Colloquium on Liberty, Democracy, and Public Choice
Despite 67 years of political independence and democracy, India is throttled by political practices that stifle individual liberty, the license-permit quota raj that still exists for the poor, and ill-informed public policies that curtail entrepreneurship, restrict opportunities for growth, and stunt economic development. Current socio-political attempts to deal with these issues have seen the growth of a prominent anti-corruption movement and subsequent passing of a watered down anti-corruption bill, the birth of the populist Aam Aadmi Party, and most significantly the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. However, none of these have identified or addressed the core issues within the Indian political system – a large and opaque bureaucracy, an overwhelmed and ineffective judiciary, an alarmingly pliant Constitution, deeply entrenched interest groups, and a culture of dynastic politics.
Over the last three decades, public choice theory has emerged as a prominent research agenda in economics and political science that addresses central themes in this tradition with the tools of economic analysis. Specifically, public choice theory has focused on the working properties of alternative political arrangements in an effort to understand constitutional features that are most likely to advance individual autonomy and flourishing as understood by the individuals who must live under a given constitution.
This conference for academics will focus on the leverage that the public choice approach has given political scientists and economists over understanding how democracy works and how institutions such as constitutions can be constructed to produce better social outcomes. We hope to discuss the impact that this school has had both within the academy and in the real world of politics, with a special focus on the Indian context.
CCS Colloquium is a two-day (three nights) residential program and forum for in-depth discussion centred on a chosen theme/policy. The Colloquium provides participants an opportunity to disentangle themselves from the distractions of everyday life to reflect on issues of fundamental and enduring importance. Our hope is that participants will go on to share their advanced understandings and to develop innovative ideas and approaches for bringing specific policy solutions to advance liberalism today.
The colloquium will address the following themes:
- Politics and Constitutionalism
- Majority Rule, Voting Cycles, and Democracy
- Democratic Deficiencies
- The Generality Principle
- Constitutionalism and Credible Commitment