Lok Satta

Saturday, 19 July 2014 14:51

Dr. JP calls for ending dangerous dichotomy in electoral system

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The “dangerous dichotomy” in the electoral system has to be put an end to if India is not to miss the 21st century, said Loksatta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan in Mumbai on July 18.

Addressing the India Leadership Conclave 2014 on ‘Governance, Democratic Reforms & Economic Freedom,’ Dr. JP said that under the present dispensation most of those who get elected to legislatures are to unfit to govern whole those who are fit to govern are unfit to get elected.

Indian Affairs, a division of Network 7 Media Group, organized the conclave and Indian Affairs Business Leadership Awards 2014.

Dr. JP was chosen Indian of the Year 2014 in Political Leadership for his “outstanding and remarkable contribution”. The selection was made by an eminent jury which included the likes of Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy.

In his presentation, Dr. JP advocated replacement of the present first-past-the-post electoral system by proportional representation so that the best and the brightest can find a place in legislatures. A switchover to the PR system will ward off the need for politicians to induce voters with money, liquor or sops.

Dr. JP said that blaming politicians for the present state of affairs or expecting too much from them will not produce a solution. However committed an individual is, he or she cannot go beyond a point. After all, politicians do not have a magic wand. Similarly, reposing too much faith in courts or the Election Commission will not help.

The root of the problem lies in failure of governance. Successive Governments have consistently failed to discharge what is expected of them. They are supposed to ensure rule of law, provide quality education and health care to all and create basic infrastructure. As a result, frustrated people turn angry. Failing to fulfill people’s aspirations, politicians in their bid to get elected entice voters with money and liquor or sops like loan wavers. Or they try to garner votes by dividing people and promoting envy and hatred on the basis of caste and religion or region and language. Such a low level of equilibrium in politics has to be disrupted as soon as possible if India is not to miss the 21st century.

Empowerment of the local community and tapping their energies, enactment of a service guarantee law, institution of basic rule of law and political reforms like proportional representation system have to be initiated if politics are to be elevated to a higher plane.

Elaborating on rule of law, Dr. JP said that nowhere in the world the number of criminal cases is double those of civic cases as in India. While criminal justice cannot be outsourced, civil justice can be outsourced to goondas or politicians.

Dr. JP underlined that India has only a small window of opportunity to catch up with developed nations in the present highly integrated world economy. During the industrial revolution, registering a growth rate of one or two percent appeared to be spectacular. India does not have such a luxury today. The Manmohan Singh Government was booted out because the growth rate plummeted to five percent from nine percent. Things have to be set right fast if people’s aspirations are to be fulfilled.

The window of opportunity is provided by China which is vacating low-value manufacturing for reasons ranging from aging workers to higher wages. If India does not seize the opportunity and occupy the vacuum, countries in South East Asia, Africa and Latin American will overtake it.