Monday, February 8, 2021

DEMOCRACY IN INDIA, DESPITE ITS IMPERFECTIONS, HOLDS KEY TO A BETTER WORLD, PROVIDED......

NYT has come out with a detailed report on persecution of people over free speech in many of the authoritarian and autocratic states.  What these people had attempted appears nothing more than constructive dissidence demanding more humane conditions for themselves. 


We may not be paragon of human virtues but we are certainly ahead of most societies in Asia and Africa in defence of freedom, liberty and human dignity.  However, there is no confusion that India may have to cover a very long and tough journey to reach its optimal potential.  We do face an entrenched culture and psyche of a few among us who have continued to assault these rights of others. I would still believe that there is still no parallel of peace, civility and humanism that India has continued to embody, despite all round adversities and challenges. We may appear a beacon of civility and pacifism in this part of the world largely due to our civilisational values, whose defence is crucial for larger peace, security and stability of not merely South Asia but I wouldn't hesitate to say entire world. 


But situation is not ideal and our values have been facing multiple forms of assault for far too long. Simultaneously, there have been several efforts and initiatives to the contrary, refining and rejuvenating these. Hence, any discourse on democracy and governance, in public domain, must not only be enlightened, civil and courteous but also driven by an open mind and the highest levels of integrity. Right to criticize must not breach dignity of opponents. 


When I talk about Indocracy, it is not about supremacy of India. It is more about values of civility and humanism that were probably practiced in far more substantial measure on the Indian subcontinent and the whole of Indo-Asia, than anywhere else. These have faced sustained decay and degeneration under a variety of pressures. But part of some of these values have been resurrected or persisted. India has to defend human rights and constructive free speech under all circumstances for sake of its own identity. And a robust India can be the biggest guarantee of rights and liberties of people in Asia and Africa and even beyond. 


This will never be possible by mere wishful thinking. India needs to restructure its institutions to administer rule of law more effectively. This will not be easy. A simple revamp of criminal justice system shall not be sufficient for this purpose. There are far too many contradictions in Indian institutions of state and society. May be we have to build an entirely new narrative of governance and democracy. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

WHY MUST INDIA REFORM STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES OF POLITICAL PARTIES

 

    Reforms in political parties, though critical, are unlikely to sustain on their own in absence of reforms in other sectors.   India has to explore comprehensive reform in all institutions of state and society in quest of a vibrant society and robust state. 

    I am posting a video of a panel discussion on "Reform in Political Parties". Keynote Speech was delivered by former Chief Election Commissioner of India Shri S Y Qureshi, with other speakers being eminent academic Professor Balveer Arora, Parliamentarian Dr Kalanidhi Veeraswami and  another eminent Indian academic from Cambridge University with roots in Kolkata, Prof Samita Sen. The event was organised by a Kolkata based entity Tillotoma Foundation on my suggestion. 

I have been examining the role of political parties in the entire governance process from the perspective of national security for quite some time. Nevertheless, I have been conscious of the need for a wider discussion on the subject. This seminar appeared a good platform but I believe that search for a comprehensive perspective should not be confined to ideas of only eminent speakers and contributors in this seminar. I have noticed that a large number of people, including many personal friends,  do go through my blog and send me detailed comments  on WhatsApp. But they have avoided posting those on the blog. I shall appreciate a break in this tradition to welcome few comments on the blog. 




 PERSPECTIVE:

 Ever since I have started observing, studying and researching the subject of national security, I have become increasingly convinced that reform in political parties would be the most critical variable for a robust national security strategy of democratic India. I have written extensively on this subject in my unpublished research work but I had placed a write up on my blog in November 2020. I had also dealt with this subject in my NDC dissertation captioned “..Governance as Bedrock of National Security “ in 2016. In January 2020, during a lecture at JNU, I had emphatically argued that merit driven dynamic and competitive, and neither discordant nor hereditary and oppressive, political parties and corporate sector could emerge the  two most critical variable of a robust national security architecture. This would require lot of innovation. 

    Unfortunately, the strategic community of India has been extremely circumspect in discussing the idea of stronger and effective national security strategy for  the country. Sadly, malicious elements hiding within India's own bureaucratic and security establishment, have been crushing and killing powerful ideas, innovations, initiatives as well as patriotic talent that aspires and attempts to bring about major break through in any sphere. Recently, a media channel has discussed issues like suspicious deaths of several scientists from Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai onwards to suspicious death of even former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent to recent killings and attempted killings of several scientists. The rot is probably too deep. Even the popular and decisive Prime Minister of India, who has received a resounding mandate from the people twice,  has not been able to push through major strategic restructuring of institutions despite showing a powerful resolve in this direction. 


Rationale for A Conference on Reform in Political Party System:

Before this conference I was asked from sections of media about the rationale  behind a discussion on this subject. I had conveyed the following in writing:  'all great societies and states have advanced by their ability to identify key challenges of their times and explore effective and viable solutions with a high level of sincerity and integrity. Political competition in democracies all over the world has been breeding such levels of conflict that are retarding optimum governance and security output of these societies. Primary cause of such conflicts appears insufficiently or deficiently regulated political competition. 

    Such problems in Indian democracy appear far more acute. Over the last four decades a democratic India, which is expected to be driven by merit and competition, has unfortunately lagged far too behind a similarly sized opaque and authoritarian China, which has to rely to a fair extent on loyalty and coercion. Such an anomaly is reflective of serious underlying disorder in Indian democracy. Primary cause of such disorder appears inability of political parties to act as aggregators of public interest and  aspirations as well as their failure to throw up powerful ideas and initiatives towards collective and comprehensive advancement of India. In many instances, political parties appear monoliths controlled by despotic leaders or dynasts driven by a narrow partisan agenda to capture power. While the process of elections cannot eliminate role and relevance of people entirely but these are increasingly losing focus and priority.' 

I had gone on to add that "election process is increasingly appearing war through ballot among rival (or a plethora of ) political parties...... In today’s competitive and increasingly integrated global order, such a scenario presents serious threat to national security of India." I had also maintained that "in an era, where advantages in trade and technology can be used as lethal tools depredation, strength and resilience of a political system depends to a great extent on the agility of its institutions and quality of leadership these are able to throw up. While political actors may have their own challenges and constraints, intellectuals and guardians of society have a moral obligation to agitate on such issues with a degree of integrity and throw up an impartial perspective." 

Key Ideas:

While the conference threw up quite a few ideas towards possible innovations, I had again placed in writing for the conference document that political competition must act as vehicle for promoting excellence in governance by generating powerful choices. Political parties needed to act as credible platforms for this purpose. Sadly, entire political space appears to have generated its own contradictions that are blocking both powerful ideas and initiatives for comprehensive transformation that India needs to pursue a stronger national security strategy. Electoral processes seem to be breeding conflict not only in India but almost universally.  India needs to marshal strengths of its original humanist values and introduce traditions like Vaad and Samvaad to strictly regulate political discourse. Similarly, both entitlement and dynastic succession to leadership level roles must end both in political parties as well as larger corporate, social or other organizations. These would enhance both the quality of political debate as well as leadership that our institutions are able to throw up. 

