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Institutional drift in times of Corona



Institutional drift in times of Corona

Prakhar Singh : There have been critical events in history; sometimes sufficiently large to be able to change the ‘status quo’ of a country. In their book ‘Why Nations Fail’ Acemoglu and Robinson argue that regions that are otherwise quite similar bifurcate in different directions because of such critical junctures.
One such historical event was black death which travelled across trading routes from far East to the European continent almost killing half of its population in the mid-fourteenth century. The massive human and economic destruction shaped the future of the continent for years to come.

आखिर क्यों हुआ रविशंकर प्रसाद और शशि थरूर में समझौता?
Prior to black death, the continent constituted of heavily extractive institutions and feudalism was rampant. Things unfolded differently in Western and Eastern Europe post this event. The massive labor shortages made the peasants demand lower taxes and more rights in the Western Europe. However, in the Eastern side, peasants were not as organized and were brought under the yoke by the powerful landowners. This meant high taxes and more exploitation.

This one event led to dissolution of extractive institutions and dissolution of feudalism in Western Europe but the opposite was true for the continent’s Eastern counterpart.
We are seeing something of a similar scale in India and other parts of the world today. As Yuval Noah Harari writes, we are facing the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take will probably shape the world for years to come.

This could be a critical juncture where we capacitate our systems sufficiently to be able to deal with such situations for our progeny or could once again waste a good crisis for nothing. As the world has its eyes over us, the onus is on the Modi government to prove its mettle.

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