Saturday, August 22, 2009

Organized leadership and ministerial building after elections- The way forward for India?

This post was meant for Independence day. However, owing to some amount of thought that had to go into it to make it possible and shortage of time, it has come several days late.

Before going forward with the topic, I'd like to explain the obvious benefits of an organization to do something, rather than its rules being loose and enforced by a single authority at the top.

A single authority at the top of any institution, who might/might not have any expertise in the service is in most cases a loss to the institution. (By institution, I mean something that provides service to the public for e.g.: police, fire station, etc.) Top-down administration of any institution with full authority vested in the top, even authority to change the laws of an institution means that administration is subject to whims and fancies of the person. If the man at the helm is of high dignity and a responsible person, the system will run well. On the contrary, if he is not so, the system will languish.

An organization on the other hand, has a set of rules and regulations. People once recruited follow these rules and regulations, governed by seniors who are talented persons in that particular field, or who are products of that organization itself. In an ideal organization, with no interference of vested interests and if recruits are only possible at the lower ranks, and if people who have just the right amounts of talent and intellect are recruited, than the organization runs like a mineral refining factory. Raw ingredients in the recruits are made available at the bottom, when people are not found to have prerequisites in them, they are thrown out or stagnate at one particular level, and the people who come to the topmost level of the organization would be the best (well, best at least in that particular organization). A person who has been thus prepared is fit enough to rule the organization. He knows from the very first day of his job how the institution should be run and what it lacks. Thus, there is no on the job training, and complete order in the institution.

Taking this analogy to politics, one can argue that this is the basic difference between a monarchy and a democracy. A monarchy in most cases has been the rule of a family over a people (One exception is the first Indian state established by Raja Bharata after the dasrajana (battle of ten kings) wherein the King chose his successor depending on his fitness). An amendment of the difficulty of family rule of a person not being talented enough to rule can be done by the king having many sons and imparting them training, with the best son being chosen to rule the people. But still, training some person to do something often needs harsh lessons to be imparted. This is not often done in families, since people tend to go soft on their own when they would be harsh on the others for same mistakes committed in training programs. Thus, a system of a chosen one to lead organizations thrives only on luck, in some cases it might work, in some cases it might fail. And such failures can sometimes be catastrophic for the nation, as often seen in the past.

The training to do a task, is best imparted in organizations and not in families. A system of government that is based on an organization rather than family rule is more likely to thrive. Thus, totalitarian (party rule) and democracy usually tend to do better than monarchies which might sometimes last very long, or sometimes last very short. The drawback of an organized method of rule is that a certain dogma gets attached to the system. It gets difficult to change, since change can only happen by taking a certain majority into confidence. This difficulty is absent in a monarchy when all powers are vested in the king. However the benefit is that total buffoons are weeded out at intermediate ranks in an organization, hence chances of a complete catastrophical failure in an organization is lesser than that in monarchies. One can say, that the scales get evenly balanced.

The next step after building an organization is that it should take into account the interests of all the members of the society. A fire station cannot neglect a fire in its own street while sending vehicles to extinguish fire in a far-off place. A police station cannot neglect grievances of a particular class of people. Similarly, a government must take into account the grievances of all the people in order for it to be successful. In it, a possibility lies for the failure of totalitarian type governments when it roots for the betterment of only government apparatchiks, causes organized (i.e. ordered from the top and executed at the fundamental levels to please the apparatchiks) and not organic (make incentives for progress) progress of the people it is meant to serve.

A democracy is thus far, the most progressive form of government. The basic tenet of democracy is that the people decide the leaders. The leaders then move on to form the laws and legislature. They get to rule for a limited span of time, after which they have to go back to the people for a vote. If the people are satisfied with the government, they vote it back. If not, they will vote another political party to power.

On the face of it, it all sounds a very good proposal. However, there is one fatal flaw, the over-dependence of the system on the people. Now, the onus is on the people to be aware of happenings around them in order to operate the system efficiently. Moreover, it is also needed that they be able to see through the malicious plans of the leaders and stop them in their tracks. They need to realize that in order to have long term gains, the nation has to sacrifice some short term comforts. All of the people are needed to realize Kautilya's axiom for the training disciple from the Arthashastra.

"The training disciple is the one whose intellect has the qualities of desire to learn, listening, retention, thorough understanding, reflection, rejection of false views and intentness on truth and not on any other person." Ch. 1.5.5 [1]

In summary, they need to be equipped with cutting edge awareness, think long term and place the importance of the nation above their selfish interests.

