Thursday, April 1, 2010

Electoral reforms Proposal

Executive Summary:

India is a vast and diverse country and it is one of the biggest democracies in the world. The constitution of India creates basically three basic pillars who work in very close coordination and cooperation with each other: legislature, executive and judiciary. All are having well defined and well demarcated roles to play. While legislature is responsible for enacting the laws, executives are responsible to execute it and judiciary comes in picture when executives violate it during implementation.

Out of these three pillars the most powerful is the legislature as they have power to enact and amend laws, according to the need. In India, elected legislatures form the multilevel governments: the union government, states governments and local governments. Each level of the government is formed by the elected representatives (legislature) who are directly elected by the public. Political parties are the main pillars to provide forum for playing politics to the politicians and political actors. All political parties are registered with designated institutions and authorities (ECI). There are three types of parties in India: national, regional and unregistered. The election commission of India (ECI) conducts election of parliament and states assembly at an interval of five years and is the registering authority for the political parties. While states Local body election commissions conducts elections for local urban and rural governments. s

India has a multi political party system. Each party has its own constitutions and accordingly they run their parties. Parties have their own policy, agenda and supporters. To organized party and run it political leader and actors manage the party affairs and its activities. Traditionally most of the political actors and leaders don’t join the politics as profession by design, but in majority of the cases it is by default. Politics in India in not taken as profession expect few dynastic and family leaders. There is no specific law for the political party management. There is no established system, no prescribed minimum educational qualification and no screening test for joining politics like executives and judiciary. There are only two very normal and simple criteria for joining the politics: sound mind and age. For contesting elections, taking party positions and doing politics no much restriction and conditions are in place in India. In India, pursuing politics is very easy as it is a field requires no much effort to enter into, no minimum prescribed educational qualification and no much botheration to start with.

In fact, It is felt that politics and politicians have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of all the citizens of the country, and so it is all the more important for the politicians to undergo capacity development, training on the basics of government functioning and of the conduct of the various democratic institutions of the country. One sees that there are different types of professional programs for medicine, engineering, pharmacy, management and other professions. There are comprehensive training programs for administrative and judiciary services. If someone desires to make politics as a career and a profession, why not have a systematic program for the same. In Indian context, in light of unrestricted entry criteria into politics, it is highly imperative in order to improve the good governance. Since neither there is a systematic way of screening before the entry nor any exclusive program for capacity development after the entry. Therefore, the existing political parties and political leaders, actors and managers- particularly the young leaders- need skill development and knowledge enhancement to meet the newly posed challenges due to fast developing technologies, growing awareness in masses and melting boundaries at different levels.

Concept:

Political process: Political parties are indispensable to any democratic system and play the most crucial role in the electoral process – in putting up candidates and conducting election campaigns. Political parties and the party system in India have been greatly influenced by cultural diversity, social, ethnic, caste, community and religious pluralism, traditions of the nationalist movement, contrasting style of party leadership, and clashing ideological perspectives. The two major categories of political parties in India are National and State, and are so recognized by the Election Commission of India on the basis of certain specified criteria.

Constitutional and Legal Position:

Worldwide scene: The legal and constitutional position of political parties varies from country to country. In most democratic countries, however, there is neither any direct constitutional provision regulating the functioning of political parties, nor any legal sanction establishing political parties as a necessary governmental institution, although there are some governmental systems which try to prescribe some conditions for the operation of party system. A very good example is furnished by the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic, which prescribes that Parliament (The French National Assembly) cannot make a law that may abridge the right of the political parties to carry on their activities freely. This is perhaps a tacit recognition of the existence of political parties as a sine qua non of a democratic system. Similarly, the basic law of Germany's Constitution includes political parties in its purview. Art. 21 of the Law guarantee the legitimacy of parties and their right to exist, if they accept the principle of democratic government. The Federal Government of Germany has thoroughly institutionalized the structure of political parties, by introducing the 5% clause, which makes it extremely difficult for minority or splinter parties to form and flourish.

