ancient indian history

Why India needs Presidential System – by Sainik Samaj Party


India’s society is languishing because of a poor choice made in our system of government. With each passing day, the current system is doing irreparable harm by killing people’s initiative and destroying their moral fibre. It’s an inherently unfair system because only a faction rules at a time. It is too centralized. It’s not fit for a large, populous, and diverse nation. America’s founders invented the presidential form of government as a clear rejection of the British parliamentary system. This system is the secret to America’s success. It establishes strong but safe governments. In its 225-year history there has never been an autocratic president. The Indian system is unsafe; it allowed the Emergency and continues authoritarian tendencies which are amply clear as till date there has been 125 cases of imposition of President’s Rule in India. The fault is not with the Indian people, it’s our system that has failed to deliver. If we want India to achieve her deserving greatness, we must adopt the presidential system without delay. Here’s why it would serve India better… STRONGER UNION BETTER LOCAL GOVERNMENT India desperately needs its states to unite behind a common goal. It’s time to permanently settle festering separatist and secessionist movements like Kashmir and North-East. Infighting among States on natural resources or trade must be brought to an immediate end. The presidential system would help create a stronger union:-  States will have no provision for cessation from the union as is now.  There will be a common union constitution for all states as is now.  Union government will have exclusive powers in areas of national interest (defense, currency, foreign policy and international relations, and interstate trade, etc.)  States will have autonomy only over local issues (crime, education, health, roads, transport, public utilities, environment, etc.)  States will have their own constitution but the union constitution and laws hold supremacy As a large and diverse nation, India needs local governments that are sensitive to its diversity, and that are accountable to the local people, not a party high command. Here’s why the presidential system would deliver better governance on the ground…  Only people will be able to remove their state government, not the party in power at the Centre.  State’s finances will not be controlled by the Centre, making state governments self-sufficient.  There will be no confusion about responsibility. States are responsible for all functions not specifically granted to the Centre.  Day-to-day local governance that touches the people most will be dealt with locally.  All local executive officials (Pradhan, Mayor, Governor) are elected directly, along with legislative representatives for village or city councils and state legislatures.  Separate legislature will act as real check on the executive.  States will be responsible for their own justice system, making judiciary decentralized and also accountable to the people  States will hold their own elections, making national parties decentralized and local parties relevant Lower Taxes, Less Burdensome Government In India there are no limits to government’s authority. As a result governments have become people’s guardian instead of their servant. This not only hurts people’s initiative and drive, it makes governments intrusive and burdensome. Indian governments are too quick to tax and spend, and they are inefficient and wasteful. The presidential system is designed to limit government. Here’s why it would deliver governments that are less onerous…  Only a handful of specific powers will be granted to union/federal government (US Constitution grants only 19 powers whereas Indian constitution grants 140 plus all the residual powers).  Every populist program to dole out public funds (subsidies, employment, loans, etc.) will have to pass two houses of legislature.  Taxes will be reduced because governments will do less; people become more responsible to provide for themselves.  Regulations, like License Raj, will be minimized because areas of government’s authority will be few.  The economy will grow faster because it will rely more on private enterprise and free markets, bringing the country to full employment and creating a ‘land of opportunities’.  The inefficient public sector will be reduced as government will be restricted from competing with businesses. Unity in Society, not Further Fragmentation Better Leaders In India, parties succumb to centrifugal tendencies because the Indian system rewards the creation of new parties. When power is handed to parties, not individuals, the fragmentation begins in parliament itself. The coalition structure of government encourages political leaders to create their own outfits. This way they obtain more powers in return for their support in parliament. In the states, the delinking of national and state elections also created a huge incentive for division. Supporters of a local issue or from a small caste could bring a small-time politician to power. The presidential system is designed to unite. Here is how…  Each citizen will have far greater directly elected representation in government, reducing the need for political groups to splinter; a citizen will directly elects four officials in federal/union government: president, two Rajya Sabha members, and one Lok Sabha member. Presently an Inwe elect only one MP.  Not all elections will be small, which will make it harder to win them on caste-type considerations or by corruption; each of the two Rajya Sabha members has to win the entire state, the president the entire nation.  Candidates will be selected by primary elections, not by party-bosses; this will eliminates the biggest reason for party splits and disgruntled candidates.  President’s nationwide election will discourage formation of small parties; the country’s topmost official wil be elected by the people and not by backroom deals between political outfits.  