Lok Satta Junction

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JP on Telangana – videos

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Written by jujung

March 13, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Posted in Agenda, Andhra pradesh, Ideas

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Proposed changes in women’s Reservations Bill

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Source: Loksatta news

Welcoming the UPA Government move to introduce a Bill in Parliament to provide for reservations to women in legislative bodies, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today suggested that the flaws in the Bill be removed if it were to be meaningful.

Talking to the media, Dr. JP pointed out that the Bill proposes reservation of one-third seats for women and the rotation of such reserved seats once in every general election.  As a result, two-thirds of incumbents will be forcibly unseated in every general election. When male incumbents are forced out, they field their womenfolk as proxies and hinder development of natural leadership.

“Such compulsory unseating violates the very principle of democratic representation and jeopardizes the possibility of any legislator choosing a constituency and nursing it. When legislators do not have the incentive to seek re-election from the same constituency, politics will become more predatory and unaccountable.  The Bill in its present form is silent about women’s representation in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils. In addition, the Bill warrants a constitutional amendment.”

Studying all these, the Lok Satta had as early as 1998 presented an alternative for consideration by all political parties.  It calls for an amendment to the Representation of the People Act making it mandatory for every recognized political party to field women candidates in one-third of constituencies. To prevent a party from nominating women candidates only in States or constituencies where the party’s chances of winning are weak, the Bill proposes that each party should consider the State as a unit for fielding women candidates in elections to the Lok Sabha.  In other words, a party has to field one-third of women candidates in every State.  A party’s failure to field the requisite number of women entails a penalty.  For the shortfall of every woman candidate, the party cannot field male candidates in two constituencies.

The Lok Satta Bill proposes that for reservation of seats for women in a State Assembly, the unit shall be a cluster of three contiguous Lok Sabha constituencies. The Election Commission had endorsed the Lok Satta Bill, Dr. JP said.

Dr, JP said that the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act should be amended to provide for reservation of one-third of seats to women in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils.

Dr. JP pointed out that political parties denied party ticket to women claiming their chances of winning an election were remote. Results in election after election have demonstrated that voters have no prejudice against women.

Written by jujung

March 13, 2010 at 8:17 AM

Liberalize the railways, demands Dr. JP

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Source: Loksatta news

The Indian railway system continues to be in a crisis since it has kept the winds of liberalization at bay, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said here today.  When Delhi let go its stranglehold on airports and sea ports and permitted States to promote them, the country has witnessed a dramatic growth in the two sectors.

Commenting on the railway budget presented by Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Dr. JP said the railways’ failure to be the lifeline of the economy has resulted in the road sector overtaking the railways in goods movement.  The railways which once carried 80 percent of the cargo now handled only 20 percent. Neither the NDA Government nor the UPA Government has taken cognizance of the enormous losses the nation is put to because of road transport.  Road traffic resulted in regular accidents and huge loss of life, involved huge expenditure, warranted fuel imports, caused pollution and wear and tear of roads.

Dr. JP also suggested that each zonal railway be given total autonomy and treated as an independent profit center.  The South Central Railway earned a daily profit of Rs.5 crore while the Eastern Railway incurred a daily loss of Rs.6 crore.  For want of autonomy, the SC Railway has not been able to address the pressing needs of people in the region whereas thanks to political patronage the Eastern Railway continued to bag many projects.

Dr. JP welcomed the Railway Minister’s proposal to encourage railway development under the public-private partnership mode since there is no alternative.  A white paper published by the Railways has estimated that it has to invest Rs.14 lakh crore in the next 10 years on construction of new lines, acquisition of rolling stock etc. There is no way in which the railways can raise such resources and become the country’s lifeline.

For instance, the 13 projects under construction in Andhra Pradesh call for an investment of Rs.3600 crore, not to talk of the new lines proposed in the current budget.  The budget allocated a total of Rs.4300 crore for the entire country for construction of 1000 km of lines in the coming financial year.  At this rate, completion of the projects already taken up will take a decade or two.

Dr. JP disclosed that Andhra Pradesh accounted for 5500 km of the total 36000 km of railway lines already surveyed but there is no prospect of the lines materializing in the near future.  An autonomous SC Railway, for instance, could complete them in a few years because it can raise loans to match its Rs.2000 crore annual profit.

