Electoral Reforms - Audio

This is regarding electoral reforms. At one time, Mother told me personally, the first thing you have to do is change your constitution. Then she added, you must make it possible for you to get in the parliament such representatives who combine two qualities in them: efficiency and honesty. Now this proposition seems very obvious, simple, but when you examine as to what it means, it is very difficult, and yet Mother had said that is the real solution of India’s problems, and it is the most important problem, until you do that all else will not be exactly as you want it to be.

She is so correct, Uncle, half the problems are because of inefficiency. People are just so inert and they're quite happy wallowing in whatever they are doing.

Once they are elected, they feel that now they can occupy any position of power.

  • No, that of course is rakshashic almost, power craze. I am talking of people who are not even are not so rakshashic but they are caught up by the inefficiency. *

Very true, so people should combine both, ‒ efficiency and honesty.

We have enough rajso-tamasic people.

That is the problem of India today. So I have been thinking since that time, She told me in 1971-72. It is after a long effort that I came across one man in India, Dr. Subash Kashyap, in whom I found a real thinking on this subject. He is an expert in Constitutional Law. He is such a great expert that all the presidents of India have always consulted him whenever they had some constitutional crisis. Recently, last night he told that a new book of his is coming out; his commentary on the Indian Constitution, 4000 pages.

Anyway. So I said I must buy that copy immediately. So he said, “Don't worry. I will send you a copy.” So as soon as he gets some copies, so anyway I am waiting for that book to come.

So he has also outlined what changes… where, where the problems are?

Not in this book. But I have had privilege of discussing with him and participating in some of the discussions he has held on this subject and he has made one very important proposition, which is as follows: according to him, you don't need to change the Constitution of India, only you have to change the mode of electing the members to the parliament and which is entirely based upon fundamentals of the principles of democracy, which admits that to be a member of parliament you must be in majority.

Win by majority.

Now, according to him, at present, hardly anybody is elected by majority, the reason being that we have today in our country, multiplicity of parties and therefore the country is divided into many affiliations, and every party contests the election. Any party which believes it can make a difference and which has financial powers, contests elections.

If we compare it to England or America. Now that is two party system, but India is a little peculiar because of the fact that we have various religions and then we have various castes. I mean Bahujan Samaj party is, basically that Shudra thing, this CPM or whatever, the communist party is for ideology and BJP is religion. Congress is old hat, the whole bases are so many as compared to the West, because in America you have the Republican and the Democrats. It's very clear cut that they are only talking about the social.

How much will be the responsibility of the state towards social welfare…

The word itself, Democrats and the Republicans: it's basically that and England also they have two different names and they have the Labour and the Conservatives, but it's similar, I mean, the Labour is like the Democrats and the Conservatives like the Republicans but India will have difficulty, even if we propose such a thing.

So, given the fact that you have multiplicity of parties, he suggests that you just change the mode of election ‒ that you have first round of election and you get two top most people, and in second round, let them contest. Only those two will be contesting, and let them be chosen by majority. That is all. Now in order to get majority, you will have to change the psychology of the candidates. If I am all the time winning only because I’m a Khatri, I’l l be normally happy if Khatris vote a lot, I don't have to woo anybody else.

..but it will change.

But now it will change. If I am now going to be elected with 51% of votes, I have to go to all the people.

I can't just stick to the Khatris.

I cannot, and I will not rely merely on that. I will have to go to all the people of my constituency and therefore, I must be widely acclaimed and accepted by a large number of people. I’ve got to shed off my own partialities, my own small affiliations, I have got to be servant of all the people, then only I will be elected. This will bring the elected effect in the country.

I'm playing the devil's advocate here, Uncle. See, the Congress is already doing that. In the sense, they see the BJP only rallying after Hindus, so they feel, “If I can get the Muslim bank, then the BJP will at least not get that.”Unfortunately, to get the Muslim votes, they woo the Muslims in the most ridiculous manner, where it is painful for the country, it is, it is not good for the country. Saying ‘ yes ’ to Muslims for everything or even to get the votes of the Shudra, and the Scheduled cast. Reservation is what? It is nothing but a ploy to keep them happy and get their votes. So will it not foster favoritism, just to woo?

No, it is happening now.

It will happen, then also.

