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How Modern Are the Public Institutions in India?

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The question mark in the title above may appear absurd, particularly to those who believe that public institutions in India are already modern. This belief may not be necessarily misplaced. Institutions are modern inasmuch as they are based on the idea of rationality. They, as rational ideas, are constitutive of merit and efficiency that can be achieved through open competition; competition aided and mediated by both examinations and elections. Bureaucratic institutions are constituted through the network of competitive examinations, while the ruling elite occupy the representative institutions by elections.

In both the cases, modern functionaries such as public servants as well as the ruling elites have to enter these institutions by keeping out from these institutions the traditional ideal or privileged social status based on caste superiority, patriarchy and other notions of superiority. It is in this sense that these institutions are socially disembodied or are devoid of traditional social status and, therefore, acquire a modern character. However, these public institutions can retain their modern character only in the conditions where the occupants of these institutions develop prohibitive rationality, which is necessary to control the appetite for traditional privileges. It is for this reason that the modern bureaucrats are taught to develop in them a creative appetite that would be satisfied in the perfect realisation of the constitutional ideal. In sum, prohibitive rationality plays an important role in separating an individual from their traditional ideological inclinations such as religion, caste and blood ties.

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Updated On : 27th Oct, 2020

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