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Reinventing Democratic Constitutions

Reinventing Democratic Constitutions

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Published by Prajapati Trivedi
There is a widespread disappointment with the functioning of democracy around the world. If this trend is not reversed, it will pose a grave threat to the very survival of democracy not only in India but also in the rest of the developing world.

This paper argues that these perceived problems of democracy are a symptom of flawed rules of democratic governance as embodied in the democratic constitutions. Using lessons learnt from the success of reforming bureaucracies using the tools of New Public Management (NPM), this paper suggests changes that are required in the basic framework of democratic constitutions to make them results-oriented.

The discussion in this paper is a sympathetic critique motivated by a desire to save democracies and not to merely criticize them. While the context of the discussion is the Indian democracy, the proposed conceptual innovations are transcendental in their applications. The three key elements of the proposed reforms for the redesign of democratic constitution are as follows: (a) Clarify society’s goals: This paper argues that democracy is a means towards an end. It is argued that the next generation of constitutions will thus need to incorporate economic and social goals that are measurable, verifiable and easily understood. (b) Create consequences related to achievement (or non-achievement) of these goals: Even if the goals are clearly articulated in the constitution, they will be taken seriously by politicians working the constitution only if there are consequences for achievement and non-achievement. (c) Evaluate government performance objectively and professionally: Since “delivery of results” is the proposed key focus of the future constitutions, it is important that it is not only done right but is also seen to be done right. Thus, the paper proposes setting up a high-level, independent Performance Evaluation Commission with the same prestige and power as the Election Commission.
There is a widespread disappointment with the functioning of democracy around the world. If this trend is not reversed, it will pose a grave threat to the very survival of democracy not only in India but also in the rest of the developing world.

This paper argues that these perceived problems of democracy are a symptom of flawed rules of democratic governance as embodied in the democratic constitutions. Using lessons learnt from the success of reforming bureaucracies using the tools of New Public Management (NPM), this paper suggests changes that are required in the basic framework of democratic constitutions to make them results-oriented.

The discussion in this paper is a sympathetic critique motivated by a desire to save democracies and not to merely criticize them. While the context of the discussion is the Indian democracy, the proposed conceptual innovations are transcendental in their applications. The three key elements of the proposed reforms for the redesign of democratic constitution are as follows: (a) Clarify society’s goals: This paper argues that democracy is a means towards an end. It is argued that the next generation of constitutions will thus need to incorporate economic and social goals that are measurable, verifiable and easily understood. (b) Create consequences related to achievement (or non-achievement) of these goals: Even if the goals are clearly articulated in the constitution, they will be taken seriously by politicians working the constitution only if there are consequences for achievement and non-achievement. (c) Evaluate government performance objectively and professionally: Since “delivery of results” is the proposed key focus of the future constitutions, it is important that it is not only done right but is also seen to be done right. Thus, the paper proposes setting up a high-level, independent Performance Evaluation Commission with the same prestige and power as the Election Commission.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Prajapati Trivedi on Aug 17, 2011
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URNAlOF
,OVERNANCE
t
PUBLICPOLICY
me1,Issue2,July-December2011
~2231-0924
DemocracyandNewPublicManagementConcentrationofPowerMetropolitanGovernanceEntryofForeignUniversitiesIndianEconomicGrowthTibetandChinaTerrorismandDiplomacyDecentralisationandPanchayatRajLandReforms
I
S'l'I'l'(J1'EOFl)lJBUC
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RE-INVENTINGDEMOCRATICCONSTITUTIONS:ANAPPLICATIONOFNEWPUBLICMANAGEMENT(NPM)FRAMEWORK
OrPrajapatiTrivedi
*
Thereis
a
widespreaddisappointmentwiththefunctioningofdemocracyaroundtheworld.Ifthistrendisnotreversed,itwillpose
a
gravethreattotheverysurvivalofdemocracynotonlyinIndiabutalsointherestofthedevelopingworld.Theperceivedinadequaciesofdemocracyflowfromflawedrulesofdemocraticgovernance.UsinglessonslearntfromthesuccessofreformingbureaucraciesthroughthetoolsofNewPublicManagement(NPM),thisarticlesuggestschangesthatarerequiredinthebasicframeworkofdemocraticconstitutionstomakethemresults-oriented.Thisis
a
sympatheticcritiquemotivatedby
a
desiretosavedemocraciesandnottomerelycriticizethem.WhilethecontextofthediscussionisIndiandemocracy,theproposedconceptualinnovationsaretranscendentalintheirrelevance.Thethreekeyelementsoftheproposedreformsfortheredesignofdemocraticconstitutionareasfollows:
(a)
Clarifysociety'sgoals:Democracyis
a
meanstowardsanend.Itisarguedthatthenextgenerationofconstitutionswillthusneedtoincorporateeconomicandsocialgoalsthataremeasurable,verifiableandeasilyunderstood.(b)Createconsequencesrelatedtoachievement(ornon-achievement)ofthesegoals:Evenifthegoalsareclearlyarticulatedintheconstitution,theywillbetakenseriouslybypoliticiensworkingtheconstitutiononlyifthereareconsequencesforachievementandnon-achievement.(c)Evaluategovernmentperformanceobjectivelyandprofessionally:Since"deliveryofresults"istheproposedkey focusofthefutureconstitutions,itisimportantthatitisnotonlydonerightbutisalsoseentobedoneright.Thus,thearticleproposessettingup
a
high-level,independentPerformanceEvaluationCommissionwiththesameprestigeandpowerastheElectionCommission.
Key
Words
Democracy,NewPublicManagement,Goals,PerformanceEvaluation,Achievement,Non-Achievement.Constitutionsmatterindemocracy.Indeedtheyareeverythingindemocracy.Fairandtransparentelectionsaremerelythestartingpointofthedemocraticprocessbuttheydonot,inandofthemselves,automaticallyguaranteeresults(Sartori1997,Reynolds2002,Sunstein2001,PerssonandTabellini2003).Thatiswhythereisawidespreaddiscontentwith thefunctioningofdemocraciesanddemocracyisinretreatworldwide.Thisarticlearguesthattoconvertgoodelectionsintogoodresultsfortheelectorsthedemocraticconstitutionshavetobefundamentallyreinventedorre-imagined.However,thisreinventioncannotbe
DrPrajapatiTrivediisSecretarytotheGovernmentofIndiawiththeresponsibilityforPerformanceManagement. Re-lnventinqDemocraticConstitutions:AnApplicationofNewPublicManagement(NPM)Framework__
 
