317. 25 things we need to see in Indian polity here and now
I have been a close observer of Indian politics for over 25 years. Here are 25 things that come to mind that need to change as soon as possible.
On Elections –
1. Create a law that permits candidates from either raising campaign money from citizens (limited amount from unlimited citizens) or through government funding/tax payers money (with a fixed limit of Rs 5 lakh for assembly election and Rs 20 lakh for a parliamentary election). – this will end use of black money and splurging on elections
2. Ban family members (spouse, sibling, parent, offspring) from contesting from the same party in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections – Let’s bring an end to dynasties.
3. Do not give tickets to the family member of a deceased in the following election or by-election – this is again a way to bring an end to dynasties.
4. Create a concept of primaries whereby all candidates who meet a certain criteria, self nominate themselves for a particular seat where members of that party choose the candidate for the main election
5. Graduation should be the minimum qualification to contest a state level or national level election
On Governance –
6. Smaller states – India needs to break up the five large states of UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh into smaller states.
7. India should set an age limit to holding elected office including the office of the President – one should retire from electoral politics on crossing the age of 75 which means one cannot contest for election after his or her 70th birthday. 69 in case of Rajya Sabha.
8. Governors should be in the age group of 60 to 65 appointed by draw of lots from a pool of retired judges of high court & supreme court, IAS officers, MPs and chiefs of armed forces.
9. Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas should be elected for a fixed term of five years and if there is a hung parliament or hung assembly the President’s or Governor’s rule shall prevail for four years after which elections are held
10. Regional parties should not be allowed to dictate terms on foreign policy and in national governance in general – a system needs to evolve where regional parties have to belong to one of the three alliances – Left, Right or Center
On People Management –
11. A population policy needs to be in place that is linked to income and education and I will elaborate later in either an appendix or a separate blog
12. Taxation should be simplified to such an extent that one should be able to file tax returns without any help in less than 30 minutes – this requires a simpler tax code
13. Minimum wages policy need to be implemented so that poverty can be eliminated at a rapid pace – maids and drivers cannot be paid a pittance
14. Every citizen should be ensured a nominal income and a portion of it ranging from a token 1% to a reasonable 30% should be paid as tax offering a guaranteed healthcare cover to all
15. Compulsory national service should be mandated for all adult citizens between 18 and 21 years of age in either the ITS, IDS or IHS (Indian Teaching Sevices, Indian Defence Services or Indian Healthcare Services) and such service should be rewarded with discounted education and home loans.
On Infrastructure –
16. India needs a Ministry of Infrastructure headed by a Deputy Prime Minister who is a technocrat (this may or may not replace the Planning Commission) and should focus on a war-footing on Civil Aviation, Ports & Shipping, Railways, Surface Transport, Telecommunications and special attention needs to be provided to creating metros systems in 100 top cities
17. A robust Tourism Policy needs to be implemented to attract and ensure safety of visitors from outside and within – there is so much beyond Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala.
18. India needs more green spaces and well maintained parks – let every tax payer be given free access to these parks (remember even the poorest should be brought into the tax bracket through a token tax)
19. Global Warming and Climate Change issues need to be high priority areas in the quest for infrastructure development – no use having long bridges and big roads if we are unable to enjoy all this investment
20. Energy is the fuel for infrastructure and India needs to embrace renewable sources of energy at a lightning speed harnessing the solar power in a big way
21. Every Member of Parliament should be on Twitter to interact with and disseminate information to constituents
22. The Prime Minister should address the nation on a designated day every month or every quarter
23. For each day of not debating in Parliament MPs should be stripped off their allowance – a price to pay for not communicating
24. Keep first weekends of every month as mandatory days when all citizens with a voter ID card can walk in to meet their elected representative
25. Respect Freedom of Speech at all times and at all levels