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Resending People First Doc

[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
___Help make this manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!___

My attempts to send a PDF file seems to be dropping the attachment.

Here's a text version.




I had as part of my initial mailing suggested that we network with
people & groups working along similar lines as IPI. There are many
small unknown groups doing a lot of work with the express goal of doing
something constructive for the country.

I find it very disappointing that IPI and BDP have gone to the stage of
pointing fingers at each other accusingly.

To my mind the only worthwhile effort is a joint effort for the ulimate
goal of positive change for the country.
Individual claims of initiating debates are of absolutely no value to
me. For, as I said there are numerous efforts all over the country.

The only difference here is that this is happening over the net.

The medium is different, but that's all.

I have in the next few pages tried to put together the abstract from
the document :

  PEOPLE FIRST   - Rooting out Irresponsible Governance : True Power to
the People  -  An NGO Manifesto

Our strength will be to network with similar groups to gain momentum in
our effort . Sincerely

Rajeev Manikoth


People's Declaration

We the people of India dcmand that all political parties commit that
within 100 days of coming to power, they shall promulgate planning laws
in conformity with Article 243ZD of the Constitution of India. These
laws will ensure that all planning and development activity involves
the genuine participation of the people and will, among other things,
provide that:

1  Centralized planning and central and state sponsored or assisted
schemes on local matters shall be abolished.

2  All financial resources and/or taxation powers for local programmes
shall be devolved to local governments without any strings attached.

3  All planning in relation to such devolved resources shall be
initiated by local governments, consolidated by district planning
committees and then processed at higher levels of government and
fine-tuned iteratively.

4  No project exceeding 1000 sqm in area or three floors in height
shall be approved without public hearings being organized at the
affected sites, neighbourhoods and villages or without appropriate
public consultations.

5  Appropriate participatory councils on critical issues like natural
resource management, empowerment of women and public tenders shall be
constituted as conscience-keepers of development.

6  Grassroots democracy in which decisions arc taken in the presence of
all the constituents shall be instituted in the form of neighbourhood
committees or mohalla samitis under the local laws; the planning laws
shall provide that no decision in regard to a neighbourhood shall be
taken without consulting the neighbourhood committee.

7  All stale institutions like development authorities and slum boards
dealing with civic matters shall be abolished or placed under the
municipalities managed by a directly elected mayor or chairperson whose
decisions will be subject to scrutiny by the people in accordance with
the provisions of the planning laws.

For and on behalf of the people of India


Governance through the Principle of Subsidiarity

Many countries are turning to the principle of subsidiarity. This
principle is the antithesis of the centrality of governance. Under the
principle of subsidiarity, the question is asked what activities can be
best performed by the local government. Having settled that, the
remaining activities are transferred to the next higher level of
governance, in our case the state government. The same question is
again asked and what cannot be well handled, is transferred to the next
higher level,

the national government. Similar exercises are done in respect of few
and collection of taxes and allocation of receipts - all taxes are
considered local and devolved upwards.

Conceptually, the people operating through the local government
contribute part of their tax collections to the national government for
taking care of their defence.

A tiny country like Switzerland and many countries of the north work on
this principle.

Gandhi's concept of villages as republic was a vision of a higher order
of subsidiarity.

Rooting out Irresponsible Governance - true power to the people


The nation today is in trouble. Serious trouble. We daily see stories
of corruption, kickbacks, share market scams, hawala payments and
misuse of public funds. According to a former prime minister's
estimate, less than 20 per cent funds actually reach the people.

1      People and the Polity

After independence, we not only retained most of the institutions
established by our colonial  rulers for subserving their imperial goals
but also fortified them by adopting those modelled on the pattern of
the Soviet Union.

Both colonialism and the Soviet Union have collapsed under the weight
of their own highly centralized, bureaucratized, non-transparent and
non-participatory practices of governance and are no longer on the
world map. Our planning commission modelled on this Soviet concept,
still exists. The planning commission imposes numerous centrally
conceptualised schemes on local governments. En route, there are heavy
frictional losses, cut backs and false billing, which explains why only
20 per cent reaches the people.

