Choosing a Representative Government

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Abhibhushan
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Choosing a Representative Government

Postby Abhibhushan » 28 May 2020 23:26

Choosing a Representative Government

We are the most populous Democracy in the world. Democratic Traditions in our country are also traceable from ancient times. We have reestablished ourselves as a modern democratic nation in 1947 and have given ourselves a republican federal constitution in 1950. Strangely however, we always seem to form governments with people representing a minority. (Statistics are available ). Yes, that is correct over this 70 years of time.

Should we then try and rectify this situation ? That is a question that can be answered only by the government in power. However, as a citizen with some executive experience, I would like to layout a method by which better representation in governance can be brought about.

We have adopted the British style of a parliamentary government (with few changes). It enforces election on the basis of a system called First Past the Goalpost. Everyone knows that this system is imperfect but apparently we have no better system to follow. The aim of this paper is to present a modified system that would rectify the current faults that we face.

Let me list the salient points of the proposed scheme.

1. The entity in power must have the support of the majority of population.
2. All segments of the society must be represented in the ruling oligarchy.
3. The elected government must have the freedom of choice to pick talent for governance at the ministerial level from outside the political class.
4. The members of Parliament must be able to spend the majority of their time with their constituents within the constituency.
5. The system must permit the voter to differentiate between the issues that are within the jurisdiction of an MP and others that are for the MLA.
6. The system must permit the creation and maintenance of a stable government.
7. The system must minimise if not eliminate the use of, and if possible, the need for black money for election campaigns
8. The election commission will have to be strengthened to perform additional tasks


The system will have to work within the parameters laid down by the Constitution. Therefore no changes in the basic structure of the Constitution can be accepted. India must remain a multi party elected democracy through adult franchise.

Get the people’s reps into the house

The first task is to get all people who have the mandate of the masses into the house. This may seem to be a difficult task. The tools for this task however have already been created and embedded in the Constitution. We already have a system by which we identify a frivolous candidate who doesn’t really represent the people ; such candidates lose their security deposits. Therefore if we can design a system which accounts for all candidates who have not lost their their deposits, we will have a body which will be representative of more than 90% of the registered voters. And how big will that body be? From an inspection of past election data, it is seen that in most of the constituencies only two candidates manage to save their deposits. Therefore this elected body will be about 543 x 2 + x = say 1100.

The size of the house seems to be extremely large. What one has to remember is that the house} was created in 1950 when our population was only 360 million . The last time the size of the house was revised, our population was perhaps 700 million or so . The population today is over 1.3 billion. To represent all parts of this enlarged society, some increase in the size of the house is due.

Representing everyone

Enlarging the Lok Sabha and getting a larger mix of members is all very well. However, we have to make sure that every segment of the society gets represented in the Parliament. How do we make that happen? For instance how do you make sure that 30% of the MPs are women? Let us tackle the problem through mathematics. Let the Parliament decide on a list of interests that must be represented . This list can be a long list. Against each entry in the list there has to be an indication to weather this group will be represented by a fixed number of MPs or by a flexible number as a percentage of the size of the house. For example it can include
- Women 30%
- Parsi 1 number
- Muslim(Sunni) % of population
- Muslim(Shia) % of population
- Muslim (Ahmedia) 1 number.
- Sikh % of population
- Jain % of population
- Christian %of population
- Buddhist %of population
- SC % of population
- ST % of population
- OBC % of population
- Agnostic/Rationalist % of population
- medical 1 number
- legal 1 number
- Agriculture 10%
- Industrialists x Number
- Third Gender 1 Number
- Supports propagation of Sanskrit 5 number
- Supports propagation of Arabic 5 Number
- etc."


The list is indicative. Only the parliament can decide upon an acceptable list and numbers.This list can be changed only by a procedure similar to an amendment to the Constitution.

Every MP has to indicate how many interest groups s/he represents as a part of his/her declaration during application for nomination. It is to be noticed that individual MPs can indeed have multiple interests. For example an MP can be a woman, of medical profession, from an ST community propagating Sanskrit

Before the election commences, the election commission has to declare as to how many members will be selected for each of the interest groups by applying the numbers and percentages in the list of interests and applying it to the values for those groups in the latest census for a member base of 543.

After the election the election commission has to authenticate the membership of all candidates who have not lost their deposits. The election commission then will have to declare how many slots from the list of special interests have been filled by the MPs already elected. That will indicate the number of special interest protectors to be Nominated by the President.

The list of names to be sent to the President will be drawn from the list of candidates who have contested but have lost their deposits arranged in order of their popularity (votes received/total voters in the constituency) ". Each interest group will have its own list thus prepared.

If there remains vacancies then those will be filled by nomination by the national parties, proportioned by the total votes received by them nationally and then approved by the President.

