For the Love of writing...
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
  An experiment with Democracy.

With 23 days lost in the earlier session of the parliament to the JPC Probe demand and with the opposition still hell bent on the JPC the question is how will the most important budget session of the UPA Version 2.0 progress. After extended rounds of negotiations between the government and the opposition yielding no results time has come to propose a structural change in the manner of the working of the parliamentarians. I may not expect it to be implemented right away but at the very least I want to insinuate this idea.

A democracy structures bureaucracy such that there is a regulatory authority for every authority. On every pedestal the architects of democracy have stationed an enforcing authority. They probably could never have imagined that the parliament could ever be abused to such an extent that no business gets conducted over 23 days and hence the parliament and its members were spared of being accountable to some concrete authority but left them to be accountable only to the very vague concept of the ‘people of India’ who had no immediate enforcing power. But respect for the parliament has degraded over the years and we now need an enforcing authority to discipline the parliamentarians in cases of such prolonged adjournments.

Here is how we can structure the new authority. This new authority would be the educated and well informed population of India. Let us say, after an arbitrary period of adjourning the parliament, for example say 5 days on any one particular issue, the speaker of the house decides to go back to the people of India and take a vote from them. In this case, as in many other cases, the question is very simple. Do we need a JPC to probe the 2G spectrum scam? The people of Indian vote on a predetermined day using their mobile phones just as they vote to evict the contestants of the Big Boss house or to select the Indian Idols. Let this be a completely transparent process administered under the guidance of the Speaker of the house in collaboration with the Election Commission and the mobile companies. Let us keep as a threshold that a minimum of 5% of the population votes for this and only in such a case will the vote be considered binding. Politicians may argue that if only 5% of the population voted then it is hardly a democratic process. But it a much larger pool deciding on an issue than just the 550 members of the parliament who have been intransigent for an extended period of time which is hurting a much larger cause. The speaker then calls on either of the parties to abandon their stands and embrace the decisions of the people. The other intricate details of this system can be worked out if it becomes acceptable in principle.

A democracy has given me a right to vote for a particular candidate, but what if my candidate no longer voices my concerns? The aggregate of India would definitely have an opinion on this particular issue regarding the JPC and if the parliamentarians are unable to decide, let the people of India decide.

Would such an exercise add to the expenditure of the government as in the case of the general elections? No. Here the cost will be borne by the mobile phone users and I am sure that more than 25% of the population will be ready to bear a cost of Rs 5 per person than the exchequer bearing a 100 crore loss due to adjournment over 23 days.

Things change and get modified over time. It is time to introduce technology on a much wider scale to strengthen our democratic proceedings, at least as an experiment.


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