Saturday, August 31, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has said that the Land Acquisition Bill adopted by the Lok Sabha on August 30 fails on both counts of ensuring a fair deal to the farmer who parts with precious land and promoting industrialization and infrastructure development, the need of the hour.
In a media statement issued here today, Dr. JP said that in the guise of helping the farmer, the Bill creates all sorts of bureaucratic hurdles in the shape of committees at the district, State and Central levels for clearing land acquisition. Stipulation of social impact assessments and rehabilitation and resettlement norms make acquisition of even a small piece of land next to impossible. As a result, the farmer does not benefit, economic activity gets stalled for years and the country slides back into the license-permit raj of the 1970’s.
Dr. JP pointed out that farmers have been short-changed for decades in land acquisition for public purposes. They have been paid a pittance compared to market price by way of compensation. Even the meager compensation is often delayed. The land acquisition policy has seen land buyers becoming prosperous and land losers ending up in penury.
Land acquisition is an absolute prerequisite for industrialization and infrastructure development. India has limited land mass. We still have 40 crore acres or 11 percent of world’s total agricultural land. The land so far acquired for SEZs (special economic zones) is about 200,000 acres. The land required for industrialization and infrastructure development falls below one percent of the land available.
Any land acquisition policy against such a backdrop must ensure that farmers who lose land emerge as winners and that land is available for promoting industrialization, infrastructure development, urbanization and economic growth.
It should ensure that the farmer gets handsome compensation well above the market price. The Lok Satta welcomes the provisions in the Bill which ensure fair compensation to the land loser.
Dr. JP said that the children of farmers who part with land should be equipped with skills and provided jobs in activities that follow land acquisition. He recalled that he had the privilege of training 8000 children of farmers who parted with their land for the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and providing permanent jobs to all of them. The present Land Acquisition Bill is silent on this aspect.
Dr. JP said that the Bill is silent on another important aspect. Once land is acquired say for a project its value shoots up dramatically, up to 100 fold in some cases. Considering that, the land acquired for any project should be double that needed by the project. Half the land thus acquired should be given back to farmers after development. Under such a policy, the farmer gets not only compensation but also developed land whose value will have steeply appreciated.
Dr. JP said laws should promote risk taking and entrepreneurial activity, more so when millions of young men and women are looking for livelihood opportunities and the country is highly deficient in infrastructure and manufacturing. The land acquisition law, instead, makes the life of the prospective entrepreneur miserable and dashes the hopes of the youth.
With bifurcation of the State looks inevitable, it is time to think about future and overall Telugu people need clarity otherwise they would suffer, State president of Lok Satta Katari Srinivas said here on Friday.
The way the food security bill was passed in spite of opposition to it in the Lok Sabha was an indication that the bill on Telangana would also be pushed through and in that case several issues like status of Hyderabad, water sharing, higher studies educational centres and education, etc. must be discussed, Mr. Srinivas said at a press conference.
He blamed the Congress for allowing a volatile situation to continue and its decision on Telangana made with an eye on electoral gains as if the issue was a party or family affair. It was taken without clearing the doubts and fears of Seemandhra people. Party leader and MLA N. Jayaprakash Narayan’s repeated appeals for a thorough discussion on the bifurcation issue in the Assembly were not heeded to.
Mr. Srinivas, who addressed the press conference along with State general secretary of the party P. Ravi Maruth, secretary Bheesetti Babji and city president Naidu Venugopal, asserted the party’s stand on any agitation that it must be peaceful and should not disturb peoples’ normal life; students should not lose their classes.
Courtesy: The Hindu
Friday, August 30, 2013
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The Lok Satta Party is organizing non-partisan round-table conferences at Kakinada and Visakhapatnam on August 29 and 30 respectively to discuss the future of the State. A round-table meeting was organized at Vijayawada today.
It may be recalled that the Lok Satta Party organized the first State-level conference in Hyderabad on August 10 and discussed the aftermath of the Delhi decision to carve out a separate Telangana State.
The Lok Satta Party is trying to build a consensus on resolving contentious issues in the wake of the proposed bifurcation of the State.
State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao said that a number of leaders representing various walks of life took part in the Vijayawada conference.
In the next phase, round-table conferences will be conducted in Rayalaseema, he added.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is visiting Nizamabad district for a day on Thursday, August 29.
He will garland the statue of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan at 8-00 a.m. and inaugurate a Lok Satta Party enrolment stall in Kamareddy.