It won’t happen, because none of these small groups are 51 percent of people. Do you follow? None whom you are appeasing constitutes 51% of the people, but you must get 51%.

So, for in that case, what abou t… now we look at the public; suppose they don't want to vote for any of them ‒ they think they are all rotten people. Do you think that there should be a box which says “none of the other” ?

That should be, but it won't have much effect because normally people tend to select one of the people who are contesting. Those who are not, they will have, what is called, they will be abstentions.

But they say that half the abstentions are because… first of all, 50% due to indifference, I don't care…mere vote se kya hone wala hai? I wanted to see a movie, I don't care two hoots. But there are people who I don't like this fellow, I don't like any of them, to phir main udher kyon jaun?

Reason why they say it's very good is that it opens the eyes of the people…

But it has no effect, unless… it will be a negative vote. That is to say, supposing I have got 5 votes, and 3 people have cast vote against me.

Now, how do you vote against…

You write down “I vote against him”

Ye to nahi hona chahiye…this man certainly not…

So the moment you say negative vote, that even if I have got 5 votes for and 3 against me, I will have only 2 votes.

But this is going to complicate the system very much.

If you do that, that’s what I say: it’s not a very practicable solution. We have to wait for that thing to happen,

But instead of the negative vote… the point is that okay, then you give to the one you want. If you don't want any of them, you simply have a box which says “none of the above”

Quite true… it will be like abstentions, it will have no effect…

…but it will bring to the notice of the people in Delhi, out of 2 crores, 10% of the people find all these people useless. So it's something to wake up…

To some extent, you know even now it is happening that people don’t go out to vote at all

That people can pass it off that people lazy hain to hum kya karein but if somebody makes it an issue to go ….

It can have some effect but not effective effect… it will have good effect in a sense that people will come to know that they are not liked by so many …

Not you, but all of you are not liked …

There will hardly be a situation where people will say we don’t want at all.

No, uncle because on that ballot paper, it will have the names of the candidates and a box saying none of the above. That is my way of saying that I don't like any off them, so I don't vote for anybody, but I want you to know that I didn't vote because I don't like any of them. I've come here and I've voted for none of them…

But these will not be a large number of people therefore it will not be greatly effective…

So maybe this reform we can leave it for the moment…

So, in due course of time, as I said, it will effect if we give negative vote, if I have got 5 votes, and 3 people have voted against me, then my total votes are only 2.

So that means I don't give a positive vote for somebody I only give a negative vote.

So his vote is cut…

Isko to nahi lana…

Ah, if somebody has said this, it will be a negative vote… but that is more complicated and I don’t need to go just now into it.

What Subhash Kashyap says, normally it should not be difficult at all to implement ….

That do not select anybody who does not have 51% of the votes. After all what is democratic system? You must get 51% backing you, that’s all… at presents that’s not happening. Now that’s a very small proposition, but it will never be accepted.

They'll say that you're wasting state money because ….

It will not be accepted by the politicians…

Because they will know kiunke sab ke patte kat jayenge…

Because they have to get 51% of the votes and it’s not a joke…

But they will have to hammer it…public awareness…

But who will hammer? Those who belong to adult population are already committed to parties…

The youth…

That’s right…what I was trying to show you was there is one thing which only youth can do…Who are not yet committed to this party or that party, who are really trying to see….

Actually speaking, it is the youth which is not taken to the wrong line, are the ones who are very sincere…

Sincere, you can you can explain to them. Don’t you want this system? Now today, it’s a further point, every young person of the age of 18 is entitled to vote and this constitutes a large number of youths in India.

They have to be woken up to actually participate…

So now, the question is, if you have appealed to youth, saying it is in your hands, ultimately you'll be benefited. Your constituency, your country will be considerably benefited, if you today start this movement. A small message has to be given to young people. So, a few leaders have to come together, saying, “Yes, it’s a minimum reform that you need. Now, how to do? First of all, your constituency is college students.

So much politics. All the politicians have gone there…

I know, that is why…

All the parties have got inroads into….

I know, but you have got to still work

They have their youth wing in every party

Fortunately, youth wings do not have all students as members of the youth wings, not all students take part in politics. They go to vote, but that is all….

Yes, you have only those who are power hungry and all that… and even for the elections of the DU….

