Time to bring Real Power in Hands of the People

On a Saturday, we were celebrating a victory after 28 years, a much needed win to bring the world cup back. Next Saturday, we witnessed another win for the people of SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of India when they followed Anna Hazare and became part of the historic moment in the history of Independent India.

A representation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka...
Image via Wikipedia

Anna Hazare fasted to make the government accept his demands for drafting LokPal Bill. People followed him as if one could believe the people of this country would have once followed Mahatma Gandhi against a foreign power on which they were then dependent. The agitation was in full swing all over the country with people from all age groups and across the walks of life coming forward to show solidarity with and commitment to the cause for which Anna Hazare took the action that he did. People, who do not even know what Lokpal bill is and what Anna Hazare’s demands are, came forward in the crusade against corruption. It was delightful to see so many people coming forward in a march that they believed would change the way government work. It was an Awakening. It was Enlightenment. It was a Renaissance. Or was it? However, this is not in the scope of this discussion and people may call it academic and discard the points that I may put forward.

Let us discuss the more important question that arises. Why there was so much agitation against the democratically elected government? These same people brought the government to power. Why were they now acting against them now? Let us search for answers.

With the corruption coming to fore in the cases of Commonwealth Games, 2G spectrum and abuse of power in appointment of Chief Vigilance Commissioner, and many more corruption cases in the past, the people’s frustration levels were highest and therefore instability was there. Anna’s agitation against government gave a channel for this frustration to come in open and for the world to see. The absence of any government initiatives to curb this frustration and channelize this energy which otherwise was not being tapped is the real answer to this question. Solutions are in sight just that the government needs to work on them

What are the solutions? However, there are many of them but the two or three that come to my mind are those that I am discussing here.

People in Indiaget once in a five years opportunity to show that they are not happy with the work of government, its ministers and its departments down to the local level administrators. Many people do not know that the Grievance Redress Mechanism is in place in the country. There is a website hosted by Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances known as Portal for Public Grievances. However, it has never been advertised and the people do not even know that such a system is in place. The URL is http://pgportal.gov.in/. There are two nodal agencies in the Central Government handling these grievances. These agencies are-

  1. Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions
  2. Directorate of Public Grievances, Cabinet Secretariat

As the website says,

Grievance Redress Mechanism is part of the machinery of any administration. No administration can claim to be accountable, responsive and user-friendly unless it has established an efficient and effective grievance redress mechanism. In fact, the grievance redress mechanism of an organization is the gauge to measure its efficiency and effectiveness as it provides important feedback on the working of the administration.

This is the fact and the people who are in government must take this seriously. If this system have been working more efficiently and effectively than many of the people that came out on roads with Anna Hazare would have been sitting at home and enjoying IPL opening ceremony on Saturday. There should be a similar mechanism for States; every department, however small it might be, should have this mechanism in place and people should have easy accessibility to these services. The need is to educate the people that certain mechanisms are in place. This will help the departments to take any actions required for amending their acts and working in the right direction.

Second thing that comes to my mind is Right to Recall. It is the concept of Praja-adheen Raja. The people of India should have the Right to Recall that is the power to expel/replace CM, PM,MPsMLAs, MLCs, Coporators, etc. without waiting for 5 years and the power to expel/replace Justices of Supreme Court, High Court and Senior Judges of District courts. They should have the power to expel/replace District Police Chief, Municipal Commissioners, etc. This way parties will have to place the right people in right place because, there will be fear that citizens might expel their candidates after even winning the election. The complacence among the members of legislature will be less and they will be more responsive to citizens needs and act accordingly.

Thirdly, every department should publish a Department Plan for the year on the start of every fiscal in leading newspapers in the country, should send it directly to the citizens, or should post it on internet and the link should be published in the newspapers.  Similarly, these government departments should also publish the weekly reports about the work done in the past week, which will also comprise of expenditures done and revenue generated along with the target and source for them.  Once a year report placed in the floor of Parliament is not the check enough and sometimes it is too late for the Parliament to take any corrective measures. If the weekly reports are published then civil society would know that whether the departments are on track or not. This way any preventive actions can be taken before it is too late. In addition, the people will come to know what steps the government is taking.  This will help the government as well as citizens.

If these systems are in place and work effectively and efficiently, then people will have a channel through which they can act and use their frustration levels in the right direction without the need for an agitation or revolution-like demonstration at Jantar Mantar. It is the high time that government should realize that the people are already agitated, aggravated and exasperated. Moreover, if they are not provided with a medium to channelize this frustration for better governance, then we will see more such actions and agitations in future. We have been witness to Jessica Lal murder case and we have witnessed the support for Anna Hazare. The supremacy of Parliament and Constitution can only remain if the accountability of different people in power is defined and enforced. This is the right time to bring Real Power in the hands of the people. Let us act towards the same.

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