on the one hand, and disdain for it on the other. The dependency forces government to overexpand and overburden itself, while the disdain robs it of its legitimacy.
Democratic dysfunction goes hand in hand with democratic distemper. The Obama administration now seems paralysed by the fear that democracy will produce rogue regimes or empower jihadists. And why should developing countries regard democracy as the ideal form of government when the American government cannot even pass a budget, let alone plan for the future? Why should autocrats listen to lectures on democracy from Europe, when the euro-elite sacks elected leaders who get in the way of fiscal orthodoxy?
At the same time, democracies in the emerging world have encountered the same problems as those in the rich world. They too have overindulged in short-term spending rather than long-term investment.
To What Extent is India a Successful Democracy?
Brazil allows public-sector workers to retire at 53 but has done little to create a modern airport system. India pays off vast numbers of client groups but invests too little in infrastructure. Political systems have been captured by interest groups and undermined by anti-democratic habits. Democracy has been on the back foot before. In the s and s communism and fascism looked like the coming things: when Spain temporarily restored its parliamentary government in , Benito Mussolini likened it to returning to oil lamps in the age of electricity. Things are not that bad these days, but China poses a far more credible threat than communism ever did to the idea that democracy is inherently superior and will eventually prevail.
The elite is becoming a self-perpetuating and self-serving clique. At the same time, as Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out in the 19th century, democracies always look weaker than they really are: they are all confusion on the surface but have lots of hidden strengths. Being able to install alternative leaders offering alternative policies makes democracies better than autocracies at finding creative solutions to problems and rising to existential challenges, though they often take a while to zigzag to the right policies.
But to succeed, both fledgling and established democracies must ensure they are built on firm foundations. THE most striking thing about the founders of modern democracy such as James Madison and John Stuart Mill is how hard-headed they were. They regarded democracy as a powerful but imperfect mechanism: something that needed to be designed carefully, in order to harness human creativity but also to check human perversity, and then kept in good working order, constantly oiled, adjusted and worked upon.
The need for hard-headedness is particularly pressing when establishing a nascent democracy.
One reason why so many democratic experiments have failed recently is that they put too much emphasis on elections and too little on the other essential features of democracy. The power of the state needs to be checked, for instance, and individual rights such as freedom of speech and freedom to organise must be guaranteed. The most successful new democracies have all worked in large part because they avoided the temptation of majoritarianism—the notion that winning an election entitles the majority to do whatever it pleases.
India has survived as a democracy since apart from a couple of years of emergency rule and Brazil since the mids for much the same reason: both put limits on the power of the government and provided guarantees for individual rights. Robust constitutions not only promote long-term stability, reducing the likelihood that disgruntled minorities will take against the regime. They also bolster the struggle against corruption, the bane of developing countries. Conversely, the first sign that a fledgling democracy is heading for the rocks often comes when elected rulers try to erode constraints on their power—often in the name of majority rule.
Foreign leaders should be more willing to speak out when rulers engage in such illiberal behaviour, even if a majority supports it. But the people who most need to learn this lesson are the architects of new democracies: they must recognise that robust checks and balances are just as vital to the establishment of a healthy democracy as the right to vote. Paradoxically even potential dictators have a lot to learn from events in Egypt and Ukraine: Mr Morsi would not be spending his life shuttling between prison and a glass box in an Egyptian court, and Mr Yanukovych would not be fleeing for his life, if they had not enraged their compatriots by accumulating so much power.
Even those lucky enough to live in mature democracies need to pay close attention to the architecture of their political systems. Some countries have already embarked upon this process. A few states have introduced open primaries and handed redistricting to independent boundary commissions.
Other obvious changes would improve matters. Reform of party financing, so that the names of all donors are made public, might reduce the influence of special interests. The European Parliament could require its MPs to present receipts with their expenses. But reformers need to be much more ambitious. The best way to constrain the power of special interests is to limit the number of goodies that the state can hand out.https://execdere.tk
Future of Democracy in India Essay
And the best way to address popular disillusion towards politicians is to reduce the number of promises they can make. The key to a healthier democracy, in short, is a narrower state—an idea that dates back to the American revolution. The United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established rights and norms that countries could not breach, even if majorities wanted to do so. These checks and balances were motivated by fear of tyranny.
But today, particularly in the West, the big dangers to democracy are harder to spot. One is the growing size of the state. The relentless expansion of government is reducing liberty and handing ever more power to special interests. Giving control of monetary policy to independent central banks tamed the rampant inflation of the s, for example. It is time to apply the same principle of limited government to a broader range of policies.
The return of history
Mature democracies, just like nascent ones, require appropriate checks and balances on the power of elected government. Governments can exercise self-restraint in several different ways. They can put on a golden straitjacket by adopting tight fiscal rules—as the Swedes have done by pledging to balance their budget over the economic cycle.
They can ask non-partisan commissions to propose long-term reforms. The Swedes rescued their pension system from collapse when an independent commission suggested pragmatic reforms including greater use of private pensions, and linking the retirement age to life-expectancy. Chile has been particularly successful at managing the combination of the volatility of the copper market and populist pressure to spend the surplus in good times. It has introduced strict rules to ensure that it runs a surplus over the economic cycle, and appointed a commission of experts to determine how to cope with economic volatility.
Not necessarily. Self-denying rules can strengthen democracy by preventing people from voting for spending policies that produce bankruptcy and social breakdown and by protecting minorities from persecution. But technocracy can certainly be taken too far. Power must be delegated sparingly, in a few big areas such as monetary policy and entitlement reform, and the process must be open and transparent. And delegation upwards towards grandees and technocrats must be balanced by delegation downwards, handing some decisions to ordinary people.
The trick is to harness the twin forces of globalism and localism, rather than trying to ignore or resist them. With the right balance of these two approaches, the same forces that threaten established democracies from above, through globalisation, and below, through the rise of micro-powers, can reinforce rather than undermine democracy. An online hyperdemocracy where everything is put to an endless series of public votes would play to the hand of special-interest groups. But technocracy and direct democracy can keep each other in check: independent budget commissions can assess the cost and feasibility of local ballot initiatives, for example.
Several places are making progress towards getting this mixture right.
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