The credibility of India’s top institutions has lately been suffering, negatively affecting the governance, and progress of democracy. A strong indication of this changing climate came in the form of the impeachment motion against the chief justice (CJ) of India, which was later rejected by the country’s vice president, and was subsequently challenged in the highest court. When the case challenging the legality of the vice president’s action came before the court, the petitioner sought a clarification from the bench. The CJ should not be allowed to choose judges of his choice to hear a case that involved the CJ himself. But the court refused to provide any explanation, giving credence to the belief that the court had every intention of letting the CJ have his way, and since you cannot expect such a court to provide justice in its true sense, the original petition was withdrawn. This moved seemed to be a self-inflicted wound on part of the court, as it raised questions about its own ability to enforce the constitution fairly, thus damaging democracy in the country. The state assemblies of UP, Gujarat and Rajasthan functioned for 17, 25 and 33 days in 2017, and later passed a legislation granting a former chief minister an official bungalow with nine employees for life, under the patronage of the sitting CM. It seems this was just a way of ensuring a comfortable retirement, once the upcoming general elections prompted the CM’s removal from office But it is not only the Supreme Court that has failed to inspire confidence, even the parliament of India has failed to discuss, debate, moderate and legislate urgent public issues. For instance, the Lok Sabha functioned for only 33. 6 hours in 28 days during the recent budget sessions, just passing two bills in 14 minutes. It passed the annual budget for the nation without discussion and the Speaker of the House did not allow a motion of no confidence against the government to be tabled either. In a cabinet system of government, it is the prime minister’s duty to conduct the proceedings of parliament with the help of their cabinet. However, the present prime minister took little interest in doing so; instead after the washout of the parliament session he observed a day’s fast with his cabinet colleagues in order to presumably clear his conscience. The Reserve Bank of India sets the monetary policy of the country, but they took merely one day to approve, on the government’s advice, a new policy of demonetisation, without sparing any thought over its rationale, or how they would deal with the resulting fallout. Consequently, more than a hundred lives were lost, and the economy slowed down due to the unavailability of currency in a cash dependent system. For democracy to function, the Election Commission must be beyond reproach. However, they sullied their image due to their conduct during the Gujarat elections, when they postponed the elections, and disqualified AAP legislatures of the Delhi assembly without giving them a fair hearing, prompting the High Courts in Delhi to criticise and revoke their decision. Inefficient and self-perpetuating institutions at the top cause ripple effects. For example, it took the Chennai High Court over five months to decide the fate of 18 disqualified legislators, allowing them to continue to work for the government, even though they were not technically authorised to do so. Recently they announced that the court had eventually arrived at a split verdict, further exacerbating the problem for an indefinite period of time, as is the case across the country where 4.2 million cases are still waiting to be heard. Similarly, the state assemblies of UP, Gujarat and Rajasthan functioned for 17, 25 and 33 days in 2017, and later passed a legislation granting a former chief minister an official bungalow with nine employees for life , under the patronage of the sitting chief minister. It seems this was just his way of ensuring a comfortable retirement, once the upcoming general elections hasten his removal from office. Institutions are the last resort of the people fighting for justice in a democratic society. If they are unable to do so because the institutions are weak, self-perpetuating, unaccountable and politically influenced, then democracy becomes a farce and the leader who presides over such a spectacle will forever be judged harshly by history, be it Indira Gandhi, or Narender Modi. In this context, learning from history is useful. India’s first prime minister, Pundit Nehru is revered largely because he built, nurtured and respected institutions that, he recognised, outlast individuals, who, howsoever popular or clever, are merely slaves of time in a democracy. The writer is a Melbourne-based researcher and author Published in Daily Times, July 7th 2018.