    Simultaneously, India needs stronger filters to prevent external or internal subversive forces from hijacking its political space and sabotaging rule of law in our democracy .  We must acknowledge that Indian society is seriously different from its Chinese counterpart. Hence, Chinese model of governance, backed by oppressive authority of state relying entirely on benevolence of the ruler, is not going to be effective in the Indian context. 


We also need to be cognizant of the fact that besides strength of our original values, we are also carrying the baggage of decay and distortion in these which had built a momentum much before external invasions. Subsequent Mamluk, Turkish and Mongol or Mughal and even British colonial traditions, values and practices have also left their impact on governance institutions and processes of India, notwithstanding a modern democratic constitution and multiple reform movements that have taken place simultaneously. 


 India’s external security threats and internal governance challenges are far too complex compared to European or even other post-colonial democracies. Existing structures and processes of Political parties appear the biggest impediment to emergence of effective ideas and initiatives to address such formidable governance challenges. I shall not dwell in detail but it has been universally conceded in private and public discourse that they are the biggest impediment to rule of law and transparent governance. These are seriously retarding the quality of social cohesion of India and as well as overall regulatory capacity of Indian state. Winnability being the sole factor, political parties are not able to control the quality of candidates that they induct or the sources from which they accept funds.  Former CEC was absolutely on the dot when he observed that there are no free lunches and every political donation carries a quid pro quo. These are likely to be in most, but not necessarily in all, cases to go against larger public interest. 


While, I have made a comprehensive and elaborate set of recommendation in my unpublished work, here I would be content at mentioning that it is extremely critical to:

i)  streamline internal structures and processes of political parties to throw up high quality ideas and bona-fide leaders;


ii) explore (futuristically and not retrospectively and that too after detailed preparations) fixed but not more than one or two tenures at top positions both within political parties as well as at the helm of government either in State or at the Centre to prevent emergence of well entrenched vested interests;


iii) Segregate political parties contesting polls at the Centre and the state and reduce the total number of political parties to not more than 3 or 4 maximum at each level;


iv) put in a strong eligibility criteria with instituting some degree of qualification and experience (not necessarily academic but including knowledge in public life or administrative, managerial or leadership level experience in any profession) mandatory for Union and State level elections whereas recognizing universal freedom to contest elections at party-less local level bodies; and 


v) devise a clear and transparent process for entry and exit of every individual in political parties; 


While I do not consider these as final words of wisdom, it would be worthwhile stirring some public debate on this subject. Ironically, every effort was made to reach out to all political parties but none responded and nearly all politicians approached on this subject wriggled out except for Dr Kalanidhi. I also maintained in course of my observations, here as well as at every platform, that 'reforms in political parties, though critical, are unlikely to sustain on their own in absence of reforms in other sectors'. I have called for reform in criminal justice system in an earlier write up on the blog. In fact,   India has to explore comprehensive restructuring of all institutions of state and society in quest of a vibrant society and robust state, which alone can provide a solid foundation for a strong national security strategy. 



Thursday, January 7, 2021

INDIA MUST EVOLVE THE IDEA OF DEMOCRACY

 India Holds the Key to Future of Democracy?

A diverse, developing and democratic India, despite somewhat lackadaisical performance on most parameters of governance and security, especially compared to its northern neighbour, holds the key to credibility and desirability of open political systems. A stronger India can not only stabilize the global order but also act as the biggest antidote to both Islamic radicalism and opaque authoritarianism. The world’s largest democracy, however, may have to reinvent, or at least remold, many of its key principles and practices of governance. It must do so by refining and strengthening, but not eroding, the core ingredients of democracy such as rule of law, integrity of electoral processes, autonomy of institutions, equality of opportunity, free media and secure common spaces among others. Its ability to build a robust governance-security apparatus, within a democratic framework, can offer a new lease of life to idea of democracy, which seems to be hurtling towards a dead-end, if not an imminent collapse.  

What inspires hope in such potential and capacity of India is its ability to sustain an open and competitive political system under most difficult circumstances. This would never have been possible without resilience of its original and eternal values. Simultaneously, a transformation in governance-security capacity of Indian democracy has become indispensable for defending some of its existential interests and priorities.  What reinforces such belief is the fact that no major state or civilization in the entire human history has ever been able to transform plight of its people, or achieve extra-ordinary advancement, through a political-governance apparatus that has evolved in response to needs of people in different social-cultural and economic contexts.

Westminster model of democracy, notwithstanding its sustenance and strengths in the Indian context, appears incapable of pursuing an ambitious agenda of accelerated and comprehensive transformation that India needs at this juncture. Hence, India has to explore a more advanced version of democracy, that can be captioned as Indocracy, to suit its own contexts, challenges and priorities.

Current Global Context

Sustained economic, military and technological ascendance of China, under an authoritarian and opaque political system, threatens to erode access to security, freedom and equitable opportunities at a much wider scale. This is especially in the context of expanding fissures and inequalities in even some of the established democracies, alongside serious institutional fragility in their counterparts in the developing world. Western democracies largely appear more content at managing their own internal challenges but China has gone on to steadily expand its global influence from Far East, Indian Ocean, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Africa to most parts of Europe and going all the way to critical pockets of South America. It has managed to create pockets of support in many of these states through such non-transparent means that have not only been accentuating steeper inequality but also threatening political openness and transparency at a global scale. Amidst Increasing unsustainability of world-wide American influence and their sharpening domestic divides, such a scenario threatens far larger number of people and societies than what appears at the outset. 

 A closer look at the China’s economic, military and technological transformations suggest that these have been carefully crafted to enhance the cost and risk of US intervention from Far East to most parts of Asia.  China has also significantly bridged the gap, and even acquired some degree of tactical advantages in eventuality of a localized conflict in Asia, through its recent advancements in land, air, under-water, satellite and cyber warfare capabilities. These, added by some of its highly feted short to medium range hypersonic and ISR (Information, surveillance and reconnaissance) weapon systems and burgeoning naval capacity, appear to have created a near impregnable shield for mainland China and areas around it.

Simultaneously, China has forged way ahead of India on nearly all major indicators of national power. In foreseeable future, India may struggle to defend some of its legitimate security interests at a sustainable cost, leave aside matching or containing China. Nevertheless, resilience of an open system, if defended well, can throw up such powerful ideas and dynamic initiatives that can alter such an equation. Simultaneously, Chinese system may still crumble under contradictions of its own opaqueness. The eventual outcome shall depend on the quality of initiatives that the leaders and stakeholders in the two states undertake.

