Monday, December 1, 2008

does India need a different form of government

I am increasingly getting convinced that India needs a Presidential form of democracy like the US. The executive arm needs two critical things to operate with strength, speed and conviction -

1. Ability to act without the need to worry about losing its job during its tenure.
2. Ability to draw upon the experience and expertise from a wider pool of talent from different walks of life to serve as Ministers rather than thoroughly incompetent populists that we elect into our legislatures.

The parliament should still serve in its legislative role and provide the counter balancing force to unbridled executive power. When I see world leading economists , four star generals, corporate executives in the Executive branch in the US and compare them to the Ministers in India who have hardly any qualifications and executive experience to manage such complex issues, i am convinced that we need meritocracy in the Executive branch and not populist democracy. Again, there may be exceptions in India where some ministers have had both the democratic mandate and the qualifications to execute with success but these are just that - exceptions.

I am not sure if the case for this has been made in the past ( I believe Arun Shourie has been a strong proponent of this thought). I am not an expert in Politics and Consitutional Law but it seems to me that amongst whole host of changes required in India, a massive change in the political system is required.

It has become fashionable to blame George Bush for all his failings post 9/11. But in all the noise, we forget that the US has not seen another attack, of any significant magnitude, since 9/11. To me this is an indicator of the effectiveness of Presidential form of democracy with clear mandate for leveraging wide range of expertise and the executive powers to make big decisions. The fact that the President is elected every 4 years prevents the President to become a monarch. The Congress and the Senate work to provide counterbalancing force during the term of the President. I think it is time to rework on India's underlying political power structure to reflect its needs. The current structure is designed to position populists into position of power and executive responsibilities, which only results in incompetence and corruption.

I'd like to hear from more and more people on their viewpoints in this forum.