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Enough of representative government, I want a participatory government

I remember a time, when I was taught political science, I was told that a participatory form of government is not realistic because no one would be able to come together and create decisions together at the same time. But that was ages ago, long before I first heard the term computer or Internet. That was a time when communication was primarily through “inland letters”, a time when phone calls were made to communicate urgent matters and that too limited to the affluent.

The times have changed. This is the age of exit polls, of emails, social networks and SMSs. At a time when news channels can get the pulse of the nation by conducting polls and mobile service providers can get feedback on their service through SMS surveys, I don’t understand why I cant participate in the day to day working of the government through the same way.

I need not have been like this, but for the politicians. We have elected these politicians so that they will voice the collective opinion of their constituency, but all they have been doing is voice their own opinion. Considering most of the politicians would not be able to gain employment in any private concern, and is most likely to be overlooked for a government post, I don’t think their knowledge or opinion is something that I want to listen to.

At the very least, I want my MLA’s to listen to me and the rest of the population. There should be a system in place whereby each politican is aware of the opinion of the majority of the population and his vote on any bill in the Assembly should be based on that. Television channels, Cellphone service providers and newspapers are the public medium which communicate directly with the public and as such they have a responsibility to facilitate the political process. This is the age of interactive TV and any argument for representative government does not hold water.

There are various ways in which the public opinion can be gathered in less than 24 hours. One is interactive TV. Any bill that is up for voting can be shown on TV and the public can vote on it as it is folding out. A one time registration will be enough to link a television set to a particular constituency. The result for each constituency can be provided to the representative of that constituency. and if they vote based on that, then it is evident that any bill that passes through the parliament will be that of public approval. This will also stop the rich from getting all the breaks.

Another option would be to vote via SMS. Newspapers can carry information on bills that will be voted on a week in advance and based on the information the common man can send the specified short code to vote his opinion.

At a time when call centres and BPOs are the rage and talk of the town, I am surprised that the government has not thought about incorporating it. Any company worth its salt will have some process to check on customer satisfaction and feedback. Being the largest democracy in the world, the organization that is the Government of India has a responsibility to check on the satisfaction and take feedback. As mentioned earlier any company that has operation in India has the responsibility to provide their service for the government and as such all telecom companies can and should provide toll free number to which a citizen can call in and speak his mind.

How can this work in the real world. The first step would be to educate people on the benefit of taking active participation in politics. Once people are aware of it and if public opinion is in favour of it, then newspapers would willing to take up the cause. Once that happens all it would take is a progressive politician to take it up. Once that happens those who want to see something happen should make it known to their elected representative that they favour it and make it known to each and every representative that they expect him to vote in favour of such a legalisation.

The misconception is that the power is with the politicians, but our political system is designed in such a way that the power will always rest with the people, because if it wasn’t with the people then our political climate would never have been so stable, there would have been constant revolution.

It is time we realized the power that we have and put it to good use. The idea is half baked, and it would need inputs from people like you to perfect. Write your views in comment and link back to this post with your views on your blogs.

About Sunil J

I write ideas that strike me, sometimes just to remember them later, and just once in a while, you might find something useful. :-)

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