Understanding the Campaign through Questions and Answers
1. Q. What is the objective of the campaign?
A. The campaign aims at bringing about a change in the existing system of governance of India and supplant it with the desired one.
2. Q. Why does the existing system of governance of India need to be changed?
A. The existing system of governance was designed and operated by the British to exploit a colony, rich in resources, and degrade its people, having a rich cultural heritage, on a long term sustainable basis. In ‘free’ India, all the ills afflicting the nation, such as degeneration of political morality, corruption in public life, pervasive poverty and widening gap between the rich and the poor, and social unrest and insurgency are generated by this system of governance. These ills cannot be eradicated unless the system of governance is changed suitably.
3.Q. Was change of the system of governance envisaged during the freedom movement, or was only driving out the British from India was the ultimate goal of that movement?
A. Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s freedom movement, clearly saw that the system of governance imposed by the British to govern India, a colony of theirs, led to the exploitation, impoverishment and degradation of its people and hence was convinced that unless this system was done away with, India would be condemned to remain in the state of degeneration. Hence getting rid of this system was the prime motivation for seeking and agitating for freedom of India. As it was realized in course of this agitation that the British had a vested interested in this exploitative system, driving out the British became a necessary condition for India’s desired freedom.
4.Q. Then, why was essentially the same system of governance adopted in free India?
A. The departing British government and several privileged sections of Indians who were beneficiaries of the colonial system of governance in India, such as top bureaucrats, feudal elements, princes and big business houses wanted continuance of the same system of governance in which they saw their interests protected and promoted even in free India. The flawed constitution of the Constituent Assembly of India contrived by the British government in collusion with these sections of Indians ensured a preponderance of members representing these vested interests. In the Constituent Assembly, the stalwarts of India’s freedom struggle waged under Gandhi’s inspiring leadership did not subscribe to Gandhi’s far sighted vision for free India and prescription for its governance. These and other members were too familiar and accustomed to the existing system of governance to think beyond it. All these factors conspired to produce a Constitution for free India which, on the one hand, gave expression to modern and high sounding aspirations of the people about the emerging republic and on the other, adopted essentially an outdated, inappropriate and counterproductive instrument of governance for the same. Thus, in the Constituent Assembly, Gandhi, the architect of India’s freedom, was betrayed, the masses who participated in the freedom struggle and made sacrifices for it on Gandhi’s call were short changed and the freedom movement itself was negated on account of retaining essentially the same system of governance.
5.Q. What system of governance did Gandhi envisage, prescribe and advocate for free India and how is it different from the existing one?
A. The colonial system and, to a large extent, the existing system of governance is based on the concept of the state power flowing from the top to the bottom in a pyramidal structure. In the Gandhian concept, the ultimate source of state power lies in the individual from which it emerges and emanates outward like concentric circles produced by dropping a pebble in a still body of water. In other words, state power, emerging from the individual, spreads to different levels of governance such as village, state and the nation. No level of governance is above or below any other; each has its own sphere of action and all deriving their power from the individual. In practical terms, there would be village governments, state governments and a national government. In this broad framework of governance and in view of the complexities of modern life and living, there may be other spheres of governance, each deriving their power from the people concerned. Essentially, this concept results in a completely decentralized governance while the colonial and existing system of governance is highly centralized.
It is under this conceptual context that Gandhi strongly advocated for ‘village republics’ in free India, as primary units of governance.
6.Q. With ‘village republics’ as primary units of governance in free India, will the national government be not rendered weak and unable to contain separatist tendencies among the disparate autonomous units?
A. Just the opposite. A chain is as strong as its links. On account of a combination of several factors, the national government will become stronger in such a system of governance to deal with destabilizing or disintegrating forces coming from within or without the country. With autonomous governments functioning right in the villages, insurgent forces will cease to grow and gain any stronghold. Cross border terrorism or destabilizing forces will have to encounter strengthened units of governance and hence it will be difficult for them to penetrate and intrude into the country. Moreover, with most of the problems directly affecting the lives and living of people tackled by the empowered village governments, the national government will be able to devote more energy and attention to the national issues. Also, with governments functioning within direct reach of the people, the opportunity for the people to be disaffected with their state and national governments will become minimal. It will be shared culture and history supported by a binding constitution that will give rise to and sustain rather strong feelings of nationhood.
