This book takes a look at the various constitutional agencies and other instruments of governance, making an assessment of how they have performed in relation to the expectations from them at the time India became independent.
The three portions of the Constitution — the legislature, the judiciary and the executive have been examined to assess as to how they have performed in relation to the tasks assigned to them by the Constitution. The author attempts a micro analysis of the activities of the players involved in governance as well as the macro results on the economy, polity and society of India.
The purpose of the book is to assess the current situation and to reflect whether our institutions have performed at par or not. It also provides basic information on the structure of the government and the process of governance in India to the lay reader.
The author, who has been intricately involved in administration at different levels over four decades, has severely criticised a number of institutions, agencies, systems and individuals too. He says that the heyday of the public sector and control of the commanding heights of the economy happened during the period before 1977. The Green Revolution, the cooperative movements, the agrarian reforms in favour of the poor and landless were all features of the first three decades of Independence when India was not ‘socialist’. Today socialism is considered a bad word internationally “as well as to many in India” and this has proves particularly true after the demise of the Soviet rule. It was post-1977 that free enterprise and globalistion are seen as the ruling flavour and which continues to be the dominant philosophy governing our economy.
The author adds now that the October 2008 crash has brought the free-market down with a thud, when Karl Marx has started smiling again in his grave, “there has hardly been any response from the bemused economic gurus.” He adds that in the past 30 years the majority of Indians in rural areas have been left to their own fate, the preoccupation of the government machinery being rapid ‘growth’, especially in the industrial and financial sectors.
He answers the question — Are we secular, by replying ‘yes’ but qualifying it further by saying that for hundreds of years the different communities lived together in India with no animosity but today every political party is using communal issues as an integral part of its strategy and tactics to keep “stoking the fire”.
Further he says, “We have not yet become ‘secular’. Are we democratic?” he then asks. He replies we have had 60 years of governance in a democratic framework to the envy of every other nation in South Asia. The army is fully under civilian control and is called upon to deal with natural calamities like floods, etc. He adds, “As for the Constitution, it guarantees liberty of thought, experience, belief, faith and worship.”
The author agrees that considerable freedom is allowed in our country for following one’s faith and method of worship. The same is true of worship and equality to some extent. While Dalits, Vanvasis and downtrodden have been brought somewhat into the mainstream, primary and secondary education in rural areas “is abysmal, public health standards are appalling and the system appears to be designed to make the rich richer and the poor even poorer.”
Finally, as for dignity of the individual, he says that you can see the state of dignity when you visit the slums hidden within every city limit, where 80 per cent of the population lives in a near-deprivation condition.
The author concludes by saying that what is needed to rid the ills of the country is a messiah like Mahatma Gandhi who “indeed lived in India — and achieved miracles!”
This is a very informative book mean for political and economic analysts and the judiciary.
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