The Canadian practice of Registration of Party or Party foundation is very comprehensive. Parties are registered on certain conditions and party leaders are selected through a national leadership convention composed of provincial party delegates voting as individuals rather than as a bloc.

Closer home, Nepalese Constitution (Art.12) provides freedom to form union and association, which has been enshrined as a fundamental right. Art. 112 deals specifically with the prohibition to ban political parties. Any law, arrangement or decision which allows for participation or involvement of only a single political organization or party or persons having a single political ideology in the elections or in the political system of the country shall be inconsistent with the Constitution.

India’s Position: Political parties do not as such find any direct mention in the Constitution of India. However, there is one provision in the Constitution which is directly relevant to the functioning of political parties: the Tenth Schedule. The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution was added by the Constitution (Fifty-second Amendment) Act, 1985. It deals with the disqualification of a person for being a member of either House of Parliament [Art. 102(2)] or the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State [Art.191(2)], on ground of defection.

In the absence of a sufficiently detailed constitutional provisions, the major onus of framing and administering the rules and regulations governing political parties in India has fallen on the Election Commission, a constitutional body responsible for the conduct of elections. The Election Commission of India has the ultimate power to accord recognition and status of political parties to “the association or body of citizens of India". The Election Commission has the power to decide whether or not to register an association or body of individuals as a political party.

The recognized political parties are accorded the status of a National or State political party in accordance with the provisions of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 as amended from time to time. It may be noted that political parties in India are also sometimes categorized by observers, academics and political analysts on the basis of their territorial or geographical representation, such as: All India parties, Regional parties and Local parties.

Recent Trends in the Growth of Parties:

The history of origin and growth of political parties in India can be traced to the days of India's struggle for freedom. The Indian National Congress was perhaps our first political party; it came into existence in the year 1885. There were some groups formed by patriotic Indians before that, but they did not converge into becoming a political party. The Indian National Congress was the natural and inevitable outcome of a national awakening. The evolution of the party system after Independence presents a study of transformation from one-party dominant system to a complex of multi-party configuration, in which presently strong trends of fragmentation, factionalism, and regionalism, coupled with the desire to form alliances for seeking a share in the pie of power (irrespective of any strong ideological or programmatic commitments) are being increasingly witnessed.

The present phase in the evolution of the party system is noted for two features. One, the general trend amongst both the national and regional parties to move away from the strict ideological framework of the party of the left and the right. Although in general, they do profess to stick to their party ideology or at least are known by certain ideological labels. But in their actual programmatic support they seem to be more pragmatic inasmuch as they are not reluctant to give up their ideological instance or put it on back burner, if that helps gain them a share of political power. Such trend has been witnessed both at the national as well as at the State level and parties are less inhibited to share power or coalesce in government formation with the groups, who till the other day were their bitter political opponents. Two, since the resultant coalition alliances are neither 'ideological' nor have any common objective to cement them together, they are merely short term tactical arrangements established by ambitious politicians that are rooted in the exchange of mutual benefits and compulsions of power, the mobilization of electorate is done through a strategy of support to regional cum segmental or ethnic issues without giving overriding support either to national or primarily local issues.

The last decade of the 20th century saw a sharp rise in political mobilization on the basis of social cleavages based on ascriptive identities, in particular of religion and caste. Casteism, communalism and personality domination have been the main planks around which the fragmentation of political parties has taken place, which has resulted in more caste and class-based political violence in the society. Political parties have invariably exploited these sentiments for gaining electoral support and political mobilization of the voters.

There was another significant development after the 1989 elections affecting the party system. The coalition politics gained a new trend: Parties' tended to lend support to Government from outside without formally joining it, thus ostensibly sharing power without assuming any responsibility.

Problems in the Working of Parties:

1. Absence of Inner Party Democracy: Over the last fifty years of Independence, no political party has been able to observe the basic norms of inner party democracy. The authority in organizational matters has always been from the top to the bottom through successive layers of party structures. Leaders of political parties in Independent India have not always emerged through a process of democratic elections and promotion from the lower levels to the higher and the top. Thus leadership in most political parties in India may be democratic in appearance but highly oligarchic in reality. Undemocratic parties cannot contribute to constitutional and democratic government.