7.Q. Will the ‘village republics’ be economically viable?
A. In the existing system of governance, with the villages receiving funds from the state and the central governments for a number of various schemes, this question will naturally arise in the minds of many people. In order to comprehend this matter in the right perspective, it must be understood that in the ultimate analysis, national wealth is produced primarily from natural resources such as land, water, forest, minerals and manpower, both physical and intellectual, and the public exchequer receives funds in the form of taxes which are levied essentially on the wealth produced. It may be appreciated that all the villages are gifted in varying degrees with these resources, which do, or potentially can, produce wealth. In the existing system of governance characterized by exploitation and centralization, it appears that major chunks of funds to the public exchequer come from urban centers and big business houses. In the decentralized system of governance, which will necessarily be devoid of exploitation and centralization, and with a restructuring of revenue collection system, every village will, by and large, be not only economically self-sufficient to govern itself but also be able to contribute to the state and national exchequers to enable them to discharge their prescribed roles and functions.
8.Q. What will be the situation of corruption in public life in the changed system of governance in India?
A. The existing system of governance based on exploitation and degradation of people, facilitated by a centralization of powers in a pyramidal structure, generates, promotes and sustains corruption in public life in India. As the changed system of governance will be horizontally structured for participative and decentralized governance, and hence will be structurally devoid of exploitation and degradation, corruption cannot germinate and survive in such a system. As an estimate, 90 to 95% of the existing level of corruption will vanish in the changed system. Corruption will be only an exception rather than a rule in the system and will crop up only due to moral aberration of the individual and not due to facilitation and promotion of the same provided by the system. This can also be understood by the now famous statement made by Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister in the eighties, that only 15 paise reach the intended beneficiary in the village out of one rupee sent from Delhi for the purpose. Where do 85 paise go? Obviously, they go into the pockets of the operators and intermediaries of the system in the form of corruption and scams. In the changed system, one rupee meant for the village will be collected and spent in the village itself. It does not have to travel from the village to Delhi and back from Delhi to the village with 85% lost in scams and corruption. This and other features of the changed system will eliminate 90 to 95% of the existing level of corruption.
9.Q. What will be the scenario of development in the changed system of governance?
A. As indicated in the answer to Q.8, presently only 15% of the money sent by the central government in Delhi reaches the villages for village-level development work. More or less, similar situation is there in the case of state funded development schemes in the village. It must be understood that the funds sent from the centre come from public exchequer which receives money exclusively from taxes collected from people including, in the ultimate analysis, the people in the villages. As it is well known that the tax collection system also suffers from corruption, it may safely be assumed, as an estimate, that only 50 paise reach the public exchequer in Delhi out of 1 rupee people have to spare, in one form or another, for taxes meant for the purpose. Thus, only 7.5% of money taken from the people reach them in the village for development work, the remaining 92.5% being lost in transit from the village to Delhi and then from Delhi to the village. Similar dissipative process is at work when people’s money travels from the village to the state capital and back. In the changed system, as these transits will be essentially eliminated, almost 100% of the money the people are deprived of will appear as development work improving their life and living, Also, in the changed system, the central government and the state government will concentrate more on the development works which are to be carried out on state and national levels. Thus in the changed system, overall pace of development in the country will at least be 10 times faster. Moreover, most of the development work will take place where most of the people live. This development scenario will conceivably have the following direct impacts, (i) imbalance of development between regions as well as between cities and villages will be eliminated, and (ii) villages will be much more livable and employment opportunities in the villages will be substantially enhanced, thus affecting migration of people to cities for better life and living.
10.Q. What impact of the changed system will be on the problem of social unrest and insurgency in the country?
