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Monday, January 11, 2010

Reengineering Indian Democracy

Consider these :
  • China a communist country is all set to take over Japan as the world's second largest economy in the world
  • Cuba under Fiedel Castro has one of the most efficient public distribution, healthcare and civil support system
  • Venezuela under Hugo Chavez is one of the fastest developing countries in the world which has paralleled its commercial success with corresponding improvements in infrastructure
Now let us contrast all this with the world's largest democracy better known as India.More than 60 years after independence we continue to reel under thaws of poverty,inequality and corruption..the very things we wanted to escape after independence.The Indian Police is nothing more than licensed "mafia" force which has used its capability and resources to meet selfish needs of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and other high profile citizens.The recent Ruchika Gehrotra Case where a high ranking police official used all his power to delay justice for more than 19 years is just an example of the above.
Whats more ,though our patriotism drives us to be excited over the fantastic growth rates we have achieved in the past two decades,the reality is some real growth indicators like poverty eradication rate and quality governance index have actually shown a negative or flat trend in the same time period.Whats more their is an increasing problem of trickling down the effects of growth to the masses of the country.
So though despite some splendid achievements during the past 60 years,some of the most important functions of a state ,relating to equality,reduced income gaps,protection etc seem to have gone for a ride in the Indian state.A question certainly arises whether the so called liberties of democracy have played a reverse effect in the country.As a proof of the fact;during the emergency period under Indira Gandhi rule,India was actually successful in tremendously increasing its growth rates and move back the economy on track. Therefore would it have been better to have a dictatorship or communist form of government....certainly not but what is required is to re engineer Indian Democracy to meet the current needs of the state.Time has come that we move on to becoming pragmatic rather than continue living in the idealist mindset on which the Indian Constitution is based. Therefore I think the following aspects of Indian democracy ,needs to be re engineered as soon as possible ,so that the Indian state .. doesn't become a failed state soon

  • Abolish UNIVERSAL ADULT FRANCHISE:While it would be impossible to argue on idealistic to why we should not have UNIVERSAL FRANCHISE,a pragmatic sense and evaluation of the Indian sense would certainly convince us that we need to do away with UNIVERSAL ADULT FRANCHISE.A rough estimate puts only 20% of Indian population to have attended complete primary schooling.One of the objectives of schooling is to develop rational political thinking to make the person a responsible citizen by providing him basic knowledge in history,civics and purposes of existence of government and states. Therefore we can conclude that a high school graduate is in a much better position to vote and select a government.However the irony of the matter in the Indian context is that an illiterate slum dweller who would easily sell his vote for a bottle of locally made booze has same vote value as that of a professor in political science.I am certainly not suggesting complete abolishment of UAF (Universal Adult Franchise),but we can certainly create a weighed voting system,which puts more value to votes of educated citizens .Some of us might argue this is against the basic tenets of equality,however the question over here is not equality but the exercise of a precious right which is important for the future survival of the Indian State.
  • Recalculate Vote Values:The latest reorganisation of constituencies has made politics more of a strategic game than a duty of a statesman.Politically shrewed reorganisation has resulted in decreased vote value of many vote value I mean ,the no. of citizens who get to elect an MP.So while strategically important states like UP,witnessed the vote value of their citizens going up,the less important states have faced a continuous decrease in their vote value.We urgently need to reorganise our constituencies so that each one has same vote value
  • Presidential two party system:Over the past two decades,the Indian Federal Elections (Lok Sabha) have been reduced to game of local politics.The fact that a pool of MP's from different state have the power to form government,has resulted in converting elections being converted to a stage for wetting out local issues.An implementation of a Presidential two party system,where the de facto head of the state is determined by total vote count ,with a minimal of 40% of eligible vote would help in tackling the issue.moreover this would help in solving the use of cheap tactics like horse trading across the continuum .Moreover under the present system of announcing the coalation partners and PM after the elections is nothing more than organised dynamic dictatorship
  • Implement Strict Political Parties Code:There is an urgent need to amend the constitution and introduce a Political Parties Code.The Code should ensure that representatives of the parties and its dignitaries at various levels are elected by democratic elections.Moreover the important party positions should not be held more than twice in a row.This would help in reducing the "family politics" prevailing in the country
  • Increased independence of head of state:Like the US President ,the PM once elected should be made more independent of the Parliament.The PM should be allowed to introduce bills and acts of everyday nature,without approval of parliament.Attendance to Parliamentary sessions should be made compulsory and attendance through modern means like video conferencing should be allowed.This would help in successful debates and quick passage of important bills
  • Compulsory Administrative Courses:All persons elected to work in important public offices in capacities of ministers should have to attend compulsory political course which would aim to train them in handling affairs of their departments.Also primary school education should be a necessary precondition for a person to stand in Federal Elections
Pragmatism is the rule of the day.In recent times we have seen the failure of idealist concepts right from communism to free market. Therefore if we do not become pragmatic soon..the Indian State might be added to the failure list above


  1. Yes, we have to re-engineer democracy, but where we vote for issues, not for people. We prepare the people, the young, to take over the management of the country as they gain experience and wisdom. We vote for what we want them to do, and where our vote is worth as our knowledge of the issue in question is. Re-engineering is a radical change, so we must accept that fact and realize that we are implementing something totally different and in the course of decades instead of elected periods.

  2. hi efrain
    sorry for the late reply.While your idea of voting for ideas is gud,but it does not seem pragmatic.Transfer of ower is one of the most difficult phenomena in governance.How can you ensure that the people you groom wont become autocrats.Instead we can have profiling ,with quantitative measures so only talented people can contest top echelons.

  3. Efrain M. MartresaAugust 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Thanks Sumeet!
    No, I am not saying to vote for ideas but for issues. We train the interested youth to manage the city, later the region, country likewise we train people for everything else, and where a certain power factor is a fact. Why don't we question the military who are in charge of atomic bombs in some cases?

    It is very simple: the only place where you don't have to be well trained and experienced to get a job is politics, and then you are in charge of rather big responsibilities. Sumeet, as I said before, re-engineering is a radical change, we have to be open if that will be for better, and I truly believe so about changing democracy. Now, the new system design and implementation are paramount, not to mention the checks and balances. And the implementation should be step by step, as these young citizens gain experience and even more specializad knowledge.

  4. Hi efrain
    I think we can discuss this in detail.You can ping me on my gtalk
    It wud be interesting to discuss this issue

  5. Efrain M. MartresaAugust 9, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    Thanks Sumeet, will email you. GTalk -or any chat- is rather complicated for me now.