At 11-00 a.m., he will take part in National Sports Day celebrations at Meena Gardens in Banswada. Later, he will interact with farmers at Chintakunta village in Varni mandal and take part in a plantation program.
In the evening, Dr.JP will address party workers in Nizamabad.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Enlarging the discredited, ineffective, leakage-prone and corrupt public distribution system (PDS) in the name of food security is a great farce and tragedy, said Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
Commenting on the Food Security Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on August 26, Dr. JP said it is nothing but a throwback to the era of license-permit-quota raj.
Dr. JP said it is no doubt true that three to five percent of Indian people are starving for want of food. Instead of focusing on them, the Government has chosen to enlarge the PDS to cover 67 percent of people in the country. What is paradoxical is that the Government move coincides with its claim to have brought down poverty levels significantly.
Dr. JP pointed out that in States like Andhra Pradesh the PDS covers 90 percent of people. More than 40 percent of food grains distributed through the PDS are sold in black market and recycled to the Food Corporation of India. The so-called subsidy is merely lining the pockets of corrupt officials and politicians and unscrupulous traders. Payment of Rs.3 lakh for allotment of a fair price shop in a city like Hyderabad and the huge market demand for a posting expose the magnitude of corruption in the civil supplies and vigilance wings of the Government.
Dr. JP also took exception to the accent on cereals distribution in the name of food security. Malnutrition in India is mostly protein malnutrition and not calorie malnutrition. Food is available in every corner of the country. The problem pertains to absence of purchasing power and not food availability. The answer to the problem lies in distribution of food stamps to the genuinely poor.
Dr. JP referred to the 80 million tons of food grain lying in Government granaries, most of it exposed to rain and shine and rodents and said India can easily earn 10 billion US dollars if it chooses to export surplus food grain and address the current account deficit problem to some extent. Instead, it chooses to sustain the corrupt and ineffective procurement and storage system. The Government can save another 10 billion US dollars if it imposes a modest duty on import of pulses and edible oil and uses the revenue to boost indigenous production. India is today the largest importer of pulses and edible oil in the world and will be an importer forever if it does not mend its policies.
Dr. JP said that poverty can be eradicated only when the poor are enabled to improve their purchasing power. It is possible only when they are provided quality education, skills and jobs. Such a policy calls for a lot of hard work and politics of conviction. The Government, however, opts for vote bank politics by conceiving schemes like food security for most of Indians.
Dr. JP in this context referred to countries like Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam occupying the space being vacated by China in low-end manufacturing. They are creating jobs for their people and emerging as huge exporters. Instead of focusing on creation of infrastructure and jobs, India’s rulers are betraying intellectual and moral bankruptcy by harking back to the license-permit raj in the name of food security.
The food security as conceived by the Government will merely deepen the agrarian crisis in India which is witnessing tens of thousands of farmers fleeing farms as agriculture has become unviable. As a direct consequence of the proposed food security, the Government will depress cereal prices and impoverish farmers further to ensure food grain supply to vast sections at hugely subsidized prices.
Dr. JP concluded by saying that the only mantra for eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity is ‘jobs, jobs and jobs’. Palliatives like ensuring food security will not do.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Member of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Founder President, Lok Satta Party, made a strong case for moving towards an electoral system based on proportional representation (PR), in a lecture discussion at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy on August 24.
A distinguished gathering including senior officials who were involved in conducting elections at the national and State levels, participated in the nearly two-hour long interactive session.
Welcoming Dr. Narayan, Mr. N. Ravi, Director, Kasturi & Sons Ltd., and member of the Board of Management of The Hindu Centre, said that the theme of the lecture-discussion was highly relevant and timely given the “alarming rise in the influence of money on elections”.
“While the measures introduced by the Election Commission have succeeded in curbing ostentatious and overt spending on public campaigning, money has moved underground and operates by way of payments to party workers and leaders to bring in the votes, and at times by way of gifts and bribes to the voters directly. As a result, spending on elections has been rising manifold over the past two decades and the figure of Rs. 8 crores mentioned by a political leader in Maharashtra will most likely be dwarfed in 2014, raising the question if it is at all possible to fight elections innocently,” Mr. Ravi said.
