Political studies

Renovation of Political Democracy

Democracies should now venture to renovate themselves. It should learn to operate in the context of IT revolution, global village, and emergence of post-industrial societies, mass automation, nuclear families, concentration of wealth, energy and power. Man’s ideas on time, space, reason and causality have basically changed.

It has been rightly observed that nation-states of the twenty-first century, owing to the prevalence of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG), are fast passing from transitia to industria and post-industria. But the most of the political institutions, structures and theories are built upon the experiences of nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. All political institutions and systems have grown out-of-date and wasteful. The old pattern of political leadership, which was attractive and useful in the past, is proving a failure to understand and solve the problems of the twenty-first century.

Many of the political leaders do have control over nuclear weapons supersonic warplanes, super-computers and the fastest means of transportation and communication. But they too stop and wait for at several levels and seek divergent consultation from different leaders. There is little room for unity of command, hierarchy, authoritarianism or monopoly. Neither a saint nor a hero or a supreme works. The leader is confined to the boundaries of nation-state.

National economies are becoming part and parcel of world-economy. It is beyond the control of any one particular nation to solve the problems of inflation, shortage of petrol, nuclear waste, environmental degradation, global warming and the like. Ambit and knowledge of these problems are indivisible but governments, their ministries, departments and corporate bodies operate in a divided, split and competitive manner.

Till prime ministers and presidents through their inter-departmental bodies arrive at decisions, it is often too late in dealing with the problems, which demand immediate attention and decision. The procedures are old and out-of-date. Change is so fast that the leaders and governments are taken aback. Even within a single constit­uency, it is difficult to deal with different groups, local leaders and varying patterns of problems. Making of rules, sub-rules, issuing immediate order, staging flag-march, imposition of 144 under Cr .P.C., distribution of loans and other concessions do not work.

In fact, legislatures in general have turned useless, incapacitated, delaying, war-mongering and helpless. They are hardly built up on the majority of electorate. The majority is a misnomer as it carries only 25 to 30 per cent voters with it. In the absence of a full and adequate discussion, they operate through committees and sub-committees.

A large part of budget is passed without any discussion. Government may be of any political party, or a coalition or a national one, plight of the people continues. Bureaucrats go on taking decisions and action in their own apathetic manner. Legislatures are losing legitimacy or people’s faith in them. Groups and organisations bank upon their own armies, security arrangements, monetary resources and private connections with the high ups.

People at large, are so past-oriented that they do not like any change or reform in their constitution, governmental structures and working proce­dures. Their leaders appear ready to commit harakiri. All appear ready to stick to the status quo. Their past decides the formation of their present as well as future. Most people worship their leaders on the basis of their past acts and expect them to repeat them in identical manner, forgetting that by now they have turned out-of-date, anachronistic, corrupt, inefficient and untrustworthy.

Democracies should now venture to renovate themselves. It should learn to operate in the context of IT revolution, global village, and emergence of post-industrial societies, mass automation, nuclear families, concentration of wealth, energy and power. Man’s ideas on time, space, reason and causality have basically changed.

Economics and morality have joined hands. This is a quantum jump in History. Workers, consumers and citizens are crying for direct participation. They want on spot and at once decisions leading to more and more decentralisation and devolution of power. The world is adopting the culture of electronics, computers, internet, e-commerce, and highly efficient calculators.

Progress of technology has crossed all limits creating wonders of genetic engineering and parenthood. Ethnicity and fanaticism would become a thing of the past. World Bank, IMF, WTO and ADB have taken over state-market and other local economies. Computer-conferencing, mobiles, video screens, fax etc. have reduced distances of time, place and direct contact.

The basic unit of democracy, the man or individual is now living in a totally new environment. Meaning of child, young, adult, old and woman is changing. Individual requires more respect, multi-centric attention, privacy and special care. Hardly anyone wants old, anachronistic, chaotic and time and energy consuming representative institutions. Most of the legislators are ignorant, selfish, inefficient, corrupt and money spent on them is a waste.

They hardly get any majority over any particular issue. All govern­ments are in practice minority governments. People have lost respect for them. Society now, is made of innumerable interest groups. These groups meet in changing size, manner and style. So should the legislatures be constituted accordingly. Leaders and representatives should be selected, nominated and elected on different grounds and for different purposes. Now governance would be ‘a minority based twenty-first century democracy’.

New political set-up of democracy has to evolve hundreds of instru­mental bodies to bring about constant contact and links of negotiation between the rulers and the ruled. Through them the people can easily share responsibility of governance – executive, legislative and judicial. People, including their different groups formed on the basis of varying interests, have a right to send their deputies to the legislature.

This can be done on a short-term basis and for specific purposes. Present representative govern­ments or their legislature have to be replaced by direct contact, consultation or opinion of the voters through mobile or fixed phones, thus, making it a ‘direct democracy’. This would reduce arrogance of political leaders, party bosses, ministers and senior bureaucrats. Democratic government would operate at several levels further divided segmentally, horizontally and verti­cally.

They would have to constitute new institutions to become part of transnational, interstate and global systems. Growth of multinational corpo­rations (MNCs) has taken place everywhere. Hardly would there remain any important matters lying with the states to deal within their exclusive sovereign areas. All their leaders would have to be adept in the use of infor­mation technologies.

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SAKHRI Mohamed

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