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EQUALITY AND WISDOM – A BLEND OF BOTH A NEW DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

K. Periasamy, M.Tech (Chemical Engg.) Chennai 600 096. ******
When the people started living as a society, mighty persons became the Chieftons of each hamlet / village. Through force these Chieftons were made to come under the control of one larger entity called local Rajyam. These local Rajayams were in turn made to be part of a still larger entity called Kingdom. Rajayams and Kingdoms were ruled by Rajas with succession by law of inheritance. The names like Rajyams / Kingdoms / Rajas / Kings were different in different parts of the world. But, the general governing concept was more or less the same. Though there was social living, still the concept of “might is right” was practiced with winning over the adjacent Rajas / Kingdoms as part of their governing responsibilities. With the result, there were wars at any point of time at almost all parts of the world. But it was not known to everyone since there were no mass communication modes as we have today. The Rajas / Kings employed knowledgeable persons as “Mantris” for assisting them in their governance. The governance was more to do with protection of the people from the natural calamities and neighboring Rajas. There were very limited social development activities. This form of social governance was going on for several thousand years. At some stage in the history, the people became more civilized and more knowledgeable and started questioning the authority of the Kings / Mantris, over the large Kingdom. The Rajas / Kings were toppled, mostly by violence of people in the early stages of emergence of democratic countries. Slowly one by one, countries with democratic systems started taking root in different parts of the world. Some of the Kingdoms were toppled by democratic Countries themselves and were ruled as per their system of governance. The Kingdoms became Countries and different parts of Kingdoms ruled by Rajas became Federal States or Provinces of the countries. The Countries were governed by Parliaments and the States by Assemblies as per a written document called Constitution. The Constitution is an exhaustive document which lays down the complete rules for the system of electing people’s representatives, their powers, people’s rights, justice, etc. Further local bodies were also established. All these Institutions were run by elected representatives. This type of Parliamentary system of governance is going on for the past few hundred years in most part of the world with few exceptions and variances here and there. With parliamentary system of governance, people became more accommodative within the country and there was give and take between countries. Disputes were resolved through dialogues. Dispute resolution mechanism in the form of International Courts and international bodies like United Nations came into picture. All these resulted in almost eliminating the concept of “might is right” in social living with a few abrasions like Germany’s Hitler regime, USA’s / USSR’s high handed actions on few occasions in dealing with international / third country matters, etc. With the result, the frequency of wars in the world has drastically come

down. There were dramatic improvements in the standard of living and life expectancy of people. This is well pronounced in the last century. The world population which took millions of years to reach the 1 billion level in 1804, reached 2 billion in 1927 and then grew exponentially from 2 billion to 7 billion today. With the advent of more and more education and more and more of international business transactions, the understanding between people of various countries / continents has improved. People from other countries are no longer looked upon as intruders or enemies. People have started receiving strangers with an open mind. This has been accelerated in recent decades with the dramatic improvement in communication. Now, even the country boundaries are becoming irrelevant in the minds of a vast majority of young people who are on constant migration from place to place. They no longer cherish the “patriotic” feelings as the elders do. This is a reality and it is the order of the day. The so called racial incidences happening here and there are freak cases and they are more to do with the concerned individual’s personnel grievances. They are exceptions, in an otherwise cosmopolitan world. All these have been made possible with the advent of democratic process with elected Parliaments as the cornerstone of social living. There are two major features in this democratic process (1) All citizens have equal rights in electing their representatives, irrespective of their age, education qualification, religion, caste, what they contribute to the society, etc. (2) There were no pre-qualification for the People’s Representatives. These two factors were the direct result of the two very basic questions in the minds of people that were responsible for the over throwing of the Rajas / Kings. They are, (1) In what way Raja / King is superior to us, when every one of us is a human being like him? The equality of every one was the binding force which united the people to over throw the Rajas / Kings, and that feature continued in the democratic process. (2) Since the people did not want super man, special man, God man, etc to lead them as they had just thrown such a person only, they simply wanted someone whom they know and whom they could trust as their representative. So, there were no special requirements or Prequalifications specified for the People’s Representatives. Even the basic needs like his education, his personal background, family background , his family’s capacity to survive without his earnings, etc. were not considered as a prerequisite to be elected as People’s Representatives. It was just left to the judgment of the majority people based on universal voting right of adult persons. These two basic features of the Parliamentary Democracy could be understandable and justifiable as the outcome of situations prevailing at that point of history. However, the need for giving some special role in governance for the wisdom of educated people and experience of elders was very much felt by the leaders in all the countries which became democratic.