How do we administer such a big Lok Sabha

A huge problem. Housing, Security, Transport support, even gathering them in a hall will pose a challenge. I do not think the present Parliament House will be big enough. However I think it is also time for us to look into the way Lok Sabha is administered.

The members of the Parliament are expected to take part in the debates that are going on in the house. Telecasts of the proceedings of the house show empty chairs in very large numbers. Members tend to stay on in the Capital perhaps growing new interests far away from his constituency even when the parliament is not in session. Lack of contacts with the constituent population causes a loss of link in the performance of the MPs duties. Congregation in Delhi also tends to enhance groupism within political parties.

To contain many of the problems associated with administration of Lok Sabha the following steps are suggested


1. Create suitable residence cum office complex in the constitutional location where two sets of residential and office buildings will house the two MPs. If a third MP gets elected/nominated from the same constituency then he can be offered temporary hired accommodation .
2. Connect the office of the MP with a high grade video-conferencing facility over a unique physical or digitally secure optical network.
3. Hold normal sessions of the Parliament on the video net.
4. Create a video control centre in New Delhi with the capability to control visibility effectively and record Divisions securely.
5. Let each member attend two sessions of the parliament in Delhi: The Budget session and any other session of his choice with the consent of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
6. Build in capability of the control centre to permit party-wise secure meetings not visible to other MPs.


These measures will permit holding of sessions of the Parliament securely without the presence of the member physically in the Parliament House.

Get the MP to Attend the Sessions

We have to cater for the possibility of the MP being away from his chair. The video conferencing software will have to record and report the actual presence of the MP to the Speaker of the house.

Let participation be easy

Now a days, the proceedings of the parliament are often noisy. Sometimes the discussions become unintelligible. In the proposed system, let the member be able to put a request for interjection on touch of a button. The chronology of interjections will be flashed to the speaker. The speaker can then address them in sequence.

The MP will have the facility to indicate his current status listening/objection/interjection/walk-out. Based on this declared status the speaker can pass the speaking position to another member.

The rules of business will have to be amended to permit this video conference as an authorised method, and to lay down the tasks and the authority of the video control officer.


The process of conducting the Elections

The election process in India is well established and has stood the test of time. Let us not tinker with that. There is however lots to be done for the process of electioneering. The present style of electioneering is very noisy. It is also very expensive in money, time and manpower. It is impossible to run election campaigns in the present style without black money. This generation of black money taints the political class as a whole. It repels many capable persons from politics.

We must change this style.

My suggested style would :

- ensure that Doordarshan has tv cover (with low power transmitters) over each and every constituency.
- with the announcement of dates for an election, these specified TV stations covering the land mass of the constituencies going to the pool will come under the jurisdiction and control of election commission. The election commission will apportion airtime for the various candidates for the full period of canvassing time. TV will be the main means of canvassing. The DD will provide a ‘per minute’ rate for the facility. The candidates will pay for the service. (Can be subsidised if the Parliament so desires )
- No road show or massive gatherings would be permitted. - No wall paintings will be allowed.
- No hoardings or banners will be permitted.
- Door to door canvassing will be permitted (encouraged?) - Use of hand bills and pamphlets will be permitted.
- Use of telephones will be permitted for canvassing with the caveat that social media forwards will be barred. Video canvassing by or for candidates will however be permitted.
- for all video or audio canvassing, the network provider must record and reveal on demand the identity of the person/handle loading the video/audio clip.
- canvassing through a sound amplifier or from a vehicle will not be permitted.
- small gatherings ( of less than 500 ) at suitable locations for invited guests may be

Under these conditions perhaps the electioneering can become less hectic or chaotic.




About Appointed Members of Parliament (aMP)

In the proposed system we shall have an undetermined number of members who would have been nominated after having fought and lost the current election or even not having fought the election at all. There would have to be some caveats on their functioning.

- They will be allowed to speak and vote
- They will not be eligible for appointment as ministers of any kind.
- They will not be appointed as chairmen or head of any committee or group of members of the Lok Sabha. They however can be members of such committee or group.
- They will be entitled for for all pay and allowances of a member except for the constituency allowance and any other allowance that the parliament wishes to disallow.
- They will be considered as independent members not attached to any political entity.
- The anti defection law will not apply to them
- Their votes will not count for Votes of Confidence.

Talent_Outside_PoliticalClass(TOPs)

For governing a country of India’s size, a large number of very talented people are needed. In India there is no shortage of talent: scientific, financial, strategic, forensic, administrative, executive, political, just about every field has adequate talent. Unfortunately many of these people do not have political / electoral talent to go with their other valuable talents. They cannot ever be elected. Since currently only elected people can become ministers, a lot of talent is wasted.

In the present system, the elected Prime Minister will have the freedom to invite talent for ministerial posts from outside the political arena.