The Lok Satta leader also took exception to the Railway Minister’s attempt to placate all States by allocating nominal amounts to one project or the other in each of them.  Saying that bad politics drives away good economics, he said that the Carriage Repair Workshop at Tirupati could be developed into a coach manufacturing plant with a few hundred crores of investment.  Instead, the Railway Minister proposed construction of a new plant in West Bengal at a cost of a few thousands of crores of rupees.

Again, the Union Railway Minister sought to please MPs by introducing a large number of passenger train services unmindful of the huge losses in running them. The railways should focus on long-distance travel with express services and leave short distance travel to the road sector.

Dr. JP said it was a fact that Andhra Pradesh had received a better deal than in the past.  Yet, without a paradigm change in the working of the railways, the country could not progress.

Written by jujung

March 13, 2010 at 7:30 AM

JP on Telangana

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gottimukkala raju:when do we think, we would find telangana a reality? what do u think are the major stumbling blocks?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: A new State can be created only when there is a broad consensus within the State. In this case, AP is the first non-Hindi state sought to be divided, and Telangana is the first region with a major city as State capital in it, which wants separation. Both make it hugely complex.

Sarath Myneni:Do you think in these modern days so called revolutions, sections of people are being provoked by either politicians or by some other oppurtunists. Can’t the government/parties do any think to stop this. This is clearly a very dangerous trend right now in Telangana protest????

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Sadly, there are extremely uninformed, but very strong views on both sides. we should let people realize that formation of Telangana is neither a disaster nor a panacea. The real solutions lie in empowering local governments in the Thirs tier of federalism and giving every kid a chance in life through education. So that the accident of womb does not determine her future. We need to make the young people understand it, and channelize their anger constructively.

Vijay1440:I do not have any issues in saying that Telangana is ALSO not developed, But why do you think that it is not developed? Who are the culprits?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Evidence shows that 8 of the 10 districts of Telangana are growing much faster than AP over the period 1994-95 to 2006-07. In the rest of AP, only three districts out of 13 have growth rates higher than AP’s. Nor surprisingly, 5 of the 10 districts of Telangana have per-capita incomes higher than in the whole AP. The districts of Telangana are far ahead of the other districts of erstwhile Hyderabad State which are in Maharashtra (with the exception of Aurangabad) and Karnataka. The problem is clearly not economic – it is political.

chepyala vijaykumar:hello JP what is your view on telangana..I feel you should decide on this considering prople’s aspirations

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Vijay, We need to do what is best for Telangana people. The only real answers are: 1. Repeal of Section 14(f) of the PresidentialOrder. 2. Creation of an independent authority to implement GO 610 in all regions of AP. 3. Regional Committees in all regions with powers and resources 4. Effective and empowered district governments. Lok Satta is fully committed to these goals.

Prasanth Balantrapu:Is Telangana movement really a people’s movement or just of politicians’?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: All anger of people against poverty, corruption and ugly politics is channelized in a single direction right now. It is essentially a movement against politics as it is practised now. Politicians are past masters at arousing passions and promoting envy and hatred in order to convert people into vote banks. We see a combination of angst, political follies, ignorance, envy and primordial loyalties at play.

S W Kamath:In a one city state that AP unfortunately is, and assuming that a part of the state is carved out to make for Telengana, can we really believe that Hyderabad will also be a part of that smaller state? If so, what happens to the Andhra/Seema areas considering that a large part of the investments in Hyderabad come from outside.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Highly centralized development in one city is both the cause of this crisis, and a hurdle to resolve it. There is no substitute to creation of a large number of small towns, and job creation at local level, along with real empowerment of district governments.

Kiran Kumar V:All of us know the political and sentimental perspectives around the issue, keeping them aside, Mr JPN can you please throw some light from administrative side, how were different regions progress over past few decades, it is clearly visible that some pockets (in both Telangana and coastal Andhra) have outperformed some other. Do you attribute this to regional politics or natural resources in those areas or anything else? What efforts did state govt make to ensure prosperity is spread equally across the state?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Some facts: Agricultural implents: Telengana-67% Rest of AP-33% Food grains-Rice growth(1955 to 2006): Telengana-708% Rest of AP-191%. Pulses production (1955 to 2006):Telengana-243% Rest of AP: 207%. Cotton production growth (1955 to 2006): Telengana-5443% Rest of AP-539% Sugar cane production growth (1955 to 2006): Telengana-225% Rest of AP-262% Gross irrigation growth: Telengana-140% Rest of AP-38% No. of Agri pump sets: Telengana-58.5% Rest of AP-41.5% Power consumption per capita: Telengana-777% Rest of AP-645%

There are some more facts. Jalayagnam expenditure: Telangana : 45% Rest of AP: 55% Literacy growth: Telangana : 1143% Rest of AP: 448% Primary and UP schools: Telangana: 32108 growth: 410% Rest of AP 47877 Growth: 125% High schools: Telangana: 8579 growth: 8394% Rest of AP 7616 Growth: 1132% Development has been faster, and distribution has been even in Telangana. But a lot more needs to be done.

