Monday, December 26, 2016

Scrap Janmabhoomi panels, demands JP

Visakhapatnam: Lok Satta national president N. Jayaprakash Narayan has termed the Janmabhoomi committees formed by the TDP government as unconstitutional and demanded that they be scrapped.

At a press conference here on Saturday, he said duly elected bodies should be allowed to do their work.

Forming the committees to which funds were released was murdering democracy, he said.

“How would the State government react if the Centre formed Matrubhoomi committees and released funds to them instead of the State government?” Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan asked.

While NTR floated TDP in true federal spirit in defiance against the ‘dictatorial’ tendency of the Central government, he was at a loss to understand forming Janmabhoomi committees by the Chandrababu Naidu goverment setting aside duly elected local leaders.

Just as the Centre was giving 42 per cent funds to the States, funds should be given to local bodies. For every district an ombudsman -- a retired judge or a senior official -- should be appointed to ensure that there was no corruption, he suggested.

GVMC polls

He pointed out that whether it was the Congress or TDP, elections were not held for years together to the municipal corporation in Visakhapatnam. The term of the elected body to GVMC expired in 2012.

He called for strict implementation of the Supreme Court orders not to locate bars within 500 meters of the highway. Lok Satta has been demanding it for a long time. India topped in the world in deaths in road accidents and most of the victims were youth, he pointed out. Drinking in public should also be prevented and it would improve law and order and safety of women. The Lok Satta founder was here to participate in the Good Governance Yatra of Vision India Foundation.

Courtesy: The Hindu

జన్మభూమి కమిటీలు రాజ్యాంగ విరుద్ధం

అంధకారంలో ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్

జన్మభూమి కమిటీలు రాజ్యాంగ విరుద్ధం

జన్మభూమి కమిటీల పేరుతో రాజ్యాంగ విరుద్ధంగా పనులు: జేపీ

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Common people suffering for no fault of theirs, says JP

VISAKHAPATNAM: Millions of common people are suffering to exchange their hard-earned money due to the “incompetence” and “bungling” of the Narendra Modi Government after demonetisation of high denomination notes, Lok Satta Party founder Jayaprakash Narayan has said.

“I had campaigned against black money decades ago and readily welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement on November 8. I thought that demonetisation was announced after taking adequate steps to ensure ready availability of new currency,” he told a media conference here on Sunday.

Though Mr. Modi’s intentions could be noble, the common people should not be allowed to suffer for the fault of the government. The general public were still supporting the Prime Minister despite their own difficulties as they feel that corruption would end in the long run.

Honesty and truthfulness were the basic pre-requisites of any individual, but Mr. Modi was being projected as a messiah of truthfulness for his demonetisation move.

Though the economy had suffered a setback due to non-availability of cash, corrective steps should be taken to put it back on track at the earliest.

Describing real estate, government offices, and elections as the “biggest drivers of corruption,” Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan suggested that the government reduce the stamp duty and registration charges on land, besides ensuring “realistic” land prices.

The services of corrupt government officials should be terminated and ‘service guarantees’ be given for different works at government offices to ensure that people do not have to bribe the officials to get their work done on time, he said.

Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that the government was trying to bring new laws on corruption to punish the “bribe-givers” while giving a long hand to the “receivers of bribe.”

The proposed laws prescribe jail terms for the ‘givers’ while the ‘receivers’ could not be punished, without prior permission of the government.

Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that it was an open secret that MPs and MLAs were spending crores of rupees to get elected. The process to revamp the system should begin at least now.

Replying to queries, he said that personal honesty of the Prime Minister was not enough.

“I am least interested in any political party and my only concern is that people should not suffer. At least now, the government should allow cash to reach the common people.”

He opined that the cashless economy could not be brought overnight with a mere 80,000 banks working in 15 lakh villages. Then, there was the problem of cyber crime.

