Thursday, October 12, 2006

Say goodbye to politics of the present kind and say welcome to a new era...

Young men and women can look forward to a future where civic sense will prevail in public life starting with our political representatives, provided we, the voters decide to use our intelligence and discrimination by exercising our constitutional right to vote in a planned manner...

The plan is based on Partyless Governance. Though idealistic, it is a concept alluded to by great leaders. Partyless Governance provides the political framework that favours the values of Truth, Universal Love and Peace.

The following articles go into various aspects of Partyless Governance:

IDEAL GOVERNANCE IS WITHIN REACH!

ARE WE COLLECTIVELY STUPID?

THE SPIRIT OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION (and possibly of other democratic constitutions as well)

THE IDEAL ECONOMIC MODEL

DO YOU WISH FOR A HUMANE WORLD?

DEMOCRACY FROM AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE

DO WE NEED AN IDEOLOGY?

WHAT IS PROGRESS?

[Theoretically the simplest way to usher in Partyless Governance would be (applicable to India but in a modified manner to other democracies as well) - the major political parties coming together and deciding that in the best interests of the Nation and the common man, they would bring forth the necessary legislation in the Parliament to make Partyless Governance a reality. This in effect requires that the present members of the Parliament perform a task of such gravity and significance as the one that was accomplished when the Constitution of India (establishing the basic structure of the nation), was passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, after several months of enlightened and meaningful deliberation. Whether such a course of events through collective political will is possible, though desirable for the Nation, is the moot point.]


Other related articles:

Relevance of Partyless Governance in today's world

Q&A on Partyless Governance

Restructuring the Global Economy

Correcting a Systemic Flaw in Democracy

From Inner Peace to Outer Peace: Tapping our Spiritual Intelligence

Understanding Human Nature and Tapping the Best Out of It

Real Growth as against Apparent Growth

 

Ideal Governance is within reach!

There is a fundamental flaw in the way Democracy functions (in the Indian context, but also in general throughout the world). The people elect their representatives by casting their votes on a symbol, usually that of a political party. This is based on two assumptions viz. political parties are inevitable in a Democracy and that the lay people/illiterates need a symbol to facilitate their voting. The political parties have thrived on this dependency of Democracy on them and have also found the method of voting on a symbol, convenient to woo the voters and develop 'vote-banks'. The sanctity of the vote is thus compromised.
Both of these grievous drawbacks can be eliminated by electing all the representatives as independents. The ballot paper should contain the names and photographs of the candidates. A model of the ballot paper can be displayed at all the polling booths and other public places, a certain period before the polling date, to familiarize the candidates to the people.
Thus the voter is forced to individually evaluate the candidate he or she is going to vote for. Following the herd and voting on a symbol without knowing the candidate is discouraged. To assume that the illiterates cannot judge the candidates on their own, would be to underestimate the average voter's wisdom. The candidates have to rely on their individual merits, as there will be no party symbol to depend upon. Campaigning in the name of a political party, caste or religion should be prohibited.
The elected members then elect the Speaker of the house and then the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister through a suitable voting system. The member who is most popular, experienced and who is considered to be suitable by the majority of elected members is likely to be chosen. Merit will be an important factor throughout the electoral process and there will be no room for political games like alliances and manipulations.
The P.M. or the C.M. can then form the ministry by choosing from any of the members of the house. The stability of the Government is enhanced since the P.M. or the C.M. has only to retain the confidence of the house as a whole, without worrying about defections. Any tendency to form parochial groups would be discouraged, as individual performance will matter for rise in the political structure as well as to retain the good will of the people of his or her constituency. The practice of issuing a whip is not possible and no member can be taken for granted.
Such a Government can take up a programme of action based on the majority opinion of the house. The Government's policies and programmes can be implemented down to the grass-roots by the bureaucracy, with freedom from 'political interferences'. Corruption cannot thrive, as there will be accountability at all levels with the people becoming the final judges. The elected representative has to apply himself to the problems of the people in his constituency to retain their goodwill; the needs of the people will get their due attention. The existing policies and programmes will become reoriented and people-centered without being dominated by the preferences of a particular ideology or a personality.
The existing political parties can continue to perform their primary function of raising the political consciousness of the people, by functioning as social groups. But when it comes to Government, they will be out of the picture. This will be similar to people belonging to different religions, but within the government, religions having no role. The honest politician who knows that his primary function is to speak on behalf of the people and to work for their welfare, will not be perturbed by such a system.
The Parliamentary system as briefed above (which in principle can be applied to other forms of government), has the individual's conscience as its truly key element, not being influenced by other considerations. It will be easy to implement with minimum disruption to the existing institutions.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. -Arthur Schopenhauer

