ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Power Plays Out through Distribution and Dispersion


Arguably, within the framework of constitutional demo­cracy, there is a difference between distribution and dispersion of power. Distribution, when viewed from the higher normative plane, acquires a social significance inasmuch as it is influenced by both the ideals of equality and justice. Distributional power gets defined within the context of these twin ideals. It does not acquire significance within the distribution of patronage or free food. Distributional power also has the instrumental aspect to it, in the sense that such a power is deployed or achieves a balance between two or among many political groups that compete for such power. Apart from these two functions, the process of distribution also has a hegemonic function inasmuch as it enables the dominant party which may not have the need to distribute, but it does distribute an inferior variety of power such as ministries that are meant for the marginal groups in order to maintain an overall hold over absolute power. Within the institutional framework, distribution may enjoy some significance.

The political practice of leaders in India would bear out the fact that power plays out in complex and subtle ways, not just in terms of violence and coercion of the dominant against the weak or the powerful against the powerless. Power, as exercised by a single person or an oligarchy, poses yet another paradox of popular democracy. In representative democracy, it is the multitude of people, who, through their power of vote, constitute powerful personalities in the institutions, which would mean that those who reach these places or occupy these institutions are constituted by the voting power of a multitude of people. It is in this sense that the multitude becomes an agency inasmuch as it has a constituting power. The leaders on the streets, arguably, may or may not be conscious of the dispersion of their power, because such a power is undifferentiated from the power of a multitude of people. Such a lack of differentiation is devoid of an element of devotees who lack such a power.

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Updated On : 25th Feb, 2023
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