2. Representation of Women: Political parties cannot remain indifferent towards women who constitute nearly 50% of the electorate. Although almost all parties have attempted to build women organizations to secure their support and make their organization more broad -based, but in practice they have failed. Recently, India passed a bill to reserve 33% seats in parliament, state legislative assemblies and local bodies.

3. Training of Members: Training and orientation of new members is one of the important functions of political parties. The parties which are organized on the model of cadre party systematically develop appropriate agencies of training for members. But most Indian parties, except for the Communist parties and the BJP have not followed this model. Parties in India do not have a permanent system of training of their members, and whatever arrangements for training are done is done on ad-hoc basis by national or state level organization.

4. Need for Funds: To perform various functions and contest elections in an effective manner, every political party requires huge funds. Apart from expenditure of office establishment, full time-workers, agitations, propaganda and travel, parties have to organize election campaigns. But the financial matters of party are kept secret while other aspects of organization are known to people. Many political parties and candidates have been found to be using dubious methods in raising funds, like kickbacks, funds from foreign countries and even from donations by mafia gangs and other non-desirable elements. Transparent sources of party finances are a must.

5. Lack of Ideology and Values in Politics: There has been very sharp erosion in the ideological orientation of political parties. Party dynamics in India has led to the emergence of valueless politics much against the ideals of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who suggested that the Congress party should be disbanded after the achievement of Independence and its members should engage themselves in the service of the people. While Gandhiji taught us tremendous selflessness, self sacrifice and service to the people, such inspirational values, the democratic norms and institutions have been destroyed systematically over the last fifty years of the working of the Constitution.

In amoral pursuit of power politics, every major player seems to be playing a no holds barred game. Astronomical sums of tainted money have come to play an important role both in the pre and post-election scenario. The entry of criminal elements within the folds of political parties and later their elevation to the portals of peoples representative chambers and the executive positions of ministers have resulted in an environment of declining moral standards of public life and the emergence of value-less politics for personal gains. Unfortunately this trend has penetrated to all walks of public life and no political leader or political party seems to care for value-based politics and upholding of moral standards.

6. Leadership Quality: The older political leadership had risen from the ranks. The rise was neither sudden nor irrational, and their adherence and commitment to party ideals and ideology was unflinching. They respected party discipline. The present day political leadership seems to be in a tremendous hurry to reach up to the top, and is not averse to use short cuts, dubious methods, money or muscle power to achieve their objective.

7. Campaign methods: The campaign methods used by parties in the days of electronic media, high-tech advertisement, projecting images through the glamour of models and the film / TV idols have taken away the element of serenity and the spirit of public service from the political leadership. The election campaigns both at the regional and national levels these days have become kinds of stage shows in which the matinee idols are paraded to attract voters in support of their candidates by the rival parties without seriously discussing or educating the electorate about the issues at stake in the election.

8. Regionalization: The regionalization of political parties has compelled many of the parties to orient their highly centralized organization and decision-making structure to suit the new demands of party at the state level, thus adopting a confederation like approach for the party organization. This has resulted in a lesser assertion of national control over state units.

9. Casteism: Although there is hardly any instance in India of a political party being totally identified with any particular caste group, yet there are cases of certain castes lending strong support to particular political parties.

10. Communalism: The partition of the former united India in 1947 in two independent nations had its origin in the forces of communalism that swept the sub-continent during the first half of the last century. Despite the emergence of India as a 'secular ' state, the politics of communalism and religious fundamentalism in the post independence period has led to a number of separate movements in various states and regions of the country. Communal polarization, rather multi-polarization, has posed a threat to the Indian political ethos of pluralism, parliamentarianism and federalism.

11. Criminalization: Although the influence of muscle power in Indian politics has long been a fact of political life since the First General Elections of 1952, when some feeble allegations were made about the use of outlaws by the politicians to further their electoral prospects, the intensity and frequency of such allegations, have increased in more recent times, and the criminalization of politics and the persons known to have criminal past becoming legislators and ministers has not only become very common but is being openly defended by the party leaders.