Dr. Narayan, referring to the Indian public’s mounting cynicism over India’s present electoral system, strongly urged the audience to consider “proportional representation” (PR) as an “alternative electoral system” to help curb the dominance of money power and “oligopolies’’ in the political system. He argued that a PR system with a “more realistic and much less threshold of success,” combined with political regulation and complemented by honest politicians, could go a long way to clean up the mess in the current system.
The Lok Satta leader was equally emphatic in adding that strong local governments, particularly in the urban areas to start with, need to be promoted and nurtured as the tradeoffs between a multitude of taxes paid by the citizens and services delivered were a strong incentive for a win-win situation. The system works much better when the tradeoffs are well-defined, transparent and the outcomes measurable in a set time-frame, he stressed.
Addressing a gathering of journalists and members of the public, including K. Praveen Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu, D.K. Oza, former Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu, T.S. Krishnamurthy, former Chief Election Comnmisioner of India, V. Vasanthi Devi, Former Vice Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, K. Pandiarajan, Member of the Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly, Mr. T.M. Krishna, eminent Carnatic musician and M.G. Devasahayam, retired IAS officer, Dr. Narayan traced the history of how policy makers have responded to emerging challenges from the 73rd and 74th amendments that empower local government bodies to voter registration and electoral process reform, to mandatory disclosure of candidates antecedents, and political funding reforms.
Yet, the present electoral system (first-past-the-post system) itself needed change, Dr. Narayan argued. Parties desperate to capture marginal votes have led to the conversion of fringe issues into mainstream issues. He cited the Telangana issue in Andhra Pradesh and the faceoff between the OBC Gujjars and Meenas in Rajasthan as recent examples of that disturbing new trend in Indian politics.
Most voters are disenchanted with poverty, corruption and poor delivery of services, yet, instead of focusing on infrastructure, good governance and job creation, which are long term and uncertain outcomes, since the 1980s parties have started indulging in selective populist measures and freebies. Hence the spate of freebies such as mid-day meal scheme, subsidized or free grain, and televisions and mixer-grinders, he pointed out.
Dr. Narayan lamented that most election expenditure was to buy votes, so much so that not spending huge amounts almost guaranteed defeat. It is not uncommon for large amounts such as Rs.10 Crores to Rs.15 Crores being spent on elections for a Parliamentary seat, he noted. A large chunk of that money is for vote-buying and involves law-breaking and black money, he pointed out. Big money, muscle power and criminal nexus, a caste base and entrenched personal followings are often a prerequisite for electoral success. In addition, the absence of internal democracy in parties, and weak local governments make it even harder for enlightened citizens to participate in politics, he said.
Unless large amounts were spent on the political machinery and cadre and infrastructure on the ground, it is hard to win elections he said. The qualities needed for good and effective governance (such as a heightened sense of ethics and personal morality, competence, professionalism and record of service, deep commitment to public good, the ability of harmonise conflicting interests, and focusing on social needs such as infrastructure, rule of law, human development and job creation) are now at loggerheads with the qualities needed to win elections (such as vast, unaccounted supply of money for vote buying and sustaining cadres, a dedicated political machine loyal to the local leader, identification with, and recognition as, the leader of a caste / community / region, willingness to polarise the society for electoral gain and a focus on short term freebies and voters’ individual needs).
Dr. Narayan said that there was a clear crisis in electoral politics which needed to be addressed. This is borne out by the paradox of elections wherein people who are fit to govern are “unelectable” and those who are electable are “unfit to govern”.
Replying to queries from the floor, he admitted that a PR system had its limitations and had to contend with critiques that it could lead to “caste-based politics’’, but added that it was time for the country as a whole to look at other models. “Of the alternatives, the PR system is much more honest for it has a solid base” in reflecting the voices of the people, and moving towards this will require no amendment to the Indian Constitution.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) is organizing its Freedom Caravan program in Hyderabad on August 26 and 27 in association with the Lok Satta movement.
Freedom Caravan is a program that brings young people on college campuses together to explore ideas about individual liberty and economic prosperity. It is visiting 13 colleges across seven cities this year to discuss ‘Why is India Poor?’.
Mr. Parth J Shah, President of CCS, Mr. Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute and Mr. Jaithirth Rao, Venture Advisor at New Enterprise Associates (India). are among those who will take part in the program.
The caravan will highlight the importance of institutions and policies that support economic freedom. It attempts to expose young people to the moral and intellectual foundations of a free society, create an understanding of the importance of liberal policies in advancing the dignity and prosperity of the poor and create a network of like-minded individuals.
