Lessons from Contemporary world
112. There are no real parallels in contemporary world for us to follow. There is no nation as vast and complex as India, and in as deep a crisis as we find ourselves in. The heroic efforts to transform the Italian Republic in recent years, the largely successful reform engineered by the revolt of students and youth in Thailand in the eighties, the recent effort to reform the Japanese polity, and the creation of the Fifth Republic of France from the ashes of the discredited and failed Fourth Republic -- are all instances of national rejuvenation through relatively peaceful and democratic means in the post-II World War World. South Korea and Taiwan are two other ongoing, successful examples of national rejuvenation. The collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union, the disintegration of, and civil war in, erstwhile Yugoslavia, and the conflagration in several pockets of Asia, Africa and Latin America -- are some of the unsuccessful, traumatic and often bloody and violent transformations across the globe. We must have the capacity as a nation to learn the appropriate lessons from the experiences of peoples everywhere, without necessarily having to endure their trauma, pain and anguish.
Lessons of Freedom Struggle
113. Our freedom struggle has valuable lessons and insights to offer us in the task of rejuvenation of our republic. In some ways, the task of uniting and mobilizing the people of India against the British was relatively easy and simple. Our freedom fighters had a simple, uncomplicated, easily understood message, which also could evoke an emotive response. Racial bigotry and the fact that a small number of white rulers could dominate the vast subcontinent were easy enough to see and understand and rebel against. The issue was at once appealing to emotion, conscience and reason. The divisions in society and the hurdles on account of vastness of size and linguistic diversity could be overcome with relative ease.
114. As opposed to the experience of the freedom struggle, the message today is far more complicated. There is no easily discernible enemy against whom the nation could be united. In the face of alround failure of institutions, there is no single realizable goal to enthuse us. With our polity fractured, there is no pan-national leadership available to harness people's frustrations and disenchantment.
115. However, we have today two great advantages in our favour. Firstly, with the widening of democratic process over the past 50 years, most people have experienced a sense of failure of the system. The belief that our governance system has largely failed and in fact is on the verge of collapse is all-pervasive. Irrespective of political beliefs, ideological proclivities, and social and economic barriers, almost all segments of our society are united in their condemnation of our governance system. It is as if all citizens have access to the same pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Most of them may not know how to put the pieces together and create a recognizable shape. But if the enlightened, thinking sections take the trouble of putting the pieces into a proper shape, most people can easily recognize it and emulate the example. In a true sense, India is ready for transformation and all segments of the country, irrespective of the many barriers, respond almost identically to the prevailing crisis.
116. The other formidable advantage offered to us is the technological progress. With the increasing reach of the print and electronic mass media, today we have greater opportunity than ever before to effectively communicate with the whole nation. Coupled with the shared concerns and the experiences of the past 50 years, the communications revolution makes it possible to energize the whole nation and work towards a common cause as never before. The reach of the media is expanding by the day. There is understandable obsession with titillation, sex and violence during the early phase of the satellite communication revolution. However, with time, given the complex, all-pervasive crisis engulfing us, most Indians are receptive and responsive to the call for reform, if only articulated coherently,logically and with simplicity. Once the creative talents of a large number of people are harnessed to this cause, the nation will respond and rise as one, unshackling itself from the past, marching ahead to a great future.
117. As we have seen, the concept of nationalism before 1947 was based on racial bigotry, cultural atavism and idolatrous patriotism. Such a concept of patriotism, with the underlying factor of colonial exploitation, served us well in fighting for liberation from foreign yoke. Modern nationalism, however, must be built on wholesome and enduring concepts of enlightened self-interest, respect for universal human values, and promotion of human dignity and true self-governance. In the absence of a governance structure truly reflecting the new nationalism, the Indian republic cannot last long. The increasing anarchy, lawlessness and violence exhibited by the dispossessed sections of society, the latent authoritarian tendencies increasingly manifest among the urban middle classes and the ever-present spectres of balkanization and disintegration of India in the face of mounting political, economic and social crises -- are all pointers to the need for a comprehensive reform of the governance structure in order to maintain peace and public order, enlarge freedom and self- governance and promote unity and integrity.