Learn from turmoil in Tamil Nadu: Jayaprakash Narayan

Monday, December 19, 2016

7 జిల్లాలకు హోదా అడుగుదాం

స్థానిక సంస్థల బలోపేతంతోనే ప్రజాస్వామ్యం మనుగడ

నోట్ల రద్దుతో నల్లధనం అంతం కాదు

రాయలసీమ, ఉత్తరాంధ్రకు ప్రత్యేక హోదా ఇవ్వాలి

అద్భుత ఆలోచనలు వెలుగుచూస్తాయి

ప్రజల్లో మార్పు రావాలి: జేపీ

ప్రజల అవసరాలు ఆకాంక్షలు గుర్తించాలి - లోక్ సత్తా వ్యవస్థాపకుడు జయప్రకాశ్ నారాయణ్

తెలుగు రాష్ట్రాలకు తమిళనాడే గుణపాఠం: జేపీ

Friday, December 16, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

3 Weeks After Demonetization, Five Practical, Rational, Effective Steps That Need To Be Taken To Curb Black Money

Demonetization is a difficult, massive operation. Now that the government has taken this major initiative , the people are very receptive to all  major reforms. Excessive empowerment of tax officials letting loose Inspection Raj and overregulation in license-permit Raj created black money and corruption in the first place.  Therefore relying on these methods will be a recipe for disaster.
What then are the practical, rational, effective steps that will radically transform the way citizens look at tax laws, the public servants behave, and government acts?  Here are the five doable things along with this massive exercise of demonetization touching the life of almost every citizen.
1.Service Delivery
Taxation without commensurate services is only legal plunder.  Our tax rates are comparable to most countries at 30% of top rate.  But services people get in return are appallingly bad.  Our infrastructure, water, sanitation, storm water drainage, education and healthcare are among the most unreliable and sub-standard in civilized world.  On top of this, for almost all basic, paid services citizens are entitled to, people are forced to pay a bribe to avoid delays, repeated visits, harassment, humiliation or denial of services.  In most cases, a ration card, birth certificate, income or caste certificate, land records, registration of a sale deed, water connection or power connection cannot be obtained without a bribe.
Immediate enactment and effective enforcement of a Public Service Delivery law which guarantees services in a fixed time, and compensation is paid for every day’s delay will improve citizen satisfaction, give fair returns for taxes paid, and enhance trust between people and government.  Considering that it is the poor and middle classes who suffer most from poor service delivery, this step will improve lives for the bulk of the people at no additional cost and will reduce the ubiquitous, day-to-day petty, extortionary corruption.
2.Tax Rates
Considering the appallingly poor quality of basic services provided by government, our tax rates are high.  Now that unaccounted money is going to reach the banks, government can safely reduce tax rates in a revenue-neutral manner.  Taxation without services cannot be tolerated in a democratic society, and it soon degenerates into legal plunder and extraction under duress. The best way to raise tax, GDP ratio and ensure willing compliance is to reestablish the link between taxes and services.  Three measures are vital to ensure willing tax compliance of citizens:
a). An immediate reduction of top rate of income tax in a revenue neutral manner – by say 5%.
b). Fair tax assessment, and non-discretionary application of tax laws so that harassment and corruption of tax officials are a thing of the past.
c). Devolution of resources to local governments – especially in urban areas – where citizens see where their money is going, along with encouragement to raise local taxes based on services and accountability institutions to prevent abuse.
3.Real Estate Reform
Real estate reform is long overdue.  Many honest farmers and salaried middle classes are forced to deal in cash transactions without any benefit to them.  Three simple steps by union and states together will eliminate black money in real estate in a revenue-neutral manner.
a). Increase basic valuation of land and property to reflect 75% – 80% of current market price
b). Reduce stamp duty in a revenue neutral manner, so that buyers can show real value and pay fair duties and government does not lost revenue.
c). Reduce capital gains tax from 20% to 10%, which will be revenue neutral as the actual market value will be reflected in the registered sale price.  When long term capital gains are not taxed in stock market, it makes no sense to tax 20% of capital gains on urban housing when most often replacement cost is high, urban land values keep rising, and most people invest life’s savings in a house or urban property.
4.Collusive Corruption
Once small corruption is reduced by service guarantees and localized, accountable exercise of power, the grand, collusive corruption needs to be confronted. In grand corruption, both bribe giver and bribe taker collude to defraud the public, undermine competition, cause loss to exchequer, appropriate natural resources, provide low quality public good and services or damage the environment. If this collusive corruption is not addressed swiftly and sternly, corruption will shift from cash to assets, and deposits in foreign accounts will soon become the habitual medium of corruption. Three practical steps are needed to address grand, collusive corruption.
a). Withdraw the unwise amendments proposed in anti-corruption law – they make 3-year prison term mandatory for ordinary citizens compelled to pay bribes for services they are entitled to, and give protection to all bribe takers at all levels from even police investigation into corruption without prior government approval. Instead, grant full immunity to citizens who are forced to pay a bribe for what is their due, and give protection to those public servants who are subjected to vexatious investigations – those related to policy advice and policy formulation at government level, or bona fide decisions taken in compliance with government policy.
  b). Compulsory retirement of at least 1000 senior officials with known record of immense corruption and misgovernance. Government has power to retire them after 50 years of age or 25 years of service without assigning any reason. But for this step to be truly effective, government should identify the worst offenders without fear, favour or prejudice, and must be utterly fair, and objective in its decisions. Otherwise, it will only lead to more damage than good.
