Political Reform

     Our political system has been slowly and steadily eroded from the high ideals that drove it at independence.  The rot started in the States many decades ago but has gradually seeped into the Center over the past decade or so. The two underlying problems are distorted incentives and the corruption of power.  Existing systems have distorted the incentives for working efficiently & productively and for investment & entrepreneurship.  In the case of Public servants (bureaucrats & politicians) the dis-incentive is compounded by the imbalance of Power between the State and the Public:  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.[1]  As the systems of governance deteriorate under rent seeking, rent creation and corruption, the power to do good falls relative to the power to harm.  The result is that today, the latter is much greater than the former, so that the rare employee wanting to do good has the dice loaded against him/her.
   There is an urgent need to strengthen the checks and balances in the political system.  Though the framers of our constitution paid a lot of attention to the potential for corruption in the bureaucracy, they made the fatal mistake of assuming that all future elected representatives would incorruptible and self less like those who fought for independence. Known criminals, dacoits & murderers cannot be allowed to publicly hold the law to shame because of their muscle power, political power or (sometimes ill gotten) wealth.[2]

Reform

There is an urgent need for electoral reform to reduce the currently overwhelming incentive for corruption.  If the Neta-criminal-police nexus is not broken a time will come in the not too distant future when it will become virtually impossible to stop the criminalization of the entire police force.  In our view the minimal elements of a solution are, (a) Independent Lok Pal at Center and Lok Auykts in every State with power to investigate, charge and prosecute law breaking and corruption by political authorities running Government. It may be useful to specify minimum limits for corruption so as not to fritter away limited resources in minor cases. (b) Mandatory bar to running for any political office by any one against whom criminal charges have been legally framed, (c) Special courts to try politicians/potential candidates against whom such charges have been framed so that those who are the object of motivated/false charges can be tried and cleared quickly.  Penalties could also be prescribed against those who willfully make false charges.  (d) Freedom to companies to donate funds to both parties and individual contestants, subject to shareholder approval & publication in accounts. (e) State funding of elections through a matching funds approach. (f) Transparent accounting and mandatory auditing of the accounts of political parties that receive State or company funds. 


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[1] These are a modification of the famous remark by Lord Acton that, “power tends to corrupt..”

[2] The T&D mafia could arrange (in 2000) to steal half the power supply of the capital city of Delhi, its inspectors could institute false charges of electricity theft and set the DESU equivalent of the CBI on a doctor whose employee inadvertently charged the DESU employee's relative and a government servant, had to approach the union power secretary to ensure installation of functioning (rather than a faulty) meter at his house, while commentators commonly reffered to ‘pilferage’ & theft of power by industrialists.


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