Sabhas: Powering the Indian Revolution (Part 6)

Problems and Solutions

There are 4 problems in India’s political system that we need Sabhas to solve.

First, the current political system hinders the rise of political entrepreneurs – people with new ideas. All decision-making is concentrated in the top few people of a political party. Actual party members comprising the voters have little or no say in the people or policies of the party.

Second, there is little or no internal discussion within a party. Dissenters are shunned. Debate is engineered with a whip in Parliament and State Assemblies.

Third, there is no separation of powers between the legislative and executive arms of government. In fact, even the executive is run by a small coterie around the PM or CM – for the most part, even the Cabinet ministers have little power.

Fourth, the entire focus is on consolidation of power and winning elections, and not on creating an environment for freedom and prosperity. This isn’t as illogical as it sounds – politicians are people focused on their own self-interest, and for them it is about maximising power for as long as possible. The collateral damage is not of interest to them.

So, how can Sabhas solve these 4 problems?

First, it should do away with the idea of a political party and instead focus on individuals as Independents. Primaries enable local members to select the candidate to contest in their constituency. This inverts to power structure. It can be taken further: should the aggregate of Independents win in enough numbers to form a government, members can also choose one among them as the leader to be PM or CM.

Second, by eliminating the whip and party affiliation, each elected representative can vote as per his or her conscience. Each person thus is respected for their opinions, rather than being treated just as one to increase the voting tally.

Third, the PM or CM should be allowed to choose their own team – outside of the elected representatives. Every policy idea will need to be discussed and passed in the relevant Sabha. This is akin to the separation of powers between the US President and Congress (composed of the Senate and House of Representatives.)

Fourth, term limits can put an upper bound on how long people can stay in power in a specific position. And by adding a rule to prevent family members from occupying the same position after them, those in power will have less incentive to perpetuate their own legacy.

However good these ideas sound, none of them are unlikely to happen in the current political system. That is where Sabhas comes in. What if we create a parallel government and give a demonstration effect of how such a process would work? It is part reality (real people, real members) and part fantasy (because policies made will have no impact in the real world). Nevertheless, such a system would open up new opportunities for political entrepreneurs and show a large mass of Indians a different approach to debate and policy-making.

So, we have the basic contours of how to bring Sabhas to life. But we cannot think of Sabhas as only being for political entrepreneurs. It needs to attract the masses. And for that, we need to borrow ideas from the world of games which make engagement a daily habit for their users. How can we marry the reality of politics with gaming?

When enough people buy-in to Sabhas, India’s politics will change and with it so will our economic future. That is when the Indian Revolution will happen.

Tomorrow: Part 7

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.