Compulsion for advancement of the idea of democracy further increases with the world-wide erosion in values and norms of democracy and subversion of its key institutions. Simultaneously, various shades of authoritarian regimes have continued to entrench themselves, by rigging the integrity of electoral processes. Such trends threaten to derail the larger process of democratization that had gained momentum since the end of second word-war. Large-scale decolonization, adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR), emergence of welfare state followed by stabilization of electoral processes in larger number of states and eventual collapse of communism in Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe, had been nudging the world towards greater respect for human life and human dignity, rule of law, political transparency and accountability. Today, this process runs the risk of losing both momentum and direction. Under these circumstances, ability of India to refine the very idea of democracy can offer a new hope to the world.

Constraints of Indian Democracy:

However, there are serious obstacles and challenges in this direction. India’s political culture is yet to extricate itself from medieval psyche of status-based entitlements and discriminations. Instead of being eliminated by a merit based competitive political system, these have only transitioned to a newer form to creep into political, corporate and bureaucratic institutions to retard their capacity and output. These continue to dent efficacy and credibility of mechanisms to administer rule of law. Hence, overall regulatory capacity of Indian state has remained suboptimal,  hindering  overall governance-security output. Appalling performance on most HDI parameters, a somewhat sluggish and expensive criminal justice system with frequent miscarriages of justice, an archaic red-tape laden bureaucratic structure-albeit with many brilliant minds in its ranks, a poorly regulated and deficiently competitive private sector amidst allegations of crony capitalism, sub-par output of R&D institutions, among others, appear outcome of such governance structures and processes whose integrity has been subverted.

Simultaneously, Indian state has also not been able to transform its strategic psyche despite bitter experience of external occupation and centuries of colonial subjugation. This is manifest in India’s inability to conclude covert war from Pakistan- despite spectacular military victories in 1965, 1971 and even Kargil conflict of 1999. Inability of India’s stakeholders to fathom national security implication of expanding asymmetry of power in favour of China, or suitably respond to the same, reinforces doubt in strategic psyche of India’s policy makers. Despite deeper cultural, civilizational and linguistic bonds with its smaller neighbours, India has struggled to secure their territories from prejudicial use by hostile forces. Inability to develop adequate indigenous defence hardware capacity, despite enormous military threats as well as access to a pool of skilled manpower, India had chosen, until recently,  to remain the biggest importer of armament amidst allegations of sleaze and graft in every defence deal. This only points to a serious underlying malaise. Due to poor governance systems and deficient security mechanisms, many critical programmes on national security continue to get dislocated. Some of the most brilliant minds working on cutting edge technologies or projects that can provide a major breakthrough towards advancement of India in any sphere suddenly face serious harassment and at times get eliminated under intriguing circumstances. These only lend credence to perception that under-performance, inefficiency, corruption and subversion remain inbuilt in many of the institutional structures and practices of Indian democracy. However, these have not deterred multiple instances of exceptional individual brilliance, integrity and quest for excellence under most difficult circumstances. This is the strength of India, if harnessed well, can transform the world. 

Why India Better Placed to Spearhead Innovation in Democracy

Longer roots of a humanist civilization, with probably the earliest traditions of political accountability and transparency, besides success of democracy under most difficult circumstances, make India the best suited to spearhead a major innovation in the idea of democracy. Democracy had evolved in Europe only after wider prosperity had dawned from the wealth extracted from erstwhile colonies of Asia and Africa.  Similarly, democracy in North America or Oceania had followed capture of vast territories with all the natural resources, by virtually wiping out nearly entire indigenous population. Initial development of infrastructure and prosperity, especially in North America, was sustained by unrestrained deployment of slave labour from Africa and other parts of the world.

India, on the other hand, had herself suffered colonization that had pushed large sections of people under the yoke of crushing poverty. Hence, sustenance of democracy amidst such adversities, and the rapid strides that the country has made towards comprehensive economic and social advancement of its people, demonstrates resilience of its original humanist values. Exposure to Western democratic ideals and practices may have acted as a catalyst for resurrection and refinement of its own values but in absence of a conducive ecosystem, an open and accountable political system could not have survived in India. While its serious constraints cannot be overlooked but its success, howsoever modest, inspires hope in its ability to advance the idea of democracy, as well as governance capacity of its institutions, to a much higher stage.

A closer look, from our current perspective, shall suggest that democracy had never been perfect at any stage of its evolution in any part of the world. It has been evolving with every major initiative in response to a challenge. The current crises facing the democratic world  must encourage, and not deter, intellectual explorations towards refinement of the ideas and institutions of representative government in quest of a more humane and secure world. 

A deeper peep into history would suggest that elements of democracy and republicanism were present in some of the earliest political systems in India and beyond. In India it was probably way more advanced than rest, whereas in other non-European cultures it was a little rudimentary. One has to acknowledge contribution of modern Europe and the United States to usher in detailed and comprehensive version of humanist democracy and spread it all over the world. It is equally responsibility of other democracies to carry forward this idea by practicing and not preaching. Probably China and West Asia shall struggle to transition to democracy due to their values and past. China was probably only civilization where peoples’ participation in politics never extended beyond recruitment to civil service and armed forces. Simultaneously, most of West Asia had continued to drift towards despotism and autocracy, notwithstanding strong traditions of egalitarianism and recurrent efforts towards responsive governance under few spirited leaders.

There is very little documented knowledge available about political institutions of ancient India and Indo-Asia. General perception, largely due to literature available from medieval era onwards, suggests these societies were highly stratified and hierarchical. However, a closer look shall suggest that from dawn of first millennium or even Buddhism, nearly most parts of India and Indo-Asia was slowly moving towards a more pacifist, humane and amiable social order, with of course few significant exceptions.  On the other hand, Greece and Rome or most parts of West Asia still lacked the element of humanism. 

Even leftist Indian historians, who have not been entirely charitable towards the past of India, have conceded continuation of democratic republicanism on the Indian subcontinent from the earliest times, probably from the era of Raja Bharat, until the dawn of Buddhism in 6th century BC or even later. Traditions of Sabha and Samiti have often been spoken of and these appear to have continued, albeit with sustained distortion, until the dawn of British rule. Self-sufficient village republics with traditions of “Panch” confirm these.

The earliest elements of rule of law, as enshrined in Dharmashastras, Dhamrmasutras and down to Kautilyan Arthashastra, also corroborate India’s early tryst with political accountability and restrain on arbitrary authority of the ruler. The decay had set in these traditions with consolidation of agrarian economy and descent of hereditary kingship. These naturally exacerbated with onslaught of Mamluk and Mongol invasions. Despite multiple atrocious traditions like steeper hierarchy and social segregation of medieval era, which appear a later era distortion associated with most agrarian societies, Indian values have remained more humane than most other societies. This is what explains sustenance of democracy and advancements, howsoever, modest under such a political system.   

