On the 15th of August 2017, the world's largest democracy, India, celebrated 70 years of sovereignty and independence, 70 years of growth, revelry and optimism.
Over the course of the years, the newly liberated population has generally embraced changes, pushing for economic development and hoping for a better future and quality of life. Years of hard work, perseverance and sheer effort have today placed India at the global pedestal, a bright spot so to speak.
A recent assessment by the International Monetary Fund explicitly mentions the significant progress the country has made on important economic reforms, the benefits of which the country is now beginning to yield. In just the past few years itself the Indian economy has made a significant leap upward to be crowned the seventh largest economy in the world measured by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity.
A large number of issues that the country currently faces can be resolved if the Indian judicial system administers important reforms.
Of course, to reach this point of recognition, India had to struggle, mostly with itself. Decades of poor governance fashioned a huge disparity and discord between the rich and the poor, educated and illiterate. The 1.3 billion population makes it a particularly difficult challenge to redistribute resources efficiently and fairly. This is compounded by a culture steeped in corruption, lack of accountability and an over-burdened judiciary system. India, therefore, remains at risk of sabotaging its progress.
There has been a visible change in the general mind-set with Modi's remarkable governance and the nation has its sights set on increased economic prowess and wellbeing. The future of India now lies in rational reforms that will shape its trajectory as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
One of the key areas in need of amends is the Indian judicial system. Indeed, a large number of issues that the country currently faces can be resolved if the Indian judicial system administers important reforms. An example is the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 which requires judges to declare their assets, lays down judicial standards, and establishes processes for removal of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and the government plans to reform the way its judges are appointed.
Furthermore, another reform that has been under discussion includes the establishment of "fast-track courts" and the appointment of an increased number of judges in order to resolve the backlog that the system is exposed to. Establishing an average of five to six FTCs in each district, with priority accorded to those states and districts with large pendency would effective in clearing pending backlogs.
The judicial system can also take a cue from other countries. For instance, in English court procedures a losing party in litigation pays a substantial amount, if not the complete amount, of the costs to the winning party. An enactment of such procedures in India can act as a deterrent for those who see litigation not as a dispute-resolution process, but as a means to delay their obligations. This will also help stop litigants filling frivolous lawsuits and promote out-of-court settlement between parties.
The Modi-machine, whose narrative has been tainted by allegations of being misaligned with the crux of the Indian Constitution, needs to set the tone right for the future of the country...
Such reforms are crucial to investor confidence and will ensure that the Indian judiciary is seen to be independent and adhering to the upmost standards of integrity. A healthy judicial system is the backbone of any growing economy as investors demand their investment to be protected by a pro-active, fair and truly independent judicial system.
In the current era, there appear to be a few more roadblocks that can considerably slow down the rally of great ideas unless they are addressed, assessed and effectively dealt with in a systemic manner.
Prime Minster Narendra Modi has made a laudable effort of driving India's identity as an ideas factory, receiving remarkable praise from around the world. The big test, however, would be to receive the same reaction from the Indian public as his five years as the premier leader come to a close.
Even though the immediate moments of freedom were marred by mass migration and the displacement of thousands, decades on, the dust settled, India is finally finding its footing. Similarly, the Modi-machine, whose narrative has been tainted by allegations of being misaligned with the crux of the Indian Constitution, needs to set the tone right for the future of the country—perhaps by fixating the nation's vision on economically beneficial solutions through programs that harness ease of business and reap economic benefits from around the world.
The government must address the veiled, tacit yet persistent issues that act as roadblocks to its own policies. The government must understand the sentiments of the nation and justly debate these issues. Regardless, the end of identity politics will eliminate a prolonged issue that could slowly erode the innards of India's democratic system and pluralistic secular fabric.
India is currently at the cusp of a cultural and economic revolution. How we utilise this force of progress and what direction it takes from here onwards is in the hands of the common citizen. What we choose as our future, be it exclusivity or acceptance rather than tolerance, remains to be seen. But one thing is clear—this is the age of India's ascendance into a power never before witnessed by this world.