Yes, so they only participate when somebody is contesting all right, thoda maja hai… but they are not absolutely devoted to any political party as yet. Now, if these young people unite and they say: “we shall not go for election at all, unless the political party declares that they will bring about this change in constitution.

So the political parties, if they accept it, then the government will change it?

Yes, naturally…

They are sitting over there…

This small reform, which I just now spoke of, no political parties, will accept…,

Because it is against their vested interests…

Exactly…so the only persons who can change it, is if youths of India unite and say “unless political parties make in the manifesto one basic proposition that they will be devoted to the change of constitution in this form, we will not vote.”

It'll be a major thing, but the next 10 years also, if only slowly this took birth and the cry of the youth is heard because eventually they will grow.

Right, absolutely.

And if they can bring this about, then there are neutral adults who will be converted.

That’s right…

Politicians, maybe not, but….

So now you agree that there is one thing: only youth can do.

Absolutely. Yes, I agree. At least they can initiate it.

For that to happen, you need to contact colleges all over the country that means you have to contact the leaders of youths all over the colleges. It’s a very big task, by itself, only one proposition. It requires a great deal of money. How do you convey this message to the young people? You need to have 10 or 12 very eminent constitution makers. Like Subhash Kashyap. It is not difficult. We have got people ‒ Subhash Kashyap is there already… He is respected all over the country. If he is enabled to collect 12 people in the country, talk to the youth, to announce to the people of India and to young people, “Please demand this from politicians, on their own they will never do it, but all those people who don't belong to any political party and who feel completely frustrated by politicians, please come together and demand from political parties a manifesto, that if we come to power, we shall ensure that this constitutional change will be made.”

So suppose you bring this thing together, then they have to physically go and organize?

Now, because of our present websites… This is one very powerful instrument.

That's what I was saying that, instead of physically going can use our website…

In a very powerful manner. You should make people read it. That’s the only cost…

That can be done, because that you can make flyers and put it up in all the colleges that visit this site: “Call to young people.”

Yes,correct.

Only this much ‒“ please visit this site ‒ call to young people.”

I want this one action to be taken up…

But we first have to prepare the…

Wait a minute… we shall call on Subhash Kashyap for that purpose…

I would like to have an interview between you and him…

Actually, we should have a small gathering… even Venkatachaliah, former chief justice of India, many of these people accept it. They even put down in the constitutional reforms, proposition also… but politicians don’t accept it.

Never mind, let us have an interview…

Therefore, let us have a group of those people… but we must have some kind of backing...

Backing, as in how? As for the website, we need articles then… We can call some youth also…

Website is one… second is writing articles in newspapers, writing articles in the college forums, writing articles in the Indian language forums, it’s a very big operation, only one point program, major constitutional reforms to be made.

Newspaper is also not an issue, uncle, because if you write an article, say after the interview and you give it as a freelance article, to Times of India or whatever, and on that page, what you call it that center page, …..

The Editorial page…

Editorial page …they often print articles…

Problem is, today because of the sea of information. One article coming once in a while…

No, we prepare six, seven of them and maybe then use clout also because people do know people in newspapers and to get it published is not so difficult.

So anyway, this is another task to be done. Then we should have possibility of inviting college leaders in one part of the country, let’s say in Delhi.

College Leaders, as in? Youth leaders…children who are still studying there and they participate…

All have voting power. All college students have got voting power in the parliament

How do you invite all?

All those who are holders of political party’s portfolio. Today in every university there is a president, vice president, secretary, office bearers of the student’s bodies of every university….

Let's do that uncle…we can call them in Habitat Center or IIC or whatever. You want a one day thing, no?

At least one day…

Because that itself will start its own reaction…

Problem of inviting youth is the following: first of all you have to give them railway fare…

Nahi, Delhi ka to bulain?

Delhi ka to bahut hai nahin… anyway…So many colleges.. only 5-6 universities…

That's not enough....

If you want to have a massive effect… I mean you should call a meeting and have a massive effect even journalists should come to you and say: please tell us what is happening?

Then we can do that. I mean first, let us start with how many people do you want? How many universities do you want to be represented here… say: 50?

There are 300 universities today…

In the whole of India? So how much does a rail fare cost? Now, we identify how much does the railway cost so we identify that you buy a super effect ticket or whatever? This is the amount and so assuming if it is 300, if you write to them, maybe 100 will come out of 100 suppose you outlined, I don't know what it is say five thousand?