12. Growing Violence: There are some sections of the population and highly organized political groups and parties, who do not like to remain within the orbit of the Indian Constitution and work outside the existing political apparatus and party norms, and in the process, have taken to political violence and terrorism in a big way, as the only method for political participation. .

13. Fractionalization and coalitions: A spate of minority and coalition governments at the Center due to the fragmentation of the party system has laid bare the vulnerability of the process of governance due to political uncertainty and instability of governments

14. Political Parties and Governance: The four major factors have influenced the nature of political change in India: (1) the de-institutionalizing role of national and regional leaders; (2) the impact of weak political parties; (3) the undisciplined political mobilization of various caste, ethnic, religious, and other types of groups; and (4) the increasing conflicts between the haves and have-nots in the civil society. If these trends continue unchecked, India's political crisis is likely to get worse.

15. Jumbo Council of Ministers: The experience of minority and coalition governments has also resulted in the practice of creating abnormally large or what is known as jumbo size council of ministers in order to accommodate the coalition partners in the government.

3. Indian development position in Global context:

UN agenda for the capacity Development of leaders and political actors: On 4 July 2005, then UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, announced the creation of the UN Democracy Fund at the African Union summit. The 2005 World Summit reaffirmed democracy as “a universal value”, indicating that “there is no single model of democracy, that it does not belong to any country or region”, and welcomed “the establishment of a Democracy Fund at the United Nations”. In his statement to the press on 31 August 2006, Mr. Annan called on all Members States to support the UN Democracy Fund and use it as an innovative and flexible mechanism for advancing the UN democracy agenda. In April 2007, at the UN Democracy Fund’s fourth Advisory Board meeting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that promotion of democracy is inseparable for UN’s broader work for security, development and human rights.

UNDEF was established by the Secretary-General in July 2005 as a United Nations General Trust Fund, with the primary purpose of supporting democratization around the world. It supports projects that strengthen all groups in democratic processes and consolidation phases of democratization. In this way, UNDEF plays a new and distinct role in complementing the UN's work with Governments to strengthen democratic governance around the world.

The Asia Young Leaders in Governance Initiative

The Asia Young Leaders in Governance (AYLG) initiative addresses the need to build a critical mass of young leaders in the Asia region, who will be trained as leaders in democratic governance processes. It recognizes that young leaders are an important constituency that requires further attention and investments to enable them to serve as more effective leaders for the future. The AYLG project strategy supports building the leadership values and capacities of young leaders towards further enhancing their knowledge and skills in their various areas of expertise and influence; and in turn strengthening democratic governance processes in the region.
The initiative was launched in 2005 through a partnership between the UNDP Regional Centers in Bangkok (RCB) and Colombo (RCC) through the regional programmes – Capacity 2015 Asia, Asia Regional Governance Programme (ARGP), the Regional Indigenous Peoples’ Programme (RIPP), and the Asia Pacific Gender Mainstreaming Programme (APGMP). Participation in AYLG leadership courses follows a strict criteria as follows: a) between 25 to 35 years old; b) proven track record and active participation in leadership and/or governance issues in their respective countries and/or the region;
c) willingness and commitment to take and apply the leadership skills to be learned during the training; d) has exhibited a sphere of influence in their respective areas to make a difference; e) has working knowledge of the English language.

Efforts have been made to ensure there are at least 50% women in the trainings, including those representing indigenous peoples.

Two other features of this initiative worth highlighting are: 1) the actual delivery and in-country convening is done by alumni of the programme. 2) four thematic teams of UNDP contribute to management and content development of the programme bringing their area of expertise to bear on its outcome.

The First Regional Leadership Training Course was successfully held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in November 2006 with 76 participants from 20 countries representing national government (including six Members of Parliament and nine national Ministry officials/staff), local government, non-government organizations, private organizations, and regional/international organizations. A conscious effort was made to include women. These produced an additional 55 Leadership Fellows (i.e., those who had completed the leadership courses) from 20 countries, among which nine (9) Fellows were trained as trainers and were involved in the rollout of the sub-regional courses. In 2006, Leadership Fellows from the Philippines and Bangladesh, partnered with their local organizations to adapt and deliver the Leadership Course in national level roll-outs, designed and managed by them with support from UNDP. In 2007, a training of trainers (TOT) was held in Laos where six (6) leadership graduates were trained as trainers followed immediately by the South East and East Asia sub-regional course where 33 young leaders from civil society organizations, parliaments, government ministries and national agencies, private sector.

