'Rejuvenating the Republic': Future perspective
“Majority of Indians, particularly the youth, are unlikely to know the kind of institution building or the foundational efforts made for a modern democratic State.
"Majority of Indians, particularly the youth, are unlikely to know the kind of institution building or the foundational efforts made for a modern democratic State. They would be concerned more with proof of pudding aspects of the democracy, the Constitution and the republic. The affairs in the country have not remained constant or uniform over the decades. In the first 25 years, the republic witnessed hegemony of a single party. After another 25 years of coalition politics at the helm, the country had returned to 'one leader–one party' syndrome.
Whether this phase lasts next 25 years appear to be any one's guess. Populism has been on rise and citizens are becoming eternally dependent on the government more and more. And yet every time a new leader emerges a 'New India' becomes a promise or a claim. Such populistic rhetoric is taking roots in political culture. It is against such trends rejuvenation of the trajectory and the republic is relevant," writes Dr N Bhaskara Rao, a pioneer of social research in India in his forthcoming publication Rejuvenating the Republic, the first of its kind political fiction. Dr Rao popularly known to the media as CMS Rao is a mass communication expert and founder Chairman of Centre for Media Studies (CMS). He built the ORG as its CEO earlier. He is an acknowledged expert in public opinion, feedback and market research methodologies.
The book being published by 'Speaking Tiger', New Delhi, is in its final stage of print, and contains nine chapters covering various aspects. Chapter one is the overview, two what is the dilemma, three the idea of the republic, four ambiguity on fundamentals, five sustaining representative character, six citizen activism-reliable bet for the republic, seven rejuvenating the republic, eight initiatives that are a compulsion and nine transformational interventions. The book throws light on various facets of Indian Republic, its cherished goals, expectations and aspirations of the Constitution, the great strides India has made etc.
Dr Rao, answering the question as to why yet another book on India as a republic, confesses that, the republic as an idea, as a framework to become a better country is fading, remains a formality and remains as a public rhetoric of politicians. He feels that the republic is not so much an important concern of the young and with political parties becoming all pervasive and dominating, this trend should be a concern in the country. This was the backdrop of the author for his taking to this idea of 'Rejuvenating the Republic'. His anxiety is that when the Republic becomes hundred in 2050, India should catch up and stand out as a country of opportunities for everyone.
The chapter on transformational interventions is the heart, quintessence and epicentre of the theme of the book. Each and every aspect of excerpts from this chapter are mindboggling. To run through few of them makes a very interest reading.
The rejuvenation of the Republic should be viewed as an opportunity. In 2050, when the Indian Republic completes hundred years, it is going to be a new record and India becomes a model for the world. Transformational initiatives will have far reaching consequences with ripple effect and are based on the experience of 70 years of Republic. The 'Republic at Hundred' should have an agenda wherein a national committee headed by no less than a person like the Vice-President of India to look into three tasks namely e-voting, relevance of continuation of symbols system and elections on a non-party basis in an experimental way.
Upholding the Constitution as federal character and its basic principle 'We the People of India' is of utmost important. Thought should be given whether we change to 'Union' concept instead of continuing with 'Centre' concept and thus doing away with the policy of centralisation. It would be better to shed responsibilities to states. Idea of checks and balances should be promoted, pursued and upheld. If there would be a broad-based support for Presidential form of the Government, it may be pursued formally.
An ultimate goal of the Republic is to have good governance. Good governance comes from a trajectory view of the Republic. That is democracy, development and governance. It is however, not three or four pillars or estate view that matters but the civil society should be viewed and considered as the fifth pillar of the State and the political parties who are not legally framed otherwise should be as the sixth pillar of the State. Republic is more than a three-legged race. Governance is sum total of activities of the six pillars of the State.
Free, fairness, and transparency in the process having a representative form of governance are essential features. The real root of democracy is effective local governance at village, block and district levels. The least that a development model is expected is corruption free delivery of basic public services like health, education, food, etc. The kind of role and responsibility to be played by civil society and the political parties will be of paramount important. The media also needs to play its role with equal responsibility.
'We the People' is the basic premise of the Republic. Only to the extent this fundamental principle is honoured and kept up, the Republic sustains in its true spirit. Political parties will have to be people-centric which requires internal democracy of holding party elections periodically as per their own constitution. This should be the prerequisite to nominate candidates. Dramatic rejig in the outlook and priorities of political parties is necessary for Indian Republic to become lasting one. Party manifesto should form the basis for poll campaigns. Elections schedule, duration of campaign as well as the polling process to be the shortest.
Flow of funds from corporates which is beyond limits now needs to be curbed so that contestants do not become obligatory for funds taken. Public confidence in the republic and the government gets reflected the way the legislatures function. The functioning in future could be apolitical. The business should be the seriousness of issues beyond parties' interests. It is a compulsion for rejuvenating the republic. The way the government is referred as of an individual by members of different affiliations, and Ministers should be restrained so that it is referred every time as 'Government of India'. The Leader of the House could be someone who is elected by the entire legislature but from the majority party. Parliamentary Committees need to be strengthened by including subject experts.
Rigid party line should not be so obvious in every discussion at least in Upper House. Reiterating Independence of Judiciary is highly desirable. The emerging new political leadership should be exposed to key features of the constitution so that the tendency of defying judges, courts and court judgments by political functionaries is avoided. Election Commission which reflects the stature and responsibility, should set example not only for other independent institutes in the country but constantly assert to do better every time.
Promoting relations between Union and States; holding on to their independence and professional standard by public institutes; prior sharing of information about the appointment of Governor with the concerned State government; citizen led initiatives as the ultimate safety value in democratic functioning etc. are some more transformational initiatives to rejuvenate the Republic according to Dr N Bhaskara Rao. He suggests that right now, at a time when we have a Prime Minister who is in a better position to take initiatives, it is the best time to put forth these transformation initiatives for New India.
A highly worth reading book indeed by every political and social scientist.