That is why the Upper Houses were provided in the Parliament. These Upper Houses are meant for people who are more than equal in their education, experience, concern for people, neutrality of approach, etc. compared to the elected Representatives of the Lower House of Parliament. The election process of the Members of this House also is different in tune with this requirement. It gave more weightage for people with better education, knowledge, age, etc., though this criteria varied from country to country. To reflect those two basic principles of equality of power for all citizens and the inclination for people to give the power of governance to some one among them (whatever may be his limitations in terms of the roles he is expected to play as a Parliamentarian), there is little power left with the Upper House other than pure advisory in nature. The real powers for governance are left with the Lower House only. But now lot of water has flown in the past few centuries of democratic governance throughout the world. The Democratic systems have matured. The role of governments have changed from that of just protecting the citizens from enemies and natural calamities to that of providing welfare, improving standard of living of every citizen by healthcare , education, creating long term assets for their citizens, for the countries, etc. In such a changed scenario, with such a complex role with lot of social – political – technical – economical – managerial functions expected out of the governance, is it right just to leave the choice of selection with equal weightage to all citizens irrespective of their knowledge, their contribution to the growth of the society, their age, experience, etc? Secondly, is it enough just to select someone who is a local, trust worthy person as people’s representatives? He is supposed to be playing such complex roles like, managing the natural resources in the best and equitable manner without favour or prejudice, dealing with fast changing technological developments and making use of them for the betterment of people taking into account of safety, cost – benefit analysis, environmental aspects, dealing with the ever growing international relationship between countries, managing the Government Machinery involving people of various disciplines like Doctors, Engineers, Scientists, Clerks, Peons, Workers, etc. Definitely there is a need for change in both 1) Bizarre universal equality of voters and 2) Blanket clearance for anyone to be given the decision making power. These changes are required in almost all democracies of the world. A broad change methodology for India is discussed below: A. ELECTORAL REFORMS 1. Since National issues need a broader perspective, regional Parties find it hard to evolve such an outlook. It is understandable, given their electoral college, which is very narrow. Hence, Regional Parties shall be confined to governance of States only. They shall not be allowed to contest Parliament elections. (Similarly, to avoid complications, it may be desirable that National Parties shall not be allowed to participate in State Elections. But how to avoid it? Always there will be polarization of voters along such National Party lines, even in State elections! We need to evolve some methodology).

2. To avoid multiplicity / cross over of territories between various government institutions, one District may be treated as one Parliament Constituency. If need be, Districts may be reorganized to make them equal in population as much as possible. Similarly city constituencies may also be divided in terms of equal number of Districts. 3. For the State Assemblies, Taluks may be treated as an Assembly Constituency with suitable reorganization to take care of uniformity of population per Constituency. 4. Upper House of Parliament shall be retained and Lower House shall be dispensed with. Hence Parliament will consist of one House only. The same way State Assemblies also shall have one House only. To ensure continuity of Policy, the present system of retirement of 1/3rd Members shall be followed with membership term of 6 years. 5. The Members of Parliament or Assemblies shall be elected by universal franchise but with weightage of votes as given below: Sl. No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. PARAMETER Age Age Age Education Qualification Education Qualification CRITERIA 18 – 40 41 – 75 > 76 Arts / Science / Diploma Degrees Doctors / Engineers / Agri. Engineers / All PG Degrees Lawyers / Auditors / Other professionals WEIGHTAGE 1 3 2 2 4 3