Need For A Concrete Futuristic Perspective

Need for refinement of democratic institutions have been felt for far too long in many societies. Today democratic  institutions in most societies have been breeding conflict, fracturing social cohesion and inducing economic under-performance. One can blame deficient institutions for this purpose but absence of social trust, declining common space due to unbridled privatisation are equally responsible.  While Western democracies can live with these discords, most in the developing world shall struggle to advance with these contradictions. India, facing determined hostility from its two nuclear armed neighbours, alongside pressure with serious domestic governance challenges, has its task well cut out.  It needs serious transformation in its governance and security capacity, to defend some of its existential interests. This is not possible without major restructuring of its institutions.

North America and Europe can scale down their engagements in Africa, Asia and parts of even South America and Oceania. Segregated by two Oceans- Atlantic and Pacific- and still enjoying substantial technological and economic superiority over China, United States can nestle in its isolation, whereas Europe can find a new equation with China, despite latter continuing with consolidation of its global influence. India, facing a permanent border dispute with China and civilisational war from Pakistan, shall struggle to handle the emergent equilibrium. So will many  other major democracies in Asia and Africa, whose resources, markets and even sovereignty appears under stress. A comprehensive modification of democratic political and governance instruments and processes, as per their own requirements and realities, shall be unavoidable for both their masses and elite.

The scope of such institutional restructuring has to cover structures and processes in political parties, civil -service, criminal-justice system, corporate sector, healthcare, elementary education, institutions of higher research, municipal and civic governance, media and civil society entities among others. The newer processes must foster higher quality of collaboration and competition with higher degree of fairness to get the best out of people. Democracies must protect the universal access to security and opportunities for sake of its own credibility. They may have to, simultaneously, explore newer strategies and techniques to manage internal conflicts and external non-military threats. It must be done at minimal material and human costs. A tangible progress in this direction can stretch ingenuity and genius of Indian scholars and capacity of Indian state. 

Conclusion

Democracies have been in turmoil for a long time. There are valid reasons to believe that Reaganomics and Thatcherism pushed them in a wrong direction, which multiplied their challenges with unbridled privatization in a globalized world. Extreme inequality, either among nations or within societies, especially in a globalized world, has seriously eroded regulatory capacity of most states and particularly democracies, as they have to withstand sustained pressure from various competing forces. Their ability to administer rule of law fairly and impartially or ensure equitable access to opportunities have come in doubt.  

Transparency and participative nature of open societies have also made them more vulnerable to subversion. A closed society can be misruled by a few people but subversion of an open society by multiple forces can generate virtual chaos and confusion. A poorly regulated political or corporate competition, emergence of mega cartels, an inefficient or expensive criminal justice system, especially in a globalized world, can enhance such vulnerability to subversion from both internal and external quarters. In absence of a major initiative and innovations to bolster institutional capacities of democracy and create simultaneous opportunities for leadership, the very idea of freedom, liberty and equity can face a serious setback. Democratic states probably require far stronger institutional as well as social safeguards against subversion. Democracies can be potentially subverted by many whereas authoritarian states monopolies right to subversion only by the rulers. 

Rise of powerful mega cartels and power centres within open societies, amidst increasing global clout of opaque and authoritarian states, controlled by smaller and cohesive groups, further enhances vulnerability of open societies. Their transparency and freedom can be more prone to malicious abuse. Hence, democracies need to innovate themselves internally as well as collaborate with their counterparts  to build a more conducive external ambience. This may undermine competitive trade in short run but will have substantive gains in long run. However, in absence of a larger culture of trust, progress towards democratisation shall be an extremely difficult proposition.  

At this stage of history, the very idea of democracy needs liberation from the shackles of Western orientations and moorings. Expectations and requirements from representative government in India and other post-colonial states differs from their counterparts in the developed world. These states  need not merely optimize governance and security output of their institutions but also enhance the quality of freedom, dignity and comprehensive security accessible to their people. An Indian model of democracy or Indocracy can attempt answering key challenges in this direction by carefully fusing its own humanist values with the scientific principles of Western democracy. Legislative and formal processes shall be inadequate for such transformation. A stronger synergy between the state and society, backed by a credible leadership shall be critical. The entire process shall not only inspire democracies in the developing world but can also offer few useful lessons to their counterparts in the developed world.

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

NEED TO GO BEYOND WESTMINSTER MODEL

 A Moment For Reflection

It is certainly a moment for reflection when we are bidding adieu, albeit on a note of optimism, to one of the most difficult years in the human history. World has handled this pandemic far better than similar deadly outbreaks in the past. Prospects of universal vaccination, which has already commenced in many developed countries, offers hope of taming the disease. However, there is no guarantee that some other calamity may not his us soon, catching us off guard once again.

Covid-19 could have claimed more casualties but for the strong resolve shown by large sections of our people, especially those in the medical fraternity, essential services, social work and philanthropy. Still the mankind could have handled the crises much better and protected more lives and livelihood, only if some people in position of power and authority had acted with greater sagacity and empathy. Opaque and unaccounted regime of China, which initially suppressed information, exposed very large number of people all over the world to such deadly disease. So did many of their capitalist backers from the Western world, who continue to kowtow Chinese position, even to the detriment of wellbeing of people in their own countries and beyond. These have certainly exposed the downside of open market in a globalized world.

To cover up its crimes against humanity, China has launched a full-scale border stand-off with India in the Himalaya, citing its national unity. This is a subterfuge to capture the Buddhist regions on Northern fringes of India that have perennially enjoyed a strong connection with the erstwhile independent of State of Tibet that was otherwise culturally and civilizationally far closer to India than the Han China. China has already usurped Tibet in almost entirety, through deception, treachery and coercion. It has been exploiting the vast natural resources of the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom to sustain an expansive consumption pattern of its Han population. Despite hosting His Holiness Dalai Lama, India has been somewhat tentative on Tibet but the capitalist dominated West has largely kept quiet more in deference to its commercial interests in China. 

Significance of India

Despite all round asymmetry of power in favour of China, Indian troops have responded resolutely on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the ongoing confrontation. It has to be seen, how India restructures its internal governance-security institutions, from this point onwards, to effectively pursue its national security priorities and bridge power asymmetry with China. It needs to deter its two nuclear armed hostile neighbours, from pursuing various shades of their subversive agenda, alongside military threats, to clandestinely attack India’s internal security and stability. China has appeared particularly determined to hold India back and cripple its growth aspirations to eliminate possibility of any challenge to its hegemony in the region and beyond. However, it is more important to strengthen domestic governance institutions and their credibility rather than blame China and Pakistan for all our woes. Indian state has, so far, also shown insufficient resolve to destroy capacity of Pakistani ruling syndicate to wage and sustain an undeclared covert war against India. Lax criminal justice system, rampant corruption and inefficiency in large sections of India’s bureaucracy provide a favourable ecosystem to its its external adversaries to sustain such war. India needs to go beyond a tactical approach to address challenges in this direction. 