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SECOND FREEDOM STRUGGLE
Change of Players Vs Rules of the Game
118. Given the nature of Indian polity today, it is unrealistic to expect that such a transformation will be accomplished through the normal process of power in the existing constitutional frame-work. It is increasingly clear that no party or group of parties is capable of articulating a comprehensive, holistic vision for the future with a long-term perspective, without being obsessed with the day-to-day struggle for survival and power-games. Even if a party or a group of parties summons the will and intellectual resources to articulate and propagate such a national agenda, given the increasingly fractured nature of our polity, it is unlikely that such a party will succeed in getting an unequivocal mandate to govern the nation, and translate the reform agenda into reality.
119. Even if, by some unexpected circumstances, a party is capable of achieving a suitable majority with a coherent and clear mandate for change, it is most unlikely that there will be sufficient support for major constitutional reform in parliament. Even if by a miracle a government with a will and vision is able to capture more than 2/3 majority in both houses of parliament and sufficient strength in most state legislatures, the vested interests will not allow such a transformation to take place easily. In the absence of spread of awareness amongst the ordinary people about the need for specific reforms as part of a comprehensive agenda, several segments of the entrenched establishment can easily paralyze the nation by well-orchestrated opposition to reforms, which might affect their short-term interests adversely. The people,who are the ultimate masters in a democracy, will be left standing as mute and passive spectators, with little recognition of the implications of the struggle for constitutional reform in the distant and ethereal corridors of power. Clearly, the need of the hour is creating awareness among the people about the linkage between their day-to-day concerns, and the reform agenda.
Referendum __ The Creative Way Out
120. The only democratic and realistic way of overcoming the formidable and seemingly insurmountable obstacles to democratic transformation of the nation is through concerted action for promotion of popular awareness of the specific issues involved, and generation of a groundswell of informed public support for holistic reform of our governance structure. Such public support should then be translated into concrete approval of the reform process and rejection of the status quo through the mechanism of a referendum, which will be unrelated to power games and the survival or collapse of a government. Given the enormity of the task, the magnitude of the change required, the urgency and the gravity of the issues involved, the people must have the opportunity to give their unequivocal stamp of approval to the reform agenda, without being coloured by partisan political considerations, ideological proclivities and transient policies. The struggle is about the nature of our governance process and the process of power, and not about issues of day-to-day policy and decisions. Therefore,the level of debate must be elevated to transcend parties and ideologies, and must appeal to the collective conscience of the nation to bring about the holistic reform. In effect,the need of the hour is the Second Freedom Struggle to create a new republic on the secure and durable foundations of freedom, self-governance, empowerment, rule of law and self- correcting institutional framework.
121. Such a gigantic task requires the commitment, skill, talent and resources of the finest and most creative minds in our country in a sustained and productive manner. We must harness all our energies to build a network of organizations throughout the country from the grass-roots level upto the national level, with the objective of facilitating people to draw lessons from their own day-to-day experiences and building a consensus around the national agenda on the basis of these lessons. This must be a movement to gain power to the people in a democratic and peaceful manner through fundamental constitutional reform, by demanding and engineering a referendum to enable the people to speak clearly and unambiguously.
122. If there is a referendum today, a vast majority of people will unequivocally reject the status quo and opt for change. However, we have no referendum for people to give their verdict, and there is no understanding of, and consensus on, the contours of reform actually needed. What we need, therefore, is a sustained and vigorous grass-roots national campaign to promote awareness of the reform agenda, and to seek a non-partisan, national referendum on the need for fundamental democratic reforms. Such a national movement must be aimed at making people conscious of the need for reform through their understanding and monitoring of grass-roots institutions of state with which they have daily linkages.The disenchantment of the people with the governance process must be harnessed constructively and creatively, and must be shaped into a positive, irresistible force propelling fundamental democratic reforms. In short, it must be the Second Freedom Struggle, aimed at creation of a true,mature and self-correcting democracy enlarging freedoms, promoting true self-governance and empowering people.