If you see the annual growth rates of gross district domestic product of various districts from 1994-95 to 2006-07, the facts are revealing. 1994-95 to 2006-07 – Annual average growth rate. AP: 6.68% Nalgonda: 7.38% Khammam: 6.99% Warangal: 7.57% Karimnagar: 7.53% Adilabad: 6.46% Nizamabad: 6.30% Medak: 7.34% Hyderabad: 10.41% Rangareddy: 9.32% Mahabubnagar: 8.34% Rayalaseema: Kurnool: 5.33% Ananthapur: 5.82% Cuddapah: 4.90% Chittoor: 4.73% coastal AP Nellore: 5.09% Prakasam: 6.80% Guntur: 4.81% Krishna: 7.01% West Godavari: 5.79% East Godavari: 6.46% Visakhapatnam: 9.65% Vizianagaram: 5.81% Srikakulam: 6.58% you can see these trends – these are long term trends aggregate economic growth over 13 years for each district. The facts speak for themselves.

yvsajay:Hello sir, Suggest a path for a young determined youth, who desparately wants to bring about a change in politics by being a part of it.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Participate. Vote sensibly. Understand the real solutions. Mobilise the public opinion. Be politically engaged while taking care of your own career. Be prepared to lead. We shall prevail.

pravik:Dear Sir it is interesting to observe that most of the people involved in Telangana moment are students….., Is there a real moment first of all, if so then why are Ordinery People not coming out…? I guess Ordinery man is more concerned of Job Opportunities, Local development, better education for there Kids & other basic needs….? Your response will be highly appreciated. – PRAVIK

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: A myth has been spread that if a State is formed, every youngster with 7th Class(!) qualification will get a job, and every acre will get irrigation. Both are myths. It is easy to fall prey to such propaganda. It is easier to think that someone else is the cause of our problems. This is an ages-old tactic employed by politicians to manipulate gullible people.

suresh:There are many countries in the World which are smaller then big districts in India. Then what is the problem for creating new state ?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: No problem. The only thing is nothing can be done arbitrarily without a broad agreement among all stake-holders. Also once language ceases to be a marker for state formation, then we should decide what is a rational criterion for division of states. Once these questions are addressed, solutions can be found. But in any case, real solution lies in district governments, and none of these players is committed to real empowerment of people!

Yogeswar:Sir, This discussion is very intellectual. In order to make a common man who is a student or a villager in Telangana , who are seeing a great advantage in Telangana, understand that it is not the Panacea, what would you suggest?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: – Let each district have its own government. – Let all simple jobs go to locals – and let us create an authority to enforce it. – Let each village have Rs. 1000 per capital right away every year to take care of local problems. – Let us ensure that each child has real education, healthcare and skills to be able to stand up with dignity and self-reliance. This is the language everyone understands. We need this message to go everywhere – all over India.

pavva:Is it true that really telangana region losing their funds and water?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: – About funds – there is no discrimination whatsoever. – Regarding water, Telangana accounts for about 20% of the total catchment area of Krishna river. But Telangana contributes 263 TMC of water to the river, and is allotment 280 TMC for the projects in Telangana. Coastal Andhra region gets more because AP gets a higher share than the catchment; water always flows down-stream into the sea; and there is prior use of water in the coastal belt that established riparian rights for about 150 years. Clearly, there is no discrimination. Growth of irrigation in Telangana is much higher over the past 50 years – partly canal, partly bore-wells. But there has been no discrimination by governments. Geography gives each region same advantages, and causes some problems. Everything cannot be equally distributed.

Raju Choppella:The conditions of roads in Hyderabad are the worst, I had lived in Pune since 1992 till 2007, then shifted to Hyderabad, there are so many speed breakers that we feel we are driving on rumblers rather than roads, why should there be unregulated speed breakers on the road? How should we bring the attention of the government at the rampant laying of badly designed speed breakers..??