India’s response to even Covid-19 has appeared better than expected, especially after the initial jerky reactions. Government doctors and their support staff, large sections of public officials, and members of civil society, especially Sikh Gurudwaras, rose to the occasion with a degree of resilience typical of Indian response to crises. These only demonstrate that Indian social values and ethos have retained their strong humanist orientation despite all their flaws and distortions. While it was a sad spectacle to see thousands of internal migrant labour, forced to walk hundreds of miles with their families, after losing their livelihood and shelter, subsequent response of both Indian state and civil society contained the damage. They together ensured reasonable relief and rehabilitation to the affected population.

Nevertheless, situation is not ideal. State capacity to handle such unexpected disasters remains inadequate. Many private hospitals, doctors, labs and pharmacist attempted to exploit the health calamity through a variety of means that can be considered commercially prudent and yet appear socially unethical. There were ugly scenes on streets with many policemen assaulting hapless citizens, amidst many examples of several men and women in Khaki going way beyond the call of duty to help people in distress with everything possible at their end. A large number of Indian farmers have been camping on borders of the national capital to protest a few controversial Farm Acts that were passed by the government in a jiffy. They fear such Acts were aimed at helping mega corporates to make big profits by controlling agricultural produce and hoarding essential items. Farmers feared that the Acts could convert them into labourers on their own fields. Initially the government and their political supporters rubbished the protesting farmers as anti-nationals and agent provocateurs of external enemies. Subsequently, sanity descended and the language of incumbents of the state changed. The government is believed to be negotiating with the agitating farmers. It is expected that the two sides could soon find an amicable solution.

At the end of 2020, it would not be outlandish to argue that, in its long and chequered history, India is once again at crossroads. Domestic political discords, amidst poorly regulated political competition, is believed to be the sole factor behind fragility of institutions and subversion of rule of law. These are  manifest in its lackadaisical performance on most parameters of governance and national security, especially compared to its northern neighbour. Optimists still believe that despite enormity of governance challenges and institutional constraints, the world’s largest democracy with the highest number of poor still holds the key to credibility and desirability of democracy at a global stage. However, any substantial progress in this direction requires the quality of efforts that would stretch the intellectual and leadership attributes of not only political class but nearly all stakeholders in all section Indian society. 

Need To Go Beyond Westminster Model

A formidable India with a better output on Human Development Index (HDI), as well as a sturdy and sustainable national security architecture, could be the biggest antidote to both Islamic radicalism and opaque authoritarianism. It could also lend the requisite stability to the global geopolitical equilibrium, especially in the context of continued ascendance of China and increasing unsustainability of the world-wide influence of the United States. However, India may have to re-configure many of its existing democratic-governance principles and practices by refining these and not diluting their inclusive, transparent and humanist character. India may have to go beyond the existing structures and processes of Westminster model of representative government, which appears incapable of pursuing the ambitious agenda of transformation that Indian people aspire or India needs at this juncture for optimizing its comprehensive national capacity.

Governance-security priorities and challenges of Indian democracy were different from its counterparts in the developed Western world in 1947 and remain so even now. Nevertheless, the first generation of leaders of independent India, in their sagacity and wisdom, found the Westminster model of governance, with multiple innovations, as the best option. Emerging from centuries of external invasions, domestic  turmoil and colonial occupation, this was probably the best option available to them. This has not done too badly but remains inadequate to give wings to aspirations of younger India. 

We must remember that no major state or civilisation, in the entire history mankind, has attained extra-ordinary transformation towards greatness by riding an imported political-governance apparatus that has emerged and evolved in a different political-social context in response to needs of people in those conditions. Despite innovations and indigenisation, Westminster model of representative democracy appears oblivious of some of the major governance challenges and priorities indian as well as the social and economic realities facing the world’s largest democracy at this stage. It is time to review efficacy of some of the existing political-governance institutions of India as well as its commercial – social practices in the prevailing context. This  would be critical for re-evaluating our governance-security priorities and exploring most effective instruments to pursue these. (To be continued) 

Monday, November 23, 2020

WHY MUST INDIA SPEARHEAD REFORM IN POLITICAL PARTIES

 

A New Low In Electoral Battles

    

 Controversy over credibility of electoral results in democracies touched a new low in November 2020. Incumbent President of the most powerful democracy in the world has continued to dispute an electoral verdict that has gone against him. He and his associates have alleged large-scale voter fraud in the recent Presidential polls in the United States, denting the moral superiority of Western democracies who have prided in smooth and peaceful transfer of political power in their political systems. Such transitions have been messy in most, but not all, post-colonial democracies. Probably the issue at stake is not the formal procedures and provisions but the underlying social and political discords that are getting increasingly unmanageable even in the rich Western democracies. But the controversy in the United States, if not resolved smoothly, can bolster pretensions of superiority of the Chinese authoritarianism that Xi Jin Ping has been boasting for quite sometime.

Simultaneously, the politically significant state of Bihar in India witnessed opposition parties boycotting the swearing in ceremony of the re-elected Chief Minister for the fourth consecutive term.  They too alleged poll irregularities, again without any tangible evidence. What has been really worrying is the quality of choices that the poll process offered in the state. An inefficient governance was challenged by a political formation that has been identified with criminality and rampant nepotism in the past. It was believed to have perfected a smart caste calculation to win elections without caring for plight of the people or efficient governance. Rather its top leaders  were charged with abusing state powers to enrich their personal coffers and torment political opponents.  

Divisive Impact of Polls and Their Inability To Reflect True Will of The People

Divisive impact of electoral processes, and their inability to decisively reflect popular will, has been universally acknowledged. United States witnessed an extremely narrow margin of poll victory for Jo Biden following a bitterly contested campaign. In a recent YouTube Video, associates of President Trump came out with elaborate stories of voter fraud perpetrated by external enemies of the country. Though President elect Biden has been measured and graceful in his public utterances but the both sides have demonstrated their deep-rooted distrust and mutual hostility. It had earlier seen President Trump reversing some of the major policy decisions of his predecessor -President Obama. These included not merely key domestic policies like healthcare but also withdrawal from a series of major global treaty obligations on issues varying from Paris climate peace to Iran and Trans-Pacific Partnership to quote a few. Hence, the current controversy over transition has the potential to exacerbate global anxiety amidst sustained ascendance of an authoritarian China. It could also undermine popular trust in the ability of most powerful democracy to effectively manage its own affairs.

Bihar too witnessed decline in the actual number of seats won by the sitting Chief Minister led political formation. Many consider it manifestation of popular disenchantment with governance records of the regime that lacked any serious innovation and energy. An overwhelming majority of the people have perennially endured poverty, malnutrition and joblessness, with appallingly poor state of public infrastructure and public services. Successive governments have done very little to change these conditions. 

