chapter  1
24 Pages

Political Governance in India: The Challenge of Stability and Diversity

At midnight on 15 August 1947 British colonial rule over India came to an end in an atmosphere of hope and anticipation. 'Long ago', India's new prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru eloquently proclaimed to the Constituent Assembly, 'we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time has come when we shall redeem our pledge'. Despite considerable political and economic progress, fifty years later as the Indian republic celebrated its Golden Jubilee anniversary, hope had turned to cynicism, anticipation to anxiety, and the country's 'tryst with destiny' appeared to remain unfulfilled. India's dangerous decades seemed to have arrived and the country was faced by a serious crisis of governance. This crisis of governance was reflected in the erosion of its political institutions, new stresses on its federal compact, a breakdown in its national consensus, the decline of national parties, the regionalisation of the party system, increasing political instability, a rising sense of discontent among its increasingly mobilised and politically conscious society, its continued mass poverty and mounting calls for the creation of a second republic. Faced with this growing crisis of governance, it seems pertinent to analyse to what extent India's political system has taken root and what forces have shaped its successes and failures.!