Things to learn from American Democracy
India is the largest democracy in the world. And we’ve been doing doing just fine under the parliamentary democratic system for past 60+ years. We may have fully switched to Electronic Voting Machines that no other country (even developed one) has been able to archive but we have a few things to learn from one of the oldest and probably the strongest democratic system in the world – that of the United States of America.
Only two major political parties
The advantages are having only two major parties are obvious. People have to chose from only two people. So the winner has to have 51% of vote. And that is a clear majority. When you have three people running for the post, the winning requirement is only 34%. That is NOT an absolute majority. 2/3 of people may not want you in the office but still you can manage to win. We are moving towards that with Congress and BJP emerging as two major parties with others joining them. But coalition politics is harmful. Smaller parties gain unnecessary importance and like the Left they blackmail the government and hold entire country for ransom.
People decide who contests the elections
Political parties do not nominate candidates who will run for the President’s post. Rather it’s the people who decide whom they want to contest in the elections. Aspiring candidates have to face people in various primaries. So like Obama and Hillary, aspiring candidates have to win nominations of their own party. It’s not like India where L K Advani will be declared BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate and worse the PM will be decided by the “Madam”. In US people know whom they are voting and what his/her policies are going to be. If we had a similar thing happening in India then Advani might have to contest against Modi to be his party’s PM candidate. And I doubt he would win that nomination. ;)
The live TV debates of President aspirants before the elections is the most startling feature of US election process. The one of one debate gives candidates chance to question one another, reply to criticisms and put forth his/her point of view in front of the nation so that votes can make a rational choice. People vote for a person and his policies and not for a party or an ideology.
People chose the president directly
In India we vote for the party, not for the PM. It’s the parliamentarians or “Madam” who decide who is going to be the PM. Seemingly unheard names on I. K. Gujral or H. D. Devegoda can become Prime Ministers overnight. Do we know who is going to be the PM if Congress wins the next assembly elections? Will be Mr. Manmohan Singh, Will be Mr. Chidambaram or will be Madam Sonia herself? In the US the President is free to chose ministers of his/her government – each job is given to people specializing in the field and not to any Tom Dick and Harry who has to be an elected parliamentarian.
There are more things that we need to implement in our democratic system. Don’t allow criminals and convicts to contest the elections until they come out clean. Have minimum educational requirements for people wanting to run in elections. As shown in an Tata Tea ad, take public interviews of political aspirants about their suitability and ability for the job. Even if you want a peon’s job, you have to have certain qualifications and you have to appear for an interview. And last but not the least, set a retirement age for politicians. if all the jobs require you to retire at 58/60/65 then why not politics? In fact at these ages most of the politicians “start” their careers. Give young bloods a chance. Don’t bring that old age brings wisdom crap on the table. We know how well the old wise guys have ruled the country for last 60 years.