India must be made Bharat

Sunil Shastri  &  SK Sharma

When India attained independence, the then leadership confronted with the problems of partition and integration of princely states chose not to change the system of governance then prevailing. Influenced by the perceived success of Soviet socialism, it also adopted its centralised planning and a controlled economy. During debates in the Rajya Sabha on September 2, 1953,
Dr BR Ambedkar
said that the centralised polity will not do good to anyone. Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Jai Prakash Narayan and many others tried to institute political reforms but failed.

2. State of the Nation: Since independence our population has grown from 320 to 1000 million! Our forest cover has gone down from 75 to 32 million hectares while wasteland has increased from 48 to 130 million hectares. Over 300 million people in over two lakh villages do not have safe drinking water. Illiteracy has increased from 240 to 420 million, unemployment from 40 to 290 million. Malnutrition may make our children below the poverty line virtual morons! Criminalisation of politics and politicising of crime are ugly realities. Reservations have fostered vote bank politics, further dividing communities. Most states are facing bankruptcy. Violent movements are pervasive, corruption endemic.

3. Facing bankruptcy: India was forced to open its economy. An open economy In a faulty polity is generating vulgar wealth alongside abject poverty and fostering pervasive corruption, scams, crime, violence, degradation of land, water systems and forests leading to starvation deaths, a shame in democracy. Development economics has only developed poverty! We need Gandhi’s housewife economics – local governments do housekeeping while the state handles higher level functions!

4. The logic of democracy is that the sovereign people retain local resources at the local level to handle all local matters such as administration of justice, police, education, healthcare, land, water systems and forests, and devolve a fraction of their revenues, one-sixth according to Hindu scriptures, to the state for higher level functions and coordination, but not to interfere in local matters. They ensure that their elected and appointed servants are directly accountable to them, and through a higher level of functionary. They institute their sovereign right to information, consultation, participation and referendums. Derived from elementary logic, this can be said to be the basic structure of universal democracy. While allotting land to industry, local governments monitor that they create dignified employment, produce goods and services useful to society, generate wealth for expansion, and for philanthropy, but not for ostentatious consumption. This nurtures an egalitarian economic system, truly capitalism with a human face.

5. Rajiv Gandhi, opening the dwar of Ram Lalla, promised that he would institute Ram Raj. The political system dillydallied and after his assassination promulgated the panchayati raj amendments that retained effective power with the state and only decentralised corruption! It too has not been properly implemented. We need Gandhiji’s Gram Swaraj.

6. Digvijay Singh, former CM, MP, said in a TV interview that he was convinced that India needs Gandhi’s Gram Swaraj. He instituted District Governments. Uma Bharati who succeeded him, announced in the state assembly that she would institute Ram Raj. KS Sudershan, Head of the Sangh Parivar through his letter dated April 16, 2003 to People First conveyed his total support to its analysis and reforms through the referendum process. In view of consensus across party lines, Gandhiji’s Gram Swaraj should be instituted without loss of time.

7. People First has conceptualised that contemporary democracy needs a new institution, Sovereign Rights Commission with authority to direct referendums, except on issues fundamental to democracy or the integrity of the nation. Superior to the royal priest of bygone days, more like Gandhi, it will function as the non corruptible conscience keeper of the state based on the values of the society as a whole. Justice MN Venkatachaliah praised it as a legitimate, non violent process for transforming our society. As Speaker Lok Sabha, PA Sangma circulated with his supportive message a document of Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Foundation and People First in the golden Jubilee Special Session of Parliament held in 1997 demanding reforms through such a commission – and made a call for a second freedom struggle.

8. Einstein, the greatest scientist of the last century, deeply concerned about the destructive power of science, said that the relationship of the individual to society constitutes the crisis of our times. Vivekanand said, "India, philosophical and spiritual, will conquer the world, not by conquest, but by spirituality". Gandhi expressed concern for the smallest person. Upon Gandhi’s death Einstein wrote, "Generations to come will wonder that one as him walked upon this earth". Spirituality truly means relationship of the individual to society. The long term objective of society should be to attain high level of human development. Technology can change lifstyles but not necessarily the quality of human existence.

9. While paying homage to Gandhiji and Shastriji on October 2 this year, both the President and Prime Minister said that we need to adopt Gandhiji’s ideology. We the People of Bharat urge them to forthwith institute a Sovereign Rights Commission with authority to direct referendums except on issues fundamental to democracy or the integrity of the nation, headed by a former Chief Justice of India. Based on the wishes expressed by the people, it will prepare a new Constitution and on its approval by the sovereign people through referendum, authenticate it in the name of the people as the supreme law of Bharat. It will then phase the reforms and monitor that they are properly enforced. It will also expeditiously review all existing laws and practices to bring them in conformity with the needs of a democratic society.

10. To facilitate the process, People First has based on (1) the book "Gandhian Constitution for Free India" by Prof. Shriman Narayan with acceptance foreword by Gandhi published in 1946, (2) tested details from the best contemporary democracies, and (3) current concerns about sustainability, prepared a proposed "Constitution for Free Bharat (India) 2004" published on its website. The commission can use it as a reference document. India will then become Bharat guiding a just world order.  q

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