Politics and governance in India: An analysis

Political instability has been a recurring phenomenon in the history of mankind with the fall and rise of political systems or regimes. The term ‘political stability’ means different things to different scholars as there is a lack of consensus among social scientists on its exact meaning.


In the general notions of stability such as social or psychological, economic, cultural and political, political stability is one of the most morally imperative in building the nation state. This article discusses the roots (why, what), past trends of political instability in India. In addition to this the expedient taken to satisfy the salient conditions of successful government or stabilise it. But it had been known since Independence then why is there still political instability? the inter and intra party workers reciprocate or retaliate? Is the balanced approach decisive?


In general the notion of “stability” depends on the social or psychological, economic and political conditions and projecting the ‘trends’ and ‘patterns’ of any nation. Political instability or ‘in’ stability has been a recurring phenomenon in the history of mankind with the fall and rise of the political system or regimes. The term ‘political stability’ means different things to different scholars as there is a lack of consensus among the Social Scientists on its exact meaning. Due to technological advancement, increase in communication and the process of modernisation in the last century has seen significant changes in nature and patterns of political instability. It is not static (government in structure, process, policy making) and keeps changing. That is dynamic. Changing notions about the causes and characteristics of new forms of government, their conceptions, outcomes and cures have been major concerns and components for individuals in formation of the durable or their ideal government. For stability or finding the precise definition of stability depends on the various transparent statistical indicators. Justice Potter Stewart in this view of immorality says that “I know it when I see it.” For that the portrayal should be in a clearer sense on exactly what we are looking for. In the federal system like India, a government at state and center, their ministerial stability is different from each other and to some extent protected from each other. Thus, it can be said that the state may undergo periods of instability while the central government remains stable, as seen in the numerous cases since India’s independence. On the other hand, the state governments may be unstable and ineffective while the central government may be stable as in the Janata period (1977-1980). This instability can have numerous effects with multiple issues or a single issue with an extreme pace of destruction and can be dangerous when it occurs.

According to the Aristotle thought on polity as he divide into the general (monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or democracy) and particular sense to avoid the extremes as in after the fusion of the democratic and oligarchic elements, he intensely disliked both the extreme richness and extreme poverty and believed confidence that powers should be vest with the middle class in the best practicable state (middle class in majority with poor taken together preferably more than the richer class). Professor Maxey criticises Aristotle’s middle class on the ground that “middle-class mediocrity is no shining deal for the foundation of a state.” However this criticism goes to the consonant of Aristotle’s saying that polity is not the best ideal state, rather it is best on the average and practicable. The most stable and administered states have been under the control of the middle class. In this context or a one part for the stability that is the middle class is one of the most important contributions to political thought.

But from where this instability has its roots? The reason for the political instability in India or its main characteristics depends on the various factors such as deepening economic crises, breakdown of a political consensus, improper responsiveness and responsibility, rising expectations, core issues like population explosion (their increased pressures or need of services and other demands), unemployment, casteism (politicisation of caste, improper representation and inequity, caste based violence and politics), poverty and so on. It is in detail in the fifth section of this article.

There are the three components of political stability that are society, regime, and government. These components are interrelated to each other and the extent of the stability depends on all three. The first component in short means the societal demands which are proposed in an orderly and peaceful manner. There can be a violent use that is against the norms associated with democratic polity. It is nearly impossible that there is no use of violence in any political system but the degree is reduced in accordance with the political culture of that particular country. The second component is of a stable regime or a form of government which is long lasting, durable and has a tendency to be stable under the strains and stressful conditions. Where this regime is weak, it leads to dictatorship and military rule. The third component is of government and administration which remains for the specific duration in an office in accordance with the constitution and the flexibility in the government with the legal trends. In brief there should be balance between the policy to be executed and the legal and social forces in the country. For example, The decision-making machinery must be in an adequate constant to allow a sufficient time to execute rational decisions in order to maintain legitimacy of the regime, and keep control over the various social forces of the society.

History of the Political stability of Independent India: The period between 1967 and 1972 has seen a tremendous political instability with the dilution of the one-party dominance that was congress and further formation of the coalition governments. In a broader sense the political stability in the history can be divided into four components, first one-party dominance (for the two decades after the independence) from the first to the fourth general elections (1952-1967 represents a phase of political instability), second the period between the fourth and the fifth general elections (1967-1972 breakdown of a political consensus), third the period between fifth and the sixth general elections (1972-1977 signifies temporary return to calm situation) and lastly the fourth period post-1977 and in the 1980s represents the worst kind of instability, disorder and violence in India. For instance, strike is a legitimate legal protest in most of the democratic institutions but the intensity of it can affect political stability.