Power will be handed to elected representatives, not political parties; they will unite on issues rather than along party lines. India’s method of selecting party candidates behind closed doors is the root of the problem. This almost always throws up leaders who are good deal makers but poor characters. As it is India offers very few elected representatives and executive officials. And since the system grants power to parties, people vote for the party paying little attention to candidates’ qualifications or character. All elections are in small constituencies which can be won on caste or through corruption. The presidential system produces much better leaders. Here’s why…  Candidates will be selected through a series of primary elections, not by party bosses  Each elected legislator or executive official will have independent authority; a vote will not be wasted if a candidate’s party doesn’t come to power  There will be many more elected legislative and executive positions, offering a chance to qualified people without them being career politicians.  Elections will be held across the entire state (Member Rajya Sabha and Governors) and nationwide (President), where grueling primaries, television debates, and media scrutiny will allow only the most qualified to succeed  All top officials will be directly elected; they will have to show their vision, character, and experience to win. Stronger Institutions, Not Individuals Merit-based Bureaucracy : No India relies on elections to improve governance. But elections Reservations don’t make governments better, institutions do. Elections only replace one rotten government with another. India’s parliamentary system has only one institution, the parliament. As such, internal checks on government are impossible, whereas that is the entire basis of the presidential system. Here’s how some of its famous checks and balances work…  Separation of power works because institutions are literally independent of each other; both legislative and executive are directly elected, neither can dissolve the other.  President has only executive authority; he cannot make or change laws, but he must follow and implement them; he cannot tax, spend, hire his staff (called Cabinet), or make treaties without legislature’s approval.  The legislature (in our case called Parliament, has two chambers: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) can only make laws; its members cannot become ministers or cabinet officials. • The judiciary is appointed jointly; the President, or the Governor in a State, nominates the judges, and the legislature approves. • President can veto a bill passed by Parliament, but it can override with two-thirds majority. • Parliament creates all government agencies, by passing laws, and it approves all budgets, including those of the President and the judiciary. • Parliament can investigate government officials, summon them to public hearings or demand reports; it can impeach a President.  Parliament can create lower courts, determine their jurisdiction, and can impeach judges.  The Supreme Court can declare laws or executive actions unconstitutional, and is the final authority on laws’ interpretation. India desperately needs better leaders and administrators. The practice of appointing legislators as ministers is not only impractical, but it makes governance partisan and fuels corruption. But the worst practice is making reservations the basis for selecting political candidates or government officials. It is unfair for the hardworking individuals, and unproductive for the beneficiaries. The presidential system avoids political favors as the basis of appointing government officials, keeping them focused on merit. Here is how…  Politicians who are elected as legislators are prohibited from becoming executive officials (ministers), opening government appointments to public at large, not just to politically connected.  All government officials have two political masters, the Cabinet and the legislature; they cannot be patronized by either of them.  Quotas or reservations have no chance of taking hold because the executive cannot pass it alone, and it is nearly impossible for one faction to have extended control over both houses and the presidency.  It can be decreed by law (as in the US) that all government jobs are filled through open and competitive examinations. Better Political Parties Instead of having policies that bring a political party to power, in India the pursuit of power brings a party its policies. Since their only purpose is to win seats, these policies are inherently unfair. They appeal to a vote bank, not to reason. What makes matters worse is that India’s Constitution requires parties to function but does nothing to regulate them. When it gives power to parties it makes party bosses unfettered leaders. As a result, almost all parties have become personal fiefdoms, and the nation a political oligarchy. The presidential system uses parties as policy factions not as governing instruments. Here’s is how…  Majority does not ‘rule’ because power is divided among many; those in the minority behave, for they can actually stop a government action or law instead of just opposing or disrupting. • Extreme policies appeasing a vote-bank do not succeed because no party can rule the country alone. • Elections are controlled by states making political parties decentralized; they emerge from the ground up, rather than from a top leader • Statewide (for Rajya Sabha members and Governors) and nationwide elections (for President) will compel parties to organize themselves in a democratic way, with party elections. • Primary elections compel parties to nurture and support good candidates, instead of sycophants Two-party system emerges because each election produces a single winner (no proportional voting), and because regional parties have little chance of winning nationwide elections Better Lawmaking Stronger But Not Autocratic Lawmaking in India is an entirely partisan exercise. Hence, Centre laws are of poor quality. Since only government can introduce laws – private members have no chance of passage – no other member of parliament takes initiative. Party bosses decide which laws would be proposed, or opposed. The legislators merely vote as instructed by their high-command. No one has any interest in the quality of laws. The government is unconcerned because the law is usually assured passage. And the opposition has no interest in the quality because it benefits only if the law is defeated, not if it is improved. Here’s how the presidential system would fix this problem…  Members of the legislature will not be dependent on their party to win elections; they are chosen by the people in open primaries, making parties court good candidates not vice versa.  