Selecting the TOPs
- The process of selection will start with the PM officially informing the Parliament of his intention to nominate a person for a post.
- How the PM chooses a man should be left to him. He can create a ‘search committee’ if he so desires.
- after the PM announces the name, the Speaker of Lok Sabha along with the Vice Chairman of the Rajya Sabha will form a Joint Vetting Committee which will meet the person. The size of the committee can be laid down by the Parliament. (Say 8 to 10) . The members for the JVC will be drawn from the ruling as well as opposition benches of both the houses. The person will have to make a presentation to the JVC to convince the JVC of his suitability for the job. The JVC will be free to question the candidate after his presentation, but will not interrupt the candidate during the presentation.
- After the presentation the JVC will visit the PM and submit a simple position report: No objection / split verdict / negative verdict.
- If there is no objection then the process of the candidate’s induction into the cabinet will begin.
- If there is a split verdict then the JVC report will be forwarded to the cabinet. The PM, after he has discussed the matter in the cabinet, will decide about the induction. His decision will be final.
- If there is a negative verdict for the induction proposal, the PM cannot proceed with the proposed induction. However, he can renominate the person once, after 6 months of first rejection, if he so desires.

Ground Rules for TOPs
The proposed TOPs won’t be elected members of the Parliament. Therefore, their authority as well as their functional limitations in the parliament will have to be clearly defined. While these boundaries will have to be defined by the Government, I have some suggestions.
- TOPs will be appointed as either MoS or Cabinet ministers with similar pay and allowances.
-TOPs will not get allowances disallowed for aMPs.
- TOPs will be treated as Ministers with all the privilege and all the limitations.
- The Prime Minister will be free to allot the charge of any or many Departments to a TOP.
- They will be required to attend relevant sessions of both the houses, Listen to the views expressed by others, answer questions relevant to his ministry, and make policy statements as required.
- A TOP will be answerable to the PM through any senior minister if applicable
- The PM can dismiss a TOP from his job with or without financial compensation as approved by the government rules.
- There will have to be a limit of how many TOPs can be appointed. I suggest the limit to be 10. It will not be necessary for the PM to appoint all TOPs at once. Here may be some opposition to the concept of TOPs from the political parties and some pressure to reduce the limit of TOPs to a smaller number. Remember, the size of the Cabinet is limited and TOPs will take away posts from the political class.

- The appointed TOPs will be treated as a part of the treasury bench. Their appointment will go into suspension if the Government falls. The new PM or temporary PM can ask them to resume work. Without such invitation their appointment will cease and they will be entitled for full financial compensation for separation.



Pros And Cons of the proposal

Firstly the cons :
- The proposal is for a major deviation from existing well established procedure. A lot of opposition to the proposal will be expected.
- Implementation of the proposal will involve substantial initial capital expenditure. Money will have to be found.
- Implementation will also inflict doubled revenue expenditure. Once again money will have to be found.
- Bringing in the Election Commission with an expanded mandate may be opposed.
- Not being in Delhi may be a disincentive for some MPs.
- The parliament will become dependant on the audio video networks. Some people are frightened by technology.


And then The Pros

- The proposal will take away the need to randomly earmark constituencies as ‘ ‘Reserved’ without harming the principle of wide and equitable participation in the parliamentary process.
- It is likely to induce political parties to field more women and minorities in the hope that even if the candidate did not win the main contest, the s/he will still have a chance of being nominated.
- The candidates needing ‘positive action’ support will now be free to contest from any seat rather than be bound to random constituencies selected as ‘Reserved’.
- Women and minorities will be in the Lok Sabha in much larger numbers.


Creating and sustaining a stable government.

Now that we have examined the revised structure of the proposed Lok Sabha, have examined the methods of filling that structure with the wanted class of people, and have examined the likely advantage and disadvantage that implementing the proposal will entail, let us now examined whether we would be able to form a stable government that has the ability to fulfil their election promises.

- If there is to be a coalition of parties to fight a general election, the agreement for coalition partners must be signed and presented to the Election Commission before the first constituency goes to poll. The agreement must include a Common Minimum Program (CMP) as an attached document. In their electioneering campaign there can be no canvassing for any promises not contained in the CMP.
- No post poll alliance will be recognised
- Before the commencement of election procedure each National party will nominate 5 persons as their reserved bench strength. These gentle persons will be required to submit their application for nomination, from NewDelhi , with their constituency being declared as ‘Supplementary’ . No limit of residency will apply to them.
- If one party or combination emerges as a clear majority then that party or combination will be called upon to form the government
- If no party or combination emerges with a clear majority, then the President will call upon the leader of the National Party which has the maximum number of Winning candidates to form the government.
- On being called upon to form the government, the wining National party will induct their reserve bench members to the Lok Sabha as full fledged MPs. These additional 5 MPs should bring stability to the house.
- After the formation of the government , the PM will be free to start inducting the TOPs of his cabinet. As the TOPs will have power to vote in the house, the treasury benches will be strengthened.
- There will be a lock-in period of 2 years during which no ‘No Confidence’ motion can be tabled
- For a No Confidence motion to be tabled, a proposed replacement government with names of proposed Prime minister and other ministers of cabinet rank must be agreed upon by the non-governing parties to the satisfaction of the speaker.
- It is for the Parliament to decide whether an MP who has lost the Election or has not fought the election at all can be offered a ministerial post (Does not apply to TOPs.)