  c). Bring in a law to curb corruption similar to SAFEMA, 1976 intended to curb smuggling and foreign exchange manipulation, and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1988. The SC suggested that such a law should be enacted to curb corruption. In this law, there should be three key provisions – confiscation of all property, including benami properties; mandatory jail term of 15 years or more; and reversal of burden of proof once there is prima facie evidence.
5.    Systemic political reform to end vote buying
All these steps listed above will help a great deal in curbing black money and corruption. But they cannot be sustained for long unless we stop vote-buying and vast, illegitimate expenditure in elections.
In a cycle of 5 years, nearly Rs.100,000 crore (one trillion or one lakh crore) is spent illegitimately in elections at national, state and local levels. Such a system cannot be sustained without a ten-fold returns to those who are elected to office. That means political corruption of the order of Rs. 10,00,000 cr (ten trillion).
This political corruption is mediated by contracts, licenses, natural resource allocation, interference in rule of law, and most of all transfers, postings and key placements. In return, much of the vast machine of bureaucracy that has paid for transfers, posting and placements and the entrepreneurs who bribed to get licenses, favours, loans or natural resources, have to either indulge in corruption for returns on investment, or suppress revenue and evade taxes to make a profit in a business venture.
We need the following three systemic reforms to alter the incentives for candidates, parties and voters.
a). Proportional Representation in States
The requirement of marginal vote in the winner-take-all first-past-the-post system is at the root of vote buying in our country.In the quest for winning votes, most major contenders for power – candidate and parties – are forced to spend lavishly and buy votes. Vast, unaccounted expenditure has become the necessary entry fee for serious electoral competition. it had become a huge entry barrier, has distorted political competition and incentives in politics, has attracted wrong kind of people and repelled most of the public-spirited citizens, and created a system of corruption, bad governance, cynicism and under-performance.
If we allocate seats in proportion of the share of votes of a party in a state, then marginal vote is not vital; winner does not take all; there is no desperation to buy votes; ethical groups and parties will have voice; consensus becomes necessary in governance; representation is available to all views; and ethical politics and entry of truly public-spirited citizens become assets, not liabilities for parties.
There are various models of such Proportional Representation (PR). But simple, state-based models with a reasonable threshold of vote requirement to prevent excessive fragmentation, and multi-member constituencies to continue link between people and their representative will work best in Indian conditions.Such a PR system is technically easy to introduce – it only requires a change in law.
b). Direct Election in States
Now that there is a vigorous debate about simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, the best way to accomplish that goal is election of the head of government in states by the people in a direct election, with clear separation of powers, fixed tenure, term limitations, and the freedom to appoint the cabinet from outside the Assembly. In a large, aggregate election in the whole state, the risks of vast investment in vote buying are too high, and rewards are too low. Therefore leaders and parties will depend on the personality, character, record and credibility of the candidate, and the agenda, rather than on vote-buying. At the same time, as the legislative majority is no longer necessary for the survival and functioning of the executive, the profit making opportunity of the legislator diminishes substantially (he can no longer pressurize government for transfers, contracts and other favours). Therefore, the risk of high investment in vote-buying becomes unsustainable, as the rewards are few. The whole system will go into a virtuous cycle, and black money and corruption will decline significantly.
c). Accountable, Empowered Local Governments
Well-designed, accountable local governments are where people can see the links between their vote and personal outcomes (very similar to residents’ welfare associations – RWAs), and between taxes and services. Also in empowered local governments authority can be fused with accountability, and there will be clear lines of accountability and no alibis for non-performance or failure. If we allow the local governments to be the real third tier of governments with clear separation of functions listed in the Seventh Schedule, and with a definite share of devolution on par with states through Finance Commission, our democracy will undergo radical transformation and vote buying, black money and corruption will be reduced substantially. We also need strong, independent, empowered local ombudsman, so that the pervasive culture of corruption and mis-governance does not destroy local governments before a virtuous cycle can be established.
All these five fundamental reforms – service delivery, tax rates and administration, real estate, grand collusive corruption and electoral system – are achievable and within reach. The demonetization is a difficult, massive operation. Now that the government has taken this major initiative, the people are very receptive to all these major reforms. All we need are clarity of purpose, a sense of strategy and deep insights into how free societies operate. If these steps are proposed by the government, and the first four easy, popular steps are implemented quickly, the conditions for the major political reform with popular will and broad consensus would be created. Time is of the essence. If this priceless opportunity is squandered by inaction or arbitrary action, we may not recapture the momentum for positive change for a long time.
*The author is the founder of Lok Satta movement and Foundation for Democratic Reforms.