Population: As the population demands of jobs, services, housing and above all, food place a heavy burden on India’s limited resources. A Population crisis committee finds that “the most stable countries were ones with a lower level of population pressure.” Growing population is a threat to democracy as the potential for political instability correlates with various factors such as “large youth population in overcrowded cities with high expectations and limited opportunities, intense religious factors and oppressive governments which violate human rights.” India’s leaders have been disappointed after the current growth rate of 0.97 percent from 2020 which is indeed harmful for India’s largest democratic survival.

Education: There is a lack of political participation or political consciousness in elections. As the major votes turnout in India is due to the greater capacity of political parties to mobilise the support and the self awareness of the individual as well as rational decision making in choosing their representatives totally depends on education. On the other hand, increased political consciousness is also present which has made people more aware of poverty or their vulnerability to raise voice. As the expectations of the people turn into disappointment these people’s frustration expiates politically, and which turn out to be demonstrations and revolutionary violence that has become a pattern in Indian elections. Hence, it leads to political instability.

Economic growth and corruption: “Economic growth and Political instability are deeply interconnected.” If there is an unstable political environment then it can lead to “less investment and reduce the pace of economic development.” On the other side of the coin, poor economic growth can lead to the breakdown of government and political unrest. Indian Political regimes are fragile because if the country does not worry about the conflicts and radical changes of regimes, the people can focus on working, saving and investing. In today’s world there are many countries that combine the robust factor of corruption with the opposite to the politically stable that leads to the ‘politically stable autocracies’ or unstable democracies.

There is the other perspective (sometimes it is important to normalise the euphoric thing or anything to have a different perspective) that, if there is political stability then it does not allow real competition for the ‘governed elites.’ Political system has a stringent barrier on freedom such as freedom of press, freedom of religion, access to the internet and political dissent and this leads to the abuse of power and corruption. The related issues of political corruption (more about political and economic power) were “use of public office for private gain, where an official entrusted with carrying out a task by the public engages in some sort of “malfeasance” for private benefit.” This can of course happen in the private sector too but it is not a main foundation of our country, no doubt may become that’s another thing. But the current stand gives rise to the “immoral” and “corrupt” transactions in the government sector.


Political thinkers have made substantial contributions to the theory to ascertain some fundamental requirements of political stability. For example, the crucial ones are equitable distribution of wealth, attitude towards the state, equal class structure, appropriate political institutions, etc.

Approaches which can be used for the proper understanding of the political phenomenon in India or stabilise the politics in India are:

Political stability as against a violence: This is the most common view that if there will be absence of violence then the decision making and socio-political changes are properly institutionalised. Dissent is necessary in healthy democracy but through electoral competition rather than the violent process. The motive is to resolve the issues without conflict and aggression within the political system against other individuals and groups of office-holders.

Existence of the legitimate constitutional orders: The legitimacy in the political system to the extent it’s output is accepted as right by the population. There should be no legitimacy disturbance or even if it is disturbed then it should be restored soon to its original state.

Existence of the Multi Dimensional societal attribute: In depth study and cross-national analysis on the aggregate data is important as a purpose of multidimensional attribute. It means that taking society as a multifaceted factors that absence of the several negative indicators such as violence, revolution, political movement against the existing system and the presence of positive indicators such as both constitutional rigidity and flexibility, not only government longevity but also adaptability of the changing social patterns, effective decision making, and more. For Palmer and Stern, political stability can be maintained as“the result of integration and congruence of all phases of traditional life: political, social, economic and ecological.” Ernest A. Duff and John F. McCamant believed that “social and political factors influence political stability/instability of a political system.” They appear to be confused about the stability constituted by societal factors and only suggest that in a stable democracy “welfare must be greater than social mobilisation, and there must be a high rate of economic growth, an equitable income distribution, and broad based institutionalised political party.”

Concluding observations: Each of the conceptual approaches have their own strength and weakness, they have certainly contributed towards the understanding of complex problems of political instability. But a simple application of these approaches cannot help to explain the intricacies and sensitive problem of political stability in Indian states. This leads to the inadequacy of existing theories of political stability which calls for a more realistic approach and takes into consideration the special constitutional features of the working of parliamentary democracy at the state level in India. Thus, the question is how Political stability should be operated? Answer is: It is based on working on both sides equally, the stability of the government in the parliamentary system depends on the support of the representatives in the legislature. If the assembly divided into the political parties and the government become uncertain and the solid state of a government is not established. Hence, a fine balance between the legislature and government is based on the strong institutionalised political institutions.

As written earlier about the three major components of political stability that are “society, regime and government.” The third component that is government is a major source affecting the other two in political stability. Although different socio-ecopolitical cultural, regional and ethnic groups made frequent use of “violent and non-violent methods to exert the pressure on the government to accept their demands.” It even leads to the change in government, but by and large these groups demonstrate their loyalty to political and social regimes. If there is government instability it can majorly affect the other two. But in India no joint attempt has been made by social groups to overthrow political regimes that are parliamentary democratic systems. Balanced approach, interdependence and implementing according to the short-term and long-term situations is a realistical, practicable and theoretical approach. Therefore, it must come after.