The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments mandate that planning
initiated by local governments shall be consolidated by the district
planning committees. Imposition of centrally conceived schemes has
therefore become unconstitutional.

Governments can indulge in irresponsible actions only if there is no
transparency and participation of people indecision-making. A democracy
in which people have no legal right to be consulted on issues which
affect their lives is a marginalized one run by politicians and the
bureaucracy. India is such a marginalized democracy.

The new planning laws needed to implement the constitutional amendments
should ensure participation of people in decision-making through
instruments such as public hearings and consultations.

For promoting responsible governance, the central thrust of our polity
should be to open decision-making to participation by the people and
assign authority to the lowest level of government which is best
equipped to handle it.

2      People and Planning

At present, planning is handled in a fragmented and non-participatory
manner. Planning departments are handling socio-economic planning
without any legal backing. Only city planning is being handled under
the planning laws. Neglect of regional planning and marginalization of
initiatives of the people has led to the destruction of the rural
resource base.

Article 243ZD of the 74th constitutional amendment mandates a total
reversal and requires planning to be 1) participatory, initiated by the
local governments and processed upwards through the district planning
committees and (2) analytical, qualitative and spatial, covering
socio-economic, infrastructure and natural resources. Such technical
planning should be integrated under the environment departments,
merging the planning departments in them.

In keeping with the spirit of the constitutional amendments, the
following key provisions should be made in planning laws to bring about
the desired transparency in governance and participation of people in

Right to Information

An informed citizenship is a prerequisite for participatory
decision-making. The planning laws should have a chapter on right to
information providing for :

Commission/or informed citizenship : The planning laws should provide
that there shall be commissions for informed citizenship in every slate
to oversee that the rights of citizens to information arc not violated.

Access to information : Public offices must be required by law to
provide information desired by citizens or give their refusal in
writing to enable citizens to seek redressal if the refusal is

Public Hearings : No project exceeding, 1000 sqm in area or three
floors in height, shall be approved without public hearings at all the
sites and villages affected by the project. Full particulars of the
project and its social and environmental impact shall have to be
presented at the public hearings.

Public Consultations : The commission may issue guidelines for
organizing public consultations to elicit view of various stake holders
and others.

Participatory Councils

The planning laws should provide for participatory councils at state
and local levels on critical matters like natural resource management,
urban and rural poor, empowerment of women, environment in business and
citizenship and public lenders.

Such councils shall not have any programme budget to prevent them from
themselves becoming centres of power.

They shall function as conscience-keepers of development.

3      People and Settlements

People mistake local governments to be grassroots democracy. Grassroots
democracy is one in which all decisions are taken by the elected
representatives in the presence of all the constituents. Even a gram
panchayat with 1000 to 2000 constituents is loo large for effective
participation in the general assembly.

Neighbourhood Committees : Neighbourhood committees or mohalla samities
should be constituted under the municipal and panchayat laws and
clothed with adequate civic powers for managing neighbourhood services.
No decision in regard to a neighbourhood shall be taken by any
authority without consulting the neighbourhood committee. Such
grassroots democracy will empower the people and also make them
responsible citizens.

Responsible Right to Shelter : Integrating the large number of poor
living in squatter settlements has become a major concern of civic
management. The concept of responsible right to shelter conferring
civic right with responsibility to look after their neighbourhoods
provides a legitimate solution.

Non Voluntary Displacement : Non voluntary displacement of settlements
constitutes a serious  violation of human rights. The planning laws
should provide for constitution of resettlement tribunals by local
governments which oversee proper resettlement.

Urban Development with Social Obligation : Urban development should
hereafter be largely through the market system with social obligation
imposed under the planning laws. General exemption  under the urban
ceiling law may be given if the developer provides serviced sites on
specified percentage of the land under development and makes it
available to the poor at the cost of development.

