Sunday, 5 January 2014

What were possibilities for exploration of Governance Model to be adopted by India after Independence?

In my opinion, the very concept of modern state (pluralist democratic state system) evolved in Europe along with other developments in contemporary period like - development of social value system, cultural norms, economic models and developments in the area of science and technology. Moreover, rationality and jurisprudence of the modern state were based on core values taken from European civilization.

From the perspective of country like India (with rich cultural diversity), which was British colony for long time until its independence in 1947, adopting pluralist democratic state system as the framework of governance and developing supporting institutions was a very difficult proposition. A much elaborate and comprehensive effort for constituting an indigenous state system much closer to locally prevalent cultural norms could have been tried out by the Indian leadership post independence.

Evolutionary process for establishment of a state may include state formation (an organized political community under one government and under one national identity), state consolidation (laying foundations for functioning institutions and building administrative capabilities) and state stabilization (attainment of maturity in governance and attainment of sovereignty). In natural course of evolution, institution of state is shaped in accordance with cultural hegemony and in accordance with prevailing socio-economic scenario. In the process an arrangement largely acceptable to all the stakeholders (in the state) usually comes into existence.

In context of Indian Independence, it may be noted that Western Democratic Model has been successful for India but may not be called a successful model for Pakistan (a country carved out of British India).

A chance to form a new state brings scope for experimentation of innovative ways to assess what best suits to the masses (so that state is aligned in the best possible way with the expectations of its citizens). Had India not been influenced with the pre-existing administrative set-up established by the UK, a much fair consideration could have been given to alternative ways. In regards to the possible alternative ways, a few options that comes to my mind are -

- Socialist Democracy VS Capitalist Democracy VS Elective Constitutional Monarchy (like Malaysia) VS Communist Model (Communism was a popular alternative at that time and Chinese Model of Communism has worked well for them),

- A Federal structure with tightly coupled Central Government and State Governments VS More autonomous state governments with Central government just controlling military and foreign affairs,

- At the district level delivery of public services through bureaucratic set-up (primarly structured for collection of revenue in British India) VS delivery of public services through locally elected body (like Mayor of Municipal Corporations),

- Design of standardized legal and justice system VS jury like arrangement with more flexibility to local courts

- Constitution of a central agency to manage the challenge of modernity across different entities

...... or probably many other options could have been explored. Each of the options could have been accepted/rejected with comprehensive and convincing reasoning. If required, some sort of surveys or pilot implementations on the probable options may have been carried out before final acceptance.

However, it can be a topic of academic debate whether the arrangement adopted by India is the best possible one or other alternatives could have yielded better results.

—  Santosh Behar


"1700 AD through 1950 AD per capita GDP of United Kingdom and India during the Colonial Era" by M Tracy Hunter - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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