The UNDP Oslo Governance Centre in consultation with UNDP country offices (CO) and the Democratic Governance Group, Bureau for Development Policy, New York has prepared a report. This report, which is intended for UNDP democratic governance practitioners, analyses and summarizes a mapping of UNDP’s engagement with political parties that was conducted in October 2003 and updated in May 2005. The information contained in the mapping is indicative rather than exhaustive and reflects the various ways UNDP Country Offices are currently working and engaging with political parties. The aim of the mapping is to strengthen UNDP’s programme and policy staff understands of UNDP’s engagement with political parties. The mapping will serve as a key reference for informing the development of UNDP’s corporate policies and practices concerning political parties.

The report is divided into two principal parts:

(i) a detailed analysis of UNDP’s engagement with political parties by focus area

(ii) a detailed analysis of UNDP’s engagement with political parties by region.

The information gathered as part of the mapping comes from the following sources:

(i) A survey that was completed by UNDP country offices in October 2003

on the various ways that UNDP may engage with political parties in programme countries. (ii) An analysis of queries, consolidated replies and e-discussions that have

taken place on UNDP’s democratic governance practice network (DGPN) as well as the e-discussion on the topic of ‘UNDP’s engagement with political parties’ that took place in September 2004.

UNDP works with or supports political parties through three service lines: 1: electoral systems and processes (16 COs). 2: parliamentary development (13 COs). 3: policy support for democratic governance (16 COs)

USAID POLITICAL PARTY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE:

USAID political party development assistance is designed to facilitate the democratic process in newly democratizing countries, rather than to influence specific political outcomes. Promoting and strengthening the broader political process through political party development assistance require long-term support for specific organizational, behavioral, and governance aspects of democratic parties, rather than the pursuit of short-term electoral goals. Within this long-term, process-oriented framework, USAID political party assistance has three goals: 1) the establishment and organizational development of viable, competing democratic parties at national, regional, and local levels. 2) the provision of organized electoral choices to citizens through political parties. 3) the democratic governance of societies facilitated by political parties in government and opposition.

These aims fall within USAID’s democracy assistance mandate and represent manageable, neutral, and efficacious objectives for political party development support. During the past decade of USAID political party development assistance, political parties and their leaders in more than 50 countries have benefited from technical assistance and training activities provided principally by USAID’s key implementing partners, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

As USAID experiences in political party development assistance have multiplied, patterns of support have emerged. Reflecting the aforementioned goals, the three core areas of political party assistance programming include organizational development/institutional capacity building, development and mobilization of citizen support for political parties and their candidates, and the strengthening of political parties in government..

The Office of Democracy and Governance (the DG Office) is committed to political party development assistance as a crucial element in developing and sustaining democratic societies throughout the world. In light of past assistance programming, this technical publication is offered to USAID personnel as well as to the wider audience that shares USAID’s interest in and support of political party development assistance. Whatever efforts are made in India that are to meet immediate needs. Private sector is also not doing much. For the first time, MIT School of Government (MIT-SOG), Pune-India, is the first of its kind premier institute in Asia, which creates dynamic leaders, empowering them with the knowledge and expertise for managing politics and social scenarios through a comprehensive training and practical approach to governance. This is for the developing new leaders. There in no arrangement for those who are in political arena without any such inputs. UNDP, USAID and other NGO have done nothing exclusively to develop Indian young leaders. Therefore, we need international interventions to set a trend and systematize such activities in it in India.

