Thursday, October 12, 2006

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)

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