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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 49, November 27, 2010

Can we Avoid the Present Anarchic Conditions?

Wednesday 1 December 2010, by D G Bokare

The common man is now getting confused and also disillusioned by the way the social, political and economic affairs are being handled by the government, particularly more so after the globalisation concept was brought in by the present Prime Minister when he was the Finance Minister.

There are many types of problems the common man faces today. None of the problems can be isolated and solved independently. They are all interconnected. Food security, unemploy-ment, criminal activities, widening rich-poor gap, corruption at all levels, greedy politicians, law-makers becoming law-breakers, the black money economy overtaking the white money economy, terrorism from across the borders, chaos in the education field, Naxalism and Maoism revolting against the government for neglecting develop-ment in the tribal areas, paid news in media, helplessness of the Prime Minister and his colleagues, unconstitutional authorities getting more clout than the government, economic frauds reaching historic heights each year (like Satyam, Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh, bogus stamp papers’ fraud by Telgi, fodder frauds in Bihar, CW Games, 2-D spectrum, etc.), parking unaccounted money in tax-haven countries, chaotic urbanisation, suicides by farmers and small entrepreneurs, etc. etc. This list can still be lengthened. None of these problems is getting resolved for good. Even the former NDA Government could not reverse the trend set by the Congress Government in these matters. ‘India-shining’ was more publicised than Bharat shining. The Apex Court of India has in frustration said on October 10 this year: Why does the government not officially recognise the corruption spread all over the government machinery? Can we say that the Apex Court is free from this? Why is impeachment being contemplated against a judge? There is a charge that the CBI has lost its independence while investigating serious political and economic matters. It is being criticised on the ground that it has become a tool of those in power.

All this is showing the loss of confidence of the common man in the governance of our society. This deterioration has been more prominent since the 1990s. The voting percentage of middle class people in urban areas has been hovering around forty per cent. This might go still down in the near future. This is an indication of disillusionment among the educated and thinking class of our society.

Today, this same concept and marketing of globalisation has put the capitalist countries in an irreversible depression. Those economies are struggling to control the economic crises, but they do not find any easy solution. This will get manifested into civil-war-like situations across the capitalist countries. Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Iceland, Ireland, and the USA itself are facing this revolt-like situation. The ‘Tea-Party’ movement in the USA is an indication of what would happen there in the very near future. However, India is still holding on to the failed economic system imported from the West. The US Government is propagating its ‘Swadeshi’ philosophy by saying: “Be American; buy American!” President Obama’s visit was to market their products and cut imports from India. Their globalisation mantra has now turned into protectionism. This could happen in European countries too very soon.

Many of our elderly people are questioning themselves: why did we fight the war for our independence from the British Raj? Now we have become slaves of the foreign economic powers. We take pride in getting some service jobs overseas in IT and other related sectors. Even our present Finance Minister is pleading with the USA for continuing the old practice of outsourcing (slavery?) from India. Who benefit from this inflow of funds? The answer is simple. Only the elite and higher middle class, whose number is insignificant, have been the beneficiaries. This is at a huge cost to the common people who are paying taxes. Those who fought for independence of our country had some dreams about creating a society of moral, high-value living style, general welfare for all, economic equity, and ideal governance for maintaining due balance between Man and Nature. Now they all feel greatly disappointed on all fronts.

What Causes this Chaos?

WE certainly find some errors in the whole working of our country’s affairs. But a common man cannot pinpoint any specific issue responsible for the present economic, social and political chaos. Everyone is pointing to one issue or another that is mostly dependent on the inputs received from the media. The common man is helplessly watching the entire circus of politicians, bureaucracy, judiciary, and the media. The media is presenting him only crimes, corruptions and failure of governance. There is no space left for social and welfare matters. He is aware that he is not figuring anywhere in the development programmes of the country. Rather, he is being exploited in the process.

The governing state itself is responsible for this chaos and anarchic situation. Unless it is re-organised on required lines, the anarchic situation would never change for the better. During the Vedic period, the king was blamed for all these chaotic aspects. The king himself must be an ideal person and his civil servants should always be faithful to him. Dand Niti must take place whenever the king sees indiscipline and crimes in his kingdom.

Today, the mixing of Western culture with our own meticulously preserved values and culture of thousands of years could be the major reason for the present situation. Additionally, the constitutional provisions for our governance could have also contributed to this chaos. Even the social thinkers from Europe, especially after the French Revolution, have contributed to this cause. In brief, we can state:

1. The French Revolution has promoted the ethos of equality, freedom, justice and fraternity. These words are now found in all the democratic countries’ Constitutions. Fraternity depends on the first three para-meters. The word equality is considered by the constitutional experts as far as political equality is concerned, that is, one-man-one-vote. However, economic equality has never been addressed. As a result, we have two Constitutions in our country: political consti-tution and economic constitution (Company Act). Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had noticed this while drafting the Constitution. He said: “The soul of democracy is the doctrine of one-man-one-vote. Unfortunately, democracy has attempted to give effect to this doctrine only as far as the political structure is concerned by adopting the rule of one-man-one-vote. It has left the economic structure to take the shape given to it by those who are in a position to mould it. The constitutional lawyers have never advanced the concept that the constitutional law of democracy must go beyond adult suffrage and fundamental rights.” The results of economic inequality are: creating classes based on economic parameters, poverty, exploitation of the poor by the privileged class, unequal distribution of wealth of the country, corruption, indebted-ness, farmers’ suicides, crimes, etc.