India: policy agenda and reform:

Reform Options

Areas of Concern: In the background of the foregoing analysis of the functioning of the party system in India, it is evident that the parties in India face a number of challenges. Not only they have declined in terms of their ideological orientations and commitment to the welfare of the masses, but in the recent past they have shown tendencies of factionalism, doggedness in terms of opposition for opposition sake, and agitational politics. Many of their leaders have been affected by communalism, caste, community or religious biases and have known to have links with mafia groups, criminals, senas, and militant or fundamentalist organizations. Changing of party or group loyalty is endemic in party organizations in India, and almost everyone is willing to defect at the drop of the hat, if the grass seems to be greener on the other side. Parties make and break political alliances to maintain their influence within the party and government, and to remain in power with the aim to keep the rivals out.

The political parties in India face organizational problems in regard to discipline, defections, intra-party organizations, elections within the parties, and splits in the party. Raising of adequate funds for party organizations and activities by legitimate means and their appropriate and effective utilization during non-election and election periods is a perennial problem. Criminalization of politics and politicization of criminals and the maintenance of public ethics is another area of concern in respect of party functioning.

Areas of Reform: Thus in the perspective of the evolution of political parties in India during the last fifty years as described above, the following are some of the areas of reform which should be of immediate concern:

1) Institutionalization of Political Parties - Need for a Comprehensive Legislation to regulate party activities. Criteria for Registration as a National or State Party - De-recognition of Parties. 2) Structural and organizational Reforms - Party organizations – National, State and local levels - Inner Party democracy - Regular Party Elections, recruitment of party cadres, socialization, development and training, research, thinking and policy planning activities of the party. 3) Problems of Party Funding -Need for a Legislation to regulate party funds - distribution and spending of party funds during non-election and election times. 4) Maintenance of Regular Accounts by the Political Parties-Auditing and publishing – making audited accounts available for open inspection. 5) Party system and Electoral system - To what extent and in what way the electoral system could be reformed so as to pave the way for the establishment of stable governments based on the concept of two party system or dual party alliance system - Do we need to change the system of single member constituencies to a mixed system or a proportional method of representation along with the simple majority system? 6) Steps to check criminalization of political parties. 7) Steps to curb the role of casteism and communalism.8) Problem of proliferation of independent candidates. 9) Strengthening of Anti-Defection Measures- Amendments in Anti- defection Law. 10) Party system and governance - How to make parties as viable instruments for good governance? 11) Restoration of values and morality in public life.

Suggestions for Reform: A number of academic and research Institutions, political observers and analysts, Committees and Commissions appointed by the Government of India from time to time and concerned scholars, journalists and academicians in their individual capacities have made a number of proposals for reforms in the party system in India. Some of the most significant of these are culled here in order to provide a perspective for framing recommendations for party reforms.

Center for Policy Research Study (Lok Raj Baral) on Party Reforms (2000):

1. Reforming the first-past-the-post system of election. The German model that accepts a preferential voting system can be examined for insuring proportionate representation of parties in parliament.

2. Since all parties work in tandem with unscrupulous business lobbies and gangsters or use state power for determining the outcome of elections, these cancerous trends need to be checked for good governance.

3. Political parties should have minimum principles for forming a coalition government rather than forge alliances only to be in government. Unprincipled political alignment should be discouraged by law urging political parties to be more homogenous in their joint endeavours of running the coalition government.

4. Support to be rendered to any government from "outside", i.e. without joining the coalition government, should be legally barred. Only a party having at least 25 per cent seats in the Lower House of parliament or Assembly should have a chance to form the government.

5. No government should be removed from office if the opposition parties or others involved in the toppling game fail to come out with a clear alternative arrangement and programme.

6. The kind of coalitional arrangements that the parties make should be clear before forming the government. Developments so far show that the big parties themselves prefer to play second fiddle to the regional and smaller parties whose immediate interests are determined by 'regional and parochial' issues rather than long term national programmes.

7. Parties need to strengthen their managerial and crisis management capacity. If the party organizations are better managed and democratized, their efficiency would increase. More autonomy to all layers and more inner-party democracy would help circulate leaders on the basis of their qualities. The criterion of achievement rather than ascription should be accepted by all parties. Unless parties are broad based in accommodating all segments of society, they continue to become status quoist, exclusivist, regional and sectarian.

8. Parties' own code of conduct and self-initiated reforms, rather than state-imposed reforms are likely to improve the working of parties. [Lok Raj Baral, "Political Parties and Governance in South Asia" in V. A. Pai Panandikar, Problems of Governance in South Asia ( Delhi, Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd.,2000), pp. 155-199.]

Law Commission's Report (1998)

The recommendations of the Law Commission could be summed up as follows:

1) Independent candidates are barred from contesting elections to the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies. 2) Full five year term for the legislatures. 3) In order to contain defections, a “pre-poll coalition” or front of political parties should be treated as a “political party”. 4) Inclusion in the RPA to regulate the formation, functioning and income-expenditure accounts of political parties and to avoid their splintering and ensure internal democracy. 5) Scrapping of explanation I to section 77(1) of the RPA to make the electoral system more representative, fair and transparent - making it obligatory for every candidate to declare his/her assets and of his/ her spouse and dependent relations as well as provide particulars regarding criminal cases pending against them. 6) On state of funding of political parties, recommendations of the Indrajit Gupta Committee subject to certain changes, be adopted.

Under the Indian system, where everyone from a poor peon to the secretary in the ministry, has to possess some minimum qualification, from a mere matriculation to a degree, the honorable members of Parliament are an exception. So are the ministers. And despite this, they are acceptable. Today, a person can be a Law Minister without even a nodding familiarity with law and an Education Minister without any formal education. During the last 60 years, there have been several such instances all over the country. Should we not lay down some qualifications: Impeccable integrity, Proven ability, Academic standards in consonance with the requirements of the job, otherwise leaders can be a liability. And surely, rule of the majority does not mean rule by the illiterate. [Jawaharlal Gupta, while the worst are full of passion, in the Hindustan Times, 28 June 2000.]

Stakeholders: The main stake holders involved in the process of reform are:

1. UNDP, USAID, NGO, CSO and national, international institutions active in this filed, working for good governance. 2. Government of India (GoI). 3. States government, Election Commission of India (ECI). 4. All national and regional parties registered with ECI and national and international donor agencies. 5. Media. 6. Judiciary

Based on above discussion proposed Reforms are:

1. Long term reform: It is evident that India neither has any direct constitutional provision regulating the functioning of political parties, nor any legal sanction establishing political parties as a necessary governmental regulation for the political parties. Moreover no specific laws are enacted to control and regulate the parties in India. In view of the international practice some countries are having specific laws while others are not having like India.

The Federal Government of Germany has thoroughly institutionalized the structure of political parties, by introducing the 5% clause, which makes it extremely difficult for minority or splinter parties to form and flourish. The Canadian practice of Registration of Party or Party foundation is very comprehensive. Parties are registered on certain conditions and party leaders are selected through a national leadership convention composed of provincial party delegates voting as individuals rather than as a bloc.

Like Germany and Canada, India needs a detail specific law. It will discipline the parties and they will get directions for different activities from such available legal frame. In the absence of any such law they are managing according to their short term gains and keeping political ethics and values aside. Above all they are not taking into account the public interest utmost. This is the reason criminals and illegal money is dominating the Indian politics in disguise. If law will mandate that only clean person without criminal records can be candidate in the elections then criminals will not be fielded as candidates by the parties. In non existence of any such law it is very difficult even for the parties to avoid fielding such persons having criminal background under different types of pressures, situations and circumstances.

The other most glaring evil with which Indian political system is highly infected is misuse of illegal money- particularly in elections and in forming the government in case of lack of required majority. Its role is like black money of the Indian economy. In case of clauses in proposed specific laws on all such issues things will be better than now on different fronts related to Indian politics. Indian political parties are the holy mother of political leaders and actors and political system. Unfortunately, India doesn’t have any specific and comprehensive law to regulate and discipline the holy mother.

