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Suhas Palshikar writes: The rise of bulldozer governance

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India is going through a transformation from an incomplete and ongoing project of democracy, living with the imperfections of democratic practice, to a surreal sense of having achieved democracy by discarding many practices that would normally be associated with it. While we await indigenously minted theorisations arguing how non-democratic practices make a democracy, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of the many departures and distortions India’s democracy is in reality experiencing.

Take the case of the bulldozer as a symbol of democratic government. It is not very often that elected governments and leaders seek to present themselves as being extra-tough and even vindictive towards citizens. In fact, the idea of minimum government (with maximum governance) emanates from the need to reduce unnecessary and intrusive regulation. A government that has to use physical coercion frequently or in an exemplary manner and exhibit it as tough action to restore law and order should be clearly seen as departing from the democratic norm. But this is no more in New India where new norms of governance are evolving.

Both physically and metaphorically, the mode of bulldozer governance is upon us. As we celebrate yet another Independence Day, it might be worthwhile to ask whether citizens have any energy and agency left in them to even mull over this form of governance and what it represents.

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