IASbhai Editorial Hunt
Man doesnít know what he is capable of until he is asked.-Kofi Annan
EDITORIAL 25:“Reforming power to serve people“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Founder and trustee of the Association for Democratic Reforms and Professor, IIM Bangalore
Reforming power to serve people
Political parties in India pursue power without adequate transparency and accountability
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2:Electoral Funding: Transparency and accountability
Democracy is an impossible thing until power is shared by all. Substantiate -(GS 2)
This article will give you insights about Electoral Funding , Consequences and Way Forward for the same.
The primary goal of political parties is to capture power, and they use all the means at their disposal to obtain power.
Political parties in power are supposed to deliver good governance and serve the public, but usually power becomes an end in itself.
The fact that more and more freebies are being provided nowadays clearly shows that public funds are being used by those in power to lure voters, and are not necessarily being used for public service.
FACTORS THAT STRENGTHEN THE GROWING DETERIORATION IN THE QUALITY OF CAMPAIGNS:
CRIMINALISATION: Rapidly increasing criminalisation of politics.
In 2019, the Lok Sabha had 43% MPs with a criminal record, up from about 23% in 2004.
Political parties that give tickets to such candidates are directly responsible for this.
FAKE NEWS:The other factor is the widespread use of social media to spread fake news during an election campaign.
Most of what is online consists of abuse of rivals and vilification of Opposition parties.
The practice of whisking away MLAs to distant resorts to prevent them from being lured away by the Opposition is unique to India.
Who is elected or which party wins does not seem to matter any longer.
In this game, those with money and the ability to engineer defections can always come to power.
Two factors contribute to this open use of money:
TRANSPERANCY: Total lack of transparency in the funding of political parties.
Electoral bonds have made it even more difficult to trace the source of funds of political parties.
LAW AND ORDER: Political parties in power have complete hold over law and order.
A corporate scamster is arrested when the money trail is discovered, but no effort is taken to trace the money trail during massive defections.
Good governance needs democracy. But today, hardly any political party in India is internally democratic.
Finances are raised and used in a completely opaque way.
The use of muscle and money power makes re-elections possible.
FISCAL DEFICIT:More than 25% of the Central Budget is spent on paying interest on money borrowed by the government.
India’s fiscal deficit is among the highest in the developing world, with the IMF estimating it to be 7.5% of the GDP in 2019.
State government finances are worse: a substantial amount is spent on salaries and pensions.
FINANCIAL SECTOR:Then we have the huge problem in the financial sector with banks, non-banking financial companies and ILFS going almost into liquidation.
Other manifestations of these problems are an increasing number of government scams; corruption; growing fear and insecurity; average or poor governance, including public services provided by the government; and rising unemployment.
THE WAY FORWARD
India needs a system that throws up parties and politicians whose primary goal is public service, not power.
For now, we need democratic, accountable and transparent political parties.
We need to check the use of muscle and money power.
Police reforms are required.
As a quick fix for misuse of money power and engineered defections, a forensic audit by an independent agency should be mandatory when MLAs defect to other parties.
Voters are no doubt getting educated rapidly, but they are not in a position to bring about inner change in the electoral and political system merely through voting.
Some kind of citizen action to raise awareness may be required. Otherwise things will have to get worse before they get better.
Mahatma Gandhi suggested a way: [wc_highlight color=”yellow” class=””]“Democracy is an impossible thing until power is shared by all… Even … a labourer, who makes it possible for you to earn your living, will have his share in self-government.”[/wc_highlight]