The caravan will be visiting TISS at Roda Mistry College of Social Sciences, Gachibowli, on August 26 and Loyola Academy Degree and PG College, Secunderabad on August 27.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be taking part in a lecture-cum-discussion on ‘Money power in electoral politics and campaign spending’ in Chennai from 3-00 p.m. to 5-00 p.m. on Saturday, August 24.
The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, Chennai, is organizing the discussion.
Dr. JP will be taking part in a Round Table on ‘Right to services’ being organized by the Chennai Lok Satta Party in the forenoon.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Wishing all the sisters of our State a very happy, safe and fulfilling environment for the good of their families and children on Raksha Bandhan Day, Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that women should strive to create a climate of safety, harmony and opportunity in the context of Hyderabad city and Andhra Pradesh going through a flux.
He was taking part in the Raksha Bandhan program today at the party headquarters.
Dr. JP said," We all need to do everything to promote harmony and protect the interests of all people - beyond region, caste and religion. All of us only seek safety, health and prosperity of our children, and conditions to promote opportunity and harmony."
"I give my personal pledge to all women and youth of the State and Hyderabad city that the Lok Satta and I will do everything possible to help evolve a practical and fair solution to our current problems, and to protect and promote the well-being of every single woman, child and young person.
"I invite all like-minded citizens to come forward in this vital task in these troubled days."
Lok Satta leaders Hyma Praveen, P. Bhavani, J. Ramadevi, Sreelatha, T. V. Rani, Padma and others took part in the program.
|Administrative & Establishment Expenses||11,843,560|
|Promotion & Propagation Expenses||3,045,243|
|Election Campaign Expenses||6,163,283|
|Excess of Income over Expenditure||11,148,176|
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The Lok Satta Party will be organizing public meetings in all the three regions of the State shortly to educate and enlighten people on issues arising out of the Center’s decision to form Telangana State and strive for a consensus on practical solutions.
The Lok Satta Party’s State Working Committee took the decision on holding public meetings yesterday.
Disclosing this at a media conference, Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that the Lok Satta is taking the initiative since it enjoys credibility by speaking in one voice all over the State.
Dr. JP said the present crisis in the State has arisen because the Center’s ham-handed handling of the State’s bifurcation issue. It has made people pawns in its political chess game and instigated them to fight among themselves. Its decisions are motivated by the ruling party’s desire to win a few more Lok Sabha seats and not out of love for Telugu-speaking people. Treating the State bifurcation as a party issue, the Congress Party constituted the Antony Committee instead of going in for a parliamentary or Cabinet committee to go into the issues that State’s bifurcation throws up.
Dr. JP delineated the issues that need an amicable solution. The foremost among them is ensuring physical and economic security to people living in Hyderabad. Nearly 35 percent of the 93 lakh people living in Greater Hyderabad are from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, and another 8-10 lakh people from other parts of the country. Mere reiteration of there being constitutional safeguards will not assuage their feelings of insecurity. A mechanism should be established to ensure that the right to live and work anywhere is honored in letter and spirit.
The next contentious issue is the sharing of revenue from Hyderabad city. Since the city accounts for almost half of the State’s revenue, the region(s) which lose Hyderabad will become unviable. Therefore, arrangements should be made for rational allocation of the city’s revenue among different regions.
Thanks to the implementation of the six-point formula since 1975, 95 percent of Government employees will not encounter any problems following the formation of a new State. The anxieties of the rest of the employees who work in the Secretariat, offices of heads of departments and other institutions should be addressed.
Arrangements have to be made for equitable sharing of river waters among the regions. Constitution of boards to ensure water release based on the ayacut in each region could be considered since mere tribunal awards on water allocation will not engender confidence among people.
Dr. JP also called for initiating permanent measures to ensure a bright future for the backward Rayalaseema region here and now as otherwise the problem will haunt the State in future. Perhaps, it can de designated as a distress area and special grants provided.
Dr. JP appealed to Government employees to ensure that Eamcet counseling for admission to engineering and other colleges goes on uninterrupted. A majority of students, mostly from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, could not get their certificates verified on the first day of counseling on August 19 because of Government employees’ strike.
Dr. JP said it is tragic that admissions could not be taken up even 100 days after the Eamcet and as a result the students are running the risk of losing an academic year.
