Friday, January 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Governors & governance

Hari Jaisingh’s laudable suggestion of switching over to the presidential form of government at the centre and elected Governors in the states (“Governors and governance” Jan 17) is likely to face stiff resistance from the politicians themselves — both from the ruling party and those in the Opposition. This sane perception too will, most probably, be shelved in the same manner as have many similar ones been in the past.

Just to name a few, there were proposals concerning electoral reforms, womens’ empowerment, Centre-state relations, uniform civil code et al. The reason is simple: the switch-over, when implemented, will severely clip the wings of politicians denying them the present freedom and near immunity from public scrutiny.

Therefore, to expect a national consensus to emerge on major constitutional reforms in the present political environment doesn’t seem likely. It’s only after the majority electorate become more wise, politically mature and capable of electing the best that significant amendments to the Constitution would become feasible. That would take a long time during which we may have to suffer some more mis-governance by rickety governments. We, thus, have a difficult road ahead.

G.S. KHIMTA, Shimla


Dangerous trends

Hari Jaisingh’s article reminds me of Mussolini who says “Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy”. Due to several weaknesses and flaws in our democratic set-up, the system is now failing to respond to the new challenges.

After attaining Independence our leaders of the freedom movement held command of the country with selfless and dedicated service to the people. However, after one and a half decade, several weaknesses surfaced in the functioning of our democracy and defections took place in the Congress itself. Dangerous trends like communalisation and criminalisation of politics, corruption, nepotism along with corrosion of values erupted and governments engaged themselves in their survival rather than serving the people in the right direction. The political parties mushroomed and no single party being in a position to secure majority starts looking around for the support of other parties to form a government.

To reverse the drift in our present political system, the need of the hour is to review some of the most sensitive issues afresh in the larger context of making India functionally efficient and politically transparent. The boundaries of democracy have to be widened so as to strengthen the social and economic status of the common man and tighten the noose against the incompetent and corrupt persons, no matter how strong they maybe.

We have to examine critically the viability of the existing parliamentary system vis-a-vis the presidential form of government which is working well in the USA where the executive head is elected directly to the office for a fixed term - thus providing continuity of policies and stability of administration. Let us discard the prevailing politics of adjustment and opt for establishing a clean and transparent system. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolised.


Wastage of resources

Hari Jaisingh pleads for the adoption of the presidential form of government with duly elected Governors in the states on the US pattern and strengthening of the grassroots democracy with a “swadeshi” touch.

In the light of the nation’s experience during the past 52 years, democracy in this country appears to be derailing. There is wastage of public resources in the prevailing constitutional provisions. Perhaps, the country is being run on the strength of money and muscle power by the elected representatives.

Apart from minimum educational qualifications, the tenure of MLAs, ministers and Chief Ministers should be limited to two terms only. A period of 10 years (as elected representative) is enough time for anyone to prove his “merit”. Most of them stop meeting the common people once they are elected. They benefit only their kith and kin. There is no provision of recall. Our existing constitutional framework needs total overhauling so that the quality of democracy and the people’s representation is improved.

DR L.K. MANUJA, Chandigarh

A utopian idea

As emphasised by the learned writer, to adopt the presidential form of governance as a panacea to stem the rot in our political system, it is a utopian idea. Until the quality and character of the persons involved in the power game of our political system improves, a mere change in the governing system won’t bring about the desired results. Nothing is wrong with the present system if the men in power are dedicated to their constitutional obligations and are incorruptible!

The present process of elections is doused in black money and malpractices, will never deliver bright prospects. Mafia men, history-sheeters, tainted characters and scoundrels have found the politics a heavenly refuge. With such persons at the helms of the affairs of our country, the fate of the people can be well imagined.

The burning issues of population control, education, health, unemployment and lawlessness are put on the back burner. Instead, the ministers and bureaucrats are plundering the country as Nadir Shah did centuries ago.