Each member will be able to introduce legislation whether his party supports or not; coalitions will be formed on issues and not party platforms.  Each member can make a name for himself by picking big causes.  Laws proposed will be sensitive to minority views because those in the minority have many ways to stop or delay passage; this restricts majority from running amok.  Public opinion will be influenced by many players because they are all directly elected.  Bipartisan laws will become a norm because one party will not be able to pass anything alone, especially in a divided government (when one or both houses of parliament will be in control of different parties; laws must pass in identical form in both houses).  Each party will behave because they usually will have some power; they will have to show people that they are using it constructively rather than just being disruptive.  The laws, based on broad support, are more reasonable. India’s central government is not strong, it’s autocratic. The strength of government doesn’t come from hoarding powers but from how effectively it uses them, and whether it has willing participants. India’s diversity makes effective central control impossible. State and central governments must work together in a system of genuine federalism. But a parliamentary system is unitary by design. The presidential system, on the other hand, was invented for a federation, and for providing a strong Centre. It uses both state and central governments most effectively. Here’s how…  State governments are accountable for all local issues, freeing the central government to focus on larger national matters, such as defense, economic policy, international relations, etc.  State governments are independent and self-sufficient; they participate in national programs out of willingness not compulsion, improving each program’s overall effectiveness.  States cannot be discriminated against by the Centre because each state, regardless of size or population, has equal representation in the Senate.  State elections don’t become referendums on central government, nor a distraction from the national agenda. A CONSTITUTION FOR THE DEMONS “I would give it to you right here. My friend says that the last time when I spoke, I said that I wanted to burn the Constitution. Well, in a hurry I did not explain the reason. Now that my friend has given me the opportunity, I think I shall give the reason. The reason is this: We built a temple for god to come in and reside, but before the god could be installed, if the devil had taken possession of it, what else could we do except destroy the temple? We did not intend that it should be occupied by the Asuras. We intended it to be occupied by the Devas. That’s the reason why I said I would rather like to burn it”. – Dr BR Ambedkar in the Rajya Sabha on 19 March 1955 DHARMAYUDDH The struggle for Presidential System of Democratic governance in place of Parliamentary System can truly be called dharmayuddh. Now the choice is with you whether you want to live with the demons or make amends and live with Devas. It is time for change – UNITE. Less Corrupt, More Responsible Governance Stable Governments Indian governments cannot behave responsibly because our system breaks two fundamental parliamentary principles. First, power is not held by people’s representatives but by party oligarchs; and second, supremacy is not held by parliament but by the government. Governments don’t have any independent checks. Elections replace the people but the system remains open to corruption. The presidential system applies both institutional and electoral checks, to prevent as well as punish. This makes governments much less corrupt and more accountable. Here’s how…  Those who spend money (all executive officials including Governors and President) must get budgets and programs approved and scrutinized by the independent legislature (House and Senate)  The executive does not have the power to tax or borrow, only legislative is given that authority  Each legislator will have power to begin investigation of executive officials  The legislature has huge authority to oversee executive dealings; it can investigate, hold public hearings, summon officials and contractors, demand reports, and cancel programs  President and Governors will be held individually responsible; they cannot hide behind their Cabinets, which are not constitutional bodies; they cannot appoint senior officials without legislature’s approval  The Opposition in the legislature will have the powers to seek public investigations and build coalitions against government proposals or actions, not just ask questions  As for the electoral check on government, people are given frequent elections to pass judgment and hold governments accountable; full ‘Lower House’ and one-third of the ‘Upper House’ go through elections every two years; the Governors and President every four years  For high crimes, officials, judges, and even Presidents can be removed from office through impeachment There is no telling when an Indian government will fall or a new one will start functioning. Forming coalitions is a dirty deal-making exercise, no matter the public affirmations of ideology or principle. All over the world parliamentary governments are notorious for their instability. A system that leaves society without a government for even a day is absurd. Under the presidential system this can never happen, nor does it require any horse-trading to form governments. Here’s is why…  Neither branch of government can dissolve the others; presidency, the legislature, and the judiciary are all constitutionally legitimate and independent  Terms of all elective offices are fixed; four years for president, two years for representatives (Lok Sabha member), and six for senators (Rajya Sabha member).  Upon president’s death, resignation, or removal from office, there is a prescribed line of succession, first of which is the vice president  Government doesn’t fall for failure to pass a law or by members of the legislature switching parties; the House or the Senate simply elect their new leader For detailed study on the Presidential System of Democratic Governance

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