A. Social unrest among sections of people arises from a sense of victimization and injustice perceived to be perpetrated by the socio-politico-economic system and not only not addressed by the government but even protected by it. This leads to their disaffection with the government. Unable to make the remotely located government listen to and redress their grievances, they get alienated from the system and hostile to the government which they think protects the perpetrators, giving rise to insurgency. In the changed system of governance, since the government is right in the village they live in, they have got all the opportunity of not only make it listen to their grievances, but also participate in it and influence it. In such a situation, social unrest and insurgency will have no basis to germinate and will thus disappear.
11.Q. Will the changed system of governance have any impact on the situation of poverty and economic disparity existing in the country today?
A. The existing system of governance which is essentially a continuation of that in the colonial days is based on exploitation. In pre-independence India, the beneficiaries of exploitation were the British and those sections of people in India which helped in this exploitation in one way or the other. The masses of India were the victims of exploitation which got progressively impoverished. In post-independence India, with essentially the same system of governance in operation, the beneficiaries of exploitation are those who can either control or manipulate instruments of governance. These sections of people are getting richer at the expense of the exploited class comprising the masses of people living mostly in the villages. As this exploitation will cease to exist in the changed system of governance, the national wealth produced will be more equitably distributed, resulting in reduction of both poverty as well as economic disparity.
With the introduction of the so called ‘economic reforms’ in the country in the early nineties, another factor has been at play in the Indian economy. The vast Indian market has been thrown open to the multinationals and big business houses for its unfettered exploitation. As the profit motive is admittedly dominant in their exploiting the market comprising various sections of the Indian people, this results in further impoverishment of the masses, apparent betterment of the ‘middle class’ which provides help in market exploitation and concentration of wealth in the hands of the market exploiter. This fundamental change in the economic system of India is in abject disregard of the constitutional aspirations of people, as expressed in the Preamble of the Constitution of India, and has been imposed on the people who are too indirectly empowered in the existing system of governance to resist such a fundamental change. In the changed system of governance, with the people effectively empowered at the grass roots, socialistic aspirations of the people will be duly recognized, regarded and acted upon, sparing the people from economic exploitation. This will lead to distinct improvement in the situation of both poverty and economic disparity.
12Q. Will the profession and practice of politics in the changed system of governance be as morally degraded as it is today or will it be otherwise?
A. The characteristic features of politics in a country are determined by its system of governance. The state power in the existing system of governance, originally designed for exploitation and degradation of people, is centralized and concentrated at certain nodal points located in the national and state capitals. Consequently, the entire politics of the country is geared towards capturing power located at these nodal points. As this system of governance functions through what is known as “parliamentary democracy,” which is necessarily operated by political parties, it has given rise to regional and national political parties and power-centric politics unabashedly practiced by them. The character and characteristics of these political parties are determined by such politics. None of the political parties practice democratic principles in their own functioning; none of the political parties have any grass-roots base and sustenance; the funds and accounts of none of the political parties are transparent and above- board; and almost all the political parties in the ‘republic’ of India are run dynastically by their supremos. As the power can be captured only through the votes of the people, suitable stratagems are freely used by the parties and their candidates to induce them to give them their votes, thus reducing the people to ‘vote banks’. They have no compunction in playing upon their caste, communal and other societally divisive sentiments in this political game. In the pursuit of such politics, the Indian society today stands fractured across many dividing lines such as Hindus vs Muslims, the ‘dalits’ vs non-dalits, the backwards vs forwards Maharashtrians vs north Indians, and the rich vs the poor.
In the changed system of governance characterized by decentralization of power and empowerment of people at the grassroots, the nature of politics will undergo a fundamental transformation. As the state power in the changed system will be dispersed and not concentrated at only a few nodal points, the nature of power will change from one giving a license for personal aggrandizement to one providing opportunity to serve the people. The profession and practice of politics will change accordingly. People with intelligence, vision and commitment will be attracted to the profession of politics and motivated to devote themselves to such a profession.
13.Q. How can the existing system of governance be changed?
