The “First Indian Republic” founded on January 26, 1950 and in existence today has been a monumental failure politically if one is to go by the record of the last sixty years. India’s founding fathers in the First Constitution had given India a parliamentary system of Government with a vision that follow-up generations of Indian political leadership would be equally imbued to build upon the edifice bestowed by them. Sadly, India’s political leaders in the last sixty years have wrecked havoc on the spirit of the First Constitution.
‘Character, ‘Commitment’ and ‘Constitutional Propriety’ were the hallmarks of the first generation of Indian political leaders. Today India’s political system is distinguished by ‘Corruption’, ‘Casteism’, ‘Communalisation’ and Criminalization’. India’s 9/11 in its wake highlighted how complete has been the disillusionment of India’s millions with its political class. Only a new “Second Indian Republic” with a Presidential system of Government can bring a qualitative change in India’s governance.
This topic was first touched in this Column in 2006 under the heading ”Presidential System of Government for India" (October 8, 2006). Nearly ten reasons were advanced then as to why India needs to discard the Parliamentary system of governance. The disillusionment with India’s political system two years ago has now become even more accentuated with the dismal state that India finds itself in today. As stated in my last Column, India’s 9/11 has brought to the fore in a compressed manner, in those 72 hours, when a handful of Pakistani terrorists held the mighty Indian Republic to ransom, all that was wrong with the First Republic in terms of India’s governance.
It was “We The People” who gave ourselves the First Constitution and the “First Indian Republic’ was founded. Once again it is “We The People” who must now bring political pressure on India’s politicians that after sixty years the time has come to review India’s system of governance. A National Referendum on the issue of a ‘Presidential System’ of Government must be held and a new Constituent Assembly not of politicians but of Constitutional experts be established to work out the framework.
Parliamentary system of government in India has led to a lack of political accountability in national governance and spawned divisive politics facilitated by fragmented political mandates engineered by distorted electoral arithmetic.
India’s political leaders with some honorable exceptions, instead of playing along in the spirit of the Constitution have played with the Constitution for narrow political gains. This could have been possible only when lacunae exist in the present Constitution. India’s founding fathers of the Constitution would have never ever thought in their wildest dreams that the sound framework that they were providing to the nation in the form of the First Constitution was going to end up as a plaything for the future political leaders to be manipulated for their political games.
India’s Parliamentary system has failed to throw up strong and visionary political leadership. . On the contrary it has spawned dynastic politics and where political leaders seeking tickets for their kith and kin in elections justify it on the grounds that if a doctor’s son can become a doctor or a lawyer’s son can become a lawyer, then why a politician’s son can not become a politician. India’s political leaders have reduced politics to an ‘occupation’ rather than a commitment to service of the nation.
Since in the present Parliamentary system, India’s political leaders and politicians have reduced politics to an ‘occupation’ what has followed in its wake is that in order to thrive and prosper in this ‘occupation’ of politics there is no ‘ honor code’ or ‘professional ethics’ to live by and India’s body-politic ends up as a free-for-all playing field. Political power so gained is not by rising and distinguishing through the political ranks as in other countries but is made possible in India by political wheeler dealers by engineering defections or holding the threat of unraveling political coalitions. Political turbulence is a consequence and good and effective governance is the first casualty.
In a Presidential system of governance, the President as the Head of the Executive with a single point political accountability and whose political survival in power is not dependant on variable political equations of political defections and changing political coalitions, provides the best answer for India’s political governance.
The Presidential system of Government in India would also hopefully throw up the best man or woman possible, based upon a stringent set of qualifying criteria to be laid down in the Second Constitution for his/her election rather than dynastic, compromise or imposed Prime Ministers as currently happening.
A “Second Indian Republic” is an idea whose time has come.