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LOK SATTA - POWER TO
123. The following are the suggested structure and methods that could be adopted for achieving this formidable but vital and urgent goal:
a) The organization could be named as Lok Satta or Power To People, so that the basic objective of the struggle is explicitly stated and understood in most Indian languages.
b) Lok Satta must be a nation-wide campaign from the grass-roots level to the national level with effective networking among all existing voluntary social action groups, movements, and individuals with shared concern for the future of our democracy and commitment to the rejuvenation of our republic. There are thousands of such institutions and individuals already operating effectively at various levels with dedication, years of experience, insights, great credibility and popular support. All these must be brought together to work collectively for the common national agenda under the banner of Lok Satta, even as they continue to retain their identities and concerns. What is required is a common commitment for the minimal agenda for the transformation of the Indian state under a common generic name nationally known and understood, without having to give up the local identity and efforts for specific causes.
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LOK SATTA PRIMARY UNITS
a) Lok Satta must function essentially through grassroots Lok Satta units at the primary level. Wherever existing people's organizations are available, they may work as Lok Satta primary units for the specific purpose of this reform agenda for the limited duration of the Lok Satta movement. Elsewhere people must be enabled to organize themselves as Lok Satta primary units.
Number per unit
b) Each Lok Satta primary unit may have a membership of 25 to 50 persons. If the number exceeds 50 in a geographic area, they may form more than one unit, rather than exceed the number beyond a reasonable limit. This limitation of the number of participants in any single primary unit is to ensure that each person has effective voice and say in the functioning of the unit, so that true democracy prevails.
c) Membership of Lok Satta primary units shall be open, and all concerned persons who are committed to the following principles are free and welcome to join the Lok Satta units:
i) There must be a broad agreement with the national agenda. If there are some differences there is no bar, as it is not possible to conceive of total unanimity in all respects on all vital issues. However, essentially there must be agreement on the underlying principles of reform and most of the major features of the agenda indicated.
ii) The members should agree to function in a non-partisan manner. Members of political parties may become members of Lok Satta if they so wish. However, office bearers in political parties shall not be members of Lok Satta and those who seek elected responsibilities as office bearers in Lok Satta must give up the membership of their political party, if any.
iii) The members must be willing to commit their surplus time, talent, resources and energy for the national agenda and Lok Satta organization, without having to seriously undermine their personal goals and concerns. However, their commitment to Lok Satta must be sustained and vigorous and roughly on par with their personal goals, and not as a mere occasional pastime or fancy.
v) Lok Satta is committed to rejuvenation of the republic and believes that what is required is a change in the rules of the game, as mere change of players will not bring about the desired reform. Therefore, the members of Lok Satta must agree not to seek elective public office at any level, since such a contest with or without a party label will undermine the efforts of Lok Satta to build consensus among all segments of population in favour of the national agenda. If they desire to contest in elections, they are free to leave Lok Satta and seek elective office. Lok Satta shall not in any way be used for the electoral advantage of any individual, group or party.
126. Internal Democracy and Coordination
d) Lok Satta units shall be managed democratically through their elected leadership. Each member shall have one vote at the primary level and the members will elect their own President, Secretary and Treasurer annually. There shall be no nomination of office bearers of Lok Satta.
e) All Lok Satta primary units in a revenue district will work in close coordination with each other as part of the larger network and work in a concerted manner to achieve the objectives.
f) There can be any number of Lok Satta units in a district, depending on the local participation. There may be one unit for a village, a group of villages or more than one unit in a big village depending on the circumstances.
g) Each member shall have a photo-identity card with a distinctive identification to facilitate easy identity, mutual recognition and smooth and fair organizational elections for office bearers.
Method of Functioning
127. Lok Satta units will concentrate their members' energies in understanding and monitoring the day-to-day functioning of the institutions of state at the local level. The members of Lok Satta units would naturally be stake-holders in the functioning of local primary and secondary schools, primary health centres and hospitals, fair price shops, taluk offices, panchayat offices at the village and intermediate level, municipal offices, police stations and other government offices. As stake-holders, the members will endeavour to understand the functioning of these institutions and offices and bring constant pressure to improve their functioning, wherever deficiencies or distortions are noted. They will function peacefully and democratically. In order to gain understanding and recognition and derive the benefit of a large nation-wide network that comes up, they will use the generic name Lok Satta in their functioning,articulation and correspondence.
