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United States of India – unfolding the new nation

February 11, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Often working with the Indian government, I have realized that there is such a huge disconnect between the different states. Although, we do have a government @ the centre managing the national show, but when it comes down to executing policies or even driving development or any such national priority initiative, the discretion of each of the state sortta defeats the whole purpose. The blame is to go on our DEMOCRACY. As they say, too much of everything is bad.

USI FlagThis is where we need to rein in our excessive dependency on the institution of democracy and move to a much more productive way of managing the country. One thought came to my mind was the presidential form of democracy which is atleast constructive… with no unnecessary discretion given to the states… the idea is not to replicate the US model… but to take just the essence of “united states” concept… wherein all states go with the national policies….

Our basic problem in India has been that we have forgotten the distinction between guidelines and rules… and in that process, states have never taken the central government seriously except when it came to disbursement of funds 🙂 money rules!!!

The CSF for a more advanced Indian economy is… to have all policies drafted at the national level in consultation with states but essentially bringing in a consistent and uniform approach or outlook to each policy. And then, the discretion of implementation can be given to the states ensuring that the basic fabric of the policy remains intact.

Here is born the new face of India replacing the present Republic of India – the United States of India!!! What do ya say???

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  1. February 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    The nation in its current shape exists only because after independence, breakaway states were given assurances (with the use of force in some instances) of minimal interference by the central government except for obvious stuff like national security etc.. That’s the only reason many states agreed to be part of our nation. Changing the policy the way you said is simply national suicide. It’s a different question whether this whole business is right or wrong – I am only putting forth the pragmatic argument.

    Regionalism isn’t something which can be wished away like in the script of Chak De…India! More importantly, for most people identity matters more than productivity. So, states don’t complain much about the status quo. And if they do I am sure their solution is not to trade their regional dole outs in favor of “national productivity”.

    Shujath

  2. February 22, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    @ Shujath

    Yes, you are right with regards to the fact that the unionization of states in India was on the principal agreement of minimal interference.

    However, if u see from what India was in the early 1950s… the change is too significant to overlook. It’s like the political process has changed from that time and the reforms process is still where it was… It is nutin but a seismic build-up waiting to explode sometime.

    Therefore, the present times demand that we review the “status quo” and chart the way ahead… which is where one option is to explore the approach I propose!

    For e.g., today when we talk about RTI, the biggest implementation bottleneck has been the same “state discretionary powers”. Every state has its own interpretation of the National RTI Act and lo’ 2yrs into implementing it, we are still where we started the whole journey!

  3. Muazzam
    February 22, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Imagine having a Modi govt ruling @ the center, or the Bihari babus running Delhi…

    People, Processes and Resources- three essential components that make up any system. The most critical and unpredictable component being the people… Unless we root out greed, corruption and crime in society… no process-democratic or otherwise can change the state of any nation.

  4. February 22, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    @ Muazzam

    What you state is an idealistic scenario… but every type of governance has its own beauty and its own share of burden! The practical way out is to tread the middle path… and build in measures which can atleast check and mitigate all those unwanted governance traits rather than run after the mirages of eliminating them.

  5. ANUPAMA
    March 12, 2008 at 8:51 am

    nice contemplation, one aspect of thinking.The fact is democracy has not been implemented in real sense..and it gives an impression of being failed…democracy is not what generates prejudices against one sects/region/religion. do we believe in democracy when we say someone bihari or marathi? we require some deeper understanding on it. Democracy is as powerful “notion” as the “right to live and pursuits of happiness”..in the US constitution..its all encomassing..both in practical and theoritical sense. Democary is not merely a way of polotics and political systems its the only tool which can deliver governence..whether it is complete democracy or guided democracy.

  6. March 12, 2008 at 9:06 am

    @ Anupama

    Absolutely… my only issue is with the partial implementation of democratic setup in the country. I think the real issue was demonstrated in the movie, Chak de India when SRK points out the fact that people still fail to have that sense of oneness!!!

  7. Rohit Handa
    July 19, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Buddy, in US there is more discretionary power given to states than in India. Every state gives its own citizenship like J&K in India. Every state in USA has its own constitution and flag, unlike India. India has stronger form of federation like Canada and unlike USA which has weaker form of federation.

    Moreover each state in USA has its own policies.. some have no capital punishment.. others have capital punishment by lethal injection n others by electric chair… gas chamber, hanging, the firing squad are still used in some states.

    During next elections states in US will use ballot boxes, some will use Electronic Voting Machines and maybe states like California will allow voting via internet.

    Please don’t cook up anything,….

  8. July 19, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    @ Rohit

    I agree with your point to the tee… when I say “discretionary power”, it means with some reasonable restraint. Too much or too little of anything is bad… we ought to look for the middle path.

    “the idea is not to replicate the US model… but to take just the essence of “united states” concept…”

    Challenge for us is to not get lost in the trivial stuff… of who uses EVMs and who doesn’t… but look at the larger uniting factor behind the states.

    Hope you can appreciate it more!

  9. Rohit Handa
    July 20, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I gave the policies differences b/w US’s states just to show the the huge differences in policies… and this trivial difference in voting policies possibly cost Al Gore presidency in 2000….

    In USA every state has its own pollution laws, while India does has a unified law structure (based on Euro). Sadly, the problem lies in implementation of these laws, law enforcement agencies and the people in India are ignorant(including the educated class). In US these laws(regardless of the difference between states) are strictly imposed. Recently, California and 13 other states of USA wanted to impose very strict pollution laws, but were stopped by EPA.

    Trivial difference in criminal law can make huge difference eg if you commit a murder in a state with no capital punishment you could end up in jail, while same crime in another state (maybe hardly few hundred metres away) can land you in hell.

    In India, majority of people vote on caste, religion and regional basis. They hardly even know the manifesto of political parties. Illiteracy, ignorance and hunger etc are real problem. People here are willing to cast votes for petty money.

    One just can’t compare India with US as we here have large racial differences, no common language, very different cultures, unlike USA.. I believe if we want to compare India, European Union would be the right choice.

    Given the unique conditions of India, we should have more autonomous states, more like Swiss Model.

  10. July 20, 2008 at 9:01 am

    @ Rohit

    Your point is well taken here 🙂 I think perhaps EU would be a better baseline to benchmark against.

    Perhaps, as I say, we cannot just copy the governance models verbatim… but would need to just take those experience to craft one for ourselves.

    And I shall definitely try having a look @ the Swiss model and perhaps put forth my views on that. Prima facie, autonomy is the key to a harmonious governance model for India… owing to the cultural and socio-economic diversity in the various Indian states.

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