Friday, September 12, 2014

Let us think and Act with an open mind to
Develop a Vibrant Democracy – Article 13

Introduction: I have identified thirty obstacles which cause a distorted and ineffective democracy and possible solutions for these. Because very few people have time / inclination to read long articles, these are presented in separate brief articles for pointed attention and easier assimilation. I hope this will lead to spreading of awareness and facilitating point by point debate on each of these for saving our sinking democracy.
(Please keep these articles within easy reach for referring back till the series is completed.)

Large states -  a hindrance to democracy

Efficient administration is virtually impossible in large states. For example, a minister or head of department in a large state will not have time (without neglecting other work) to make adequate number of visits to all districts for discussions, supervision etc. even once a year. Many aspects of good governance will suffer in many parts of a large state in the absence of frequent intensive supervision which is essential for efficient administration. Due to such inadequate attention by government machinery, people in some parts of a large state feel that they receive only step motherly treatment. Moreover, people in many parts of a large state are unhappy that they have to waste more time and money to visit the capital of the state to sort out their problems with government. As a result of such inadequate interaction between government and people, large states are less efficient in satisfying the needs and aspirations of people.

Diversities are more common in large states. The resulting intra state rivalries between different identity groups have made functioning of democracy more difficult and ineffective in large states.  

Dissatisfaction and frustrations within various identity groups is increasing day by day in large states. This has led to increased conflicts and disintegrating tendencies. Because of pent up deep dissatisfactions and frustrations people in large states have often resorted to acts of violence even at the drop of a hat. Other law and order problems also become more difficult to handle in large states.

All these show that democracy will function better if we divide the country into optimal small states. USA with much smaller population has many more states!! Following this example of a modern flourishing democracy it is worthwhile for India to have more than 50 states. The situation is so bad that some states have large populations which exceed the population of some countries!! Because of a laissez-faire attitude, our democratic Parliament and government have not given thought to improving our democracy by having optimal small states only.

Disgusted identity groups have been mounting pressure again and again for carving out small states of their choice from large states.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Government has not realized that such disgusts have mounted up in many parts of a large state only because of its callousness or inability to carry out investigations throughout the state to ascertain the reasons for these and to educate and pacify people. Hardly any attempt has been made to ascertain the will of the people in different areas spread across large states because of a defeatist mentality arising from the enormity of the problem. Due to inadequate attempts to tackle or meet aspirations of people, violence and terrorist activities had steadily increased in many parts of large states. After prolonged delays which had caused lot of heart burn and violence resulting in destruction of properties and even life, government was forced to ultimately carve out small states out of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Yet, government is not prepared to see the writing on the wall. It has not cared to apply its mind to ascertain the optimum size of a state to have a successful democracy in different demographic situations.

Despite facing many problems, government does not have the vision to apply its mind to carry out studies to foresee possible divisive and destructive developments and act to forestall unhappy events or to understand the emerging needs and aspirations of local people.

As pointed out in Article 6, government considers listening to people as a sign of weakness instead of strength of a democracy. This intolerant attitude is anti-democratic and shows a know-all dictatorial approach. It proves beyond doubt that government gives only lip service to democracy and do not at all care for democracy, while ironically boasting that it functions as a democratic government. It has not realized that the real strength of a democratic government lies in its ability to (1) listen to people, (2) accept useful ideas and (3) act on these with vision and commitment.

Because of a laissez-faire attitude, it blindly waits for things to happen and adopts in haste only haphazard piece meal approaches, that too after allowing agitations to build up and cause damages. It has not cared to study the advantage of forming small states in a democratic manner before agitations come up. It refuses to recognize the realities and is hanging on to straws (like a drowning man), with a conservative approach.

Large states have more MPs and are able to put more pressure to derive additional benefits for their states or to block developments in other areas to spite their neighbours and to show off their superiority. This makes people in smaller states unhappy. Such biased treatments which give better opportunities to some people and treat the others with a step motherly attitude are against the principles of democracy.

Thus, having large states causes dissatisfaction among people in both large and small states and results in an unsuccessful democracy.

These aspects form the twenty-first and most serious obstacle which resulted in a distorted and ineffective democracy.
To overcome this serious obstacle, another States Reorganization Commission should be set up immediately with definite instructions to ascertain the optimum size of a state to have a successful democracy in different demographic situations and carve out small compact states (may be with approximately two crore population each to have more than 50 states) which can satisfy the needs and aspirations of different identity groups to the maximum extent possible. Emphasis should be on creating a true democracy to satisfy people by having more homogenous small states. Additional expenditure required to set up and maintain these states should not stand in the way of having a true democracy. People want government to spend public money to meet their needs and aspirations and not according to its whims or to waste as at present. Moreover, it is pertinent that with more states, while over head expenses will increase, there will be considerable savings in travel expenses, administration etc. which will reduce the additional financial burden to a large extent. Some possible ways of reducing expenditure due to forming more states is suggested in a later article.

Comments (especially those which point out errors or deficiencies, if any, in this article and thereby help to improve it) and suggestions to overcome this very serious obstacle are welcome. Please send these to I shall make use of all befitting suggestions to prepare the last two articles of this series – Articled 23 will spell out the basic principles which will guide formulation of the revised system of democracy and Article 24 will outline the revised system of democracy for public debate to arrive at a consensus.

You can help to save our sinking democracy by making as many people as possible aware of these obstacles and possible solutions, through personal group discussions, newspaper articles, e-mail and social media like face book and twitter so that we can have healthy debates and arrive at some innovative ideas to save our sinking democracy.