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Reforming political funding
Posted on May 26, 2010 | View 207 | Comment : 10

Conception of politics must change.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh iterated the need to have a larger political consensus on the issue of financing of political parties and elections, replying to a question during his press conference on Monday.

For, even issues like building infrastructure, investing in health care and education, etc — clubbed as economic reforms — lie squarely in the political realm.

India is seen to be largely a dysfunctional state, with a creaking, opaque administrative machinery, with unaccountability as the chief operating principle.

Add to that an utter lack of political will to take on issues, like, say, clamping down on power theft or evolving an effective and equitable policy on land acquisition.

This stunts even the best of welfare schemes or policy measures and holds up growth. Not for nothing are we ranked 133rd on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, out of a total list of 183 countries, sandwiched between Malawi and Madagascar.

Then again, political reform in India isn’t just about focusing on economic and growth imperatives. It has to be envisaged as a much deeper process.

Take, for instance, the huge number of political parties and the raison d’etre for some of them. Often, they espouse a politics centred around issues of caste or regionalism.

Sure, in a polity as complex as ours, such issues do find resonance. But the point is to evolve into a liberal, genuinely democratic state with inclusive development at its core.

A vital aspect of that is to change the conception of politics. Instead of being seen as the key to effect social change, politics has become mired in power and pelf, as the means for elected representatives to get wealthy.

There has been a failure to regulate and institutionalise political funding. That must be done, making such funding state-aided, transparent and audited.

Internal reform must also be effected in political parties. The electoral system too needs a change, with proportional representation being a way out. That would be real reform, not catchphrases.

Comments (10)

What is 'politics'? In today's India common man's preconcieved notion about 'politics' is that it is dirty game. Why? Because 'politics' is used to place 'self' before the 'nation'. Even when we talk of grassroot politics there is the big issue of 'funding' and it is this trend of 'funding' that has lured only those who have vested interest. Even at local level community leadership is in the hands of those who have close link with people in power, denying any say from the common people, and often strictly related to caste equation. Why can't we have area based community leadership and not caste based? Why this leadership can't be made in rotation so that beneficieries are the stakeholders? There is so much of 'red tapism' at every level of developmental work. Instead, give collective power to the people to oversee the work being conducted in their areas and make them accountable so that there is efficient spending of funding. This is also directly linked to the issue of moral and principles as much as lack of 'nationalist' feeling. Our education system must highlight the need to inculcate a sense of belongingness to the nation. The upcoming generation needs to be tought about this important value, which the present leadership is lacking. Politics means not power but means to achieve harmony.

Posted by Dharitri Narzary Chakravartty | 28 May, 2010

The caption presupposes that there is sytem of political funding in place and that the P.M. is interested in giving it great importance ( as much as the threat of the Naxalites and the invisible and visible corrupt practices of this great country of ours, apart from many more ills that plague us.) The fact is that this discussion merely diverts your attention form the real problem; lack of credible leadership. If one expects the current bunch of leaders in BJP and Congress to do the trick then we are living in a fool's paradise. Same goes for our gun toting merciless Maoists, Naxalites, leftists and what have you .. ! of this country. Dear Prime Minister ! Top priority should be to mercilessly root out corruption from the Govt. and whatever agencies you have a control on ( including the Congress party ) I am sure within no time ( metaphorically speaking ) your headache problems of Political funding, Naxalites ( greatest threat realisation dawning upon our P.M. and the peiople in general after at least 2 decades of doing nothing in those areas ) will vanish. Be honest dear leader ... you will be remembered for a long .. long.. time with gratefulness of succeeding generations.

With hopes ..

Avon Ispat & Power Ltd. ( Formerly with Tata Steel )

Posted by Rajiv Narain Singh , G.M. at Avon Ispat & Power Limited | 28 May, 2010

In the first place, I strongly feel the caption "Reforming Political Funding" itself is wrong. By the by, why should any political party or parties and elections should be funded? I strongly feel that funding of political parties and the elections has a direct bearing on the spiralling prices; the businessmen / business houses, who fund the political parties in lacs and crores fearlessly resort to hoarding and create artificial scarcity of the commodities and goods only to increase their prices exhorbitantly for which the political parties / leaders choose to remain silent spectators having accepted funds from the former. In fact, this process is not to be considered as funding but bribing the political parties so that they would turn Nelson's eye on the downtrodden in the country over the attrocities perpetrated by the so called businessmen / business houses. If any political party is really interested in the welfare of the people and has the conviction and the commitment, it would not squander money and lure the people for their votes and, therefore, there is no need to squander the money either. Only such political parties, which are led by tainted leaders and dreaded criminals need funds to fight the elections by indulging in mudslinging and hooliganism. We do not have such literate leaders in our country as yet except a few Leaders like--Dr. Manmohan Singh, who are above the narrow political considerations but ultimately even this kind of leaders have to give in and are giving in also due the fact that they are also members of some political parties and we can not expect a couple of leaders like these to bring reforms. In other words, most of our political leaders are goonds, hooligans and are out to amass wealth undermining the welfare of the downtrodden in the society. That is how there is an adage that "Often bad politicians are elected by good citizens who do not vote". We have no alternative but to adopt ourselves to live in the given circumstances, simply because once what was considered serious has become the order of the day.