Recently, large swathes of people of the state, who had been working on subsistence wages in different parts of the country, to escape crushing poverty at home, were forced to return to the state walking back hundreds and even thousands of Kilometers during national lock down after losing their livelihood and shelter. This was the most demonstrative spectacle of bad governance that the state of Bihar has suffered over decades. A large percentage of local population continues to struggle for a decent livelihood, healthcare, education and access to clean drinking water and 24 hour electric supply. However, poll winners have been hailing the electoral verdict in the state as endorsement of their "outstanding" record on governance.

The present regime had replaced a government led by a mercurial leader with earthy wit and rustic humor, who had "conned" Bihar into an abyss of lawlessness and corruption. Even though he is cooling his heels in prison, following indictment in one of the multiple corruption charges that he faces, his progenies spearheaded the challenge on behalf of political opposition. They came quite close to upstaging the sitting Chief Minister but its very prospects had shuddered those who had experienced the tyranny of their jailed father. 

 Constraints of Democracy in India

Democracy in India, despite being sturdy and stable, especially compared to its fragile counterparts in most parts of Afro-Asia, has always had its own constraints. But the phenomenon like Bihar lends credence to charges of cartelization of political space, denying people legitimate choices for better governance. The alternative to a lackadaisical governance was a family-controlled political formation, with an ignominious legacy of "criminality" and "corruption."

Like the jailed supremo of this family controlled political party, who had ruled the state for fifteen years riding on the populist support of two dominant communities- Muslims and Yadavs, his sons too sought to exploit the same caste arithmetic. They probably succeeded in swaying some impartial voters too who craved for change. But their calculations were upset with the entry of a Hyderabad based rabid Islamist party in the fray, which swayed substantial Muslim votes. Many have alleged, since then, a clandestine pact between so-called Hindu nationalists and Islamists. While, reality may never be known in this respect, but such a phenomenon threatens both long-term social cohesion as well as governance capacity of  the state.

Electoral experience in Bihar also questions the very ability of democracy to provide high quality governance. Poll outcomes in  the state have continued to depend more on arithmetic of identities rather than issues of governance. This has been somewhat a near national phenomenon in India, except in 2014 and 2019 national elections, when people overwhelmingly voted for a change besides reasserting their Hindu nationalist identity, which was alleged to be openly denigrated by the then government with the bogey of “Hindu Terrorism”. 

There are multiple parallels of identity driven political mobilization in both developing and the developed world. Sri Lanka, a small island neighbour of India, had experienced highly devastating consequences of identity-driven politics that had inflicted heavy material and human cost on its people. Probably all post-colonial democracies continue to face somewhat similar predicament. However, in recent years, even the most established democracies have struggled to escape the  trap of identity driven fissures. President Trump had crafted his entire political strategy by exploiting identity-based anxieties of white voters. Europe has been experiencing its own share of parochial ultra-nationalism.  Such sentiments may have subsided temporarily but not entirely eliminated from democratic political space. 

 

Pitfalls of Invoking Identity For Political Mobilisation

Under these circumstances, there is genuine apprehension that elections would be increasingly reduced into war through ballots among competing identities, with governance and genuine plight of the people taking a back seat. This can result in general decline in the economic and security capacities of democracies, giving greater space to efficient authoritarian states. It can also encourage some of them to manipulate internal dynamics within democracies by exploiting such discords and  openness of their institutions. Political mobilization in the name of identity, instead of governance, especially in the context of fragile criminal justice system,   can breed unmanageable levels of conflict, impede governance and make the entire political structure vulnerable to subversion by authoritarian cliques.

 Probably under-performance of a democratic India, compared to an opaque and authoritarian China, has its roots in political exploitation of identities. This has not only obstructed a concerted focus on governance but also created bigger space for subversion of institutions, including rule of law. When two or more identities are at war with each other, rationality and integrity lose their relevance. Otherwise, it is highly improbable for a merit based competitive society - the core premise of democracy- to lag behind a similarly sized authoritarian state, where a regime normally perpetuates itself through loyalty and coercion.

 Opaque political funding, badly regulated political and electoral battles and dilution of some of the core democratic principles- like fairness and integrity in political and economic competition- have obstructed rise of high quality leaders in nearly all sectors in India. This is notwithstanding few notable exceptions that include current Prime Minister of the country. Even such outstanding leaders appear helpless in face of a larger culture of entitlement and political rent.  They too struggle to make a difference beyond a point, especially compared to the potential that India continues to display. Persistence of some of the medieval era values like hero worship and  loyalty to caste and religious identities, amidst a fragile and sluggish criminal justice system, has built a vicious cycle of bad governance. Despite few enclaves of excellence -that independent India has built- the impact of such distorted values on the larger ecosystem of the country has been quite negative. These have  crippled optimal efficiency, integrity and potential of all institutions of state and society, resulting in abnormal asymmetry of power in favour of our similarly sized neighbour. 

In Bihar, crushing poverty of masses and  large-scale  unemployment among youth failed to deter massive splurge of funds on poll campaign. There were over 50 political parties in the fray and large number of them were using private jets and choppers to facilitate their leaders reach multiple venues of public meetings. Nearly all of them had hired paid armies of campaign workers. Many experienced poll-watchers were alarmed at such extravagance at a time when ordinary people were indeed suffering. Marketisation of electoral processes and cartelization of political space, through sheer financial and organisational muscle, seemed to have commercialised the entire democratic poll process. These not only reflected lack of genuine empathy for the people but even credibility or caliber of candidates seemed irrelevant in larger desperation for political power. Overwhelming  majority of people appeared hapless passive participants in the electoral battles, compelled to side with the one or the other warring side. They had no real choice to select their representatives through a free and fair process. Sadly, even in media, there has been virtually no public debate on detrimental consequences of identity driven electoral mobilisation on long-term  governance and national security of the country. 

 

Need To Overcome Strategic Myopia

Strategic myopia of the ruling establishments of India is not new. Many describe the phenomenon as outcome of decaying Indian values of pre-Mamluk era, which had nearly paralysed the security capacity of the Indian subcontinent, notwithstanding its phenomenal prosperity. Hence, a highly advanced but a decaying civilisation had easily succumbed to bands of hardy marauders, lacking any vision or exposure to governance, civility or societal harmony. Under their oppressive and discriminatory occupation, driven by instincts of individual and racial  supremacy, Indian state and society touched its nadir to come under colonial occupation of a spice company. It was pitiful and ironical for a state and civilization that had produced, and practiced, the most advanced principles of governance, warfare and national security, as enshrined in the  brilliant treatise on the subject produced way back in the 4th Century BC in the form of Kautilyan Arthashastra. 

