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A Shift in India’s Democratic Landscape

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Governance


Source: IE

 Context: As per the author Suhas Palshikar, “In recent times, India is witnessing a transformation from an imperfect democratic system to an unusual sense of democracy that discards democratic norms”.


A shift in India’s governance:

  • Use of forceful measures to restore order: The use of demolitions and physical coercion to maintain law and order marks this shift. E.g., the use of Bulldozers to demolish houses of those involved in riots, or other heinous crimes
  • State Practices: State governments are increasingly resorting to demolitions as a means of governance, disregarding due process and accountability.
  • State Monitoring: Governments use surveillance techniques, including drones and facial recognition, to monitor citizens.
  • Citizen Acceptance: E.g., the use of terms like “bulldozer baba” by leaders to resort to tough stances, endorsing instant justice.


Issues with the new type of instant justice Governance:

Issues Examples
Selective Targeting In the Haryana demolition drive, only homes belonging to a specific section of the population were singled out for demolition.
Rule of Law Violation The principle of the rule of law, ensuring legal equality and equal protection, is disregarded.
Absence of Accountability This type of governance reflects cynicism about accountability, assuming that the ruler’s authority is benevolent and above scrutiny.
Lack of Judicial Scrutiny The Supreme Court’s lukewarm response to demolitions in Uttar Pradesh raised concerns about its role in questioning executive actions.
Procedural Erosion Legislative techniques such as reducing recourse to parliamentary committees and rushing bills demonstrate an erosion of procedural safeguards.


Ethical issues concerned:

 The ethical issue with this type of governance lies in its disregard for democratic principles, accountability, and the rule of law. This approach to governance involves using coercive measures and unchecked executive power to swiftly implement decisions, often targeting specific groups or communities. This raises concerns about fairness, justice, and the potential for abuse of power. The lack of transparency, accountability, and respect for individual rights undermines the ethical foundation of democratic governance, leading to potential violations of human rights and the erosion of democratic norms.


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