Institutions matter, but individuals matter too

Institutions matter, but individuals matter too


With reference to : Shankkar Aiyar: EC Credibility and the Missing Seshan Effect

There is a discernible disquiet among the public over the approach and accommodation of political practices by the Election Commission. It is said justice must be seen to be done. Similarly, conduct of elections must be seen to be truly free and fair.
For sure governments leveraged gaps in norms and no CEC completed the stipulated six year term since 2004. It is also true that CECs have struggled to propel change. Issues and illuminated by civil society are lying unattended.
The PILs before the Supreme Court reflect inadequacies and failings of the Commission. What is sorely missing is the intent and the Seshan Effect.

— The New Indian Express

My take –
The contrast between the conduct of the election in the US and India is quite instructive. We expect a Superman to protect our election process. In the US, the resiliency of the election process lies in its extreme decentralised structure, and the involvement of the people in protecting it.

Hardly a coincidence that all the supermen endorsed by Trump for the state level secretary of states, the one person at the state level who has significant say in the conduct of the election, lost in the mid term election last month. In contrast all the people nominated by our great leader always gets installed.

One may say Institutions matter but individuals matter too.

Both matter, but only in the context of the nature and quality of the relationship between people and the community and the society. That is the popular perception and practice of politics, beyond parties, election and power.

Without such a culture of politics, people will look to powerful individuals to solve their problems, this laying the seeds of totalitarianism.

On the other hand the intellectual focus on institutions and incentives, tend to take people and politics for granted. This paves the way for the rise of vested interests who seek to capture the institutions, and as a reaction, people turn against elites and experts.


Barun Roy, Middleton Row, Calcutta