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: We do not have conscription in India. We need to change our parties and politics. But at the end of the day it is the voters who have the controlling hand. No point blaming politicians all the time. Middle class and youth must take responsibility.

kondal311:Do you mean politicians are using this sentiment for their gain. In 2004 elections TRS was part of UPA and during 2009 it joined hands with TDP. Almost all parties said they are OK for telangana during 2009 elections. Is it oppertunistic politics or Do we need Telangana really ?

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: In our first-past-the-post system(our election system in which even one vote majority gives the victory to a candidate), parties are desperate to get a few more votes to be in power. So, they mean one thing, but say another thing. It is these short term political tactics which lead to this crisis.

(Excerpts from IBNLIVE chat)

Written by jujung

February 25, 2010 at 7:14 AM

Citizen-centered Governance: A Tribute to Our Founding Fathers

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[An article written by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan in Yojana, a development monthly published by the Ministry of Information & broadcasting.]

The 60th anniversary of Indian Republic is a fitting occasion to recollect the spirit of our founding fathers, for which the Constitution of India was the culmination. Responsibility and accountability were the two values of governance that B.R. Ambedkar citied as reasons for preferring parliamentary system to that of presidential one. The architect of the constitution explained that a parliamentary executive, who was dependent on majority in Parliament, would act with more responsibility. He was convinced that, at least as matter of possibility, the daily assessment would be done by members of Parliament, through questions, resolutions, no-confidence motions, adjournment motions and debates on addresses.

Dr. Ambedkar incorporated the values of the national movement, which were embedded in the Constitution of India Bill proposed by Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak in 1895 and the Nehru Report, drafted by a committee under chairmanship of Motilal Nehru in 1928; into the constitution. Civic rights such as universal suffrage and fundamental rights irrespective of the creed, class, caste and gender were results of advocacy by the leaders of national movement.

Despite the successful incorporation of values and standards into the constitution, Ambedkar warned that the state will fail, despite the constitution, if the people and the parties that represent them act irresponsibly. He said, “However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot.”

The values adopted in the foundational cannons of the republic were gradually diluted by unprincipled politics. The result was a severe crisis of governance. The manifestations of this crisis – the all-pervasive inefficient state, increasing lawlessness, directionless populism, ever-growing criminalization and commercialization of polity, excessive centralization, serious erosion of legitimacy of authority, tardy and inefficient justice system – all these are only too evident to all of us.

Root of Crisis – Design of Democracy

Our founding fathers were undoubtedly men and women of great caliber, commitment, depth and understanding. However, the compulsions of establishing and maintaining order at the earliest in the wake of the trauma of partition forced them to opt for continuity in the instruments of governance. Given these cataclysmic events at the time of partition, restoration of order and maintaining the unity and integrity of India were of paramount importance and our leaders understandably opted for continuance of time-tested instruments of governance. Many scholars have pointed out that there is about 80 per cent congruence between the Government of India Act of 1935 and the Indian Constitution of 1950 because of these compulsions.

In addition, the euphoria accompanying the transfer of power led to a general belief that the moment the Indian leaders acquired power, things would automatically improve even with the old instruments of governance. However, the subsequent events belied these hopes. In the early years after the independence, the aura of freedom struggle, the towering stature of the early leaders associated with that struggle, the hope of better things to come and the inadequate understanding of the loopholes in the mechanics of governance ensured certain measure of stability, hope and harmony. As all such hopes are dashed, and persistent rejection of parties in power does not seem to result in any significant tangible improvement, people are increasingly sullen and resentful.

Essentially, the crisis is a result of two major flaws in our governance structure. Firstly, good behavior is not consistently recognised and rewarded by the state and bad behaviour is not checked and punished. In fact, the contrary is true, and there is a strong feeling throughout that corrupt behavior ensures rewards and successes in our system. The second major flaw is the nature of power in governance system and its exercise by the officialdom. If power is defined as the ability to influence events, processes, resources and human behaviour for the larger public good, then such power is severely restricted to state functionaries at every level.

However, if power is defined as pelf, privilege, patronage, petty tyranny, harassment, or nuisance value, then almost all our state functionaries enjoy this negative power in abundance. As a result, all state functionaries have perfectly plausible, rational and realistic explanations and alibis for non-performance. The hapless citizen, who expects results, is perpetually frustrated.

