Over-centralization of power in one place leads to abuse of power

Dr John Mohan Razu

Democracy whatever maybe its shade, essence, and confluence, it ought to be moderated, regulated, and directed, failing which the consequential impact will be horrendous. One may call democracy as parliamentary democracy or constitutional democracy or in varied ways. In whatever way one may call, it eventually converges in one place which is the centripetal or put it simply as citadel of power. In reality, the power converges and thus is centralized in a place that vests with the government which is the core lies at the Centre. This is why the capitals of nation-states are termed as the power-centers where we see the confluence of power converging. Centre remains at the center, around which the satellites rotate. 

Likewise, power though invisible manifests itself in big and small ways. Philosophers and political scientists such as Foucault defines “Power is such does not exist, but power needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body.” He adds that, “By far away the most complicated conceptualization, of power,” Foucault understands power to be implicated in every thought and action that takes place, whether this be human action or otherwise. Everything is powerful to the extent that everything has an effect on everything else, no matter how imperceptible this effect might be.” Thomas Hobbes in tune to that adds “Power is not more, but the excess of the power of one above that of another.”

Polis (governance) around which the city-states evolved over centuries has started refining and maturing. Nonetheless, polis does indicate how politics which implicitly and explicitly denotes power automatically converges around the Centre and thus wields authority. In a democratic frame, the political executive wields enormous powers and he/she obviously becomes the center of power who thus exercises authority by virtue of being there. Wherever the power sits it is obvious the locale or city gets the top spot because it becomes the symbol of power wherein its visibility and proximity does manifests in explicit and implicit and in big and small ways.

Democracy with federal settings where Government at the Centre and the Governments in States have their distinct functions, autonomies, and relationships. Towing in line with the reason and logic, our form of democracy is based on federal system of governance where the government at Centre and the governments in the Central have to mutually respect each other’s rights and their rights and duties are enshrined in the Constitution. Often there have been conflicts and skirmishes surfacing on areas that concern the state governments especially amongst those who do not belong to the party that rules the Centre, especially when it comes to reliefs when natural catastrophes hit them or when the Centre overrides or bulldozes the principles engrained in federalism. In such cases ruptures between the Centre and States governments are bound to surface. Relationships between these two hangs in delicate balance.    

Power has no limits and if it is not moderated then it will lead to all sorts of problems even in democracy. Democracy is not a perfect system and certainly it has holes and gaps if those who are pivotal in democracy – the people not vigilant. If power is not moderated or checked or regulated there are possibilities where federalism becoming over-centralized in which the chief political executive amasses more power who in turn starts exercising unlimited authority – in which case democracy will eventually transform into autocracy. Therefore, we can clearly identify where the power is centered and in the process is monopolized and furthered. 

There are key-places where power is centralized and in varied ways it manifests in real terms. Be it nation-states or whatever, centralization of power is not good for any democracy and importantly for any federal democratic settings. A place does not automatically assume power, it is those people who reigns gathers power and authority. As a result, it is for the political executive who can decide which region/state is to be offered assistance in terms of growth and development. And so, it depends on the whims and fancies of the one who rules the Centre. Those peripheries that the Centre finds no favor remains neglected, isolated, and undeveloped.

Over -centralization of power accumulated in one place and with one person thwarts or negates the very spirit of federalism. In such a scenario, there are possibilities of one place becoming the Centre for all peripheries concentrated with use and abuse of power and authority. Along with that whoever may be that person eventually becomes the ‘hero’ who eventually be worshiped and venerated. And so, for equity and equitable progress and growth there should be distribution of power widely scattered in all places – Centre - states .Hence, decentralization is the key that distributes power to all places and to all persons contributing development and growth. This is how democratization will be strengthened thereby strengthening federalism. 

Though the Constitution provides modes and mechanisms to moderate power at the Centre, but  in reality it hardly works wherein those in power at the Centre take absolute power in their hands. Once absolute power concentrates in one place and in the hands of one power or a few individuals or a cliché or a caucus leads to the fact that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Unchecked power and unregulated authority lead to chaos and conflicts. Distribution of power to the regions and creating more regional power-centers will makes the federal dynamic more pragmatic and distributive. As a result, more regions will prosper leading to healthy and harmonious Centre-state power relations. Democracy is all about making federalism to work.