A. The change of the system of governance can be brought about through established democratic processes and within the framework of the Constitution of India. The existing system of governance, the operating core of which is essentially the same as that of the Govt. of India Act 1935, is specified in the Constitution. The aspirations of the people in free India are very well expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution. It has been experienced that these aspirations are far from realized on account of the gross unsuitability of the instrument specified in the Constitution, i.e. the system of governance, for fulfillment of these aspirations. Moreover, this unsuitability has given rise to several ills afflicting the body politic of India, such as corruption, insurgency and economic disparities. This system of governance can be changed suitably by amending the Constitution of India. As per the constitutional provision, the Constitution can be amended if 2/3rd members of each house of the parliament vote for it. Once such an amendment bill is passed and becomes an act after assented to by the President, its implementation can be carried out by administrative measures which the then government would be fully capable of taking. Thus, the changed system of governance will be established in the country and the new India of our vision will begin to emerge.
14. Q. What is the program of this campaign to ensure the above-mentioned action for change of the system of governance?
A. The campaign for change of the system of governance is to the carried out in two distinct and interacting phases. The first phase of the campaign called “Awareness, Education and Motivation Phase” is programmed at making people aware of the desired change, educating them in this and motivating them for action towards the same. This phase will be carried out under the aegis of the Forum for Change of the System of Governance of India (FCSGI). Various modern means of information and communication such as print media, internet, telecommunications, audio-visual media, as well as public meetings and conferences will be adopted to carry out and facilitate this phase of the campaign. The second phase of the campaign called “Political Action Phase” will comprise setting up an all India political party, tentatively called “Lok Seva Vikas Sangh” (LSVS) having the dominant political agenda of bringing about the constitutional change required for change of the system of governance in the country. It will take all necessary organizational, political and electoral actions for the purpose and will be geared for the same.
For carrying out both the phases of the campaign under the aegis of FCSGI and LSVS respectively, a country wide organizational structure will be put up consisting of coordinating offices, starting from the headquarters, to the state, district or MP constituency, block, and village levels. These offices will be manned by suitably trained and motivated local office bearers.
15.Q. What is required for success of the campaign?
A. For success of any campaign, the primary requirement is the soundness and firmness of the basic idea and thought underlying it. For this campaign, this primary requirement is provided by the thoughts and ideas of the visionary Gandhi as well as live experiences around the world. Firming up these thoughts and ideas in the modern context, however, will remain an ongoing process. The necessary secondary requirements are two-fold, (i) suitable organization marked by efficiency and discipline, and (ii) resources including manpower and funds. Effort has to be made to meet these two necessary requirements for the success of this campaign.
16.Q. Who can contribute to the success of this campaign, and how?
A. Anyone who is convinced of the soundness of the basic thoughts and ideas underlying this campaign can contribute to its success in one or more of the following ways.
(i) By becoming a member of the concerned organization (FCSGI or LSVS) and participate in its activities of firming up and propagating the basic thoughts and ideas of the campaign in various ways.
(ii) By donating funds for carrying out the campaign.
(iii) An adult Indian citizen can bring the campaign to its desired success and destination by voting for candidates of the political party committed to bring about the changed system of governance in India.
Q. 17 Does not the implementation of Panchayati Raj Act fulfill the objectives of this campaign aimed at decentralization of power?
A. The concept of “village republics” envisaged by Gandhi in free India or village governments as functioning in the USA is basically and substantially different from what has been instituted by the Panchayati Raj Act brought into being through a constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament in 1992. In order to make Panchayati Raj governance, which was included in the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution in deference to Gandhian prescription more effective, this amendment was brought more than 40 years after India became free or became a republic. We must however, understand the true nature and characteristics of Panchayati Raj as it has been brought into being. In this regard, the following points are worth taking more of:
(i) The Panchayati Raj is not another level of government, as the union and state governments are. In fact, it is not a government at all as per well accepted definition of a government. It is a popularly elected administrative arm of the state government delegated to carry out administrative functions in certain specified subject areas.