Due to these characteristics, all institutions of state have failed grievously and are on the verge of collapse. This collapse encompasses the political executive, the legislatures, the bureaucracy and the judiciary. None can be blamed in isolation, nor can any segment escape the blame. However, this failure is not because individuals have failed, nor is it because the society lacks values, but it is a result of the fundamental flaws in our governance structure, which make this crisis inevitable.

In the face of the state’s failure to optimize results, and its incapacity to check malignant use of power, the citizen is increasingly frustrated. Unlike the elites, who laud the modest accomplishments of state functionaries against heavy odds, the ordinary citizens are deeply discontented as they perceive the vast area of non-performance, and the pervasive insensitivity, corruption and unresponsiveness. As repeated rejection of status quo and voting out the party in power do not yield any positive results, there is increasing frustration, and recourse to violence.

Holistic Reform – The Way Out

The crisis of governability is undoubtedly grave. The nature and magnitude of our problems are daunting. What we are witnessing is the collapse of the Indian Republic . However, the Indian crisis is by no means intractable or immutable. There is no reason why India should inevitably succumb to the spectres of anarchy, authoritarianism which could lead to eventual balkanization of the nation. Over the years, the intractability of the Indian crisis, and the impossibility of successful reform have been overemphasized.

India has the strength, resilience, intellectual and moral resources to respond to this crisis with courage, imagination and creativity. However, we must first recognize that the only realistic and enduring solution to the crisis engulfing the Indian state is a holistic, peaceful, democratic transformation of the republic, with the objective of building at all levels free, self-governing, empowering, self-correcting institutions, capable of maintaining peace and harmony, preserving order and stability, strengthening unity and integrity, enabling freedom and participation and promoting growth and prosperity.

Limitations of Isolated Reforms

Isolated efforts to correct individual ills have largely been frustrated or failed because of the evil engulfing all facets of governance. Even the egalitarian discourses such as inclusive development and governance innovations such as Unique Identity Card would only reduce the absurdity in governance, but will not result in a paradigm shift. No matter how well meaning and necessary an isolated reform is, it will not yield adequate dividends, when it is unaccompanied by the other necessary changes.

In this backdrop, parties with vested interests can argue for status quo citing the failure of the partial reform, can use it against any serious reform. Time and again, isolated, necessary but insufficient reforms have failed to energize the polity and improve the content of our governance. The sporadic attempts to improve conduct of elections, repeated attempts of various Administrative Reforms Commissions, Law Commission Reports, introduction of Panchayati Raj institutions in the 50s, anti-defection acts, 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in the 90s, and efforts like the amendment of the constitution are all examples of sporadic, isolated, insufficient and ultimately ineffective efforts to reform the governance system over the years.

In this all-pervasive crisis of governability, the only realistic way out is a peaceful, democratic, holistic transformation of Indian governance structure. Such a transformation must address the basic processes of power and ensure that truly democratic, self-correcting mechanisms are in place. Every facet of reform must adequately counter the elements of crisis in Indian governance. This includes non-performance on account of the disjunct between vote and welfare of citizens on one hand, and authority and accountability on the other; the incapacity of the administrative and legal structures to reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour consistently; and increasing incompatibility between honesty and survival in political executive office.

In such a comprehensive reform process, each element of reform will reinforce the other elements, bringing out synergies and minimizing risks. A holistic reform also ensures the placing of adequate checks and safeguards against failure of any institution individually. Instead of letting failure at one level lead to failure at other levels, arresting failure quickly and effectively can prevent it from posing a serious damage to the polity. All the elements of transformation of our governance structure, together, must be capable of strengthening every facet of our democracy – freedom, self-governance, empowerment, rule of law and self-correcting institutional framework.

Reform Agenda – Stakes for all

We must always keep in mind that the objective is to transform our governance structure. Such an effort calls for the broadest measure of agreement among all segments of society, irrespective of competing, sometimes conflicting, sectional interests. All segments of society must have stakes in the agenda, and highly divisive and contentious issues must be left to public choice through the normal competitive electoral process. We should aim at creating a truly democratic framework that offers a platform for various ideologies and policy options to be discussed, debated and chosen by the people from time to time. It necessarily follows that policy issues should be left out of the national reform agenda. To be precise, those issues that have a bearing on the basic process of governance and the five ingredients of democracy – freedom, self- governance, empowerment of people, rule of law and self correcting institutional frame work, should constitute the agenda for democratic reform.

