Dr. Susmit Kumar

(NOTE: the changes in electoral system must be made only after guaranteeing the fundamental rights, i.e. foods, clothes, housing, medical aid and education to every individual)

Political democracy has become a great hoax for many people around the world. It promises peace, prosperity, and equality, but in reality creates criminals, encourages exploitation, throws common people into an abyss of sorrow and suffering, and in some nations, like the U.S., is a participant in ever-new wars. According to Sarkar,

There are several forms of government structure and among them the democratic structure is highly appreciated. Democracy is defined as government of the people, for the people and by the people. But in fact it is the rule of the majority. Hence democracy means mobocracy because the government under a democratic structure is guided by mob psychology. The majority of society are fools. The wise are always in a minority. Thus finally democracy is nothing but “foolocracy”.[1]

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people will only mean government of fools, by fools, and for fools.

We are witnessing this phenomenon in the U.S. As noted earlier, although after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, American weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared in 2004 that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological, and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight, a Harris Poll released on July 21, 2006 found that a full 50 percent of American respondents said they believed Iraq did possess forbidden weaponry when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003. A poll conducted in March 2006 by Steven Kull of WorldPublicOpinion.org found that seven in 10 Americans perceive the administration as still saying Iraq had a WMD program. On July 21, 2006, when Hezbollah guerrillas were fighting the Israeli army in Lebanon, Fox News—without any evidence—suggested another enemy of the Bush administration also had WMDs by displaying the following headline on the television screens of millions of Americans: “Are Saddam Hussein’s WMDs Now In Hezbollah’s Hands?” [2]  Democracy is a mockery of good government in a country where many people are uneducated or gullible.

This is generally the case with most Third World nations. In much of the Third World, cunning and fraudulent persons very easily secure or purchase the votes of illiterate people. Moreover, the general public is easily misled by the propagation of casteism or religious communalism. Democracy, however, requires educated, sensible voters; the spread of education is thus of the highest priority. To facilitate its spread and strengthen democracy, the educational system must be free of cost.

Democracy has been likened to a puppet show where a handful of power-hungry politicians pull strings from behind the scenes. In liberal democracies like America, capitalists manipulate people through the mass media, while in socialist democracies like India, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats lead the country into lawlessness and economic collapse. In both forms of democracy, little scope exists for honest, competent leaders to emerge, and virtually no possibility for the economic liberation of the people.

Because of relatively insignificant factors like the “3 G’s” (“Guns, Gays, and God”), incompetent persons such as George W. Bush Jr. and Ronald Reagan win elections and ruin the country for decades by committing massive blunders like invading Iraq and turning a projected 10-year, $5.6 trillion budget surplus into a projected 10-year, $1.9 trillion deficit. Elections, like beauty contests, have become popularity contests. Political parties try to find candidates like Bush who can get votes by fooling the people.

For the welfare of people in general, it is not fitting to leave the onus of the administration in public hands, even through representative democracy. Suppose a certain couple has five children. All of them are happy and comfortable. But if the children, on the plea of being in the majority, suddenly claim full authority and the right of management of the family, does that make it feasible? Let us say they call a meeting and pass a resolution to smash the glasses and dishes. Is this a wise resolution? To take another example, the number of students is always greater than the number of teachers. If students, on the plea of being in the majority, demand a right to draw up their own examinations, would this make sense? Such is the logic that results, however, when majority rule is made the central criterion for the functioning of a society. Democratic reforms are thus urgently needed.

Democracy was first introduced over 2,500 years ago in the ancient state of Vaishali, in East India. Called the Licchavii democracy, it drew up the first written constitution. Prior to that, the word of the king was law and kings ruled according to the advice of their ministers. Under the Licchavii system, only the elites, not the people in general, could exercise and enjoy adult franchise. The representatives of the people were known as Licchaviis, and they formed an executive body known as Mahalicchaviis through elections. The Mahalicchaviis controlled the power in Vaishali that had previously been controlled by the monarchy.

If people want to drive automobiles, they need to know traffic rules and have to pass driving tests in order to get a driving license. If the government decides that everyone above the age of 18 will automatically, without proof of skill, get a driving license, that government is playing with the lives of its citizens. Similarly, by giving everyone the right to vote on the basis of age, irrespective of political consciousness, problems are bound to arise. In order to be eligible to vote, a person needs to have some political awareness.