Before we close this ideas box, let me summarise and add a few comments:

- Structurally we deny ourselves the possibility of being governed by the majority
- A restructure is suggested to remove the weakness.
- The suggested restructure is implementable
- The core of the suggestion is to fill the Lok Sabha with every candidate who has managed to save his deposit.
- Prepare a list of desired reservations.
- If reservation required is not filled automatically then fill them from the people who have failed to save their deposits, arranged in order of their local popularity (Votes Received / Total votes cast in the constituency).
- If even this source is insufficient then let the remaining reserved seats be filled by nomination by the National parties shared in proportion of their popular support ( Total Votes Received Nationally / Total Votes Cast Nationally )
- If the proposal looks outlandish, it can be tested by the Election Commission doing an easy paper exercise, applying the suggestions to the results of the last four general elections.

Abhibhushan
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Re: Choosing a Representative Government

Postby Abhibhushan » 28 May 2020 23:31

The post above is purely my thoughts on a subject that some (many ?) Rakshak may like to discuss. If no interest is generated the Admin may please delete the thread.

Rakesh
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Re: Choosing a Representative Government

Postby Rakesh » 29 May 2020 03:21

Great post sir. Wow.

This one is a keeper. I am sure interested members would love to discuss.

Abhibhushan
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Re: Choosing a Representative Government

Postby Abhibhushan » 29 May 2020 19:32

Thanks Rakesh. However,no nible on day one :)

SBajwa
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Re: Choosing a Representative Government

Postby SBajwa » 30 May 2020 12:57

The size of the house seems to be extremely large. What one has to remember is that the house} was created in 1950 when our population was only 360 million . The last time the size of the house was revised, our population was perhaps 700 million or so . The population today is over 1.3 billion. To represent all parts of this enlarged society, some increase in the size of the house is due.


The house was frozen in 1970s as the states that have controlled their population would get reduced representation and the states like Bihar and UP will have maximum number of MPs in Lok Sabha.

The British parliament was designed to take the money from poor to king. Indian parliament just replaced the king with a president while the British system is basically the same. Central government gets taxes from all over India and then allocates them back to states based on some forumula.

I would go back to our ancient system where Panchayat is strengthened with

1. Right to collect tax.
2. Right to hire/fire doctor/teachers/police officials/etc based on the village needs.
3. Right to give contracts for the village infrastructure development.
and so forth.

Democracy at village/block level in India does not have enough power.

At center I would make at least these totally independent centers with checks and balances

1. Prime minister/president who gets 4-5 years of absolute power and does not live in fear of losing his government.

2. More power to the speaker of the houses with totally independence. and speaker could be from any of the parties with elections inside house.

3. Independent Judiciary.

4. Independent election commission.

and so forth.

Abhibhushan
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Re: Choosing a Representative Government

Postby Abhibhushan » 31 May 2020 22:12

Bajwa ji. Thanks for the response. What you say is of course true. Even the makers of the constitution spoke at length about gram Swaraj and panchayats. At that time the opposition from the PM was strong. The elders allowed the matter to pass with a mention of the subject into the guiding principles.

A lot of water has flown down the Ganga. We have instituted some form of panchayats raj. We all know that what we have managed to have is far from the original concept.

The present paper is not about panchayati raj at all. I have only presented an idea how some of the weaknesses of our electoral system could be removed within the parameters of the constitution

Introducing the original concept of gram Swaraj will need a lot of change in the constitution. That we can consider when we are ready. Presently should we not remove known weaknesses that we can remove?

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Re: Choosing a Representative Government

Postby Rishirishi » 02 Jun 2020 03:45

I do not think the greatest challenge is system design. I think the main problem revolves arround self interest by almost all. It starts with the electorate selling their ballot ticket for a bottle of wiskey and continues to the Government officials, Businesses and even the Press. Yes, the press, the first thing they will do when they find some potential scandal, is to demand money from the ones involved.

I think a way forward can be to dissolve the states and transfer all the power to small local governments to take charge of Schools, local roads, local hospitals, local civil services. The small government would should have traveltime of max 30 min.

The central government should appoint committees that take charge of departments like
Finance, Law and order, National transport, Universities, Power, Defence, water, etc-

large metropolis like Mumbai, NCR, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hydrabad should become UT.

I think the steps taken in Kashmir is a good one. They have dissolved the state and transferred power to small local governments.


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