Tuesday, December 14, 2004

How do citizens communicate their expectations to the governments?
Necessities are easier to communicate as they double up as campaign speeches and vote bank pleasers.
How would the government understand citizen's expectations for developmental needs?
How does the government get to know that the citizens need an better system to pay income tax?
What is the interface?
The elected representatives are too few and far between.
Again, a middle class, 20 something, educated, working in a Consulting company is not a "typical" Indian.
So, if I haven't ever been reached out to by the Government to understand what I "think" rather than what I "need", then it be just that I am not important enough or we aren't sizeable enough.
Every long-term decision made by the government needs to have an implicit understanding that "this is what the people want". How does the government get this idea?
One school of thought says that, "initiating new programs or massive changes to the governance structure is only possible through visionary leadership, by a leader who can think far enough, farther than the citizens. By that logic, citizen's expectations are limiting and short-sighted."
May be it is the size of the population in India, which makes, an outreach to gather public opionion, extremely difficult.
In a few European countries, citizen's participation in decision making is more organized. For example, Switzerland follows a system called "direct democracy", where it is possible to insist, by collecting a modest number of signatures, that any law proposed by the government must be submitted to a vote by the electorate.

The delays in decision-making in this progress would be debilitating in a democracy of India size with highly opinionated populace.

The question still remains, how can an educated, working citizen participate/ contribute to decision making in a democracy after electing a representative or a party to power?
When elected representatives are lambasted about the murkiness of politics, the usual refuge is that not enough educated, working citizens join politics.
They needn't.
Governance system should have points of interface where citizens can contribute to decision-making at various levels.
Other than experiments with electronic voting and using survey tools, the governance structures haven't evolved to incorporate the tools created from the Internet revolution to let citizens reach out to the Government.
How different is the communication
Citizen's expectations, can be looked at from 2 sides of the mirror.
1. How can the government fulfill my expectations of service delivery?
2. How can I communicate my expectations about decisions that the country makes? How can I contribute my knowledge and understanding in providing better service delivery for every body?
Other than the election, what is the other means by which a citizen can communicate with the Government? The Government of course, has the complete media machinery at its disposal to speak to its populace.
Citizens need more avenues and tools to communicate with the government not just once in 5 years but as frequently as possible.
Citizen groups and councils are doing a good job in their limited means. But more needs to be done.


At 4:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi balu

interesting enough! reminded me of plato's ideas of an 'ideal government' in 'republic'.

however, to my mind, we may be overlooking some fundamental facts if we expect a 'better model' to evolve from the existing system. government is not an absolute or independent entity, but a collective one. so, it is just as good as its constituents - the politicians. and as it exists in this nation, a good 90 per cent of those are bastards that automatically renders the 'good, able, efficient and visionary' 10 per cent helpless and frustrated. the upshot is: country moves only one way - bad to worse.

it may sound extreme, but i seriously doubt if democracy is an appropriate model for a population in which majority of the voters are not mature enough to understand the implications of their fucken, and the so-called 'responsible' deed of voting. so, it follows, logically and otherwise, the wise insight - "where donkeys are in majority, donkey will be king". and donkeys do not encourage 'communication interfaces' because they are insecure about such things. such interfaces threaten their power by demanding efficiency, virtue and intelligence that do not go with their nature. it might sound pessimistic, but i believe 50-odd years is a good enough time to draw such conclusions.

so, i do not see any possibility of this country going toward any 'developmental' road even in a century to come. there is simply too much groundwork needed to be done to realise this. but, then, this doesn't imply i do not appreciate your ideas. i very much do.

maybe we need a wholly different government model? maybe we should cease attaching sacredness to 'public opinion' - the one glorious phrase that has been successfully used by goons and assholes to subject millions - now billion - to live in an unrealisable illusion. maybe the extant 'interface' - media - should realise its potential and change its position from being a mouthpiece of politicians' to become the voice of the people. maybe we should stop misusing words like 'responsibility' and 'duty' to encourage people to vote and choose the 'best goon' available and, instead, renege voting until we are presented with 'good' men to choose from. maybe we should look at 'constructive thinking' from a totally different point of view - to envisage a new, efficient system rather than try and try to develop and modify a system full of flaws.

before i commit the 'contemptible deed' of writing a comment longer than the post itself, let me appreciate you again for the brilliant ideas. have a great day!


At 5:38 AM, Blogger Atheistbishop said...

I don't think your pessimism is unwarranted.
The reason I thought of this was the apathy I feel towards the governance system as it exists today. Other than getting into politics, the system should offer its citizens ways to influence polity.
If this happens, opinions like ours, however diverse they might be, would work towards the goal of making the cliched better society.
As yet, I haven't heard the system asking me for my input. "My" is used here as representative of a population like ours with thoughts and the enthusiasm to contribute our might.
Anonymity doesn't suit you.
What is your mail id?

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonimity wasn't a deliberate choice, although i feel it isn't a bad idea at all :) simply, i forgot my id and password so chose to post anonymously.

mail - vjwpf2@yahoo.co.in

- vj (cherupally)


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