Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he delivers his Independence Day speech ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

An Assault on India’s Institutions

If the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's assault on India’s institutions – from the judiciary to the central bank to the free press – is allowed to continue, the public could lose faith in the system altogether. This would carry incalculable consequences for India’s most valuable asset: its democracy.

NEW DELHI – In India’s Karnataka state, the governor is favoring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a government, despite an opposition coalition having won more seats in the state legislature. The ongoing controversy has drawn attention to the way in which a constitutional position has been reduced to serving the political interests of India’s ruling party.

Strong public institutions that operate above the cut and thrust of the political fray are vital to any democracy. Yet in the last four years, every such priceless institution in the world’s largest democracy, India, has come under threat, as the BJP’s assertive Hindu-chauvinist government works to consolidate its own authority.

Leave aside governors (the BJP asked all to resign to make way for political appointees soon after its 2014 election victory) and start with the judicial system, which has come under scrutiny since January, when the Supreme Court’s four most senior judges held an unprecedented press conference to question Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s allocation of cases. Misra, their comments implied, was assigning cases to his preferred judges, presumably (though this was never stated) in an effort to secure outcomes favoring the government.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;

Handpicked to read next

  1. op_campanella7_Aurelien MeunierGetty Images_billgatesrichardbransonthumbsup Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

    Abolish the Billionaires?

    Edoardo Campanella

    Even many of the wealthiest Americans would agree that the United States needs to overhaul its tax policies to restore a sense of social justice. But, notes Edoardo Campanella, Future of the World Fellow at IE University's Center for the Governance of Change, such reforms would not be enough to restart the engines of social mobility and promote greater equality of opportunity.