(This article had the Divine Blessing of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Feb 1997)

Are we collectively stupid?

What will you say of a society which persists with a political system which has failed to deliver the goods?
Humanity, let us say, is like people packed in an automobile which is traveling downhill without lights at a terrific speed and driven by a four-year-old child. The sign-posts along the way are all marked 'progress'.
- Lord Dunsany

Consider the following fact. Most of the state governments allow or themselves run liquor shops for the 'benefit' of the public. It is statutorily and admittedly displayed on the name boards of these shops that "consuming alcohol is harmful to the Nation, the home and the individual's life". The public and the Nation at large have come to accept this state policy of allowing a positively harmful matter to coexist with beneficial aspects of state policy like promoting education, health and development of the people. Such a contradictory state of affairs is similar to the individual declaring that though he knows that alcohol is harmful to him and his family, he cannot stop drinking. Such an alcoholic needs counselling and de-addiction therapy. But what can be done with the society at large which pursues a similar line of thinking? The intellectuals who can still discriminate good from the bad should introspect on why such a deep-rooted malady has set into our collective thinking. Why is the society as a whole unable or is not willing to initiate action against such a suicidal public policy, even though we have a democratic system of governance in place? The answer lies in the rather outdated method of electing our political representatives.

Everybody knows that the elected representatives and the government resulting therefrom are important not only for the society but have a bearing on every individual citizen's life. Every person has a stake in an efficient, fair and corruption-free administration, which would work for the welfare of the society as a whole. But look at the way we elect our representatives; is there any scope for expression of what we really expect from our representatives? Ideally, the most competent person of proven integrity, capable of understanding the problems of different sections of the people in the constituency and who can effectively represent them at the legislative body and the government would be the candidate of choice for the voter. That this should be the criterion to cast the vote will be accepted by most people with common sense. But is this happening? The voter hardly has any opportunity to develop an insight about the candidate. Instead, everything that is irrelevant to the crucial question of choosing the best candidate is projected upon the voter. Attachment to a symbol, the party-affiliation of the candidate, caste and communal considerations, money and muscle power, personality worship, following the herd and voting without knowing the candidate - all come into play. People are resigned to the fact that even if a fraction of the promises made during the election campaign is fulfilled, it will be good enough. For the society as a whole, elections have become a periodical extravagance, an exercise in self-deception, which is best got over and forgotten, until another election crops up. While we seek improvisation in everything, including the method of casting the vote (through electronic voting machines), the system of electing our political representatives who decide our common fate, remains as a crude mismatch, about which there is blissful indifference. This results in injurious public policies such as the liquor policy, which stands out as a telling example.

If we, at least the thoughtful among us, continue to ignore the basic flaw in the present party-based political system then we may have to face increasingly a society with falling moral values dominated by corruption and criminalization, where all our intellectual attainments in various fields cannot be put to constructive use. A Partyless Governance where all our political representatives are elected as independents (which is feasible provided we apply ourselves to it), will put an end to the reign of chaotic public policies we are facing today.

Spirit of the Indian Constitution (and possibly of other democracies as well)

The Spirit of the Indian Constitution is in favour of Partyless Governance.

