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Our institutions have failed us

In a new series of articles, we explore the dysfunctional institutions of today’s India – and how to change them

Our institutions have failed us

In a new series of articles, we explore the dysfunctional institutions of today’s India – and how to change them

Our institutions have failed us

In a new series of articles, we explore the dysfunctional institutions of today’s India – and how to change them

Our institutions have failed us

In a new series of articles, we explore the dysfunctional institutions of today’s India – and how to change them

The justice system, education, the military, the electoral commission, the media: institutions are the building blocks of a democratic society, the essence of civilisation.

The word “institution” has a dispiriting ring to it. Institutions are drab, dull places: the abode of bureaucrats and official red tape.

Not true – in fact, quite the reverse. Institutions are where everything happens. The media, the justice system, the electoral structures that power democracy. We could no more imagine a country without institutions than a car without an engine.

Institutions safeguard our rights and our freedom. When institutions function as they should, we can rely on the media to report the truth; we can trust the police, and feel confident that they will defend us against crime and corruption; we can be sure that elections are free and fair, and that politicians will deliver on their promises; we know that the justice system will protect us from persecution from those in power, and that freedom of speech is sacred; we feel safe in the knowledge that we are citizens of a fair and functional society.

The problem of India today is that our institutions have failed. With stronger institutions, our politicians would be held accountable for their actions: those with criminal charges would be brought to justice and prevented from holding public office, and – at the highest level – the government would be forced to play fair. No more crackdowns on freedom of expression. No more arrests of political opponents. No more corrupt deals behind the scenes.

Our institutions give us the rules of the game, and ensure a fair playing field. Without them, a cricket match becomes a street fight.

Let’s take a look at where our institutions in India come from, and how they became so dysfunctional.

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