The objective of the campaign is to supplant the existing system of governance of India by a system which is truly democratic and where sovereignty of India effectively lies with its people. This will be a system which Mahatma Gandhi had advocated for and envisaged for free India to have and which was the ultimate objective of the freedom movement waged under his inspiring leadership.
The existing system of governance is essentially the same as the one designed and used by the British government for the purpose of systematically and insidiously degrading and exploiting India which was their prime colony. It was effective and efficient for the purpose as evidenced by the more than a century long persistence of colonial dispensation in India, with thousands of years of rich civilization behind it. When an Indian movement started in an organized manner with the setting up of India National Congress (INC) in 1885, it was confined largely to the upper and middle classes of Indians aimed at betterment of their conditions in general and more representation of Indians in colonial governance in particular. When a section of INC demanded later on independence for India, it operationally meant driving the British out of India, with the Indians left to rule themselves. Gandhi, however, saw things differently. Having seen the wretched conditions of the Indians, particularly of those living in the villages throughout the length and breadth of the country, he clearly perceived that they were silent victims of the system of governance imposed upon them for their exploitation and degradation. That is why, during the initial years of his entry into the national movement, he fought through non-violent non-cooperation against the unjust and oppressive laws of the government in various parts of the country, rather than against the makers and perpetrators of these laws. Through the course of events, however, when he got convinced that these laws which were part and parcel of their system of governance would remain as long as the foreign rulers whose interests were well served by them as they were designed to do so, would remain, he gave a call for them to leave India. He wanted freedom for India as that was essential for eradication of those exploitative laws. In his reckoning, freedom for India meant freedom from the exploitative system of governance. It was upon this concept of freedom that he called upon the people to join the freedom movement. When this movement culminated into attainment of political freedom for India enabling it to frame its own constitution, through a conspiracy of the machinations of the departing British government, vested interests of certain sections of Indians, lack of commitment of Gandhi’s prime followers to his ideas as well as ideals and historical and political circumstances prevailing at that time, a momentous failure occurred. A long suppressed free nation aspiring to have a ‘democratic, sovereign republic’ adopted in its constitution essentially the same system of governance which was designed and used for its suppression and exploitation for long. This constituted a blatant betrayal of Gandhi, the architect of India’s freedom and short changing of the people who made sacrifices for this freedom. The problems and perversities increasingly afflicting the body politic of India since then, such as degradation of politics and political morality, corruption, poverty and widening economic disparities and social unrest and insurgency are all direct consequences of that failure. In his unique foresight, Gandhi had apprehended that if India satisfied itself only with the change of the operators of the system of governance without change of the system of governance, the nation would fall into a pitiable condition.
This essentially constitutes the rationale of this campaign for change of the system of governance of India.
In order to proceed further in the campaign for change of the system of governance after its rationale has been explained, one must have a fair idea of what the desired system of governance is and in what ways it would be different and distinct from the existing system. First of all and most dominantly, the difference lies in the source and the structure of state power. In the colonial governance of India before India became a republic, the primary source of state power, i.e., sovereignty lay with the British Crown from which state power flowed through the British Parliament to the Govt. of India which was exercised according to the provisions of the Govt. of India Act 1935 wherein limited autonomy was granted to the states. The power structure was pyramidal with the source of power at the apex and the large base being the receiving end having nominal and minimal state power in the form of severely limited voting right. When India became independent and framed its own Constitution which came into force on 26 January 1950 and declared India to be a ‘sovereign democratic republic’, the sovereignty in principle lay with “we, the people of India” who “adopted, enacted and gave to themselves this Constitution” . However, as essentially the same of governance as provided in the Govt. of India Act 1935 was retained in the constitution, the power structure remained practically the same i.e., pyramidal, hierarchical , state power flowing from the top to the bottom, except for the following distinction . As the constitution adopted a federal structure of government with the states granted autonomy in specified areas of governance, there came into existence two distinct but interacting and inter-dependent pyramids of power structure. The bases of both the pyramids, however, comprise the people who were given the right to vote in the elections held periodically to elect the representatives of their delimited constituencies as members of their respective legislatures i.e. the state legislatures or the central legislature. The political party or the coalition of political parties having majority of members of the respective legislative forms the respective governments, i.e. the state government or the central government, which means appointing the heads of various executive departments for the respective governments from among the members of the directly elected legislatures or from the members of the indirectly elected legislative councils. Thus the ‘sovereign’ people happen to exercise the state power vested in them in too convoluted and indirect a manner to be effective. In practice, they are just reduced to the status of ‘vote banks’ to be manipulated by power seeking persons or parties by all means, fair or foul, like caste, community, muscle power and money power. Democracy is reduced to an illusion. In fact, all the constitutional aspirations of the people expressed so eloquently in the Preamble are negated by adopting an incompatible system of governance in the Constitution. One can clearly see that all the ills afflicting India such as degradation of politics and political morality, corruption in public life, poverty as well as economic disparity and social unrest and insurgency are products of this system. The policy of globalization and privatization adopted in recent decades in our national economy has not only annihilated our cultural ethos and constitutional provision for a ‘socialistic way of life but also accentuated the above-mention ills emanating from the system.
