Revitalizing The State – Need of the Hour

The miasma of elections has enveloped us. In ordinary conversations or talk shows on the TV, the discussions invariably veer around to elections. Indian democracy continues to baffle many. A country with a predominantly illiterate population is going to polls in an electronic format, and about 725,000 indigenous electronic voting machines are in place. And yet we find it difficult to enumerate voters properly!

Politics is More on Choice but Less on Variety

Here is a quiz question: What is common between eating pani puri-chaat and choosing a politician?  The answer: We may get a lot of choice but we actually get very little variety.  We can choose to eat from any one of those dozens of pani puri-chaat centers across the city.

In Praise of Political Incorrectness

The recent strike of employees of Tamil Nadu state, the firm and decisive action by the government, the mature  and  sober  judicial  pronouncements  on  the issue, the  eventual capitulation  of  the  erring employees, and the  emergence  of an unlikely  hero in  Ms. Jayalaitha hold important lessons for our polity.Over the years, politics acquired a pejorative connotation in India. Most decent and honest citizens have begun to despise the political process and shun politics. This distaste soon expanded to rejection, and mindless and intemperate criticism of all political decision-making.

Curtail Autocratic Party Bosses

The Union Cabinet is reported to have decided to introduce in Parliament amendments to the anti-defection provisions of the Tenth Schedule.

Knee-jerk Response to a Complex Crisis

On April 8, the Rajya Sabha approved the Bill which seeks to remove the residential requirement for election to the Upper House from a state, and provides for open ballot, so that party leaderships can ensure election of their nominee. Predictably, this legislation (Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2001) has raised several questions about representation and attracting talent into legislatures.

People’s Verdicts and Political Shenanigans

The continuing political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir after the courageous participation of voters, braving bullets and bombs, once again exposes the shenanigans of our politicians.  The murky politics of power and dissidence in our largest state of UP too expose the increasing divorce between people’s mandates and government formation.


A Welcome, Though Belated Initiative

The sub-continental air is thick with elections. With polls completed successfully in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, elections being held at last in Pakistan giving democracy a modest chance, and Gujarat poll dates to be announced soon, there is talk of political competition and elections everywhere. But the middle classes in the sub-continent in general are showing enormous contempt for the political process. There is very unhealthy cynicism and dangerous yearning for authoritarian solutions.

A Difficult Time for Politicians

All democracies are prone to a healthy dose of skepticism about their politicians. Once the distinguished chaplain of the US Senate Reverend Everett Hale was asked, “Reverend, do you pray for the Senators every morning?”. He replied calmly, “ No; I look at the Senators, and pray for the country”.

Political Process – Problem or Solution?

On June 28, the Election Commission gave effect to an earlier judgement of the Supreme Court by making candidates’ disclosure of criminal record, educational qualifications and financial details mandatory. This was based on the Supreme Court’s decision that the electors have a right to know about the candidate whom they choose for public office. As the Court pointed out, the Commission has the authority to act under Article 324 of the Constitution, and wherever there is void in legislation, it ought to step in.

Politics of Fiefdoms

The Gujarat carnage over the past few weeks and the continual Kashmir imbroglio deflected national attention from a momentous event in the evolution of our democracy. On May 12, we have successfully completed 50 years of our parliament. This is a rare achievement among post-war democracies. There is a lot to celebrate. We are a robust and cheerful democracy. Our people treasure the freedoms guaranteed to us under the Constitution. Elections have been held to Lok Sabha under the Constitution of our new republic without break since 1952.

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