Expert discusses architecture of government in interactive session

SHILLONG: In an interactive session hosted by the Meghalaya Institute of Governance on Friday, Prof Alasdair Roberts, Director, School of Public Policy & Dept of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst spoke on the 19th century as the era of great nations.
The 20th century he said became the era of small states and the 21st century has emerged as the era of super states. A prolific writer, Prof Roberts books include, ‘The Logic Of Discipline: Global Capitalism and the Architecture of Government.’
Prof Roberts outlined the problems of super states that comprise of a hugely diverse polity and how difficult it is increasingly becoming for such states to hold together.
“Forty per cent of the world’s people will live in these four super states comprising China, India, US and Europe by 2050,” Prof Roberts said but he also queried whether the super states which are expansive, diverse and complex be kept intact and be able to (a) maintain national security (b) provide personal security and basic services (c) promote economic growth (d) maintain democratic institutions and promote human rights.
Prof Roberts is studying these problems even as he is writing a book on the issues highlighted at the deliberations. He hopes that the exchanges he has with a cross section of intellectuals and practitioners of governance across the world would add value to his forthcoming book. He writes extensively on problems of governance, law & public policy.
Prof Roberts also deliberated at length on what is the ideal size for a country to make it both viable and sustainable. Coming to the Indian case, Prof Roberts pointed to the strong centre although India is a federation of states. Such a strong centre, he feels could at times be overbearing on the states and prevent them from experiencing true autonomy. Taking the example of the four super states that are governed very differently namely India, China, US and Europe, Prof Roberts pointed to the stark differences in their governing models.
While the Chinese model hinges on authoritarianism, centralism and state-led capitalism, the Indian model is premised on liberal democracy with a ‘centre-heavy’ federalism, parliamentarianism and a planning legacy.
The US on the other hand is a liberal democracy with a weak-center federalism, presidentialism and anti-statism.
The European Union follows the technocratic/diplomatic confederalism and economic ‘regulocracy’.
He pointed to the signs of strain in superstates that have emerged with reference to United States, China and European Union with studies showing that average duration of such states is 200 years only.
Similarly, the challenges of India are reflected in the problems of purpose, challenges to secularism, tolerance, problems of control, problems of leadership and problems of adaptation.
The lively session was attended amongst others by former Chief Secretary PS Thangkhiew, Toki Blah, Patricia Mukhim, Prof B K Tiwari, C Noronha and a host of young minds who contributed and enriched the deliberations.
Prof Roberts has worked extensively in India with RTI groups such as MKSS of Rajasthan and in Maharashtra.

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