Author: Abraham Paul. P.
(Originally published in May 2004, edited time and again with contemporary issues included)
Introduction: Integrity of any political party and its worthiness is judged from the way their elected representatives conduct themselves in the Parliament and make themselves worthy to the people who elected them. Democracy is strangled when elected representatives, ignore the needs and aspirations of the people whom they represent. Democracy is strangled, when the political parties stoop down to use the communal feeling of one group against other to come to power and then compelled to oppress other communities to appease its supporters.
Democracy is strangled, when ‘Playing dirty Politics’ become the main business and theme of the Government and Political parties that support and oppose the government. Democracy is strangled when head of States under oath of office and supposed to function above partisan politics while in office go around and spread malice against the democratically established and functioning Federal/State Governments for political gains of their party in elections.
Democracy is strangled when the Government formed by duly elected representatives are at logger heads with other stake holders in the process of governance such as Judiciary, Army, Law enforcement bodies, Bureaucrats and heads of constitutionally constituted bodies like CVC, CAG, CBI, EC, HS, etc.
In the past six and half decades, for the first time perhaps after the days of Emergency, democracy is at cross roads in its choice again, between a constitutionally functional Parliamentary democracy with strong political will or a country that allow to get influenced by Marc Anthony or Hitler styles of impulsive populism that will eventually toll the death bells of democracy.
1. The inherent perils in Indian Democracy. Individuality in thoughts, unrelenting greed and self centric ambition to gain superiority over other at any cost and ever growing insatiable desire for change being the basic instincts that differentiate the human race everywhere, a political setup that envisages any country be ruled by a government ‘Of the People, by the People and for the People’ is more an Utopian myth than a realizable reality. It is too ambitious to wish that India, a ‘made-from-scratch-youngish’ a hurriedly stitched together Federal nation inheriting long embedded ethnic variations, diverse cultures, social structures, linguistic differences, highly dominating regional beliefs and interests, and unfit ideals inflicted by colonialists, to become such an Utopian democratic nation too soon.
2. The myth that ‘Majority has the Right to Rule’ in a democracy:
In the Indian context, less than about 50% of the total population only have voting rights and of that about 50 to 55% only cast their votes. Considering a vote split among three major contestants, a political party that can manage to get 7 to 8 percent of votes related to population, could become the largest single party and a coalition of parties that can manage between 9 to 11% of the votes get absolute majority. A one percent shift can tilt the scale either way. Therefore, the type of ‘Democracy of majority rule’ that can be attained with this sort of arithmetic of people’s representation is anybody’s guess. This is one of the major perils of our type of democratic process. Also it can be seen how easy it is to engineer and manifest electoral processes by ethical or ethnical means to generate such a small shift and grab power.
It is therefore, become very harmful when political parties’ stoop down to incite and use various forms of communal feelings for electoral advantage, or various cast based or regionalist interests and the interests of self serving crony capitalists. It becomes the responsibility of every citizen to safeguard against such misadventures of power mongering and self serving politicians or political groups.
2. The Vote banks in India: In India there are basically two types of majority vote banks; both having sets and subsets of the other.
- Majority and minority religion based. By sensitizing the malleable ones in the majority religion and the minority communities, the unscrupulous ones in every political parties and keep the country divided for their political gains.
- The majority of socially and economically backward, appeased by every political during elections with ‘Carrots’ that never to be during elections and do later but ensure they continues to remain so.
- A concoction as a mixture of the above two.
To give proper representation of all sections of the population and to take care of the interest of all sections of the society, it is necessary to make a major change in the present system of coalition politics. To begin with, there are some basic fundamentals discriminating the role of the National parties from that of the Regional parties at the States level.
3. Need of responsible opposition is a must in a democracy: Notwithstanding the above inherent problems in democracy the people destined to live with, it is only fair for every Indian to aspire to have sober and stable governments at Federal level that could take care of the needs of all the people in the country irrespective of their Socio-economic levels, faith orders / religious beliefs or political leanings and their representative strength in the Federal system.