What we should do is simply to say that we shall arrange, you come, we shall arrange your hospitality.

Ana jana apne aap karo …

Wo karo… jisko Ana hai wo aao…aap yahan aaenge, hum aapko teheraenge, khilaenge, pillaenge, bus itna humara cost…then many people will come, not all but many people will come because today affluence is so great and for those who are holding office bearers sure, they can easily travel …

At this age they are coming on their own, so at least that much they have… but wo ayenge is bahane and they will chepo on their university and then they will have a rollicking time here….

We have to accept the fact, how to… there are many difficulties…

But I see that even an adult, uncle, when we used to hold the conference or seminar. They would come when they would have to speak. The rest of the time they are gallivanting, shopping for wife and children…

I participated in the first conference of National Union of Students in India. NSUI, it was called I am one of the makers of this….

Oh!

Oh yes, In my college days, I was elected by Wilson college to be a member of the first conference, which was addressed by Jawaharlal Nehru and Jay Prakash Narayan in Brabourne stadium in Bombay.

These were icons of two different ideologies.

Yes, both had come. It was the first union ‒ of the whole country ‒ which was formed and all of us went at our own costs and we were so enthusiastic. You can’t imagine our idealism, burning idealism that we shall do for this country, something great… so that atmosphere is difficult to make, but there are thousands of people had come from all over India. Now it has become only Congress Party Union…

NSUI? It has been totally taken over by Congress?

Youth congress. At that time it was all India body, we had no political affiliation, only doing good for the country. So that was a very vast stratum of my experience, in my life….

I'm trying to understand this, so the NSUI is basically an all India body but the representation from each university is taken…

It has now become a Congress party NSUI…

Not initially they can't take over such a body…

No, NSUI is now a Youth Wing of the Youth Congress. Historically, it has so developed that only congress people now, those in the university, those who are members of NSUI, are only those who belong to congress party. Why? Because ABVP has come into existence …

What is that?

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

They are more prone to BJP…

So ABVP has come up…

But uncle what about the university elections that are held only for that university? Say DU? President, vice president…

They all belong to different parties, no? What happens is the following. Supposing DU election is being held …

For the student's body?…

For the students body… so what happens is that immediately NSUI will declare that we shall propose X to be president, Y to be vice-president, C to be general secretary.

Somebody else as treasure…

Four nominations… ABVP says we shall have our own president.

…and they must be having something like a communist party,

Also, Socialist party also, the Dalit party also…

So we have many India's in each university?

Political party system is a great menace in our country.

Because it has the eaten away into our youth that which we are talking about, these old hands have already thought it out. Where do we capture the pulse? So get into the colleges…you see?

Yes, the whole atmosphere of colleges is all gone! Nobody studies!

Nobody has an independent ideology of their own… or they must be having it of course, but then they will keep away from all!

You see, if you look at the problem, compared with America or England, there are no political parties working in the colleges, university there.

Is it banned?

If you make a study, you ask Sakhi this question, good question to ask her.

I'm going to write to her because on the phone she doesn't talk. All right. First I'll explain to her that this is atmosphere in India. Do you have something equivalent over there or is it that America by the grace of god is free from all?

Yes, kindly tell me what your political situation in the universities in America.

And I will write a similar thing to Nick, Nikhil is in MIT.

Nikhil also, yes… So you ask him also what is the problem, because there they don’t have that problem…

Here what happens is that you go to university, you become a junior student, then in July you start your session, in September is the election. So July to September you are engaged in electioneering. All students they do nothing else, other than electioneering. Then they become president, vice president, all hullagulla… all celebrations. From September up to Christmas is a quiet period when some activity takes place. When you come to Christmas examination is away only by three months. So now during that period, there are some problems which arise, ‒ karmacharis problems, some ragging somewhere, some youth eve teasing ‒ some incident takes place and immediately all the students go on gheraoing; then comes a famous annual day, where people begin to take part in all kinds of tournaments, competitions of various kinds and your college day. There is hardly any atmosphere where you really study and our system does not permit any time when you seriously study. It’s a horrible condition in our country and with political parties going into the colleges, political bosses, they rule every college…

And actually uncle, that means they should put a ban on student's body…

When you say that students of the age of 18 will vote how can you put a ban?

