In a large and complicated, often messy, democracy like India’s, it is expected that many would feel frustrated with the protracted deliberation that precedes lawmaking. Findings of a survey by Pew Research Center reveal the extent of such frustration—a whopping 55% of Indian respondents believe having a strong leader taking decisions without interference from Parliament and the judiciary is a good thing. Though the support for unconstrained executive power for a strong leader is starker in emerging market economies like Russia, Indonesia and the Philippines—and the opposition to this higher in developed economies like Germany, Norway and Sweden—it is also not uncommon in developed nations like Japan (31%), the UK (26%), the US (22%) and Italy (29%). Developed economies are also highly likely to support non-democratic rule by unelected experts—while 68% of the Hungarian respondents supported this, curiously, Germans, who had professed the greatest distaste for a strong political leader, didn’t seem to mind expert-rule too much, with 44% favouring this.
When it comes to the functioning of India’s democracy, there is a lot that begs improvement. The time lost in disruptions in Parliament are not only are a burden on the taxpayer, but also set the country back in terms of delayed lawmaking and implementation. However, analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms shows that disruptions of the Lok Sabha have been coming down—in days per year, the time lost has fallen from 31 out of 74 (after totalling the hours of sittings) in 2012 to 17 out of 70 in 2016—it is, of course, true that the ruling NDA holds sway over the House.
At the same time, the number of Bills referred to Parliamentary committees has come down from 60% in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha to 29% in the nine sessions of current Lok Sabha upto budget session 2017. There are enough and more examples worldwide, and specifically in our immediate neighbourhood, of unconstrained executive powers for a leader proving disastrous. Democracy sure may be noisy, and may sometimes appear dysfunctional, but it is immeasurably preferable to being saddled with a despot.