(ii) The State government has also traditionally its own administrative machinery to carry out those functions. As the Panchayati Raj institutions do not have their own administrative apparatus to carry out these functions, theoretically the state’s administrative machinery is supposed to be used by the Panchayati Raj for the purpose. What results in practice are the following : (a) inefficient execution due to a duality of administrative control and also conflict of administrative jurisdictions, and (b) due to continuing ethos of governance at the local level, rent seeking and corruption naturally creep into Panchayati Raj functioning.
No administrative measures or fiat can change the above mentioned inherent features of Panchayati Raj. In the changed system of governance, governance at local level as well as at other levels will undergo a cathartic change. Based on the concept that all state power emanates from the individual where sovereignty lies, village government will be the primary level of governance equipped with all necessary powers and resources, giving rise to a responsible, responsive, participative and moral governance.
Q.18 Will it not be desirable that, to start with, change of the system of governance is done on a smaller and hence more manageable scale such as a village, or a block or a district and then, based on the experience gained, replicated on a larger area or a whole state and then the whole country?
A. In general, particularly in a socio-economic-political context, the strategy of experimenting on a small scale with a view to going on a larger scale based on the outcome and experience of the experimental scale is thoroughly unsuitable and will be frustrating, to say the least. In this case, the ‘small’ is so intricately linked to the ‘large’ or the ‘whole’ that suitable conditions for experimentation cannot be created on a small scale. The conditions in the small can never be immune to those in the whole. Local governance or governance in a smaller specified area is inseparable from governance of the state or the nation. Change of the system of governance can only be attempted on the entire system and not on a part of it.
Q. 19. As the objective of this campaign is to bring about a fundamental change in the governance of the country, upsetting many familiar institutions, habits and practices, will it not be desirable to go slow or by stages or through progressive reforms?
A. Institutions that one interacts with, or habits that one forms and practices that one indulges in, all emanate from the underlying system of governance. Change of the system of governance will undoubtedly change them. Neither has one to make any effort in bringing about these changes nor has one any power to retard or arrest the course and pace of these changes. The only option one he has is to make the choice to change the system of governance or not. Also, Indian people have remarkable capacity and flexibility to seamlessly adjust to changes in institutions, habits and practices. This has been well demonstrated on many occasions in history, such as change from rule by indigenous kings to that by an overseas colonial power and to that under a democratic republic, howsoever imperfect it may be. Hence, we must understand that change of the system of governance of India is imperative, that this change will undoubtedly lead to changes in the institutions, or habits or practices we are familiar with or used to, that we are eminently able to adjust to these changes, that it is uncalled for to change the course or the pace of the change of the system of governance on this account and hence we need not worry on this score.
Q. 20. When brining about some so called progressive measures like Women’s Reservation in Legislative Bodies or Lokpal Bill takes years or even decades, taking measures for changing the system of governance of a vast country like India is likely to take inordinately long time. In the meantime, serious problems afflicting the nation like corruption or ‘maoism’ may grow progressively more serious, affecting the lives and living of people. Will it not be advisable for the nation to pay more attention and find effective solutions to these problems rather than be engaged with a nebulous, or at any rate, time-taking endeavors?
A. If this campaign for the change of the system of governance is understood fully and rightly, one must appreciate and get convinced about the following. One, all the ills affecting the body politic of India emanate from the colonial system of governance meant for exploitation of India and degrading its people adopted for free India, that these ills, which have been getting worse systematically over the last 60 years journey of the Indian republic and that no administrative or legal measures, however stringent, can ever cure them, as borne out by our experience so far. Secondly, if the existing system of governance is supplanted by the system fervently advocated by Gandhi and which is functional in a truly democratic country like the USA, corruption, ‘maoism’ and other problems of the nation will simply wither away. Thirdly, as the change of the system of governance can be brought about nonviolently, constitutionally and democratically, it can be done in a few years when the general elections are held. This will require making people aware of the campaign, educating them about the rationale for change and motivating them to play their role as a citizen to bring about the change – a task which can be easily accomplished in this age of astounding developments in information and communication science and technology. Of course, it will require an efficient organization and necessary financial and other resources. In view of the momentous mission for the nation, we of course are capable of providing these inputs.