The desired system of governance of India is conceptually and structurally different and distinct from the existing one. The central point of the desired system is that an individual is the primary source of all state power which emanates like rays from the sun, from the source to various levels of governance and not the other way round as in the existing system. An analogy for such a structure of state power can be given by the agitation created by dropping a pebble in a still body of water. Waves are generated in concentric circles around the centre of agitation. Circular waves nearer to the centre are stronger in intensity with less area of coverage or influence and those farther from the centre cover more area with less intensity. The centre of agitation represents an individual, still body of water represents field of governance and the concentric waves represent levels of government. Assuming three levels of government, the concentric wave close to the individual is the village or town government, the next is the state government and the farthest covering the whole nation is the national government. The field of governance for the village or town government comprises all matters which have direct relevance to or direct impact on the lives and living of people, such as school education, primary health, village roads, water supply, and law and order, etc. Similarly, the state government may deal with those subjects that cannot be dealt with at village or town level, such as higher education, specialized health care services, state high ways, intra-state river management, agriculture, etc. While the national government will take care of such subjects of national relevance such as defense, foreign affairs, national highways, international river basin management and development, postal, communication, railways, space sciences and technology, aviation, scientific development, etc. While duplicity of responsibilities will be avoided, there will necessarily be interactions and inter-dependencies amongst the three levels of government, to be regulated unambiguously by the constitutional provisions. There may be one more level of government between the village level and the state level for facilitation of governance and there may be certain special purpose governments to provide autonomy to certain specialized services. Each level of government will be democratically elected and will have full financial and administrative autonomy to deal with their respective subjects and responsibilities. No level of government is below or above any other level. Such a system of governance will thus be conceptually and hence structurally distinct from the existing one. The power structure is not pyramidal, but in concentric circles, deriving their respective state power from the people at the centre.
The administrative and revenue subsystems will be designed to accord with this system of governance for its viability and effectiveness.
Such a system of governance will be truly democratic and the sovereignty residing in people will be in full play in governance. The various ills afflicting the nation will simply wither away in this system and a new polity and vibrant nation will emerge.
The desired system of governance is conceptually and fundamentally different and distinct from the existing one to which we in India have been accustomed for so long that we tend to take it for granted. It is difficult for us to imagine that there can be, or exists, any governance which is systemically distinct from the one we have. That is why, all our various efforts for the last six decades to treat any serious national illness like corruption symptomatically rather than systemically have miserably failed or future efforts are doomed to fail. Hence, bringing about the desired change of the system of governance of India will be a revolutionary one. A revolutionary change need not necessarily be brought about by violent means, particularly in India where such an approach does not accord with our cultural ethos and there is hardly any historical precedence or experience for this. On the other hand, India has gone through several social, cultural and political changes of great import through non-violent, intellectual and emotive ways. Hence non-violence will be the preferred creed for this campaign to bring about the desired revolutionary change.