The People of India have given to themselves a Constitution framed by the collective wisdom of India's great leaders of the past. The Constitution now declares India as a 'Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic' with the ultimate objective of securing to all its citizens:

Justice - social, economic and political
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
Equality of status and opportunity and to promote among them all -
Fraternity - assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

This Preamble to the Constitution sets a goal with the widest possible vision. To make this goal achievable, universal adult franchise was adopted, which was not in practice even in advanced western countries. This significant step was indicative of the spiritual tradition of India, which believes in universal brotherhood of mankind.

The constitution speaks about fundamental rights, duties, the governance of the union and the states among other things, but does not speak about the political parties as such, as a requirement for achieving the above. Thus the existence of political parties is not a constitutional necessity not to speak of compulsion.

Article 29A of the Representation of People's Act 1951 says that, 'any association or body of individual citizens of India, calling itself a political party has to register itself as such with the election commission'. The interpretation of the term 'political party' (article 2f of the same act) also corresponds to this. There is no mention about political parties in the Constitution itself.
The Representation of People's Act does not speak of political parties to be representative of people; representation is to be by individuals at a personal level. Primacy was given to the representative of the people rather than to the political party to which he or she may belong, so that the aspirations of the people of the constituency may be brought out fully.

The elected members are supposed to elect their leader, who then forms the council of ministers and runs the Government as long as he or she enjoys the confidence of the house. The Constitution does not speak of the party with the majority forming the Government. It merely speaks of the leader with majority support forming the Government. Thus the Spirit of the Constitution recognizes the elected representative to be the true representative of the people and not any political party to be representative of the people. However by force of habit, usage and long practice, the present system of political parties playing the dominant role both at the time of elections and then in the process of forming the Government , has established itself. The framers of the Indian Constitution expected the political parties to play an intermediary role between the people and governance. However political parties have come to acquire the status of being the sole representatives of the people. Now the people are at the mercy of the political parties, which was not the intention of the Constitution.

There is still hope for good governance satisfactory to the electorate, provided the true status of the elected representative as envisaged by the Spirit of the Constitution is made into a reality. The representative should be able to discharge his (or her) obligation to the people who elected him by functioning in accordance with his conscience and by bringing out his full potential for the good of the people. This is possible only by independent representatives under a system of Partyless Governance.

The Ideal Economic Model

Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it is now leading us around.It is time to figure out where we want to go - in my opinion towards sustainability and community - and then design a money system (economic system) that gets us there. -Bernard Lietaer.

The now globally prevailing economic model lays emphasis on the Gross Domestic Product for judging the performance of a Nation's economy. It is increasingly recognised worldwide that the happiness level of a society does not correspond to its growth rate (of GDP). In fact it has been suggested that a Gross Happiness Product would be a preferable indicator of a Nation's well being, if it could be evolved. The reason that the present commodity-based economic model has failed to bring corresponding amount of happiness in the society, is that we have forgotten that by economic development we actually mean socio-economic development. Economic growth has no meaning without the society to which it pertains to. The prevailing commodity-based economic model virtually regards the economic and social problems of the society as discrete entities not to be mixed with one another. This piece-meal approach, though for the sake of convenience, has resulted in meaningless emphasis on increasing the growth rate of the economy, regardless of whether it is for the entire society's well being and progress or certain sections thereof.

This problem would be solved if the locally felt economic needs of the people are fulfilled by a system of governance which can respond to the people's wishes on a 'day-to-day' basis. This would be possible only through a system of Partyless Governance, where 'independent' elected representatives, elected on the basis of their proven worth and free from 'party line of thinking' can give shape to the Government's policies and programmes. Such a truly participatory democracy would fulfill the needs of every section of the society, bring all-round development and at the same time correct the gross imbalances in socio-economic conditions of different sections of the people.

The present commodity-based economic model perpetuated by thinkers far removed from everyday realities and needs faced by the people, has resulted in a skewed development with islands of prosperity existing within a mass of poverty with people developing a materialistic outlook on life. This has given way to consumerism and rise of money power which inevitably results in social evils like increasing acceptability of corruption as a way of life, selfishness, greed, neglect of the poor, child labour, exploitation of every kind and rise of criminal tendencies.