Dr. JP said that Government employees whether in Telangana or Andhra are not justified in taking part in political movements by going on strike. They are held in exalted status because they are public servants. But they have no right to declare a war on people and disrupt their lives by going on strike for a political cause. Nothing prevents them from voicing their feelings freely.
Dr. JP said that political parties are instigating employees, youth and students to serve their short-term, partisan ends. The employees and others should not fall into their trap and indulge in confrontation with their colleagues.
Lok Satta Party Vice Presidents D. V. V. S. Varma, Y. D. Rama Rao and Bandaru Ramamohan Rao took part in the media conference.
Monday, August 19, 2013
“Division of Andhra Pradesh is inevitable. However, we have to find out an amicable solution to the problems that are going to crop up as a result of the recent decision to form Telangana State,” said Jayapraksh Narayan, the president of Lok Satta Party.
He was delivering a key-note address at a seminar on ‘Linguistic harmony in Indian democracy’ at Godvari Hall, Andhra Social Cultural Association, in Chennai. Jayaprakash cautioned political leaders against playing with the emotions and sentiments of people, which will further divide Telugu-speaking people in the State. “While the feelings of Seemandhra people can be understood, the situation has reached a peak level and cannot be reverted, thanks to the political and cynical game being played by politicians in order to gain a majority seats to come back to power,” said the Lok Satta chief.
The interests of Rayalaseema should also be taken into consideration while finding out a solution to the present crisis, he said. He also stressed the need to preserve linguistic harmony in the country whose secular fabric is intact because of the peaceful coexistence of people belonging to different cultures and languages.
Earlier, the supporters of Samaikandhra raised slogans in support of the unified State. The seminar was organised by Seva, a voluntary organization. It was presided over by its president D Satyaranarayana. Dr C M K Reddy, D Aneel Kumar Reddy, Adiseshayya, Puttajayaram J K Reddy, Subba Reddy, Suryaprakasha Rao and others participated in the seminar. Tanguturi Ramakirshna anchored the programme and Vijayendra Rao, general secretary of Seva, proposed a vote of thanks.
Courtesy: The Hans India
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Lok Satta Party State President Katari Srinivasa Rao today condemned the attack on Mr. V. Hanumantha Rao, MP, at Alipiri as he was on his way to Tirumala.
In a media statement, Mr. Srinivasa Rao said there is no place for personal or physical attacks in a democracy. He appealed to people of all regions to maintain restraint even as they espouse their causes.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be delivering the keynote address at a national seminar on “Linguistic harmony and Indian democracy’ in Chennai on Sunday, August 18.
SEVA, sponsored by the South India Telugu Welfare Association (SITWA), is conducting the seminar at Godavari Hall, Andhra Social & Cultural Association (Andhra Club), T. Nagar,
Distinguished people drawn from various walks of life and representing different languages are taking part in the seminar.
Prof. C. M. K. Reddy, President, All India Linguistic Minority Forum, and renowned surgeon, will be the guest of honor. Dr. Dornadula Sathyanarayana, President, SEVA, will preside.
Mr. Metla Jganmohan will be representing the Lok Satta Party at the International Conference for a Nuclear-free World being held at Beijing, capital of China, on August 23 and 24.
The Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD) is organizing the conference.
Mr. Jaganmohan is a member of the State General Council of the Lok Satta Party.
Mr. Jaganmohan will be exchanging views with CPAPD leaders on environmental problems and natural disasters in Shanghai during August 20-22.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
పార్టీ నేత, సీనియర్ జర్నలిస్టుపై కార్పొరేటర్ వర్గీయుల విచక్షణారహిత దాడిని తీవ్రంగా ఖండించిన లోక్ సత్తా
Lok Satta Party State President Katari Srinivasa Rao today called upon youth to get excited over ushering in surajya (good governance) instead of Andhra and Telangana States. They should try to become a part of the solution and not the problem by thinking clearly and observing restraint.
Addressing a gathering after unfurling the national flag at the party headquarters on the occasion of Independence Day, Mr. Srinivasa Rao pointed out that the country is mired in a crisis today because of failure to carry out economic reforms at a fast pace, decentralize administration and eradicate corruption. As a result, large sections of people have not reaped the fruits of development.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao underlined the need for providing quality education and growth opportunities to all by drawing attention to the day’ss spectacle of a section of well-dressed students sporting tricolors and another in ragged clothes hawking national flags at street corners.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that in contrast to traditional parties, the Lok Satta viewed every problem objectively from a national angle. It is seeking a comprehensive and amicable solution to the crisis plaguing the State now. He said that Hyderabad belongs to all, not merely those from Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra but also from other parts of the country. A large number of people in the city repose faith in Lok Satta’s alternative political culture.