However, India, as a civilisation, has been losing its vigour and direction for a very long time, especially compared to its true potential. This is notwithstanding intermittent but recurrent phases of reforms and  rejuvenation. There is merit in the argument that it was sheer strategic myopia or inability of India's ruling classes to synergise  the subcontinent’s internal social and institutional capacities to contain domestic discords, which was critical for repelling and deterring external invasion from Mamluk-Mongol forces. These had nearly  pulverised entire Indo-Asia region. But as a state and civilisation, India has avoided serious strategic lesson from the past, notwithstanding recent assertions of ancient glory of the Hindu India, which sounds quite anachronistic as the phrase Hindu is medieval in origin and used only by the Arabs to describe India. 

Despite centuries of oppressive alien rule including colonial plunder, many of the original humanist-inclusive values and orientations of India and Indo-Asia could not be entirely wiped out.  This is what explains sustenance of democracy in India even under most adverse circumstances. Somewhat similar, but not identical, is the plight of South East Asian nations that have guarded against hard-line medieval tribal practices in the name of Islam, while retaining these original Indo-Asian values and legacies. At the same time, it would be incorrect to blame external forces alone for degeneration of India as the decay had started with onset of hereditary privileges much before the external aggression. 


Indispensability of  Reform in Political Parties:

Today, democracy is at a more serious crossroads than ever in the post second world-war  era. Its eventual fate would shape the quality of security and dignity accessible to people across all divides. But initiatives of Indian democracy to refine itself would impact the evolutionary course of representative governments from this point onwards to a large extent. India’s significance lays not merely in containing China or inspiring post-colonial democracies through excellence of its institutions. Rise of a heterogeneous gigantic democracy as a major global power shall infuse the requisite stability to the global order and major push towards transparency.

For any meaningful breakthrough in this direction,  serious reforms in political parties would be critical. Parties must re-emerge as credible platforms of people, instead of privately controlled syndicates, sharing similar but not necessarily exact vision and views on governance. Such platforms must be capable of generating high-quality discourses on political-governance issues as well as throw up genuine leaders with integrity, vision and ability to inspire trust and confidence of people. It appears impossible given the prevailing dynamics, structures and processes of nearly all political parties as well as the very contours of electoral processes. 

Serious and pragmatic innovations for stricter and impartial regulation of political competition to maintain their focus on governance, instead of identity divides, would be a necessity. Simultaneously, India will have to spearhead an agenda of internal reforms within political parties to curb number of tenures or nepotism, favoritism and backdoor influence through any means. Control of all political  parties need to be wrested from self-seeking cliques and cartels profiteering at the cost of society and state. This is not a moral issue but a fundamental necessity for long-term security and stability of open societies and their people, including elite in these states. 

Conclusion:

Rejuvenation of Indian democracy with fusion of original humanist-inclusive values of  ancient Indian subcontinent, through appropriate democratic governance structures and practices, is critical for plight of not merely 1.3 billion Indians but security and well-being of entire people in this region and beyond. Ascendance of an authoritarian China with an opaque power structure, amidst a general decline of democracy in the West and serious fragility of institutions and distortion of values in most parts of the developing world,  threatens mankind's quest for universal access to security, dignity and rule of law. Democratic India, as a major and older civilization than China, with far more profound humanist values at its roots, has both the capacity and the potential to set an example to inspire popular confidence in humanist ideals and values. It needs a robust but not oppressive governance at home, resting on better synergy between state and society.  An effective external strategic- security capacity requires a host of ingredients of state power but efficiency of governance institutions constitutes its bedrock. India will have to be innovative to address expanding asymmetry of power with China and neuter the threat of Islamic radicalism, terrorism  subversion and organised crime from Pakistan.  These objectives are unlikely to be addressed without serious reorientation and restructuring of internal institutions. 

 Progress in this direction is not going to be easy. But the world's largest democracy has enough resilience and potential to succeed. It needs both powerful ideas and equally determined initiatives by a decisive and powerful political leadership,  that it currently has at the helm. 



Sunday, November 8, 2020

America Opts For Inclusivity and Globalism

US Democracy appears to have progressively evolved to a higher stage with election of two gritty leaders with inclusive orientation and higher credibility. This could be a watershed moment in the history of representative governance as people in the world’s most powerful democracy have rejected, quite substantially if not wholly, political appeals in the name of identity.


 President Trump’s phase was marked with extra-ordinary anxiety and unpredictability. One has to give credit to Prime Minister Modi, who has been probably the only world leader to have enjoyed a warm personal and professional relationship with the outgoing President to negotiate further advancement in Indo- US ties. This is notwithstanding strong position of Trump on trade issue, which was largely influenced by the Trade Representatives Lighthizer. In matters of strategic partnership, Trump era witnessed further consolidation of advances made since the Presidency of George Bush Jr. 


The call by the US President elect, during his poll campaign, for higher basic minimum wages or universal access healthcare, education and rule of law or opportunities of life were only steps in direction of a more secure and stable society. While some corporate lobbies and his political rivals had sought to decry such position by branding it as socialist but many serious thinkers on national security have always maintained that high levels of inequality or poor state of HDI are detrimental to long-term national security and overall national cohesion. 


The American economy fared relatively better during Trump Presidency but fruits never percolated to large sections of people. Amidst this, incoherent response of the outgoing government to Covid crisis certainly undermined  popular trust in the credibility of the government. Nevertheless, President Trump continued to retain trust of large sections of his supporters. But in the end, people at lower end of the strata as well as sections of opinion makers and intelligentsia who were never comfortable with, or approved of, unpredictable and maverick style of President Trump made a common cause to see his ouster. 


 The electoral victory of the President elect Biden with a “sweeping mandate for change”  only reinforces inherent resilience  of democracy. Sections of people at home and allies or partners of United States look forward to greater engagement and more mature or predictable response from the White House. 


As far as Indo-US friendship is concerned, the momentum since the turn of the century is likely to continue, notwithstanding reservations of the incoming President on certain issues. As President,   Biden is more likely to pay heed to institutional wisdom of his government, who have acknowledged importance of India as a long - term strategic partner. 


One must remember that friendship between two great nations are neither an outcome and nor a hostage of personal friendship between their leaders. Since the Indo-US ties derive their strengths from shared values and common objectives, there could be some pressure or at least persuasion on strengthening democratic processes   and credentials of India while partnership on security and strategic issues are likely to maintain the upward momentum. 


The President elect of United States has shown magnanimity and generosity towards supporters of his political opponent. In matters of national security, diplomacy, global governance and strategic ties, he is likely to display similar generosity to go ahead with the best interests of his country, which requires a closer partnership with India. However, India has to guard against negative media influencing perception of US President elect on Human Rights issue or on allegations of crony capitalism in India.



