Systems exist, and they function because there is always a framework within which they are relevant. Most modern systems of governance and administration are based on democratic principles first defined by the Greeks and later refined by the English; these are political structures where checks and balances are installed to regulate a people and their societies, to ensure order in an otherwise chaotic environment. But what happens when these systems fail? The most pertinent applications of these democratic and free systems have conventionally involved the division of power between the legislature, the body of the system responsible for direct governance, and the executive, responsible for the administration of the elements of the framework within which the legislature functions. This separation of powers that defines most independent and free societies is now undergoing a transformation; the classification of powers and responsibilities of governance and administration now includes the civil society, the judiciary, and independent institutions.
And despite the evolution of such a classification over many decades, systems fail. And they fail because the fine line of differentiation between the legislature and the executive slowly vanishes, creating a morass and a vacuum of sorts. The current political environment in India, one of the biggest democratic experiments in the world, is indicative of this quagmire; the policy impasse and administrative paralysis that the Congress government is experiencing is a product of the system and its failure to maintain the differentiation between governance and administration.
And when systems fail the very same people they are meant to protect, they need to be replaced. The inability of a government to recognize and respect the fact that it exists simply to protect and serve its people, combined with methodical abuse of the exclusivity of power, will lead the masses to rebel and repel the established order. It is in this context that the Jan Lokpal movement has opened a new chapter in India’s history, one that gently reminds them of the neglect and disdain with which those in the corridors of power in New Delhi have governed and administered this nation.
And with the clamor for accountability by the civil society reaching a crescendo, the Indian judiciary has evolved into an institution of last resort and reprieve for the common man. Often described as one of the strongest and most independent pillars of India’s democratic system, the judiciary and its functions now encompass the regulation of policies of the legislature and the executive, evidence of the collapse of a system based on classical division of powers.
Destroying a culture of institutional corruption and bureaucratic lethargy requires not only a dynamic civil society but also an active judiciary, and it is these props which will prove to be the saviors of a cancerous and failed system of people-power.