Intellectuals, educated persons and men of character and integrity must be encouraged to enter the political arena. China is a much better country today with communism and we are feeling measurable under the much-hyped democracy where every individual is trying his level best to bring doom.

KARNAIL SINGH, Ranjit Sagar Dam

Elected Governors

Hari Jaisingh has made an absolute mincemeat of Mr Vajpayee’s thesis — adumbrated at the Governor’s conference in New Delhi the other day — that the Governors must play a “pro-active” role and become full-fledged participants in the development process. I fully share Mr Jaisingh’s viewpoint on the subject. To my mind, the remedy would prove worse than the disease and help aggravate matters.

The Constitution does not envisage— and very rightly so — a “pro-active” role for the Governor except, of course, in certain exceptional situations. Under normal circumstances, the functionary must act as an unobtrusive friend, philosopher and guide of the state government.

Indisputably, over the years, the system has churned out such persons as Governors as were not fit to adorn the august office. Bluntly speaking, the things have reached such a pass that the august office appears to have degenerated into a dumping ground for discarded/discredited politicians and bureaucrats. And hence the problem.

Will the elected Governors help improve the situation? Well, to my mind, no. The solution to the problem posed by the situation lies in evolving a foolproof criteria — and scrupulously adhering to it — which may help throw up such persons as Governors as are judicious, fair-minded and objective. That way alone lies the salvation of the country’s democratic set-up.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

The Modi effect on Indian polity

The Modi effect on Indian polity by Hari Jaisingh (Jan 10) makes one sit and ponder over the plight of Indian democracy. “How and why such thinking has cropped up requires a detailed study”. And study we must ab-initio.

The Great Divide ushered in a change of rulers, not a change of the rule. Instead of turning to its roots, the Indian elite went for Anglo-Saxon values. They thought by aping others they could build a great nation. They did not recognise the blood flowing through their veins for they were educated outside the shores.

Instead of building on Indian heritage, they wanted to erase, disown and discredit their centuries old heritage. They wanted to build an edifice without its concrete foundations and explicit identity. No doubt they failed.

A massive cultural river inundating the length and breadth of the country escapes the myopic vision of our new intellectuals and career-oriented scribes. Small tributaries gain relevance for them.

Article 25 of the Constitution confers “freedom of conscience and free profession and propagation of religion”. But when a majority community proclaims these constitutional rights, it is dubbed communal. When a 120-plus million conglomeration speaks against Vandemantaram in one voice, they are not communal. Ram is a hero for Indonesian Muslims, they sing paeans for Him. Imame-Hind is not acceptable here. They disown their cultural legacy.

Democracy demands compromise for co-existence. Live and let live is the clarion call of a democracy. Democracy does not remain functional if a major segment of society believes in exclusivity and remains stubborn. All are equal inheritors of this nation’s centuries old rich heritage.

Nations are not built by pampering and romanticising the minorities and side-lining and dividing the majority. Everyone is required to make a nation strong and great. Everyone has a stake in the nation’s future.

The Modi effect is not a flash in the pan, as some call it; it indeed may give a ripple effect. His is a modest attempt to integrate and save the true character of a nation.

SQN LDR KRISHAN SHARMA (retd), Panchkula.


The retreat ceremony

The other day, I accompanied my friends to the Indo-Pak border post at Husseniwalla to watch the flag lowering ceremony organised jointly by Indo-Pak securitymen every evening. A large number of people gather on both sides of the border. I had seen it some years earlier too, but nowadays I noticed certain changes in the behaviour of the men of the forces of both countries. I saw them leering and sneering at each other and making abusive gestures. This looks rather funny and ridiculous and obviously mars the sanctity of an otherwise noble ceremony giving due respect to each other’s presence and existence notwithstanding the tension and estrangement in the relations between the two nations. Sneering at each other is not the only way to show our patriotism. Is it?

Efforts must be made on parts of high officials of both countries to put an end to this kind of behaviour.


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