Monday, January 23, 2012

ELECTORAL REFORMS FOR INDIA- SOME WISHFUL THOUGHTS!

Many of our learned political scientists, intelligentsia and leaders keep on debating over the possibilities of effecting electoral reforms in our country for achieving better governance.

Whether we like it or not, democracy is a luxury for countries like India where majority citizens are illiterate and poor. In such a scenario, when universal adult franchise is the governing principle, there is all likelihood of the ignorance of the majority deciding the fate of the country.

Democracy with universal adult franchise ensures majority rule. When the majority is illiterate, the leadership also cannot be different.

When fifty percent of the populace is illiterate or under educated and has the right to vote and elect their leaders, one cannot expect that they elect very good leaders as their representatives to form their government. In such a situation the educated and competent citizens become the minority with less and less role in governance as the years pass.

Under educated and immature citizens are more likely to have a higher ego. When food is no more a major concern, ego begins to play a major role in the psychology of such people. Their likes and dislikes are not likely to be based on logical thoughts. In such a case, there is all likelihood that they envy people with good qualities or from better backgrounds which will in turn make them to reject such persons to be elected to important positions of leadership.

People with vulgar eloquence and theatrics but with little competence to hold important positions of leadership will naturally become their heroes of choice.

In such a situation the country is destined to be doomed. You cannot expect an unskilled driver driving you safely always without making fatal accidents!

This is what has happened and happening to India after it blindly adopted universal adult franchise system of democracy, imitating developed western countries. Those leaders at the time of independence unfortunately did not foresee such a damaging consequence. They could not visualize the deterioration of the quality of leadership that would eventually take place in all walks of life in the country whose majority citizenry was yet to become fully literate and politically mature.

In this context, I would like to reproduce some suggestions from my favorite book (the Urantia Book)which describes about the type of universal suffrage that countries with similar situations could possibly adopt to safe guard the democratic system from collapse on account of important positions of leadership falling into the hands of immature and incompetent persons.

The following is what has been written about the type of universal voting system which could be adopted in a democratic state where the majority citizens are not yet fully educated and politically matured:

“Every man and woman of twenty years and over has one vote. Upon attaining this age, all citizens must accept membership in two voting groups: They will join the first in accordance with their economic function—industrial, professional, agricultural, or trade; they will enter the second group according to their political, philosophic, and social inclinations. All workers thus belong to some economic franchise group, and these guilds, like the noneconomic associations, are regulated much as is the national government with its threefold division of powers. Registration in these groups cannot be changed for twelve years.

“ Upon nomination by the state governors or by the regional executives and by the mandate of the regional supreme councils, individuals who have rendered great service to society, or who have demonstrated extraordinary wisdom in government service, may have additional votes conferred upon them not earlier than every five years and not to exceed nine such super franchises. The maximum suffrage of any multiple voter is ten. Scientists, inventors, teachers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders are also thus recognized and honored with augmented political power. These advanced civic privileges are conferred by the state and regional supreme councils much as degrees are granted by the special colleges, and the recipients are proud to attach the symbols of such civic recognition, along with their other degrees, to their lists of personal achievements.

All individuals sentenced to compulsory labor in the mines and all governmental servants supported by tax funds are, for the periods of such services, disenfranchised. This does not apply to aged persons who may be retired on pensions at sixty-five.

“There are five brackets of suffrage reflecting the average yearly taxes paid for each half-decade period. Heavy taxpayers are permitted extra votes up to five. This grant is independent of all other recognition, but in no case can any person cast over ten ballots.

“The electorate consists of solidified, unified, and intelligent groups who elect only their best members to positions of governmental trust and responsibility. There is one exception to this scheme of functional or group suffrage: The election of a federal chief executive every six years is by nation-wide ballot, and no citizen casts over one vote.

“Except in the election of the chief executive, suffrage is exercised by economic, professional, intellectual, and social groupings of the citizenry. The ideal state is organic, and every free and intelligent group of citizens represents a vital and functioning organ within the larger governmental organism.

“The schools of statesmanship have power to start proceedings in the state courts looking toward the disenfranchisement of any defective, idle, indifferent, or criminal individual.

“The above reforms are based on the recognition of the fact that, when fifty per cent of a nation is illiterate or not adequately educated and possesses the ballot, such a nation is doomed. This is to prevent the dominance of mediocrity in leadership which could result in the downfall of any nation.

“Voting is to be made either compulsory with fines for nonvoting or with motivational incentives for those exercising their franchise properly. This is required to prevent the educated citizens with lesser motivation towards social issues to become indifferent during elections due to lethargy or laziness inadvertently causing pseudo majority reflections.

I know that it is difficult to go in for a system like this in India now. The majority though not competent are but aware of their rights and privileges. Those who have tasted the big personal gains that the present system has been giving them for all these years would never want to have another system wherein competent persons are likely to occupy their seats of power.

So what I have written is just a wishful thinking !

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