doneusingtheperspectivesthatcreatedthesedocumentsinthefirstplace.Whatisneededisaverydifferentapproachfromthatofthelawyersandpoliticalscientistswhohavebeentheprincipalarchitectsofcurrentgenerationofdemocraticconstitutions.TheNewPublicManagement(NPM)frameworkusedforreformingadministrativestructuresaroundtheworldprovidesinsightsthatcanbeusefulforthisexercise(Lane2000),itisarguedhere.Thearticleisdividedintothreesections.Thefirstsectiondescribestherisingdemocraticdeficitintheworldandhighlightstheneedforurgentactiontoreversethistrend.ThesecondsectiondescribesthebasictenetsofNPM.ThethirdsectionappliestheprinciplesofNPMtodesignthecoreelementsofdemocraticconstitutionsofthefutureandpresentsthebroadstructureofthenextwaveofresults-orientedconstitutions.
IncreasingDemocraticDeficit
InMarch/April,2008,editionof'ForeignAffairs',anarticletitled,"DemocracyinRetreat,"writtenbyLarryDiamond,claimedthatdemocracyaroundtheworldisdeclining.Diamondtermeditasthedemocraticrecession.Thisdemocraticrecessionisnowofficial.AccordingtotheDemocracyIndex2010,producedannuallybytheEconomistIntelligenceUnit(EIU):
'Therollbackindemocracyisalsopartofanunderlyingtrendthathasbeenevidentforsometime,buthasstrengthened.Between
2006
(theyearofthefirstissueoftheindex)and2008therewasstagnation;overthepasttwoyears,between2008and2010,therehasbeenoutrightdecline.Inallregions,theaveragedemocracyscorefor2010islowerthanthatof2008."
Thistrendwasfurtherconfirmedbyanotherthinktank-FreedomHouse.Itsresearchdirector,ArchPuddington,foundinits2010annualassessmentthatlibertyandhumanrightshadretreatedgloballyforthefourthconsecutiveyear.Hesaidthistrendmarkedthelongestperiodofdeclineinfreedomsincetheorganisationbeganitsreportsnearly40years
aqo.'
In1992FrancisFukuyamafamouslydeclared"TheEndofHistory"andarguedthattheadventofWesternliberaldemocracymaysignaltheendpointofhumanity'ssocio-culturalevolutionandthefinalformofhumangovernment:
"WhatwemaybewitnessingisnotjusttheendoftheColdWar,orthepassingof
a
particularperiodofpost-warhistory,buttheendofhistory
as
such:thatis,theendpointofmankind'sideologicalevolutionandtheuniversalizationofWesternliberaldemocracy
as
thefinalformofhumangovernment."
(Fukuyama1992)Twentyyearsafterheputforwardthisthesis,Fukuyamatoowasconstrainedtoretractit.Recentlyhearguedthatit'sbynomeansclearthattheUnitedStatesoranyotherwelfarestatecapitalistliberaldemocracyisthegoalfortherestoftheWorld.Infact,nowhearguesthatit'snotclearwherewesterndemocraciesareheading,andtheyshouldkeeptheirwitsaboutthemandadapt.HearguesthatAmerica"managedtofritteraway"theimmensemoralcapitalitheldin2000"inremarkablyshortorder",duetoforeignpolicymisstepssuchastheinvasionofIraqand,later,theUS-centredglobalfinancialcrisis.Now,theUSAhaslittletoteachevenChina,thepunchinqbagofpro-democracyactivists.
"ButwhatistheChinesemodel?Manyobserverscasuallyputitinan"authoritariancapitalist"box,alongwithRussia,IranandSingapore.ButChina'smodelissuigeneris;its
1FreedomintheWorld2010:GlobalErosionofFreedom,WaShington,DC,FreedomHouse:2010~JournalofGovernanceandPublicPolicy,Volume1.Issue2,July-December2011-------------

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