128. Their efforts to understand and monitor the functioning of the local institutions is aimed to achieve three objectives. Firstly, expression of concern by direct stake-holders and public pressure based on knowledge will bring about a tangible improvement in the functioning of the institutions, which itself is a worthy goal. Secondly, the primordial loyalties such as caste, clan, creed, group or faction will be subsumed and eventually substituted by enlightened community loyalties. Such loyalties will be based on collective self-interest in maximizing the benefits and services from state institutions and minimizing the distortions, deficiencies and corruption. Thirdly, the ultimate objective of taking intelligent interest as stake-holders in the functioning of state institutions is to understand the limitations imposed by the existing instruments of governance, draw appropriate lessons from their own experience over time, and appreciate and build consensus around the national agenda for reform. It is expected that this process of awakening and constant learning facilitating a broad understanding of the national agenda will take a few years.
129. Since Lok Satta primary units are essentially concerned with understanding the functioning of local institutions, improving them and drawing lessons to build a consensus around the national agenda, there will be no need for large funding.Each member should contribute a membership fee to his or her unit as determined by the concerned District Campaign but not less than Rs.10/- per month or Rs.100/- per year paid in lumpsum at the beginning of the year. This money will be pooled at the unit level and utilized by the elected leadership of the unit in furtherance of its goals. All such funds shall be fully accounted for by the leadership and the accounts submitted to the unit for approval. The local units are free to raise additional resources in cash or kind for incurring expenditure or creating any community facility in furtherance of the cause. All such contributions must be publicly acknowledged under receipt and publicly accounted for.
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130. There shall be a District Campaign of Lok Satta for every revenue district to coordinate the activities of Lok Satta units at primary level and to undertake other activities at the district level in furtherance of objectives of Lok Satta, with the following structure and functioning.
There shall be three types of membership of Lok Satta District Campaign:
i) Each Lok Satta primary unit shall elect one of its members to be represented in the District Campaign.
ii) Individuals who desire to become members of the District Campaign directly may be enrolled as members subject to fulfillment of the conditions which apply to all Lok Satta units.
iii) The District Campaign may invite eminent individuals and voluntary social workers in the district to become members. Such membership by invitation shall be limited to Ten (10) for each District Campaign. Only those persons whose work and commitment have gained wide recognition and acceptance amongst all sections of population shall be invited.
b) Membership fee and funding:
131. Each Lok Satta primary unit sending its representative to the District Campaign shall pay a membership fee equal to 25% of the membership fee received by it. The members directly enrolled in the District Campaign shall pay a membership fee of Rs.100/- per month or Rs.1000/- a year paid in lumpsum at the beginning of the year.The members who are invited need not pay any membership fee.
The District Campaign may raise contributions from individuals and institutions in furtherance of its objectives. However, all contributions should be publicly acknowledged under receipt and their utilization publicly accounted for. The annual statement of accounts shall be submitted to the District Campaign by the elected leadership and approval obtained. All such records shall be available for public scrutiny. No funding shall be accepted from non-Indians.
c) Voting Rights
132. All the members shall not have the same voting strength and there shall be a weightage in favour of representative members elected from the Lok Satta primary units in order to strengthen the grass-roots units and promote democratic functioning. 2/3 of all voting strength of the District Campaign shall remain with the representatives of Lok Satta primary units.All other members-directly enrolled and invited-shall have 1/3 of the voting strength irrespective of their actual number. If the total voting strength of the District Campaign is assumed to be 100, the total votes of the Lok Satta primary units shall have a combined strength of 67, and each representative member shall have the voting strength of 67/x,x being the number of Lok Satta primary units in the district. The combined voting strength of the other members shall be 33, with each of the other members having the voting strength of 33/y, y being the total number of other members.
d) Each District Campaign member shall have a photo- identity card for easy identification and mutual recognition, and to facilitate smooth organizational elections.
e) The office bearers of the District Campaign viz., president, secretary and the treasurer shall be elected annually by the members.
f) The District Campaign shall have its own office and atleast one paid worker to maintain records and accounts and take care of correspondence. The office bearers are expected to be available regularly on rotation basis at 0the office for consultation and coordination.
Functioning of District Campaign
133. The District Campaign shall monitor and coordinate the efforts of the primary units. It will also liaise between the State Campaign and primary units. It will monitor the functioning of the district level institutions of state and understand their functioning and bring pressure to correct the deficiencies and distortions.