Those issues which have no universality in their application and form part of the `zero sum game’, whereby one segment gains at the cost of the other, must be excluded from the reform agenda and must be left to the competing political forces of the day. Only the essential principles of democracy, the basic rules of governance and constitutional safeguards are sacrosanct and non-negotiable and must be constitutionally sanctified in order to provide the basic framework for competing political parties and individuals to acquire power and pursue those policies which have the broadest measure of public support from time to time. The reform agenda has to be minimalist and non-partisan, and must deliberately eschew highly contentious and divisive issues, so that the widest measure of consensus is possible. It must be practical and rooted in the Indian ethos, and must take into account our experience of working of the Constitution so far.

Democracy should become the philosophical basis for the reforms of governance, which can make it responsive. Freedom is the right of any individual to do as she pleases as long as her actions do not impinge on the freedom of others. The Indian state can be ranked, over all, quite high in terms of freedom its citizens enjoy. However, there are serious limitations to enjoyment of freedom for the bulk of our poor due to inadequate resources and skills, which is a result of the failure of the Indian state. Each citizen should be provided with the opportunities, which enables him to be free in every aspect of life.

Self-governance is the right of citizens to govern themselves directly or indirectly. What happened in 1947 was mere transfer of power from the colonial masters to the indigenous oligarchies. In our anxiety to preserve unity and order at all costs, we accepted centralization of power and bureaucratization, and marginalised the role of the people. As a result, self-governance is limited to an occasional exercise of franchise, when permitted by the local bigwigs. As the choice is often between Tweedledom and Tweedledee, this franchise has no real impact on the outcome, and self-governance became largely illusory. Proper implementation of the existing constitutional and legal provisions should be the first step in this direction.

Empowerment is the ability of citizens to influence the course of events on a sustained basis and make meaningful decisions on matters of governance that impact their own lives. In a highly bureaucratized and centralized milieu most local institutions are beyond the reach of stake-holders’ influence, as stake-holders and power-wielders are distinct. Hence, empowerment of citizens is at a low-level.

The local school, Primary Health Centre, or civic services – are all beyond citizen’s influence. The local public servant is unaccountable to people, and is often their master, rather than their servant. Many procedures are rigid, incomprehensible and highly formalized, preventing access to, and influence by, most ordinary citizens. Citizens should be given utmost importance in decision making on each aspect of governance, and no decision shall preclude just demands of citizens.

Rule of law is the concept of people being governed by law, and all citizens, irrespective of station and rank, being subject to the same laws to the same extent. It is the basis of all democratic governance, and all our institutions, including the executive and judiciary, swear by it. However, in reality, the centralised autocratic functioning of the political parties, the flawed electoral system, highly secretive, opaque functioning, the ubiquitous patronage system, the all-pervasive corruption and the excruciating delays in obtaining justice in law courts – all these made sure that the people with access to power, muscle and means are more equal than the ordinary citizens. As a result, rule of law has been given the go by in most cases and most citizens have resigned themselves to lives of indignity and quiet desperation.

Self-correction is the ability of institutions of state to constantly learn from past experience and improve them selves in order to serve the people better. No design is ever perfect and no system, however well-constructed, can ever conceive of all possible eventualities, and provide for them. In any reasonably efficient and responsive governance structure, there must be a high degree of flexibility and self-correcting mechanism, so that the system is functional. In India , almost all institutions of state have become moribund and dysfunctional. There is no real self-correction visible on an enduring basis or in a meaningful manner.

Any reform that does not factor in the ideals of democracy can have serious repercussions. The failure of reforms initiated in the past should not prevent us from initiating reforms in governance. Reforms do not necessarily bring in progress, but no progress is possible minus well thought of, well meant reforms.

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Written by jujung

January 23, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Taking a stance on Telangana

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Loksatta’s take on the problem of regional imbalance and its solution of decentralization is admirable. On several occasions, JP has called for genuine decentralization with devolution of powers, responsibilities, resources and personnel on the local governments. However, with the midnight announcement of the Congress high command on the statehood of Telangana, the issue is no longer about what is the best way to address regional imbalance. The primary issue now is whether the splitting of the state is acceptable, and if it is, what are the terms of such reorganization? Here is where JP’s response falls far short of an astute political response.