Lok Satta Party state Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma addressed the gathering. Among party leaders who took part in the event were Mrs. N. Saroja Devi, Bandaru Rammohan Rao, Eeda Chennayya and Dosapati Ramu.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today called for a decisive course correction since we cannot afford to be complacent and persist with failed policies and dysfunctional politics.
Greeting people on the eve of Independence Day, Dr. JP pointed out that India can become an economic giant and ensure a bright future with dignity, opportunities and income for its young men and women at least in the next decade “if we learn from our past mistakes and take remedial measures.”
In a media statement, Dr. JP said: “Telugu-speaking people have been going through tumultuous times during this Independence Day even as unrest is brewing in many other parts of the country. The last decade has been one of missed opportunities, continuing misgovernance and monumental corruption. Now is the time for all of us to reflect on where we have gone wrong and why the promise of freedom and self-government is not fulfilled. We have to do many things to promote a sense of citizenship transcending caste, religion, language and region.
“If primordial loyalties are given a free rein for short-term electoral gains, the young generation will pay a heavy price. In a climate in which power has become an end, short-term freebies have gained precedence over long-term public good. As a result, the country has neglected vital infrastructure sectors like power, transport and water resources and not equipped the youth with skills to make them productive members in a modern economy.
“Because of our short-term irrational policies, we are squandering the democratic dividend at hand. If India is to become a manufacturing giant, we should create at least 100 million jobs in the next years. We can do it if only we change our policies and focus on genuine priorities.”
Dr. JP drew attention to the fact that countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand are about to occupy the space being vacated by China in low-end manufacturing and said India will miss the bus once again if it does not change its direction.
“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past decade. This Independence Day is an opportunity to reflect deeply on our potential and failures and reshape policies and politics to fulfill the aspirations of our youth.”
by Jayaprakash Narayan
Comprehensive legal and police reforms and a financially empowered local government have to be part of the solution
Disenchanted as we are with our politics and governance, it is hard for us to realise that we succeeded remarkably well in building a nation and democratic institutions. We did not always fail. We gave ourselves a liberal, democratic and inclusive constitution; over 550 princely states were integrated into India with great ease and no bloodshed; our unmatched linguistic diversity has been accommodated with great sensitivity and wisdom by the linguistic re-organisation of states and a three-language formula; even in recent decades, our federalism matured significantly with states coming into their own; and we achieved moderate economic growth while preserving liberty.
Then why have we failed in many other respects? We need to focus on our initial conditions to understand our governance crisis. Abject poverty, illiteracy, social divisions and universal franchise are an explosive cocktail. Right from the beginning there has been an inherent asymmetry of power between the poor, helpless citizen, and the public servant with a safe job, secure income and awesome power. This is complicated by poor service delivery. Bribes, red tape, harassment and delays are endemic even for simple services.
In this climate, there has been an over-dependence on politicians who seek the vote, because they alone have to go back to the people for a renewal of their mandate. Politicians should have ideally built a framework for easy, painless delivery of services with sensible incentives and accountability. Instead, they responded by creating a vast party machinery to somehow address public needs in the face of a dysfunctional, unaccountable bureaucracy. Delivery did not improve; but perverse incentives distorted the picture further. Over-centralisation added to our woes. Both the state legislator and bureaucrat thrived in a centralised, opaque system.
Three post-independence failures compounded our governance failures. First, the licence-permit-quota raj was given free rein for over three decades. In our misplaced zeal for ‘socialism’, individual initiative and economic freedom were suppressed, leading to low motivation, rise of the free-loader mentality, monumental corruption, and a stagnant economy. The issue is not capitalism vs socialism; it simply is the failure to define the state’s primary role. The basic functions of state—public order, justice and rule of law, infrastructure and natural resources development, education and health care—were all neglected, as the state sought to take on business functions, and predictably failed in both areas.
Second, halting, half-hearted efforts to decentralise power failed; we are now saddled with the unwieldy 73rd and 74th amendments, which created over-structured, underpowered, and largely ineffective local governments. Third, there was the failure to modernise crime investigation and insulate it from political vagaries.