2. The position of the President has become decorative only. The President does not have any administrative powers. This position is maintained at a very high cost of the tax-payers’ money. “The history of the post of President of India reveals the tragedy of democracy in India. The biographies and press reports reveal that the trust (between the President and the Prime Minister) was always transformed into distrust by the end of the term of the President. The Prime Minister selects the name with full trust in the person (the President). After some period, the President deviates from the expected behaviour. This is like dialectics in the Hegelian philosophy. By the end of the term, the Prime Minister and the President do not show reconciliation,” says Dr M. G. Bokare (Hindu Economics, 2009, page 229) He further says: “The process outlined in the Constitution of India causes this distrust. The President of India becomes a powerless person in the highest position and the Prime Minister is imprisoned in the political goals of his political party. In this process, both the posts have become powerless.”

What we are seeing around the world is the crisis of confidence in the democratic system. The word ‘democracy’ has become a joke for many thinkers. The corporate-persons (unnatural persons) are dominating the society more than the natural persons who are the pillars of the democratic system. In the most worshipped country, the USA, one per cent of people, mostly corporate-persons, own more than forty per cent wealth of the nation. We too are shortly heading towards the same path. Teddy Roosevelt, the former President of the USA, aptly said: “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and to-get-rich-quick theory of life.” President Abraham Lincoln rightly put his finger on the nuisance of the corporate-person. He said: “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the nation is destroyed.” How true it is!

What is the Remedy?

IT is certain that the present political system is unable to solve the crisis of trust of the people. It is taking the nation towards anarchy in a short duration. The scholars of political science are not in a mood to suggest the changes to ‘correct’ the present chaotic situation by recommending the revised system that might sound radical in nature. None of the political parties is interested in such a change as most of the leaders are happy with the ill-gotten wealth collected by them from the present system. These parties are seen to be interested in pushing their own cadre into government services by aggressively pressurising the state for reservation of jobs on the basis of caste, religion, etc. Many of the leaders have been known as criminals, corrupt to the core, having links with underworld economies, etc. How can the common man then trust these leaders for his own development? No leader is at present in a mood to think on these lines. Many Chief Ministers and Central Ministers are facing huge corruption charges too. Ashok Chavan, A. Raja are the latest additions to the list.

The writer of Hindu Economics had spent quite a lot of his energy in finding solutions to these problems leading to anarchy. It is not necessary that there are no options in this regard. Major changes in the present democratic system with minor changes in the Constitution have been suggested on the following lines:

1. The President and Prime Minister must be elected by the people directly since they are directly responsible for the welfare and safety of the citizens and nation.

2. The President should have the power to punish for bad and corrupt behaviour all the Members of the Cabinet excluding the Prime Minister, all Members of both the Houses (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), excluding their Chairmen, Governors of all the States and Union Territories, all the members of all the Assemblies and Councils excluding the Chief Ministers, all the Supreme Court judges excluding the Chief Justices, and all the gazetted officers across the country.

3. The President should give only one opportunity to the person from the above list in the presence of the Jury. If satisfied about the guilt, the person should be removed from the post and prosecuted through the legal process. In the case of the PM and others who have been excluded as above, a resolution in the House alone should finally decide the issue.

4. The President shall develop appropriate espionage system by recruiting persons with impeccable character of his/her choice. This will not have any links with the existing CBI, RAW, IB, etc. Rather, it will oversee these existing agencies.

5. The present parliamentary practice should be reviewed. Today, the party protects the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues. In turn, the Cabinet protects the senior officers in the government. Opposition parties protect their wicked and indisciplined members. A new procedure should weed out such elements to make the process transparent and ethical.

6. The vote of confidence should be removed thus giving full term to rule for the party voted by the people. The system of issuing whip should also be done away with. Let the members use their conscience and vote for the appropriate person in the best interest of the nation. This will bring elegance to parlia-mentary democracy, and become an ideal for other nations to copy. This should serve as a warning that no one should be protected.

7. The authority to remove any High Court and Supreme Court judge should be vested in the President alone. Similar will be the procedure for the chiefs of our defence forces.

8. As regards the media, the President should suo moto or on receiving complaints decide the punishment for the published or televised material after giving a chance to hear the person so accused. The punishment could lead to imprisonment of the person and/or suspension of the publication.

9. Similar process could be followed in respect of State Governors having jurisdiction over others in society, such as self-government institutions like Panchayats, zilla parishads, municipalities, etc.

10. The President will have to resign if more than half the number of States passes resolutions in the State Assemblies showing no confidence in her/him. Similarly, if a resolution is passed in either of the Houses, the President will resign. In both these cases, no whip will be allowed to be used.

Words of wisdom of Milton and Rose Friedman, quoted by the author from “Free to Choose”, may illuminate us in the present situation:

“When the law contradicts what most people regard as moral and proper, they will break the law whether it is enacted in the name of a noble ideal—or in the naked interest of one group at the expense of another. Only fear of punishment, not a sense of justice and morality, will lead people to obey the law.”

The choice is now with us. Either we helplessly wait till anarchy fully takes over and demolishes the civil society; or we move in the matter without delay and systematically and democratically destroy the present structure of governance and implement the alternative system through constitutional amendments.

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