Posted by T.S. Murthy , Executive Secretary at Power Advantage Electromechanical Works LLC | 27 May, 2010

To achieve the miission statements of the Preamble to the Constitution of India there is no need for hundreds of parties. In fact no political parties are relevant. Every constituency will elect the best candidate suitable for achieving the goals mandated in the Preamble to the Constitutiion. People's representatives elected thus will select their leaders to run the government. A national government run on the will of the people thus will start functioning from all the constituencies trying to create health, prosperity and peace at 100% population level as per the mandate of the Constitution of India. The administration, police and judiciary will rewrite their work ethics in accordance with the mission statements in the Constitution, shedding the feudal character infused in them by the colonial British government.

Posted by George Varuggheese,President at Godimages Good Governance Society|26 May, 2010

Cosmetic changes to the state of the polity will get us nowhere at all. One of the most urgent tasks before our lawmakers is to make the legislature inaccessible to criminals or lawbreakers. Precisely the opposite is happening. As a result, we have just a charade of democracy at election time and the rest of the time is devoted to the subversion of democracy. What is really standing in the way of real all-round reform is a disinclination within the polity to punish the wrong-doer. Once the lawmakers make up their mind to mete out deterrenty punishment where it is due without looking where the chips fall, we shall even begin to have accountability within the bureaucracy. This would be one major direction of change in the right direction. Something else that must change very fast is the attitude within the polity that the government exists for the lawmakers, the bureaucracy and the government employees alone. It is only when the government of the day begins to think of the huge unorganized sector and their deprivations that we shall begin to have some social justice. It is only then that the chasm between India (for which all development is planned) and Bharat (that is ttotally ignored) will begin to get narrower.

Posted by Dhirendra Nath Bezboruah | 26 May, 2010

This is a very old topic.Is any political party interested in it? Will they allow any change? Are people of India that vigilant to force a decision ?Has EC,media or judiciary has the metal to effect a change? Are all four pillars of democracy working independently to check and balance each other and bring necessary correction in democratic functioning of India?Well,it is any body's guess?Have we to suffer like this? What is the solution?

Posted by Venkataramanaiah Chekuru,CEO at CVR SYNERGY MANAGEMENT SERVICES|26 May, 2010

While agreeing with the author on most counts I wish to point out that the real reason behind a large number of parties is calsh of personal interests. e.g. There is no difference of ideology between SP or RJD or even the Jat parties in western UP and Haryana. It is the peosonal interests that has caused so many splinter groups of original JD. In Maharashtra there is hardly any difference between the Congress & NCP and Shivsena and Mahrashtra Navanirman Sena. Same is true in TN for DMK and AIDMK. Therefore any effort to change the complexion of politics has to take into consideration the urgent need to educate people to shift the emphasis from personalities in favour of ideology, policies and issues issues. How many parties will agree to this is a big question. Perhaps this will have to be taken up by other fora like the media and the opinion forming agencies.

Posted by Taral Prakash Bhatt | 26 May, 2010

There should be a provision that allows the prime minister to induct people of proven competence into the cabinet. People like Narayana Murthy, Ratan Tata, Chanda Kochhar and Kishore Biyani should be heading ministries and not rabble rousers and piggyback riders.

Posted by Shekhar Mehra | 26 May, 2010

The term 'economic reformation' has been in the air in India right from the last decade of the last century. Nobody can deny that this has simply raised the rate of our dependence on the USA and it has been made possible because of virtual disintegration of the Soviet Empire which has, in the history of the world, registered itself as high-priest of one of the most perverted forms of socialism. Mr. Monmohan Singh, honorary Prime Minister of India, may be complacent as he has forced or persuaded to kneel down the communist varieties of India, especially the CPI(M) brand, at the alter of the deity against which they have spread decades of greatly venomic war-cry. One can note that salaried people are happy and that traders are happier and that members of a few hundred corporate houses are ...See More the happiest thanks to the eulogized economic reformation. Parallel to this economic reformation in India, it is being said that 'economic reformation' has been continuing, reformation activities have already presented free of cost beggar's bowls in the hands of millions although there is no unanimity on their exact number. It is sufficient to announce that nobody in India dies of hunger.
I am afraid of hearing the phrase like 'political reformation' from the same sources. Is it limited to the issue of funding the political parties for their election expenditure? It is now open even to the children of this country how honorable representatives of the Indian people behave in both houses of the Indian Parliament. No voice is heard to reform them although they make our heads down with shame whenever the temple of Indian democracy is in session. One-third, it is from the media, of the honorable members have criminal background. No voice has been raised to reform this domain. Gun-welding goons of the registered political parties, 'Harmads' of CPI(M) in the state of West Bengal included, dictate terms before and after the so-called 'peaceful elections' and manipulate the results of the opinion of the people in the country of MAHATMA GANDHI and RABINDRANATH TAGORE. Have any of us ever heard from the people at the helm of power that it is the first spot which requires immediate reformation as democracy cannot remain alive in the environment of violence of any form? Hence we have been left with no option but to watch how helpless these powerful people are when the menacing Maoists have been encircling them slowly and steadily.
Yes, I am afraid of the term 'reformation' from the same known sources.

Posted by brotee mukhopadhyay | 26 May, 2010

As per my view this is not enough . we have to do something...........extra... reform are required everywhere ..our Govt. Offices,Politicians, public .... Govt has to take some stric steps. specially we hv to take care about young generation.

Posted by RAJINDER SINGH GILL , officer at uaexchange centre LLC , DUBAI | 26 May, 2010

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