Indian democracy has far too many domestic issues to address and goals to redefine in pursuit of vision for India outlined by the Prime Minister Modi. There seems very little effort to translate his words into action. Ultimately, elections are not about who rules but what is the purpose and objective of such rule. Massive mandate for the Indian government too was for a strategic change but the government in power can very well overlook its own promises. The long term cost would be too high for the country. 


Probably, India needs a far more serious restructuring of institutions to pursue universal and equitable access to opportunities and rule of law. These should not be deemed as charity to people. In fact, these constitute life blood of a healthy society and the most critical ingredient of national security. 


India will have to reinvent its own political and governance institutions to bolster its governance security capacity. This is the only way to transform its promises and potential of being a formidable global power into reality. This must not be aimed at merely courting  partnership or friendship with the United States. The objective must be optimising India’s comprehensive strength. At this juncture of history, the world’s largest democracy is certainly going to find a more sincere and reliable partner in the incoming regime of the world’s most powerful democracy. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Dangerous Equation in the Offing in West Asia



I am sharing a video clip on discussion on Turkish President Erdogan's attempts to emerge as a new power centre in West Asia. he has not only been patronising Muslim Brotherhood but also courted ISIS and Al-Qaeda. In this connection, his efforts to build a newer axis with Pakistan and China portends dangers not only for India but for entire Asia. 





 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

INDOCRACY: THE INITIAL VISION DOCUMENT

 


[Following is the vision document on Indocracy that has been mentioned  in the earlier writings of this blog. Indocracy was envisioned not as a piece of lofty philosophical idealism but a concrete course of persuasive reforms. It still retains such potential.  A friend had observed that only a genuine and unadulterated Hindu Brahminical mind, committed to  universal good, could visualise something like this. This paper is of 2012 vintage, prepared completely on the basis of my own ideas and imaginations. I also believed that India needed to set an example for the rest of the world by innovating upon its existing governance institutions to steer democracy to the next higher stage. Since then my views have remained consistent that the world's biggest democracy needed a major restructuring of its institutions. A copy of this paper was given to some of the most eminent Indians in 2012 . They all appreciated and offered moral support but I had to step out of civil service to pursue this. It did not work out. I believe that even such a harmless and general idea disturbed some of the powerful crime networks who worked overtime to sabotage it and break my resolve to pursue it. Still, it is not too late. We need sincere and committed Indians to come together. It is time to usher in democracy with stronger governance capacity and original Indian values.]  

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proposal to float a credible international entity with eminent global personalities as its face to: a) generate ideas for better governance in democracies; and b) undertake capacity building and consultancy projects for improving quality and output of institutions of  the governments, civil society, private and corporate sector, academic and research institutions among others.

 

 

 

AN INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVE FOR

BETTER GOVERNANCE IN DEMOCRACIES

WITH A STRONG CONSULTANCY ARM

 

 

 

Technology has made the whole process of globalisation with the current degree of economic integration quite irreversible. This has generated unprecedented interface among people across barriers of nation, culture, civilisation and geography. Resultant exposure to newer ideas, experiences and values have opened up phenomenal opportunities for almost entire humanity to gainfully cooperate, collaborate and compete with each other. This can potentially drive the world to a much higher trajectory of material and even moral progress with an implicit synergy between the two. However, states, societies and regions have also become far more vulnerable to subversion, plunder, pillage and destruction. We no longer require violent conventional wars for this purpose. Unregulated and unfair economic competition, technology, trade and ideology can be lethal tools of subversion, depredation and even destruction. States lacking adequate institutional capacity shall not only fail to optimise their own strengths or succumb more easily to possible tools of predation and subversion or collapse under the weight of its own internal or external contradictions. They can leave holes in the entire international order and be cause for global or regional instability depending upon their size and importance in global order. It is possible to generate powerful ideas and follow up their implementation through consultancy and training services to boost enabling and regulatory capacity of institutions of governance at grassroots level. The whole world needs a powerful idea at this juncture that can enhance stability, security and governance. 

 

 

 

 



 ......................................................................................................................................................................

 


Executive Summary

 

The Idea:

Set up an India-centric International Think Tank (with a global consultancy service ) that will attempt to generate a scientific, viable and comprehensive Vision for governance on the basis of ideas and inputs from individuals who have made notable contribution in politics, civil service, corporate sector, civil society activism, media and academic and research institutions. Subsequently it shall engage eminent actors in all these fields to generate a broad based consensus on new Vision for Democratic Governance.

 

Background:

The current interconnected, inter-dependent and technology driven world has unleashed phenomenal knowledge, information and opportunity for creativity, innovation, cooperation and collaboration in the most spheres of human endeavours. It is post-industrial and knowledge oriented world where we need to consolidate upon the gains of industrial age of 20th century but capitalise upon the opportunities thrown up by connectivity and super-technology and amalgamation and comparison of multiple ideas. It is possible to expand all round opportunities for the large mass of people who had hitherto remained on the fringes of economic, political and social power equations. While they have better access to nutrition, healthcare, education as well as upward social and economic mobility but still the whole world is under-performing and breeding far too much of conflict due to poor capacity of institutions, poverty of smart ideas  and stranglehold of vested interests on power-structures. A new paradigm shift in ideas of governance and interaction among various components of state and society alone can address governance gaps and multiple forms of complex and highly diffused conflicts all over the world. 

Aims and Objectives:

(a)   Throw up new ideas for structures and processes of political parties to facilitate smoother and qualitatively superior ideas and incumbents in political, administrative, judicial and police institutions, corporate sector, media, civil society groups, elementary education sector and higher institutions of academic and scientific research on the basis of a sustainable synergy among all of them; (b) Build consensus on these ideas through seminars, discussions, debates, public meetings and media as well as consultancy for capacity building projects; and (c) Act as a platform to bring together eminent bodies in all areas to develop a National and Global Vision for Democracy and Governance.

 

The People:

 The Proposed Think-Tank shall consist of individuals with exceptional experience in politics, corporate sector, academic and research institutions, civil society groups, civil administration, diplomacy and defence/security establishments.  The proposed body shall co-opt eminent individuals who have earned distinction in various fields to lend credibility or weight to the proposed body. Eminent individuals shall be supported by a small core group of relatively youngish professional who shall work as permanent researchers and act as secretariat of the proposed Think Tank.

 

The Process:

The proposed body would engage and assist incumbents in Governments, corporate sector, civil society, media and others to build a consensus cum partnership among all of them. This may start with meetings, seminars and discussions based on research but would be followed by concrete and specific capacity building projects sponsored by the beneficiaries or a consortium of corporate entities.



(Details are being held back) 

BBC AND HINDENBURG MUST BE IGNORED BUT INDIA NEEDS SERIOUS INTERNAL DISCOURSE & REFORMS

     Over the last two weeks, two incidents have dominated the discourse in Indian media. One concerns controversial BBC documentary indicti...