In defence of India’s noisy democracy
#GS2 #Comparison of the Indian Constitutional Scheme with that of Other Countries.
Context: A recent article in The Hindu draws a comparison between the political system prevalent in India and China. It analyses the authoritarian Chinese model of efficiency, but supports the democratic ideas and values.
- China’s economic growth and development over the last few years has been impressive. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty and also social indicators have improved drastically.
- It has focused on capital accumulation, powered an export engine to overcome a limited domestic market, welcomed foreign direct investment, plugged into global supply chains and kept its public finances more or less in order.
- Despite impressive growth since the 1990s, India continues to be behind China in its global competitiveness
- India’s developmental record has been much more mixed. Since the 1990s.
- Moreover, improvements in basic social development indicators have lagged.
- Many educated Indians think India’s problem is that it is just too democratic. Unlike China, making and implementing key decisions about public investment and various reforms is problematic and challenging in a democratic setup.
- However, the claim that less democracy is good for development does not stand up to comparative, theoretical, and ethical scrutiny.
Arguments in favour of the China Model:
- China is able to take decisions quickly as it is not stopped by the contradictory democratic voices. India’s problem is that it is just too democratic.
Why Democratic regime is better?
- Authoritarian states barring China have not performed better than democracies.
- Africa and West Asia, where authoritarian governments have dominated, remain world economic laggards.
- China’s model comprises a number of key characteristics, State-guided industrial policy and finance; massive infrastructure investments; rural industrialization and openness to foreign trade and technology.
- Similar standards were also met by countries like Japan and South Korea.
- Democratic regimes have on balance performed better.
- In Taiwan and South Korea, their transitions to democracy saw their economies moving up to the next level and become much more inclusive.
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu Model:
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu have done more to improve the lives of all their citizens across castes and classes than any other State in India.
- These states have also had the longest and most sustained popular democratic movements and intense party competition in the country.
- Democracy promotes equality by endowing all citizens with the same civic, political and social rights even as it protects and nurtures individuality and difference.
- Whereas in China (authoritarian state) the cost of development is huge.
- Conflict resolution
- Democracy is, slow and often contentious. But its deliberative and electoral processes help mitigate conflicts, especially in heterogeneous and conflict-ridden societies.
India’s pluralistic democracy has led to greater political awareness and self-expression, and our independent judiciary, Election Commission, and regulatory bodies already operate autonomously. Therefore, instead of taking a cue from China, it’s important to defend the noise of India.