Short term reforms: Indian politics is open to any one with a very minor restriction of age and sound mind. No screening test is taken before entry and no systematic capacity development practice is in place after joining it. Under these circumstances, our politicians are lacking required knowledge and skills. This in tern is affecting the good governance. Irony is that all departments, sectors and fields are having such program in place except political field. Why it is so. It is very difficult to find its reasoning. UNDP, USAID and other international donors and institutions are active in this area. UNDP initiated the Asia Young Leaders in Governance (AYLG) initiative addresses the need to build a critical mass of young leaders in the Asia region, who will be trained as leaders in democratic governance processes. It recognizes that young leaders are an important constituency that requires further attention and investments to enable them to serve as more effective leaders for the future, but it is not exclusively for the political leaders. It is a mix of different groups. To develop political leaders, managers and actors for the first time a private institute MIT School of Government Pune (Maharastra) has created a platform for such young men and women to assimilate and adopt the intricacies of government functioning. Yet, no public institute is started and no public intervention. Fortunately, at least some private initiative has been started to train young leader before they enter into the politics. There is no exclusive program for the capacity development for political actors who are in this field. All initiatives are, in places, are adhoc arrangements. International organizations are also not having any exclusive program for the young leaders.

Therefore, under this situation, India needs to have an exclusive training program for the young leaders. It is a basically capacity development approach as a new field in a systematic way.

Program: Preparing young and future Indian leaders for the 21st century’s challenges through building their capacity by providing them opportunity to learn the best national and international practices about party, economic and public management. UNDP, Government of India (GoI), Election Commission of India (ECI), Institutions active in this filed, NGO -National Election Watch (NEW) and the Association for Democratic Reforms) for good governance, all national and regional parties registered with ECI and national and international donor agencies will be involved. The proposed duration of training will be for two months, one month in India and one month outside the country. The program of training will be designed with keeping the following in focus:

Making ready for the role of Government actors (For MP, MLA, Minister, Mayer, to village head man)

1. The main focus in the role is how to make a balance among government, public, bureaucracy, party etc. It is a multidimensional task and really challenging.

2. Policy formulation, reform and its efficient and successful implementation. How to make and implement pubic policy (demand driven policy and supply driven policy): theory and practices with case studies.

3. Which are the 20 best economically performing countries in the world. Why they are performing well? What are main factors and reasons of their performance? Which leader did what, how and why and when (time of policy implementation and reform plays a major role)? It will be better if leaders’ interactive sessions are organized to make the program more effective useful and fruitful.

4. Who are and were 20 best leaders in the world who perform superb at each level of government in government official capacity. Their study will sharpen the acumen and the best practice of one will be the rule for others without experimentation.

Participants: To begin with, young leaders up to the age of 45 years should be getting the chance to learn. It can be later extended to include older leaders. Every national and regional party has youth wings. In each training batch parties will nominate their young leaders up to the age of 45 years. The number will be fixed according to resources and strength of the batch with national party’s nomination more than regional one in each batch.

Funding: Whole expense on each participant can be shared: contribution by the parties (5% - token amount to make them serious towards the program and awareness generation), contribution of central government (30%) and state governments (15%) and 50% donations from donors and NGOs in the leadership of UNDP.

Key actor, Co coordinator, owner of the program: The election commission of India as all registered political parties is its clients.

Additional benefits:

1) It is a form of the one best effective political reform.

2) If such systemization is practiced in politics in a professional manner it will attract the educated youth to join politics which is not a trend now and it may change the trend in reverse direction. Then choosing politics would be by design and not by default. As a result the problem of criminalization of politics will be addressed to some extent.

3) It may prove a boon to Indian politics as it aims at professionalizing the political management. It will reduce the economic wastes of money during the elections and in other political activities.

4) It will bring good competitions among the politicians which may lead to over all enhancement of efficiency.

5) It will reduce the usual frictions and conflicts which develop between political actors and bureaucracy.

6) It will be a model and can be implemented in other countries with similar situations.

Reference:

  1. http://www.un.org/democracyfund/XAboutUNDEF.htm
  2. http://mitsog.com/
  3. www.usaid.gov/our_work/democracy_and_governance/
  4. UNDP – Democratic Governance Group - Oslo Governance Centre, July 2005
  5. http://aptel.gov.in/pdf/constitutionof%20india%20acts.pdf
  6. http://www.adrindia.org/