Minimum House for the Poor : On grounds of human dignity, especially
dignity of women, a minimum family house should have two rooms. Current
practices of building one room family flats for the poor should be
banned. Cluster court urban duplex on 18 sqm serviced sites may be a
preferred option. Where flats are unavoidable, 14 feet height may be
provided to facilitate a loft as a second room.

Forested Homes as Green Belts : To contain unsustainable growth of
cities, concepts like promoting neighbourhoods of forested homes as
green belts around cities may be encouraged under the planning laws.

Rural Settlements : Regeneration of the rural ecology through sound
watershed management  with community involvement, holds the key for
making rural settlements sustainable. The gram panchayats assisted by
mohalla samitis should have total control of the programme.

Direct Election of Head of Local Government : The heads of the
municipalities and pant panchayats should be elected through direct
election. This will attract quality leadership which, under community
surveillance, may provide sound civic management.

4      People, Education and Health

Human development and not merely economic development should be the
goal of planning.

Education  should be opened up to entrepreneurship and community

4.1      Education

Literacy and School Education : Student power should be used for
removing illiteracy. Rural schools may be transferred to the gram
panchayat and teachers made responsible to the parents.

Higher Education Initiatives : Private trusts which provide free
infrastructure and companies which offer return on investments, both
should be encouraged to set up institutions of higher education and
universities. Such institutions should be allowed to charge
pre-notified fees which allow for their development. The accreditation
systems should be strong to ensure adherence to proper academic
standards and curbing malpractices.

Scholarships and Loans : The state should provide subsidized education
to the needy, not through general fee subsidization, but through
targeted scholarships, assistantships and student loans in both state
run and private institutions.

Green Vacation : The brown summer vacation, a legacy of the British
raj, should be replaced by the green vacation in the festive winter
months of tropical India so that the children and the youth may imbibe
nature and understand its significance.

Aptitude Tests : Aptitude tests for admissions and employment
administered by private trusts may be encouraged.

4.2      Public Health

Water for Life : Health has close linkages with water and waste water
management. Regeneration  of ground water through watershed management
with community involvement solves most public health problems in rural

Planning with Nature : Planning of settlements with nature should be
the key strategy. Sensitive sites like water courses or nalas, flood
zone and aquifer recharge zones should be protected and reserved a;

Local Waste Water Systems : Local sewers along nalas and treatment of
waste within the civic system to facilitate recharge of the ground
water, should be an important component of the civic design.

Empowerment of Women : The councils for empowerment of women at the
local level can play an important role in promoting health and family

5      People and Administration

All India Services : The all India services have become
unconstitutional as they are an imposition of the centre on local

Open Selection for Top Appointment : All top appointments in government
should be through open selection. These will include secretaries, heads
of departments and one level below, divisional commissioners , district
collectors, municipal commissioners and chief executive officers of
zilla panchayats.

Direct Appointments by Head of Government : In selected cases, the head
of government can directly appoint eminent professionals, subject to
appearance before a committee of the legislature.

Administration of Justice : The number of judges and common courts may
be increased to meet the requirements of a dynamic society. Special
tribunals, especially the meaningless administrative tribunals, should
be abolished.

Processing Administrative Reforms : Recruitment to all India services
may be stayed for five years and administrative reforms processed.

Institutional Audit : Commissions for institutional audit may be set up
in every stale to audit legitimacy of existing institutions, scaling
down administration, perquisites of government servants and such other

Political Donations : Ceiling on election expenses should be removed
and political parties exempted from disclosing the source of donations.
Donors should insist on receipts and if needed, anonymous receipts.
This will ensure legitimacy in transactions.

Jobs outside Government : The concern of governments should be to
create jobs, not within but outside of government.

6      General

True empowerment of the people through measures such as those indicated
above, will establish legitimate process for resolving the current ills
in the nation. It is the assertion of PEOPLE FIRST that no other method
can provide a sustainable and lasting solution.

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