Under a Partyless Governance we have the Ideal Economic Model where the economic policies and programmes are tailored to suit the people's felt needs. Planned and Market aspects of the Economy would still be relevant, which however will have as their undercurrent - people's wishes. Since people would naturally seek happiness as the bottomline in life, such an economic dispensation would encourage positive values in the society like understanding other's problems and sharing with others, resulting in optimal utilisation of resources.

Economy is defined as the management of concerns and resources of a state (or business or household). Here 'concerns' will include the needs of the people, which may be apart from commodities, spiritual needs like freedom, opportunity and fulfillment. By accepting the bliss-centered basic spiritual nature of man as a functional reality, rather than deluding ourselves that man in the final analysis is basically a physical body to be taken care of, we arrive at an economic model, which has a unifying effect. By adopting a 'bliss-centered' economy made possible through a Partyless Governance, societies will thus lay emphasis on overall satisfaction or bliss as the bottom-line.

Do you wish for a humane world?

Having an Integrated View is the need of our times!

THE INTEGRATED VIEW:
Imagine 5 children trying to arrange 100 pieces of a 'jig saw' puzzle to arrive at the completed picture. It will be very difficult for them, however intelligent they are, if they do not have a direct vision (or knowledge) of the final picture given by the manufacturer; there will be endless arguments on the pros and cons of the various possible arrangements. On the other hand, if the children have a direct knowledge of the final picture depicted on the completed puzzle, the solution becomes easy. Knowledge of the end point allows them to proceed towards it easily; the integrated view helps them to solve the puzzle which would otherwise be very difficult.Broadly speaking, problem-solving in life is similar in nature. If peace and harmony are the desirable endpoints then, one should be able to feel harmony (having direct knowledge of harmony) to achieve it. Further, the wise man knows that finally there is only 'one harmonious state of bliss', at both individual and collective levels; whatever appears contrary to this is only a passing phase and has to eventually proceed towards 'the one harmonious state' through a process of evolution. Hence wise men the world over, ever stood by the values of Truth, Love and Peace which form the basic ingredients of 'the one harmonious state'. These values lead to the solution of complicated problems at the individual and collective levels, however overwhelming they may be and facilitate the attainment of harmony.

A direct knowledge (or a feeling) of harmony should be kept in perspective, whatever is said or done, to be of help in planning development, solving problems and establishing harmony in the society. On the contrary, forgetting harmony, if each thinker tries to impose his own school of thought, each party its own ideology and each sect its own philosophy, then matters are bound to get complicated. Peace and Harmony will elude the society.

We have to break free from the shackles arising out of the preferences of the human mind and reach out for the ultimate reality of the 'one harmonious state of bliss' of the spirit, which is within each one of us. The mind then becomes an instrument to achieve and preserve harmony. Individuals reach and retain this harmonious state of bliss, by adherence to Truth, Love and Peace. At the collective level, the party-based political system prevents this from happening because of its inherent divisive nature, which inevitably, promotes a disintegrated view.

A Partyless Governance where all the peoples' representatives are elected as independents, enables an integrated view; it respects the sanctity of each individual, of the individual's potential to peace and harmony and will facilitate the evolution of a humane society.

Democracy from an Evolutionary Perspective

The popular definition of the term Democracy is ‘the Government of the people, by the people and for the people’. This has various textures and connotations such as Popular Democracy, Representative Democracy, Participatory Democracy etc. We in India have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic.

The rule or governance as understood in olden days was an exclusive right of a few individuals. As thought and particularization developed at later times, it has come to be accepted that governance is a concern of everyone inasmuch as it affects every person of the State. Ideas like ‘no taxation without representation’ have gained lot of ground the world over and have paved the way for participate-structure in governance. To facilitate representation in the governing bodies through elections, organizations called ‘political parties’ came to be advocated. The unifying theme before a political party is its ideology as to ‘the right system of governance’ in its opinion, to cater to the needs of the people.

