The problems faced by every democratic country in the world are almost identical. They originate in the way democracy is implemented rather than from democracy itself. All these problems can be greatly mitigated if we have the political will and vision to reform democracy. The reformation must start at the grass root level and leverage the technological advances of the recent times fully.
The main assumption about democracy to be questioned is the geographical basis of constituency. The geographical basis probably arose as a convenience inherited from the geographically delineated kingdoms of yore. The top down approach began with the country at the top and local government at the bottom. Convenience suggested that we demarcate small localities that merged into larger constituencies and so on till the whole population was represented in a single governing body such as the parliament. The parliamentarians either directly or indirectly influenced the selection of a supreme leader. When we subject this entire structure to critical scrutiny we discover that this is more suited to concentrate power and control people rather than empower and help the people govern themselves. The democracy we imagine is nowhere to be found.
In addition to geographical constituencies it is possible to base constituencies on professions, industries, critical issues, individual interests and others which now function as lobbies and use money to get their needs served. The electorate can be given the option to enrol into any number of constituencies and vote directly for all the issues that affect them. Thus a voter can be a member of the constituency of her locality as well as those of her profession, interests and other matters concerning her. This way she is empowered to have a say in all matters concerning her welfare.
Every constituency should involve every person concerned with the matters decided by it. Thus an industrial constituency will not only include the promoters, but also the managements, employees, consumers, suppliers, regulators and citizens whose livelihoods are affected by it. This will immediately eliminate the lobbies of vested interests subverting the law with funding and bribes. The political class can serve as supporters and disseminators of critical information to their electorate and ensure that they understand the stakes and vote intelligently. Discussions can be initiated at the grass root levels and progressively widened to include more and more people so that all their inputs are gathered to make all crucial decisions. This way the objective of self rule is ensured.
Every human being must be included in at least the basic constituencies of local food production, livelihood, safety and security which will ensure that all are fed, employed, clothed and provided a home. For this purpose technology involved in social networking can be adapted and the identity of locals stored in a local server under proper encryption. Politicians everywhere can work on the critical task of providing the basic needs to all humans. Is this not the first duty of every politician? No democracy can exist without this first step.
The local level constituencies must have the freedom to team up with other constituencies anywhere in their country, if not the whole world. This teaming should function under rules that specify common interests and modalities for working together that can be a part of the constitution of the true democracy. Throughout the world all constituencies must follow the basic rules of protection of their constituents and ensuring their freedom. The electorate must be free to quit any constituency to join another or form their own both of which are facilitated by available technology. This will ensure that constituencies do not become oppressive and curtail the freedoms of their members. As the oppressive constituencies lose members and benevolent ones gain, issues such as the current descent into oppression are avoided.
There are many other problems faced by democracies at present. But with our present enhanced common awareness and advanced technological tools all of them can be overcome. If we just possess the will to do so!
Born in the rich culture of South India and educated in English, I have been exposed to two opposing world views enabling me to achieve synergy and realize true harmony. I belong to linguistic community “Saurashtra” who were silk weavers patronised by kings of yore. Our ancestors are said to have migrated from Western part of India to Tamil Nadu in the South several centuries ago. Growing up in the country as India underwent its pangs of Westernisation, I was able to synthesise the self oriented Western perspective with the community oriented native one to arrive at a wholesome concept of self after considerable efforts and experimentation. My forthcoming book “Searching for Self – In Pursuit of Inner Peace” is the culmination of this labour.