For me , the last general elections were a turning point in my outlook towards India and its democratic system. I believed that a single party attaining majority without the baggage of alliances could turn the policy paralysis dogma over its head and push India towards newer horizons . But I was wrong , the last government was no different from the coalition melting pots that were the staple for the previous three decades. This is quite an irony. If a stable government with a powerful leader at its helm cannot bring a change , then we must certainly review the system itself. Democracy as we are practicing is not working out . Hence let us look for an alternative , why not a Benevolent Dictatorship? .
The dictator who from now on be called the “Leader” should have absolute , unrestrained powers to bring about revolutionary changes . The restrains that have been put on our current system owing to the fear of tyranny have itself become a tyrant to such an extent that the best in the administration are finding it difficult to navigate the cobweb.So an absolutist framework is necessary to bring about changes to a diverse society like ours. It is a crime these days to romanticize the British Raj , But the authoritarian Raj did turn India on its head. Imagine the uproar William Bentick would have faced if he had tried to pass the Sati abolition through our current Parliament. With absolute powers the array of Governor Generals and Viceroys turned a feudal , medieval society into the one that we see today hence unrestrained power on benevolent hands could bring about wonders.
The first step the leader must take with these powers is to dismantle the Hindu caste system. Jati , Varna or whatever it is called is the biggest stumbling block to our progress. The priesthood must be disbanded and the Brahmin monopoly over the divine must be done away with. Though it may sound harsh but people must not be allowed to marry from their erstwhile castes. This is the opposite of what we have today where people go to great lengths to arrange marriages from their own communities. This must continue for a few generations where by varna/jati would become non existent and what we would have will be a Hindu community which would be egalitarian in its true sense. some might ask why this could not be extended to the whole of the country and the religious divisions be done away with?. Religion is a personal choice but a caste is not. One is born into a caste , even if a non Brahmin wants to be a devout Hindu he would always be inferior in the ritualistic hierarchy , hence once we dismantle the caste, the hierarchy would automatically implode.
The second step must include the empowerment of women and other sexual minorities.Indian women have been at the receiving end of patriarchy since the time of Manu.To make gender equality a reality women must stop putting all the blame on the society and must take matters into their own hands. The Dalit empowerment movement bore fruits only when the leadership of the struggle moved into the hands of the leaders like Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram who belonged to these castes and knew what it meant to be “broken”. It must also be taken into account that women themselves are the greatest proponents of Patriarchy especially in rural India , Hence a reform from within is what is the needed. On the societal front the leader must make discrimination with respect to boys and girls a penal offense , which must be monitored regularly at the community level. Marriage age of girls must be raised to at least 24 ( after post graduation and attainment of job) .Men must be made to take paternity leave equivalent to the one taken by women , so the unfair advantage the men have at the workplace owing to career break of their female colleagues would be dented. More over this would help women share the burden of child rearing with men.
The third and the most important step must be to suspend our current constitution and replace it with a shorter less complicated one. It must be unique , conceptually non ambiguous and most importantly – rigid. It would be better to have a short rigid constitution than the mess that we have right now. Secularism must be re interpreted in similar lines with the French constitution. State and Religion must be separate , more over minority religions must be treated at par with Hinduism. The cushioning given by the constitution have made these religions resistant to change , Hence a uniform civil code is of utmost importance. Fundamental rights must be absolute , exemptions , that are the hallmark of the present constitution is an insult to the whole concept , hence it must be done with.
Fourthly the leader must overhaul the judiciary. The power of the supreme court must be limited to those subjects that affect the federation as a whole. The new constitution must not have article 32 or any of those provisions that would give preeminence to the supreme court. The new system must have stronger High courts at the state level , which could parallel the current supreme court in its jurisdiction but at the state level. specialized courts must be the order of the day there by de clogging the complicated maze that we face today. Judges must be selected by the people , for a fixed tenure may be 30 years , their transfer and promotions should be decided by an independent body which would again be elected by the people from time to time.
Finally, the leader must dismantle the All India Services. It is a vestige of the Victorian past which has no meaning in today’s world. Along with this , states must be given more autonomy especially in the administrative space . A more autonomous , self reliant provinces could actually bring about competitive federalism a reality . The local self governing institutions should be empowered and the administrative machinery disbanded at the panchayat level , making them more representative.
The leader would replace the central government as we have today, but there will be elected governments at the provincial level . These governments would be elected based on universal adult franchise and will be answerable to the Leader , who would have absolute powers over them , which is to be used sparingly .The Leader must abdicate his position after 20 years in office to be replaced by another leader , selected and trained by him , who is no way will be his kin.
So , instead of towing with a failed concept i.e Democracy lets think about a viable alternative this election season.