6. Education Qualification

The criteria weightages shall be additive. For example, an Arts graduate of 35 years age will have a weightage of 3. An Engineer of 80 years age will have a weightage of 6, etc. Only Recognized University Degrees will be reckoned for weightage. With about 5– 10% of families having atleast one graduate (and that number growing fast) and the age being given weightage, there will not be much of injustice done to village people, though it does bring in some sort of bias against village people, given the low literacy levels in villages.. 6. The minimum education criteria for contesting any Parliament / Assembly election shall be a Degree or Diploma, recognized by the Election Commission of India. 7. In order to ensure that only people with experience and maturity are given the responsibility of governance, the minimum age limit for MPs / MLAs shall be set at 40. At the same time, to avoid very old people sticking to the power, a higher age limit of 75 years may also be set. The above steps take care of the weightage factor for the electorates and the minimum qualification of elected representatives. It also takes care of short sighted approach of Regional Parties while handling national issues. 8. Funding by Government for electioneering shall be provided. 9. In order to minimize the probability of candidates winning by wafer thin margins, a system of preferential votes with maximum of 3 preferences with weightages for each preference shall be introduced. With the advent of Computerised voting systems, all these are very simple to adopt.

B. MINISTRY FORMATION The Prime Minister shall be elected by the Members of Parliament for a period of 4 years using the same preferential voting system. He in turn shall select the Cabinet Members. Prime Minister once elected can be removed by 2/3 rd majority only. This is to ensure stability of Government which is essential for any development activity. Each Cabinet Minister shall be assisted by an Empowered Committee of MPs representing all Parties, Senior Officials of concerned / related Ministries and Professionals from public selected by the Cabinet Minister. This Committee only shall formulate any policy decision and shall get it passed in Parliament. The decision of this Committee is final on all matters related to that Ministry, and it is answerable to Parliament only. The same methodology shall be followed for the State Governments also. C. PARLIAMENT DISCUSSIONS The MPs shall be allowed to Vote on any Bill purely on their individual judgment rather than based on Party decision. There shall be no whip system. Any Bill before it is passed shall be wetted by the Empowered Committees of related Ministries as well for a better coordination between Ministries / Departments. Also, the MPs shall give their opinion on any Bill or any issue in writing and the debate in Parliament shall be purely as a clarification of any matter from the Empowered Committee of concerned Ministry. It is not a place for proving the oratory skill of Members or to discuss who is less corrupt or which Party is more secular. Basically all the Members shall be collectively responsible for running the Government. There is no major distinction between Members of Ruling Party or Opposition Party. This will solve the problem of instability associated with coalition governments which we are seeing in many countries across the globe. D. INDEPENDENT REGULATORY BODIES There shall be Independent Regulatory bodies like SEBI, TRAI, CVC, EC, etc for all the Ministries. The Members of these Bodies shall be selected by the Empowered Committee of concerned Ministries. These Bodies are responsible for monitoring the implementation of all policy decisions taken by the Parliament. The Courts shall take opinion of these Regulatory bodies while disposing off any Case. Some of the Independent Regulatory Bodies which are to be formed on top priority are Pollution Control, Environment Impact Assessment, Pricing Mechanism for Natural Resources like Oil and Gas, Coal, Minerals, etc, Inter State issues like Border disputes, River Water sharing, etc. In fact these Regulatory Bodies shall function as Tribunals with Statutory powers. Appeals to Courts against the decisions of these Tribunals shall be vested with the State Governments only and not individuals or any other organizations.

CONCULSION These changes in Parliamentary Democracy will correct the lacunae in the present system and it will reflect the aspirations of the senior citizen and the educated people who are mostly confined to their highly demanding routine duties which prevent them from taking part in the decision making process of Government. These changes will bring maturity in decision making process thereby eliminating populistic approach, personality clashes, irrational reversal of the decisions of previous governments, narrow minded party politics, etc. It will also bring in professionalism in Governance. India as one of the oldest civilizations shall initiate these changes in the democratic system for other Countries to follow. Major Constitutional Amendments are required to bring about the changes discussed above. A Constituent Assembly similar to the one formed at the time of Independence may be formed for this purpose. If the Democracy is not refined taking into account of the changed scenarios and the people continue to elect coalition Governments like this, then there is room for undermining the powers of Parliaments. This is nothing but people loosing their own power vested on them by way of voting rights. If this trend continues, over a period of time, there is possibility for other constitutional institutions like Military, Judiciary, or even Executive taking over the powers of people. It will be a painful reversal of the history. &&&&& Feed backs are welcome :

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