Courtesy: The Logical Indian

More decentralization and more democracy

In India, for our size and diversity, we probably have the smallest number of final decision-makers—the prime minister, the chief ministers and occasionally the district magistrate or the Supreme Court.

India embraced universal franchise in a daring and unusual way. Until then, no other poor nation with no real experience of democratic institutions opted for universal franchise from its inception. It is a tribute to our leaders of the time that they successfully built functional democratic institutions. As a result, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, freedom has been preserved, peaceful transfer of power through the ballot has been institutionalized, a successful and mature federalism has evolved, unity has been strengthened in a complex, multi-ethnic, caste-ridden, multi-lingual society, and moderate economic progress has been witnessed.

However, we could have done a lot better. There is too much gap between our potential and our achievements, and relative to other comparable nations, we have fallen far behind. Some people tend to blame our failures on our democracy. They look at mighty China or successful Singapore or modern South Korea and lament that too much democracy and politics held us back.

They are wrong. There is no substitute to democracy, and the failings of democracy can only be overcome by more democracy, not extinguishing liberty.

Look at a residents’ welfare association: All households pay the maintenance cost (taxes), they expect commensurate services (security at the gate, proper parking, functioning elevator, regular water supply, decent internal roads, efficient drainages and sewerage and, in general, value for money), bring pressure to improve common amenities, elect competent people who can deliver, and hold to account the managing committee. In other words, clear links are established between vote and common benefits, maintenance costs (taxes) and services, and authority and accountability. Democracy works optimally and produces sensible outcomes.

It is said that the US has the largest number of final decision-makers; the sphere of authority may be limited, but it is finally subject to constitutional liberties. In India, for our size and diversity, we probably have the smallest number of final decision-makers—the prime minister, the chief ministers and occasionally the district magistrate or the Supreme Court. Such a centralized system in a democratic milieu is bound to be dysfunctional.

Every great accomplishment in India was a result of local or sectoral initiative and leadership, delegation of power and devolution of resources with accountability. Take the success of the Indian Space Research Organization, the milk revolution engineered by Verghese Kurien, the green revolution, the remarkably efficient conduct of elections, disaster relief, management of VIP visits or the many isolated successes of great innovators and public servants that serve as best practices for replication—all are products of horizontal or vertical delegation, local leadership, fusion of authority and accountability, and active and sustained participation of stakeholders.

Our lip sympathy for democratic decentralization has never reached full fruition. While states today are stronger and more autonomous in a federal polity than ever before, the governance structure of states is controlled by the Constitution with no local flexibility. In no other democracy does the federal Constitution dictate the manner of election of the executive or legislature and the structure of bureaucracy at state level, or the constitution of local governments.

While perfunctory efforts have been made to establish local governments, they only resulted in over-structured, underpowered, feeble and ineffective local governments. The state legislator and the senior bureaucrat have become arch enemies of local governments, feeling threatened by their rise. Even the otherwise impressive Finance Commission is only allocating paltry grants to local governments, and despite their constitutional status, there is no assured share of Union and state tax revenues to them.

There is no reason to have romantic notions about local politicians and bureaucrats. Rapacity, vote buying, corruption and incompetence are as pronounced at the local level as they are in larger tiers. The only answer is effective empowerment, devolution of adequate resources, and strong, independent local ombudsmen to enforce accountability. Only then will citizens value their vote, learn from their mistakes, pay the price for bad decisions and mature as real stakeholders in a democracy.

Decentralization is not merely for local governments; it extends to greater flexibility for states within the boundaries of constitutional freedoms and the unity and integrity of India, and the empowerment of all kinds of stakeholders from cooperatives to schools, local housing colonies to self-help groups.

Today, citizens often pay bribes for public services which are their right; our water, power, roads, drainage, education and healthcare are of appalling quality; most of our tax money is squandered and whoever is elected, there is no real perceptible change. Our leaders asked the British to leave on the ground that good government is no substitute to self-government. Today the struggle is between centralized, bad government and self-government. There is no contest.

Jayaprakash Narayan is the founder of the Lok Satta movement and Foundation for Democratic Reforms.

Published as part of a series on the book Liberalism in India: Past, Present and Future published recently by Centre for Civil Society. The book is a collection of essays written in honour of the late S.V. Raju.

నీరు ఎలా అందిస్తారూ.?

నోట్ల తరహాలో రిజర్వేషన్లపై చర్యలు చేపట్టాలి