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Reviving Studies of Public Institutions

Vikas Tripathi

Edited by Sudha Pai and Avinash Kumar
Orient BlackSwan, Noida, 2014, pp. xii 353, Rs. 775.00


Public Institutions remained at the centre of academic engagement with politics in India during the 50s and 60s. However it may be substantially established that the study of public institutions became quite peripheral in the study of politics which came under the domination of an overwhelming presence of the study of political processes, over a period of time. Only of late the discipline of Political Science in India has been witness to the revival of interest in the study of public institutions. Traditionally public institutions were analysed in terms of rules, procedures and constitutional principles and so these studies remained oblivious of the contextual specificity of Indian Politics. Rather than situating institutions, it took to the task of implanting institutions in India. This triggered the subsequent eclipse of the study of institutions in political science. The book under review endeavours to establish links between internal characteristics and external environment of the Parliament to account for what ails the Indian Parliament. The analysis is quite significant in laying bare the nature, character and functioning of the Parliament as an institution of accountability. The specific pattern of relationship between legislature and executive during different moments in the history of parliamentary democracy remains quite crucial in offering an explanation and understanding on the strengths and weaknesses of the Parliament to ensure an accountable, responsive and responsible government. The book not only deals with Parliament as an institution, socially embedded and performing various mandated functions but also looks into the aspect of the credibility and legitimacy facing Parliament today. Packed with themes and issues which have never been seriously interrogated in studies on Parliament in India, the book is divided into three parts and consists of thirteen chapters and an introduction. The introduction puts forward a strong normative defence in favour of the adoption of the parliamentary system in India. The choice was not merely a colonial imitation but the system was adopted in a decisive manner after serious deliberation in the Constituent Assembly. The authors divide the functioning of Parliament in three major phases, the Nehruvian phase, the late 60s to the late 80s and 90s and beyond. The Nehruvian phase has been assumed to be ‘unmistakably a story of success’, when the Parliament could envision itself as an agency to consolidate upon the legacy of the national movement and usher in the process of nation building. The disenchantment with the functioning of ...

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