This is no mean goal. No people can be readied for the challenges of democracy at short notice. The system gets even worse when corrupt people reach the higher rungs of power. Just one jab at power by vested interests can allow them to divide the people, favoring one section over the other. People, if not sufficiently aware of this game can fall for it and vote those that particularly favor their section of the society. This effect is called vote bank politics. A non-intellectual people will not understand learned men and get thugs voted to the higher echelons of power. The thugs will in turn start a positive feedback cycle and by vote bank politics get more thugs voted to power who will shirk their responsibilities and enter politics only to enjoy the spoils of power. This cycle would continue until: 1) People revolt en masse. 2) The country is destroyed by such shenanigans.

So, if all three forms have flaws, what is the way out?

A possible solution is that leaders, after getting elected should be made to attend an organization that hones their leadership skills. It should acquaint them with the basics of human relations, interactions with industry heads, time management, planning and other similar skills that are required for efficient rule of the nation. People who are not genuine leaders will fall short of these skills and must not proceed to becoming MPs of their elected regions.

It would then be essential that instead of the top, the top few M.P.s of a region need to attend the institution, just in case the winning M.P. fails at the organization. Now, this would undoubtedly lead to some situations wherein a member of a losing party from a region gets through the organization. This could be allowed if the member is indeed a genuine ruler. Or perhaps the party based political system can be suspended so as to avoid such chaos. As of now, it really doesn't matter which party our people vote to power since alliances between the parties are decided by the 'leaders' and not the people. The people might then have to see those people as ministers of some portfolio who belong to the parties they voted out of power!

Another possible problem may erupt as in such an organization may become biased and allow politicians of a particular school of thought up the ladder.

But note that such an organization is at least better than a completely unregulated process of allowing anybody to come to power after being voted by the people.

Lastly, we need to ensure that only the Prime Minister (P.M.) is from the people, while all the ministries should be turned into organizations run identical to PSUs with the leader of the organization heading the ministry rather than some elected person who has little knowledge of operating the field of which he might become the minister.

The ministerial organization must be made to have interactions with leaders in respective fields to allow for suitable acquisition of knowledge from the outside world in order to make decisions effectively. They should be given certain form of autonomy that the members of the parliament apart from the Prime Minister himself do not interfere in their operations. The ministerial organizations need to be subservient to the P.M. building organization so that the P.M. can affect changes in other ministries much easily and lobbyists for certain interests are avoided to come to helm in the ministries.

This way, current ministries can be kept out politics and function independently. As of now, while people can elect their P.M. to power, they do not elect the ministers. The former cherry-picks them to his liking and sometimes to the liking of coalition members of the winning coalition. Newer ministries are created to suit the interests of coalition members. Where is the will of the people in all of this anyway? Such chaos can also be avoided by having pre-established ministerial organizations. It would be less difficult to setup ministerial portfolios in such a situation.

Could a temporary implementation of such a system, a combination of people's will and organized political schools of thought be a solution to our decrepit democracy? Note I mention temporary because maintaining such organizations might be a huge strain on our economy if they acquire high complexity. And it would not be justified to have a permanent system in which the people's will is overruled by them, since the ultimate purpose of any government is to remain aligned with the people. But as long as the people are poor, not sufficiently literate and myopic, a temporary crutches of the kind mentioned above might just be what is needed.

To summarize pictorially, an ideal parliamentary kind of government with lesser number of political parties and in which there is no dabbling of parties into the administration would look something like the pyramid below.

Fig. 1 Ideal type of parliamentary government

When the number of political parties get too many, imagine spheres of varying sizes intersecting with levels 2 and 3 first. The system gets worse when there is a winning coalition instead of a winning party and the spheres start intersecting even at levels 4 and barely touching level 5 meaning that they get much more room to meddle at the lower levels and at least cause some chaos in the functioning of level 5. It gets unstable and might even collapse.

What I propose is that there be another stage between levels one and two that can serve to train the politicians before going further.. so as to refine the quality of politicians going ahead and dislodge the previous level 4 and create level A such that it has no connection to the legislature or any parties, and instead recruits people from professional organizations. This way, we can not only permanently (i.e. as long as the program is deemed necessary) cut off interference from the rising number of parties, but also fine tune the raucous lot from the parties that gets elected at the primary level.

Fig. 2: New kind of democracy

Note: A lot more of the detail may be needed to be developed in the above post. Need some help with the above thesis.

[1] P. Radhakrishnan; Management fundamentals in Kautilya's Arthashastra- II; 2005; 16-22

No comments: