Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vision of India with the Changed System of Governance in Place

The new system of governance which was in the mind of Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of India’s freedom, and on the basis of which he had called for the masses of India to participate in the nonviolent freedom struggle and make sacrifices as required, is based on the concept that an individual is the ultimate source of state power. All state powers emanate from this ultimate source like concentric circles of wave radiating from the point of impact with a pebble in a still body of water, with the inner circle covering less area but with a higher wave intensity compared to outer circles covering more area but with lower wave intensities. In practical terms of governance structure, this would mean strong village governments or what Gandhi termed as ‘village republics’ with responsibilities and powers to take care of all matters that directly concern the life and living of all the people of the concerned village or town. The next levels of government, at state, national or any intermediate levels, will have the responsibly and powers to deal with matters which are logically considered to be best dealt with at those levels. In any case, there would no duality of responsibilities and powers, which may give rise to conflicts and there would be no question of higher or lower in authority between the governments. The government at each level would be autonomous in its domain of responsibilities and the inter-relationship among the governments at different levels would be well defined by the governing Constitution. The taxation regime and the public finance and economic structure would be revamped from the present one designed for centralized governance to one appropriate for the decentralized governance indicated above. Similarly, the administrative structure of the envisaged system of governance will undergo a sea change from the present one. The economic and administrative viability and validity of the changed system of governance has been indicated in the previous post on this blog.

In such a changed system of governance in place, corruption and scams as a systemic disease will almost vanish primarily for two reasons. In the present system, public money travels from people living in villages and towns to state or national exchequers in various ways and forms and travelling back to people for development works and services, resulting in tremendous systemic and extra-systemic losses. The famous statement of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that “out of one rupee sent from Delhi only 15 paise reaches a village for work” is indicative of these losses, a large part of which is transformed into corruption and scams which fuel the parallel black money market of the country. Another contributing factor to corruption and scams in the present system is remoteness and non-transparency of the government. In the changed system, these two contributing factors of corruption in public life will cease to exist and consequently almost 90% of present-day corruption will vanish. The remaining corruption will be non-systemic, or rather aberrations of the system which can easily be tackled through suitably formulated laws, rules and regulations.

With corruption largely eliminated from public life, the pace of development in the country will be much faster, at least 10 times as fast as it is today. Moreover, most of the developments in the country will originate and take place in the villages, obliterating the rural-urban divide and checking rural to urban migration of jobless people.

In the changed system of governance, insurgency will have no base to stand upon. Insurgent forces are mostly generated in villages and remote areas, growing out of dissatisfaction and marginalization of sections of people and are directed against the far way governments. When a powerful government is functioning right in the villages, insurgency will automatically vanish. This is corroborated by experimental experience. When the state government of Bihar introduced an experiment of “government at your doorstep” in a Naxal infested area, it resulted in a drastic reduction of destructive Naxal activities in that area. Similarly, separatism which also grows out of a sense of alienation will lose its significance. Thus, the changed system of governance will not only bring about truly democratic governance but also truly inclusive governance.

With autonomous governments functioning in the villages and towns, the creative and productive energies of the masses will not be inhibited by arbitrarily interpreted laws, rules and regulations which they can’t understand, much less accept, and thus these energies will come into full play. Apart from qualitative improvement in the life and living of people, this will significantly contribute to the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) in various ways. Such a growth will not only increase the rate of economic growth of the nation but will also directly reduce the level of poverty, as distinct from the debatable ‘trickle down’ effect. It will result in progressively less and less poor and more and more equitable society.

In such a decentralized system of governance with strong governments at the village level, the nation will become strong as it will be relieved of many responsibilities which are better taken care of at other and more appropriate levels of governance and of dissipating its energies in dealing with debilitating factors like corruption, insurgency, separatism and even politically motivated demands and agitations for separate and smaller states. The nation will be better able to take care of what are truly national tasks such as defense, developments of science and technology, promoting cutting edge scientific and technological endeavors such as space science and technology, and dealing with international matters in this increasingly interactive global world.

The tenor and culture of politics will undergo a sea change in the changed system of governance. In the present-day power-centric politics, almost no holds are barred in the relentless pursuit of power by individuals and political parties. The strategy of ‘divide and rule’ followed by the British in their last ditch effect to retain their colonial power in India, which ultimately led to division of the country, is also unabashedly used by the political parties in the Indian republic for the same purpose - to gain or retain power, except that the dividing line is not just communalism, but also caste and region. This is no surprise as the logic of such a strategy is implicit in the system of governance. In the changed system of governance, this strategy will be rendered meaningless and the political parties will be based on the political philosophy they hold and their outlook on national affairs and interests.

The above-mentioned changes that the nation will see unfolding in the changed system of governance are just indicative and by no means exhaustive. The momentum of these positive changes will give rise to and bring in many positive actions and activities throughout the country, transforming it into a resurgent nation ever on the path of positive progress rather than on the present course of decline and degradation. Under the new dispensation of governance, India will come out of the evil trance of British colonial culture imposed by design upon its own pristine culture and will come into its own true self. India will then “awake into the heaven of freedom”, as envisioned by Rabindranath Tagore and will emerge as a nation of Mahatma Gandhi’s dreams. It will then be India to which the troubled world will once again look for guidance and enlightenment.