You can vote but you are still studying so you don't have the time of the day to start looking after the affairs ???…

There are arguments which say that ultimately our country is ruled by parliament, our students should have education in parliamentary practice.

Education karo na, abhi se practice kyon kar rahe ho?

How can they learn how to make speeches, how to take up the causes? How to propagate your views? This is called politics…

But then it should be a simulation. It can't be the real thing, it can be a simulation, and there should be a time allotment that before December, you can do all. I mean this is what…

I know …

But we have to evolve a system where the children really need to study. In America when they want people to stimulate all this, they have mock UN ‒ United Nations Organization ka each college has a chapter or something, which is like they have a mock thing, so there conference room is, they have meetings and everything on the same issues, and the children, you know, like they represent their countries. I saw it happening, there was another boy, his father is a IAS officer and he was so spirited, was dressed up… like suited-booted ‒ typical of any other person who was representing their country in the UN meeting, and of course, the other children, who are lazy, they kind of mockingly made fun of him after he departed. I said, “You all don't participate, and then you make fun of him, and he's trying to get the flavor of something that really interests him!” Now that kind of thing is serious work, because you really are preparing speeches, you're given an issue, but here?

There is no such thing…

No commitment to work!

We have no idea what is happening in our universities…

They want to be caliphs in place of the caliphs…

Its only gangsterism. In UP for example, in 19 universities, I was the chairman of all the vice chancellors of 19 universities for three years. And Sir CPN Singh was the governor, he had invited me. I was at the time Secretary here and I was made Chairman of all the Vice Chancellors of 19 universities and each university had only one problem ‒ gangsterism. Students interested in political parties, going to Vice Chancellor, gherao him. Hostels are not vacated in the time, dadas continue to be in the hostels, new students cannot be taken into hostel and all kinds of problems only on account of admission to hostels. We will not pay for the canteen. Why should we pay? Food is absolutely horrible, we shall eat, but we won't pay for it. Now what do you do about it?

I think that the kind of reforms we are expecting in the country first ought to be applicable to the universities. If today our youth, by the time they leave the universities, are so jaded … and it's all being done by the political parties themselves. They are taking the youth when they are so malleable and corrupting them right on day one. What change are we expecting?

It’s, a very serious problem and hardly anybody’s thinking about it. Why do most newspapers not highlight this problem at all, tell me? No citizen of India knows, basically, what is ailing our Indian system…

You know all the decent people in the country, they keep away from it because they are so nice that they feel that “agar jaenge to uchhalkar mere oopar hi aayega, to kyon jaaein ”..so the nice people are keeping away from it and the bad people are so thick-skinned that “joota padega to kha lenge lekin power chahiye.” It's the same thing that's happening in the youth, in the colleges. That the good students say that “Hume to padhai karne ana hai, hum kyon pachade mein paden, hum padhai, padhai karke chale jaenge.” So the good people are out and all the goondas whose IQ level is rubbish, they say my profession is this!

Ultimately they become members of parliament…

Yes! So we have to find out a way that the youth that we invite are the non-corrupt youth.

In the beginning, it is not possible, gradually, you can win over. New climate is to be creating the country, I’m just now talking only of one program, which only youth can hope to succeed in and nobody else, and even for that program, how to do it, is such a difficult task. As I told you, that at least there should be some message given to the youth ‒ website is one method, writing articles is another method, but unless you bring them together at one place, the message will not be so very powerful.

So let us do it, uncle, like we were saying, aana jana tumhara; as we have done so many conferences…

It’s a very costly affair… because you see 300 universities and there will be at least two thousand people in different positions.

We will cap it, no? Each university sends one representative…

You can say that only president will come. The problem is that if only president comes he won’t have the voice of the people below him. I should now explain to you why it’s not very effective. A president has always a great difficulty. He has to carry vice president, general secretary, treasurer,

All four should come?

No, no I’m just telling you the problem, usually if only president is invited, even if he gets convinced, he has no power of convincing other people, they will oppose him….

So basically at least two people should come so both can hear it and both can at least converse with each other. So what we do is we don't cover all India in one go and we turn it into zones, we can divide it into central or east or south. South also it's so massive that you divide it into two parts and then the other case say that maximum number of people you invite is a hundred.

Putting up 100 people is a big task and then looking after them is also a big task.


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