What Is A ‘Shadow Cabinet’? How Relevant Is It In The Indian Scenario?


We have been proud of Indian democracy over the years, but on what is this sense of pride based? There is a lot of self-conceit about its electoral exercise and how efficiently it is conducted on such a large scale in India. But is this the end? Have we fulfilled all the responsibility just by holding elections?

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, India is ranked 46th in the 2021 Democracy Index’s global rankings. There is a serious problem of transparency in India’s democracy.

Shadow Cabinet in India
Photo Credit – Livemint

Shadow cabinet is an effective and proven way to increase transparency in democracy. India inherited a parliamentary form of democracy mainly from the British, but the shadow cabinet, a feature of the British Parliament, never became prevalent in the Indian scenario.

The shadow cabinet is a successful experiment in Britain. Under this, the party sitting in the opposition also forms its cabinet. The departments are divided among its members. The shadow minister’s job is to closely monitor the policies and functioning of the government ministry related to his department, clarifying his party’s differences with it, and presenting alternative policies.

It continuously makes the common voter aware of the difference in the direction of thinking and understanding between the ruling and opposition parties and hence the shadow cabinet system plays a major role in voters awareness.

In a democracy, both the ruling party and the opposition are equally important parts of the state system. Voters give a mandate to one party to run the government, then the other party gets a mandate to expose and protest the government’s mistakes.

The work of the opposition in India has always been considered noisy and disruptive to the parliamentary process. But in other democracies the opposition plays a much bigger role. Whichever party came into the opposition in India, paid great attention to the politics of protest and the constant stalemate inside and outside the Parliament, but failed to an extent to bring about positive change through constructive means. Therefore shadow cabinet in India is much needed change.

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