134. The District Campaign shall undertake the responsibility of organizing the primary units throughout the district. In time, there must be at least 50 to 100 primary units organized in every district, depending on its size. On an average, at least one person per thousand population should be actively involved in Lok Satta primary units, over a period of two to four years.
135. The District Campaign shall keep a close liaison with the media-both print and electronic. It should enlist the participation of media persons as members as far as possible.
136. Various sections including retired employees, serving employees of government and private sector, ex-servicemen, lawyers, teachers, other professionals, entrepreneurs, women, youth and students must be encouraged to become members of Lok Satta at both the District Campaign and primary unit levels, depending on their convenience. There shall be close interaction with the voluntary social action groups and concerned individuals through out the district, so that there is concerted action to build up a consensus around the national agenda and promote the objectives of Lok Satta.
137. The District Campaign shall receive the literature and other campaign material provided by the National Campaign and State Campaign, replicate and distribute it within the district, including to the primary units. The District Campaign will also create appropriate literature suitable to the local needs in support of the agenda and use it for mass awakening.
LOK SATTA STATE CAMPAIGN
138. For every state and union territory, a Lok Satta State Campaign shall be organized. The membership of the State Campaign shall be as follows:
i) Each District Campaign will elect a member to repre-sent it at the State Campaign level.
ii) Members can be directly enrolled in the State Campaign if they fulfill the conditions of membership as applicable at primary and district levels.
iii) Eminent individuals, with long record of service and wide recognition and respect amongst all sections of population, may be invited to be members of the State Campaign, not exceeding 25 in number.
Membership fee and funding
139. Each District Campaign represented in the State Campaign shall pay a membership fee equal to 25% of the total membership fee received by it.The directly enrolled members shall contribute Rs 300 per month or Rs 3,000 per year, if paid in lump sum at the beginning of the year.There shall be no membership fee for invited members.
The State Campaign may raise contributions from individuals and institutions in furtherance of its objectives. However, all contributions should be publicly acknowledged under receipt and their utilization publicly accounted for. The annual statement of accounts shall be submitted to the State Campaign by the elected leadership and approval obtained.All such records shall be available for public scrutiny. No funding shall be accepted from non-Indians.
140. The representative members of District Campaign shall have a combined voting strength of 2/3 of the total and all the other members shall have 1/3 of the total voting strength. If the voting strength is taken as 100, the combined voting strength of the District Campaigns shall be 67.This voting strength shall be distributed among the representative members of District campaigns in proportion to the number of LOK SATTA primary units operating in each district. The combined voting strength of other members shall be 33/y, y being the number of other members in the State Campaign. Each State Campaign member shall have a photo-identity card. The office-bearers of the State Campaign viz., president, vice-president,Secretary and Treasurer shall be elected annually by the members.
The State Campaign will also have an elected Executive committee, on which the office bearers will be ex-officio members, with the State Campaign president as Chairman.
Functioning of State Campaign
141. The State Campaign shall have its own office, with such number of paid workers as necessary. The office bearers and Executive Committee will be available regularly on rotation basis at the office for ready consultation and coordination.The State Campaign shall coordinate and assist in the functioning of the District Campaigns and primary units within the state.The State Campaign shall act as a liaison between the National Campaign and the District Campaigns.
142. The State Campaign shall take steps to create in support of the reform agenda and replicate and distribute it to District Campaigns. The State Campaign will also receive literature from National Campaign and translate and distribute it.The State Campaign will launch a vigorous media campaign through writings, audio-visual techniques and other available means in support of the national agenda for the rejuvenation of the republic. The support of all the newspaper and media persons including the editors and correspondents, and all eminent persons with distinguished record of service must be enlisted in furtherance of the national agenda in a non-partisan manner.
143. The State Campaign shall constantly monitor the institutions of state at state level and work to correct the deficiencies and distortions in their functioning and to build a consensus in favour of the reform agenda. All State Campaign members shall have photo-identity cards in order the facilitate easy identification and mutual recognition. All correspondence and activities shall be in the name of Lok Satta for easy recognition and for deriving strength from the national network of Lok Satta.
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