Prout proposes the formation of an electoral college as the voter list. It should consist of several tiers—local, state, and central or federal. For local elections (mayoral posts, etc.), the franchise should be universal adult if the population is small. But to vote in state and central level elections (and in cities with populations in the millions), people should have some basic political consciousness. They should have basic knowledge of the political system and manifestos of various political parties, and should know what persons elected in the previous election have done for the city, state, or country. Determining whether people possess this knowledge can be done through voter-eligibility examinations. Exam questions should depend on the election level, and should include the option of being taken orally or written. Preparation for the exam will be provided by governmental bodies free of charge. And just like driving tests, a “democracy test” should be able to be taken as many times as a person needs until s/he passes it. Children should be taught the country’s constitution in schools so that as they grow up and become able to vote, they will be politically conscious.

In order to expand the scope of the electoral college beyond knowledge of politics and the political system, Prout also suggests that institutions be established to provide moral, social, and basic economic education, qualifying them as a voter. Such institutions should be free from political influence; they should administered by an independent body like an election commission; and their curricula should be carefully designed by experts—educationalists, sociologists, philanthropists, and spiritualists, among others. To be in the electoral college, a voter needs to take this examination before every major election or at periodic intervals.

If people have the right to vote, it should be their duty to vote, too. In some countries, like Belgium and Australia, if voters avoid voting they must either pay a fine or explain their non-participation. This idea could be followed in other countries.

Electoral candidates should similarly be required to pass an examination, but for them passing marks should be higher than those for voters. Candidates in Western countries usually face each other in televised debates; in this way the general public can gauge their knowledge. But in Third World countries like India, this concept is nonexistent, and voters have little knowledge about candidate qualifications. Most state-level candidates lack any idea about the Indian constitution, fiscal policy, etc., but after getting elected to state assemblies they are supposed to be the constitution’s guardians.

Usually society’s top layer (in terms of intelligence) avoids fighting elections and joining the political system for several reasons: lack of economic security, the need for money and muscle power to get elected, and the lack of a secure career outlook. Instead, they join the bureaucracy or the private sector. In Third World countries, people from the bottom layer of society, who are incapable of getting jobs, usually join the political system and lead a country’s affairs. The chief minister of Bihar once said publicly that most of his cabinet ministers were incapable of getting even an orderly’s job. Politicians like these have legislative powers, however, and wide authority over bureaucrats, who take tough examinations and belong to the intellectual elite.

In the Proutist system, the role of the electoral college will remain unfinished even after it has elected members of various political bodies. It will continue to remain in touch with the people and apprise them of the points and counterpoints of various socio-economic issues. Constant vigil will be required to make sure that all arms of government function efficiently and honestly, and this vigil will have to be exercised by the ever-watchful electoral college. [3]

In many contemporary democratic systems, governmental actions and policies are carefully examined by opposition parties and the press. This is a healthy practice which serves to keep official arbitrariness under control. But it has also its faults. Quite often the opposition engages in destructive criticism, or plays upon narrow tendencies in the public mind. The party in power counters with the same game, and, as a result, the country does get two viewpoints on an issue, but not necessarily the best viewpoint. The electoral college that Prout calls for will have a different role to play. Since it will not belong to any faction or party, it will be able to offer constructive criticism of government policies. [4]

Prout also proposes full state funding of the entire election process so that all candidates have equal opportunity to present their positions. It allows no individual or private funding of elections, so wealthy people will be unable to buy influence.

Candidates will need to produce their programs in black and white. They will furthermore be required to stick to their programs; if they do not, they will be legally liable and may be tried in court on breach of promise or similar charge. If an elected official is found guilty of deceiving the public, his or her election will be cancelled. During an election in Bihar, the state’s leader, Laloo Yadav, promised villagers that he would construct rural roads so that they were as smooth as the cheek of a beautiful leading actress in Bollywood. After he formed his government, people asked him to fulfill this promise, and he replied that poor villagers did not need smooth roads because they did not have any cars.

1 Sarkar, P.R., Prout In A Nutshell, Part 4, AMPS, Calcutta, India, 1987, p. 14.

2 Hanley, Chales J., “Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD,” Associated Press, August 6, 2006.

3 Batra, Ravi, The Political System of Prout, Proutist Universal, Calcutta, India.

4 Ibid.

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