The vote is increasingly delinked from public good, and has become a purchasable commodity, as the voter seeks to maximise short-term gains. The vast political machine initially erected to address public grievances in the face of poor service delivery has acquired a life of its own. The machine needs to be sustained by corruption and abuse of power.
Vote buying alone is not enough to acquire or retain power, as all traditional parties resort to the same tricks. In an era of competitive populism, any party which focuses on infrastructure, economic growth, education and health care, and refuses to offer short-term freebies is at a great disadvantage. As all parties offer freebies, new forms of vote-gathering are needed to gain advantage. In a diverse, tribalised society, traditional social divisions of caste, region, religion or language have become playthings of partisan politics. Divisive politics and provoking primordial loyalties pay handsome electoral dividends. The politics of unity, common good and individuation took a back seat.
Once we accept this analysis, the correctives are self-evident. We need to relentlessly pursue economic freedom and competition. Local governments and communities should be effectively empowered, and a share of tax revenues should be transferred to them. Once people are in control of their own destiny, and local independent ombudsmen are institutionalised to enforce accountability, things will change significantly. Service guarantees with citizen’s charters and penalties for non-delivery will end extortionate corruption and harassment for simple services, and create space for more rational, ethical politics. Naxals and home-grown secessionists will disappear as people get busy improving their own lives. Comprehensive judicial and police reforms will minimise the law’s delays and ensure fair treatment of all citizens.
But these are not sufficient. If politics continues to be murky, other reforms will happen at a glacial pace. Blaming politicians and parties is fashionable in today’s India, but it does not help. Parties have not taken a vow to destroy India; they are only determined to win elections and stay in power. Given our current level of democratic maturity and a flawed electoral system, parties will have to pay a heavy price to uphold values in public life. Witness Andhra, where Congress is in doldrums as it refused to surrender to Jaganmohan Reddy, or Karnataka, where BJP lost power as it refused to compromise with BS Yeddyurappa. If what is good for the country is bad for parties, we only perpetuate the status quo. We need to create the right kind of incentives for parties. Our electoral system rewards vote buying, freebies and divisions; promotes those with ill-gotten money, criminal links, and caste or sectarian base; and discourages and punishes honest, competent, public-spirited politicians.
We need to switch over to a proportional system of representation, where parties get seats in proportion to votes with certain safeguards to prevent political fragmentation. Then honesty and political survival will be compatible; real governance reform will be feasible and effective; what is good for the country will be good for politicians; the best and brightest can once again play a vital role in public life; vocal, marginalised sections will find voice; and national parties will have a national foot-print.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Courtesy: The Hans India
The Lok Satta Party described the opposition of almost all national and regional recognized political parties to imposition of restrictions on offer of freebies in election manifestos as not only improper but also undemocratic.
Apparently, the traditional parties, which have turned people into voting machines by implementing populist schemes in the name of welfare, are keen on persisting with their vote bank politics, said Lok Satta Party State Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma in a media statement.
At a meeting convened by the Election Commission of India in New Delhi on Monday, the parties contended that restrictions on offer of freebies will amount to an abridgement of their rights. The Election Commission convened the meeting in the wake of the Supreme Court directive that it initiate steps to restrict offer of freebies since the present Representation of People’s Act did not provide for it.
Mr. Varma pointed out that political parties in the past lured voters by distributing money and liquor. In the recent past, they are trying to garner votes by also promising individual benefits, No one need take exception to parties promising free education, health care and skill enhancement and free food and shelter to people like the aged and the physically challenged. But what is the point in offering free TVs, mixies, cell phones and thalis in election manifestos? The Government cannot abuse the exchequer to further its vote bank politics, said Mr. Varma.
Mr. Varma demanded that a law be enacted on the lines of the fiscal responsibility management Act to limit the money spent on welfare schemes to 15 percent of the budget. In the absence of any such limit, Governments are opting for populist schemes like food security and extending them to even the ineligible. The Union Government can offer additional incentives to States which adhere to the 15 percent budgetary ceiling on welfare schemes.
Mr. Varma also underlined the need to replace the present first-past-the-post electoral system by proportional representation. Under the present system, political parties spend crores of rupees on election campaigns and try to lure voters additionally by offering freebies at the cost of the public exchequer. People too should demand that the Government create opportunities for growth to all instead of offering freebies, he added.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
The Surajya Movement is organizing debates in select colleges all over the State on ‘Country’s problems and future of youth’ from August 12 to September 15.
