Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can India become a super power?

It is said that India has the potential to become a super power but lacks the necessary political will and ability to do so. The truth is that there are certain fault lines in the architecture of Indian constitution and the functioning of Indian democracy which come in the way of India becoming a super power in the near future.

What are these fault lines?
The first fault line is that India is a federation of states with a unitary form of government at the Centre. This is a contradiction in itself because a federation of states must have a government at the centre elected by the representatives of the states of India and not by the people of India or political parties of India. India can be either a union of states or a Union State. It cannot be both at the same time.

Under the present system we have a government at the centre which has all the powers in the world but only six union territories to administer. On the other hand, we have twenty-nine states with huge territories to administer but very little power.
The second fault line is that India is being governed by political parties which can be described as lobbyists at its best and extra-constitutional bodies at its worst. They do not have the mandate of the constitution to participate in the elections directly. Nor do they have the right to vote under the People Representation Act of 1951. They are not registered bodies in the real sense of the term. Nor is there any regulatory body to supervise their day to day functioning. What is more, they themselves are not sure whether they are government or private bodies.
The relationship between political parties and the constitution can be compared with that of egg and chicken. Who came first? The Egg? Or the chicken? Political parties give birth to the Constitution but they work under the constitution and yet they find no mention of their specific role under the constitution. They exercise extraordinary powers with ordinary accountability!
As if this were not enough, we have political parties of all hues and colours competing and collaborating with each other for power at the Centre, States, and local body levels. This makes it absolutely impossible for any political party to govern for a reasonable period of time. No wonder the erstwhile Singapore Prime Minister once said that the Singapore model can’t be replicated in India because India comprises a very complex society.
The third fault line related to the (FTPT) first-past-the-post system of elections. This means that a candidate who secures the maximum number of votes gets elected even if he secures less than 50% of the votes cast. This practice distorts the basic concept of democracy which is that in a democracy majority has the right to rule if it secures more than 50% of the votes cast by the stakeholders.
Until and unless these fault-lines are rectified, I think it will be too much to expect that India shall become a super power in the near future.

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