For this, it is imperative that the representatives of the factions inside the ruling coalition behave with responsibility in taking along all with in and also those outside the ruling party or coalition, as they are the next majority stake holders among the democratically elected representatives based on the overall percentage of votes polled, and cooperate each other with the progressive programs of the elected and appointed ruling coalition governments, to push the country forward instead making themselves of mere nuisance value by blindly opposing every policy for frivolous reasons, merely for the sake of opposing them with sole aim to obstruct governance to some how bring it down, by hook or crook.
4. India’s political systems and bureaucracy need major change.
To give democracy a chance, the political system as well as the bureaucracy needs to be cleaned up weeding out incapable, corrupt and unscrupulous characters from the political scene. To start with, it is time for the political parties to stop passing on political and official positions to unworthy elements in the party caucus or in their family dynasty, lacking commensurate caliber, character and conduct as a routine affair; just because one’s father or mother or relative been minister or a senior politician, the offspring also to be made minister whether he has the requisite knowledge, experience or capability for it or not. This has to stop, lest people will be compelled to look for other alternatives and options like ‘Power of not to vote’ for any, Power to recall etc., as being talked around and strongly propagated by many these days. The key words to watch out are ‘Change, else time will catch up and change you”.
5. Need of Community watch dogs. There shall be apolitical societies like ‘Community Watch Dogs’ and ‘Citizens Charters’ in every constituency to impartially conduct research and analyze point out merits and demerits of the contestants to help people to choose and exercise their franchise for the right person to represent them in the Local and Federal governments. Later please also see my blog ‘Indian Citizens Advisory Community Organization’ (ICACO) http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-b4
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The paper discusses in details contemporary problems the country face and some suggestions how to overcome these:
- Control on Gold import / hoarding. Exercise control on gold. If necessary, ban further import, marketing and usage of above 18 carats Gold and Platinum other than for jewellery making and export, for two to three years.
- Monetization of idle Gold. Another way is restrictions in owning of gold. Take over excess gold from the willing from individuals and Institutions to start with and then Religious bodies and Trusts etc,. Auction Gold against Dollar to buyers abroad, print money of equivalent value and issue long term fully convertible bonds to those who voluntarily surrender gold, and use the money printed against deposited or confiscated gold for Infrastructure and social development programs.
Peg the Indian currency with value of gold as value of Rupee picks up to comfortable level. For example: Value of one milligram of gold shall have a representative prize of say ‘x’ rupees when appropriate.
- Infrastructure development projects through PPP.
Private Public Partnership is the way out being propagated by economists. However, parting with all profit making PSUs will only add the woes of the government.
Hurried growth through indebtedness will widen the rich – poor gap. H0wever Government need money for development. The total outlay of Central budgets amount to only about Rs. 35 to 38 per person per day which is less than the BPL index. What sort of devel0pment can be done with it is anybody’s guess.
In my view, the best way to realize effective PPP is by Government owning some amount of stake (say 10%), in all Companies/Industries (say above capital outlay of Rs. 1000 Cr.) in the country so that the profit earned could be diverted to development needs, keeping the budgetary deficit low without undue increase in Duties and Taxes.
- Un regulated subsidies cause heavy burden on Government exchequer. No government worth its name can squander away large part of its income on subsidies. Give subsidies only to those who need it and scrap subsidies to those who can afford without it.
Reduce direct TAX and duties so that price of essential commodities could be kept down.
- Government also should enter share market trading by setting up a financial company like IFCI, IDFC etc., so as to take advantage of market appreciation instead of allowing FIs to siphon out the investment of Indian share holders by unscrupulous maneuvering the money market.
Long back I have proposed the following system that can generate enough revenue without increasing taxes. Please see my recent blog again on this: wp.me/p1ZsI2-11j
- Government should look seriously into new technology ideas of using Power of Virtual Money as suggested by me in my paper http:// wp.me/p1ZsI2-Ku that can fetch enough revenue and more for the government to cover many times the current total budget outlay without burdening people with heavy taxes.
Author: Abraham Paul. P Ex: Owner Futuregroups, FCOMNET, India & UAE, / Vice President Technical sales, SPCNL SIEMENS ICN / Director, Trg, SC & TS, SEIMENS ICN RHQ UAE. / G.M & SMT TBG, BPL Mobile India. / TES (I) DoT India.
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