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RE: Draft of talk on good governance

Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
[moderator: due to the mixup in Dec., was wondering if this was sent. No
harm in sending again]

Dr Sabhlok's discussions on good governance for India provide the basis of
an electoral plank /manifesto for the 'ideal political party' of our dreams
-- the one that IPI is thinking about. I would add the following:

1.  A Constituional limit for serving in Parliament /State Legislature --
not more than TWO consecutive terms.

2.  Mandatory audit of the annual accounts of political parties by
chartered accountants -- and making such accounts available to the public.

3. A Constitutional limit in the size of ministries /cabinet. Ten per cent
of ther strength of the (lower) house should be good enough. 

Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 00:31:50 -0800 (PST)
>From: "Dr. Sanjeev Sabhlok" <sanjeev@sabhlokcity.com>
>To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>Subject: Draft of talk on good governance
>Reply-To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
>I am preparing a talk on good governance in the "Liberty and Society"
>seminar of the Center for Civil Society at Calcutta later this money. I
>thought I would take this opportunity to obtain suggestions from friends on
>IPI in order to improve the talk. Please vet the draft below. 
>The demand for good governance is voiced  across the country, but few have
>stated explicitly the fundamental changes it will take to arrive at this
>objective. We have dug our head into the sand regarding the analysis of the
>fundamental deficiencies in our democracy, and this is now beginning to
>take a heavy toll on our daily lives. I will touch upon four issues here
>which I believe are fundamental problems of our system needing to be
>addressed urgently.
>Four Issues 
>1.      Democracy costs a lot of money
>Democracy does not come for free. Enormous expenses are incurred both in
>the organisation of elections by the Election Commission and in contesting
>elections by candidates. Whereas the first of these easily runs to many
>hundreds of crores per general election, and has our sanction as a
>citizenry, we seem to balk at considering the likelihood of candidates
>spending similar sums of money. We have not only imposed limits on
>electoral expenses, which are flouted blatantly by candidates, but we have
>also kept no relationship between the expenses incurred in election by
>candidates and the remuneration received after elections by the successful
>ones. The limit of expenditure in a Parliamentary Election is now Rs. 15
>lakhs, a number of reports -- informal as well as formal -- prove that
>candidates spend on average well over Rs. 1 crore (for example, see pp.
>272-278, pp.296-298 of The Black Economy of India by Arun Kumar, Penguin,
>1999). At the end of this process in which one out of many are elected, the
>take-home pay of the successful representative, a Member of Parliament, is
>about  Rs. --------- (details in Annexure I ). Clearly in this process
>there would be some who wish to provide charity to us citizens by spending
>their own money with no thought of returns, but on the whole, the main
>category of persons who enter this absurd process are those who have no
>compunction about misusing their elected office to capture rents from the
>Government machinery to recover their heavy investment . In not-so-polite
>language, we can say without fear of being rebutted that a vast majority
>have come into public office with the primary objective of looting  the
>system. The N.N. Vohra Committee report on the nexus between politicians,
>bureaucrats and criminals is as explicit a statement of fact as any one can
>get from within the system. Democracies do not run on charity and we should
>not be depend as citizens on the good will of a few charitable souls who
>spend their own money in order to 'serve' us. Our representatives must not
>have to depend on loot and black money for their sustenance.
>To make matters worse, the Election Commission of India prevents debate on
>whatever expenses have been declared to it by political parties. The
>mystification of the basic processes of democracy is causing large scale
>corruption in India. It is the root cause of corruption and unless this is
>removed, no amount of economic liberalization will help.
>In brief, the solution here is (a) to remove limits on electoral expenses
>but to insist on transparency, and (b) to drastically increase the
>take-home remuneration of MPs.
>2.      Transparency
>The Official Secrets Act of 1923 talks about not disclosing secret official
>information which is likely to assist, directly or indirectly, an enemy or
>which relates to a matter the disclosure of which is likely to affect the
>sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State or friendly
>relations with foreign States. However, the system has made it a point to
>cite this Act each time any information which is relevant to the people is
>sought to be made available to them. This Act was designed for an imperial
>Government and not for a democratic India. There is no information in most
>departments of Government which is potent enough to affect the sovereignty
>or integrity of India in any way. India's defence and security has been
>compromised by rampant corruption in the entire system. Transparency will
>help reduce corruption. That is the first priority. All information handled
>by the Government must be made accessible to citizens through the internet
>except in very rare cases. We also need statutory provisions to protect
>whistle blowers in the Government who bring to public  notice the serious
>discrepancies that are occurring in their Departments.
>3.      Supervision of Government Machinery
>[See the Local Board writeup]
>4.     Using the best technology
>[See the Appropriate Technology writeup]
>I have touched briefly upon some of what I thought were the more important
>issues relating to the strategy for improved governance. These are of
>course many more areas which deserve our urgent attention, and we must try
>to set aside time in our daily lives to look into these matters. For
>example, improved governance needs vast improvements in economic and social
>policy at the same time. These are vast topics in themselves and need
>further debate. As a matter of principle, a free democracy needs much more
>open debate and interaction in order for its citizens to understand the
>issues involved and to collectively act in order to bring about significant
>change in the lives of the common man. 
>This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
>Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/

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This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/