Parliament, its instrumentality, anti-corruption crusade and marketing

The recent anticorruption movement has been perceived as a ‘threat to Indian democracy’ and ‘attack on the parliament’ by many. It is a matter of perception and debate whether the anti-corruption crusade is an attack on the ‘institution’ or its current way of functioning. It is important here to establish the ‘instrumentality’ of the institution. Some issues are important to consider here:

  • Is the institution of parliament an end or means?
  • If it is a means then its ends must be located outside its boundary?
  • What are the terminal goals or ends that it seeks to achieve?
  • Where are these goals located?

What happens when the members of an institution hijack the institution into serving their own goals?

The instrumentality of the Parliament is established by the preamble of the Constitution:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:JUSTICE, social, economic and political;LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

There is no ambiguity in the stated goals or ends for the achievement of which the institution of parliament exists. But the cause of concern an agitation is germane in the fact that to a large section of Indian citizens it appears that the institution has been made an instrument of self-satisfaction and self-aggrandizement. The detachment and distinction between individual goals and institutional goals is critical first condition for the effective functioning of any system.

The same principle governs the working of business systems. An incorporated firm or company is bestowed with a separate and distinct status from its owners or managers (technically called separate entity concept).   A strict separation must be maintained between goals and interest of the Parliament and its members. Like the companies have charters and vision/mission statements, our Parliament has the Constitution to provide goals and guides to its functioning.

Business firms suffer a risk of becoming instruments of satisfaction by its members (internal goals displacing the organizational goals- goal displacement). The internal constituencies and their heads (different business departments and their heads) have an inherent tendency to view the organization from their own narrow angles and perspectives.  Almost similar tendencies could be found in our institution of governance. Different scams and instances of miss governance provide evidence to this goals displacement. 

It is one important jobs of the top management to align and synchronize these often opposing forces. The contribution of a system is not to be viewed from the perspective of insiders (how much they have gained) rather from the perspective of outsiders (in business customers or shareholders). When a system does not create value for the outsiders, it is generally pushed out of the market.

Is this anticorruption movement a symptomatic manifestation of the lack of goal alignment between the people (parliamentarians) who run the Parliament and the ones for which it is meant (citizen of India)? In the US, the failure of business to satisfy customers led to consumer movement/ advocacy. One of the early pioneers of consumer movement was Ralph Nadar who questioned the safety record of American car companies in his book Unsafe at Any Speed.

Someone observed that the rise of consumer movement against the ill practices of business is a ‘result of the prostitution of the marketing concept’. If marketing is about customer satisfaction, then true practice of marketing preempts the rise of customer movement.

What is this anticorruption movement all about? What does is manifest?

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8 thoughts on “Parliament, its instrumentality, anti-corruption crusade and marketing

  1. reminds me of your first lecture for Consumer Behaviour, isn’t the problem a result of lack of KRAs ( the political manifesto) and their accountability?

  2. One of the most brilliant tenets of the Indian Constitution is the separation of the judiciary with the executive. Unfortunately, with time, the executive has increasingly begun to exercise its hold over the judiciary, thereby making a lot of people bereft of deserved justice. This entire anti-corruption movement, at its heart, is about segregating the judiciary and the executive once again.

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