He made it clear that the Lok Satta is not opposed to the formation of Telangana if it is accomplished through constitutional means and in accordance with a consensus built among all the regions of the State. Similarly, the party is not opposed to keeping the State intact if the genuine aspirations of people in Telangana are addressed satisfactorily. He underlined the need once again for arriving at a consensus on the status of Hyderabad since the feelings of people in the entire State are intertwined with the capital for the last five decades.

“Above all people of all regions of the State should be disabused of the notion that creation of a separate State is a disaster or that a separate State is a panacea that will solve all problems.”

He repeatedly appealed to people to realize that the formation of a Telangana State is going to be neither a cataclysmic event for Andhra Pradesh nor a panacea for Telangana problems. “When you are carried away by primordial loyalties and emotional frenzy, everything appears to be a life and death issue.”

Now, there is nothing “wrong” with what he actually said. But there is nothing that would suggest a specific course of action either. Asking for consensus is all good and fine, but to make an impact as a political leader for the masses, JP has to take a stand one way or the other. People look for guidance from their leaders and when opportunity presents itself, an aspiring political leader like JP should use it to demonstrate his capabilities. Everyone knows he is a great intellectual and policy maker, but many are not yet convinced if he is a great political leader. JP won the minds of the people, but will he win the hearts of the people?

The following excerpt from Machiavelli’s The Prince is relevant here (via Atanu Dey):

A prince is further esteemed when he is a true friend or a true enemy, when, that is, he declares himself without reserve in favour of some one or against another. This policy is always more useful than remaining neutral. For if two neighboring powers come to blows, they are either such that if one wins, you will have to fear the victor, or else not. In either of these two cases it will be better for you to declare yourself openly and make war, because in the first case if you do not declare yourself, you will fall a prey to the victor, to the pleasure and satisfaction of the one who has been defeated, and you will have no reason nor anything to defend you and nobody to receive you. For, whoever wins will not desire friends whom he suspects and who do not help him when in trouble, and whoever loses will not receive you as you did not take up arms to venture yourself in his cause.

In the present scenario, the two sides are those for the split and those against.

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Written by jujung

December 15, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Idealism is not enough to win elections

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For Loksatta to become successful, it should be able to attract ambitious and motivated people. Goodness in heart or empty idealism is just not good enough to become leaders. They need courage, drive and a great desire to bring upon change. Winning an election requires selfishness and great ambition – the quality which drives all individual achievement. That which induces the extra bit of commitment to win the race.

Who are Loksatta candidates running against?

  • Candidates who typically invest a lot of their own personal money in elections. A lot more is at stake with these candidates and that is an indicator to how ruthless they can be to win an election.
  • Having spent so much, these candidates expect much more in returns running into several crores over a period of just 5 years. Such potential personal profit is an indicator of how aggressive they can be to win an election.
  • A potentially lucrative and powerful long term political career with the established parties. It is this promise which drives them towards success in an election.
  • Most of the candidates are typically high risk-takers who don’t care for a regular job either because they have loads of money or they are incapable of one. They spend their entire time in party politics.

On the other hand, who are typical Loksatta candidates?

  • Idealists: they want to do something good for the society. They have a regular job and only marginally affected by any politics. Good education, job and family. Risk-averse.
  • Social workers. Not ambitious. Mild-mannered.
  • No promise of lucrative long term career in the party. Difficult to attract a full-time cadre. Some are novices in politics testing waters.
  • Some use the party for its novelty factor, before they move on to greener pastures (read traditional parties).

And ultimately, people do not yet vote on issues. (The only exception is when the prices rise, they vote for the other side which is different only in name. Not that they have a solution. It’s just a punishment for the existing side.) As JP says, “A majority of people continued to believe in hero worship without appreciating each one is a hero in his own life. That’s why the Lok Satta’s call to people to grab the opportunity for self-rule as detailed in its manifesto did not click. Voting based on political parties’ policies and programs is yet to take root.”

Loksatta party needs to seriously introspect on how to attract ambitious people in its ambit. Without the promise of a lucrative career, such people who can work full-time will be hard to find. However, the promise of a long political career which has the potential to significantly alter the course of modern India is an interesting bait which will work if the party can show some visible results in the coming few years.

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Written by jujung

November 26, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Posted in Ideas, Loksatta, politics