Minimizing Institutional Barriers for Legitimate Politics in India
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
April 1, 2011
India is in the midst of allegations of high levels of systemic corruption, which dented the public confidence in the government and the political process at large. There are calls for reforms to strengthen the accountability mechanisms in the political system and appropriately penalize the people involved in illegitimate activities. While this is one of the methods of addressing the bad outcomes, the levels of systemic corruption give rise to an intriguing question - Are there any systemic barriers for legitimate politics in India? Legitimate politics' is defined as politics that is not illegal according to the current law, for simplicity purposes. This thesis assumes that a politician has two types of legitimate preferences, policy or programme oriented and office or career oriented. Against these preferences, the thesis attempts to assess systemic barriers if any, for a politician in the stages of political career, namely legislative office as an Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha, electoral process as a candidate and party membership as an aspirant for party candidature in elections. Reforms have been suggested to minimize these barriers, drawing heavily from international experiences. A key reform presented in this thesis is a new campaign finance system which eliminates the root cause of the distortions in the entry of politicians and in the governance process. Although these reforms would not necessarily stem bad outcomes in political process, it is hoped that minimizing the barriers for legitimate politics would eventually trump over the illegitimate type and create a positive ripple effect across the governance of the nation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
Keywords: India, Legislative Office, Campaign Finance, Intra Party Democracy, Institutional Barriersworking papers series
Date posted: August 19, 2011 ; Last revised: March 22, 2013
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