The existing system of governance is prescribed in the Constitution of India, and hence the desired change can be brought about by the constitutional exercise of amending the constitution suitably. The distinguished makers of the Constitution have provided for ample scope for such amendments, realizing the limits of values and vision prevailing at any given time including the time of making the constitution. The Parliament, apart from its legislative powers, has also been vested with constituent powers for which two third, rather than simple, majorities in each house of the Parliament are required. Exercising this power, the Parliament can bring about any amendment in the Constitution subject to its ‘basic features’ being maintained. While legal debates about what constitutes ‘basic features’ of the Constitution have been going on, there is unanimity about the Preamble of the Constitution expressing the aspirations of the people of India and thus containing and defining the basic features of the Constitution. A system of governance is an instrument to realize the aspirations of the people as expressed in the Preamble. Through six decades long constitutional journey, the incompatibility and inappropriateness of this instrument adopted in the Constitution have been grossly demonstrated. All the aspirations of the people, including those of the architect of India’s freedom, Mahatma Gandhi, of the freedom fighters and, most of all, of the masses of India have remained utterly unfulfilled. India has been groaning under the illusions of being a democratic, socialist, secular, sovereign, republic in which justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the nation are ensured. India’s groan has been getting louder and louder since inception of the Indian Republic, which has been moving off-track from day one. It has to be brought to the right track by the right instrument, i.e. an appropriate system of governance by enshrining it in the Constitution through suitably amending it, using the constituent power vested with the Parliament.
The two houses of the Parliament, i. e., Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are constituted by members elected by the people. While the Lok Sabha consists of 550 members elected directly by the people on the basis of universal adult suffrage normally every five years, the Rajya Sabha consists of 238 members elected indirectly by the people through the directly elected members of the state legislatures for a duration of 6 years with one third of members retiring every two years.
Thus to ensure that the Parliament amends the Constitution suitably in order to bring in the desired system of governance, the people of India have to be educated and motivated about the change of the system of governance. A political party committed to this change of the system of governance with this being its dominant agenda and manifesto has to be brought into being. The Indian people, educated and motivated as indicated above, will surely bring such a political party into power at the centre as well in the states. The parliament and state assemblies so constituted will suitably amend the Constitution to bring the changed system of governance into being. Transformation of the entire structure of government, from the village to the centre, will take place through legislative and administrative actions as per the system of governance enshrined in the amended Constitution. Under this system of governance, the political party that will be instrumental in bringing about this transformation of governance along with the existing political parties in the country will lose its relevance and significance and must be disbanded and reorganized, as Gandhi had willed for the Congress Party on attaining India’s political freedom. A new polity in conformity with the new system of governance will emerge in the country.
Thus, the task of changing the system of governance of India has to be carried out in two distinct, sequent and interacting phases. Education and motivation of the people of India will essentially be done in the first phase. At a suitable stage in going through the first phase, the second phase of the task, which comprises political action and activities, will be launched, culminating into the constitutional amendment and establishment of the changed system of governance.
The task is no doubt challenging but there are many facilitating factors which will ensure its successful accomplishment, given the rationale, logic and soundness of the underlying idea. Among these factors are; (i) sturdy common sense, receptiveness and responsiveness of the Indian masses, which have been demonstrated to come into play on several historical occasions, (ii) general acceptance of democracy as the guiding principle of governance, (iii) firmly established universal suffrage, (iv) a reliable, efficient and effective election authority and (v) explosive and revolutionary advances in information and communication technologies along with their widespread mass penetration and uses.
Facilitated by these and allied factors, the road map outlined above will lead to the destination of emergence of a new India in conformity with its genius and cultural heritage.
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 exchequer in various ways an 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 than, 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 are as 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 o 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 will come into full play. Apart from qualitative improvement in the life and living of people, this will significantly 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 that is claimed to be happening at the present. 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 teaor 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. 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 Gandhi’s dreams. It will then be India to which the troubled world will once again look for guidance and enlightenment.