Now, the structuring and management of the political parties have been far from ‘ideal’, reflecting the weak-nesses of the human mind. Further, of late the political parties have shown ugly factors such as self-interest and self-centeredness displayed by the persons at the helm of affairs, deceitful and disruptive behaviour, in and out of the legislative bodies and dynastic tendencies, throwing to wind democratic norms. Politics has come to be accepted as a profession. It has become more a means of menace than usefulness for people’s welfare and better living. While the use and utility of the political parties cannot be ruled out, their extending arm beyond all reasonable limits is to be deprecated and dismissed outright. The function of political parties is, by conception, limited to work for bringing about political awareness among the public on matters of public interest and policy. Governance is not a matter related to the political parties or the predilections of the people connected with them. To maintain the representative character in the context of governance is to be above the narrow or parochial tendencies of human nature. We have the ‘Representation of People’s Act’ giving out the methodology to achieve this objective.

The rule or governance of this Nation over the 50 and more years has clearly brought out the latent evils in the minds of the rulers aided by the medium of political parties. These being obvious and well focused by many forums, need not be elaborated here. Suffice to say that the intended results of governance have not percolated to the masses, and many parts of the country still do not enjoy the basic needs for human existence. Developmental activity is much talked about laced with statistics, but hangs above and beyond the reach of the commoners. The ‘below poverty line’ syndrome continues to expand.

Democracy as a system is seemingly a western concept but its appearance in the earlier Indian context is traceable. Even in the monarchial system India enjoyed the fruits of democratic wellbeing. The possible mis-rule of the ruler was all the time kept under check by the council of ministers, advisors and the like. Under good rulers people had a definite say in all matters of public policy. After suffering under the foreign yoke and attaining independence, made possible by the selfless leadership of a few people, the newly independent Nation with its party-based political system provided the setting for self-centered and narrow-minded politicians to take over the Nation. Interference of the politician in every walk of life and corrupting that to his own advantage is the contemporary scene. Things have not gone beyond the scope of repair and this is the time for the intelligent public to think, come together and act in the best interest of the nation and its people.

The future of Governance, if it is to be totally aimed at the welfare of all the subjects irrespective of caste, creed, religion, race, language, gender etc., must be raised upon a structure which is devoid of all party affiliations and party-politic interruptions. It must be on a sound foundation of party-less Governance, a holistic approach to the regeneration and ultimate perfection of humanity.

P.S: The original of the above article was written by Dr.N.C.Ramanujachary of Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai, which has been partly modified and published above.

Do we need an ideology?

The answer is as easy or or as difficult as the answer for the question - 'do we need a religion?'

What religion is for the heart, ideology is for the mind. If you are contented at heart, remain at peace and are in harmony with the rest of the world, then religion serves no purpose for you, since you already possess what it seeks to give. All you need to do is to enjoy the bliss; all other matters concerning you fall in place. This has been the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom of India. The omnipresent and omnipotent consciousness exerts its will through you, and it always takes care of the ultimate wellbeing of all. The 'self' ceases to exist and only the 'Self' exists. For such a person the mind ceases to exist as a deciding factor. It merely functions as an instrument of the heart, performing its functions with the supreme wisdom of the heart.

The question of ideology comes only when the mind becomes the deciding factor ignoring the promptings of the heart. Religion is needed when peace is lacking and the heart is discontented. Ideology becomes inevitable when the mind is active and believes that it has a crucial role to play. Religion is harmless and beneficial provided its true role is understood. If out of ignorance, one's religion is thought to be superior than those of others, conflict arises. Similarly, ideology is harmless and can be beneficial if its true nature is understood. It promotes thinking and raises the level of awareness among people. But when a particular ideology is thought to be superior, the resulting clash of ideologies leads to endless political debates and even wars between nations.

Democracy is expected to provide governance tailored to the needs of the people. Since our age is the 'age of the mind', political parties having different ideologies are considered a must for debating issues, and to provide governance based on majority view. But of late the clash of ideologies has become so acute that everybody has forgotten the people for whom they came into being. Valuable time and energy are being wasted in protecting one's ideology and preventing the spread of a conflicting ideology. It has now become a question of survival. There is fear that if a group does not protect its ideology, it has to disappear from the political scene. The party-based electoral system sustains this fear.