The movement aims at motivating youth to work for social welfare and good governance.
The first event is being organized at B. V. Raju Institute of Technology at Narsapur in Medak district on August 12, International Youth Day.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and Surajya Movement Advisor and HMTV CEO K. Ramachandra Murthy will interact with students on the occasion.
The Surajya Movement believes that the youth, numbering 56 crore, can transform the country if they have a better understanding of social, political and economic trends. The movement is launching ‘Surajya Sankharavam’ in colleges to achieve the objective.
The movement plans to honor students and educational institutions which are in the forefront of ushering in healthy changes in society.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
A Round Table of civil society leaders, retired administrators, former judges and media luminaries today unanimously appealed to all sections in Seemandhra region to ensure that students do not lose an academic year because of the ongoing agitation against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. It also asked Government employees not to go on strike as proposed and inconvenience the very people whom they are supposed to serve.
People are free to express their opinions freely and fearlessly without resorting to violence, disrupting lives and fuelling hatred and animosities.
The Round Table wanted the Government of India to appoint an official committee in place of the ruling party panel to address grievances of all sections of people in the wake of the decision to split the State. Since wisdom is not the monopoly of only legislators or officials, the Government should associate the civil society in arriving at decisions and implementing them.
The Foundation for Democratic Reforms and the Lok Satta movement convened the non-partisan Round Table to discuss what needs to be done to facilitate a bright future for people of all the regions in the wake of the Delhi decision to carve out a separate Telangana State.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan set the tone for the four-hour-long discussions by asking participants not to indulge in a post-mortem on the decision to divide the State but focus on offering constructive suggestions. “The future is what matters and the past is inconsequential in the present context,” he underlined. He said that formation of a new State is neither a panacea nor a catastrophe since it is merely an administrative and political arrangement. But the move presented a golden opportunity for unveiling policies that transform people’s lives.
There was broad consensus among participants on the need to ensure the safety and security of people living in Hyderabad city irrespective of their origin through appropriate legal and administrative arrangements. Although the Constitution guarantees citizens the freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, there are apprehensions among large sections of people in the city on their future with which they have developed an attachment. The arrangements are necessary against the backdrop of harassment of people belonging to Kerala and Bihar in Maharashtra and those of Hindi-speaking States in Assam in the past.
The participants pointed out that Rayalaseema needs special attention because of the special problems it faces. It is deficient in rainfall, landlocked and economically backward. It now feels orphaned in the wake of the loss of a metropolis like Hyderabad. Permanent, credible and effective arrangements should be made to resolve its problems here and now so that bigger problems do not crop up in future.
Some of them felt that nothing short of formation of a separate Rayalaseema State along with Telangana answers their needs.
The participants agreed that mere formation of a State or two will not bring about a change in people’s lives unless power is decentralized, corruption mitigated if not eradicated and services extended as a matter of right.
Some participants pointed out that there is no provision in the Constitution for making one city as the capital of two States and it therefore warrants a Constitutional amendment. They also called for some sort of Constitutional arrangement for the sharing of the revenue from Hyderabad city between the two States for some period.
Some of the participants suggested formation of an independent water authority as envisaged in the Constitution to ensure fair distribution of river waters among States.
Those who took part in the marathon discussion included freedom fighter Chennamaneni Rajeswara Rao, former Justice Lakshmana Rao, K. Nageshwar, MLC, retired top officials K. Padmanabhaiah, K. Sujatha Rao, K. Aravind Rao, T. Hanuman Chowdary, K. Satyanarayana Murthy, M. Padmanabha Reddy, S.R Vijayakar, Venkata Rao, Professors Kancha Ilaiah, Madabhushi Sridhar, Sasidhar, Visweswara Rao, journalists Pothuri Venkateswara Rao, K. Srinivasa Reddy, K. Ramachandra Murthy, Kandula Ramesh, Telakapalli Ravi, N. Seetharama Raju, Devi Priya, NGO leaders and social activists J. Lakshmana Reddy, Mazar Hussain, Chalasani Srinivas, Dr. V.B.J Chelikani Rao, S. Ramachandra Reddy, Katragadda Prasuna, Putta Surender Babu, K. Chiranjeevi and P. Chengal Reddy, Lakshminarayana, Dasaradhasrami Reddy, Devi, Rev. Dr. J. Charles, K.Pratapa Reddy and Anwar Khan.