Power Dynamics

Wealth remains, above all, the most important determinant of power. Several recent studies have focused on the role of ‘money power’ in politics and the nexus between crime, business and politics.

The rising cost of election campaigns, the inability of the state to enforce rules pertaining to election funding and, more recently, the brazen manner in which political parties in power are able to corner bulk of the funds provided by corporates and other donors has made politics a game of the rich in which the wealthy become wealthier and are able to become politically more powerful. It is not, therefore, surprising that a disproportionate number of the elected representatives of the people are wealthy.

There had been some dilution of this aspect after Independence with more members of the middle class—especially rich peasants—entering politics. However, as election expenses have grown and with the rising importance of political office as a source of both power and wealth, there has been a rise in the number of wealthy among the elected representatives of the people…

In other words, the wealthy had a better chance of securing admission to political office… In a country with a nominal per capita income of `120,000 per annum, and at least a fifth of the population living in abject poverty, it is surprising that an overwhelming number of elected representatives, both in the Lok Sabha and in state assemblies, are millionaires if not billionaires.

From: “India’s Power Elite: Class, Caste and a Cultural Revolution”


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