The Indian Nation may be having the best possible governance under the circumstances, but will our politicians have time to think about fulfilling the basic needs of the neglected majority of our people? If they have the welfare of the people at heart then their minds will not be agitated by the need for the survival or end of a particular ideology. To keep the welfare of the people at heart in all aspects of governance, political parties should keep out of the electoral system. They should confine themselves to educating the people on various issues of governance. When it comes to power they should keep out of the picture. All the people's representatives should be elected as independents; such a setup is possible provided we apply ourselves to it with an open mind. This will be similar to people belonging to different religions functioning within the government, but within the government religion having no role.

We may have ideologies, but they should remain outside the ambit of governance. A pertinent question that arises is how China could manage with single party rule for over 50 years; isn't it a fact that a clash of ideologies can thus be avoided if only one ideology exists? Here the subtle question of the individual's freedom of thought comes in. If fulfillment of the material needs of the people alone is the criterion for good governance, then the Chinese example would suffice. People in addition need spiritual fulfillment, which is possible only when there is freedom of thought. Democracy allows this freedom through political parties, which however have outlived their purpose. In the present juncture, we are left with no other choice but for political parties to remain outside the ambit of governance if the true freedom envisaged by the concept of democracy is to be attained.

What is Progress?

We need to have a common idea of progress that is inclusive and meaningful to one and all...

"Know That, knowing which, you will know everything that is to be known."

The above saying from the Upanishads, represents the acme of human thought. It implies that when one becomes aware of a higher perspective, one comes to know of things encompassed by that higher perspective (the highest perspective being that of Universal Consciousness or ‘God’).

This axiom is frequently useful in the worldly context and helps to solve difficult problems. Progress, growth and eradication of poverty are debating points in today’s world. ‘Progress’ is a term being used by various people: the politician, economist, scientist, common citizen, industrialist, businessman - each has his or her own interpretation. However we frequently find that a particular idea of progress is being projected as the one representative of everyone. Thus we find that at the social level, material progress as evidenced by modern development of cities is frequently regarded as a sign of progress. Consequently ‘growth’ is considered to be increase in material possessions. And poverty is regarded as lacking in material needs. These are superficial interpretations, which have been perpetuated and have come to be accepted by and large.

However these assertions do not stand close scrutiny. Progress and growth have no meaning if the human being is unable to enjoy them. Good health and spirit form the basic requirements for material possessions to have a meaning. Material progress would be hollow inside, if the people are lacking in inner peace. Today we find that whatever inner bliss people may be having is being constantly eroded by the materialistic socio-political environment, which is at conflict with the core requirement. Such a hollow progress is fragile and always at the risk of collapse.

True progress can be considered to be strengthening of inner peace and contentment. If this is recognized and preserved then the superficial material possessions will be added on to it as and when required. This is the law of nature and each successful individual knows that his/her own life is the proof. Whether this law becomes operational depends on one’s preference at the individual level and the political process at the state level.

For true progress of the state or the nation, we need a political structure that is in tune with this law of nature. This is possible when the individual’s heart, the abode of bliss, is made the bottom-line for all political processes. Partyless Governance, based on the individual’s conscience will provide the framework for meaningful growth and progress and eradicate poverty in its true sense (i.e. lacking in inner bliss). It is a question of individuals forming the society recognizing and reposing faith in this law of nature that will provide prosperity based on inner peace.

Once progress is viewed from this perspective, it throws light on the present distressing global phenomenon of terrorism and suicide bombers. Those who indulge in such inhuman acts basically lack in ‘inner bliss’ and instead they are filled with negative feelings. It would be a sign of wisdom to try and find why they have come to reach such a state of ‘heartlessness', and try to correct the conditions that have led them to such a state. Simply trying to counter terrorism without addressing the basic cause would be shortsighted and counter-productive.

True progress would take into account the welfare/grievances of people whoever and wherever they are in an ever-increasing manner.