Generally speaking, Indian democracy consistently fails to elect good political leaders at all levels of government. One of the many reasons for this could be that a certain segment of the voting population has been rendered powerless to affect the outcome of elections: it is the educated, middle and upper class, largely urban segment of the population. The illiterate and the poor constitute very large and powerful vote banks which are pandered to by unscrupulous political parties.
The reason for the powerlessness of educated urbanites is to some extent due to their being a minority. Around 30 percent the population is urban. Compounding this problem is the fact that individuals in this segment are a disheartened lot and have resigned themselves to the idea that there is little they can do to affect the outcome of elections. As a consequence, they don’t vote. My guess is that their share of votes cast perhaps much lower than 30 percent.
They are disenfranchised and to a large extent this disenfranchisement is caused by their perception that their vote cannot matter. The political parties know this and quite understandably neglect the interests of the urban middle-class educated voters.
It is likely that a significant percentage of this urban educated population are sensible people who have the capacity to understand what good policies are, know the importance of electing capable policymakers, and whose interests are aligned with the broader national interest of India.
It is possible that the 150 urban parliamentary constituencies of India have an aggregate of 20 million or so people who are sensible, educated, middle-class, urban voters. If they can be consolidated into a “vote bank” and persuaded to vote en bloc, it is possible that they can swing elections and be a force to contend with.
The idea is to create a constituency which we call the “United Voters of India.”
This has to be done because this appears to be one of the ways to fix the problem of bad policymakers and political leaders in India. By creating a constituency that demands good governance, the political parties and politicians will be forced to reform.
Other reforms in the way democracy is implemented in India can also make a difference. Consider these changes:
- Have a high barrier to entry on who can contest elections. Make the minimum requirement so stringent that only highly qualified people, who have demonstrated professional excellence, personal integrity, deep commitment to the overall development of India, etc., can be candidates for political posts.
- Have a high barrier to qualify as a voter. Make it a requirement that only those who are high-school graduates, have passed a test that tests for at least a basic understanding of the political process, the challenges the country faces, the need for public honesty and integrity, etc., can vote.
- Have high barriers both to who can be contest elections and who can vote. That is, implement points (1) and (2) above.
These reforms will strengthen democracy by shifting the power away from politicians and towards the people. Which is why the political parties will not allow these changes.
This leaves us with the option being discussed here: Empower the sensible educated middle-class urban voter by consolidating their votes into a voting block.
We articulate a set of principles that lie at the foundation of good governance. We call our set of core ideas “Pretty Good Principles.”
- Equality and non-discrimination: All citizens have equal rights before the law. The government cannot discriminate for or against any citizen based on sex, religion, caste, creed, social status or any other characteristic.
- Minimal government: Government must be restricted to matters related to judiciary, central monetary authority, law and order, external affairs, and defense.
- Market economy: Government must not be in any business producing goods or services which the private sector can produce.
- The Funding of Public Goods: Where justified, public goods may be subsidized through public funding. This includes some public utilities, education up to the high school level, and some science and technology related R&D.
- Speedy Justice:
We will create the United Voters of India constituency using modern communications and social networking tools.
Suitability for membership
A person who agrees that the Pretty Good Principles (PGP) are sensible is a suitable member of the UVI.
Furthermore, the person agrees to vote in all elections.
The person agrees to vote for the candidate that the group decides is most suitable for the job. This group decision is made at the relevant level of the group.
Membership is only through nomination. Only an existing member can nominate someone for membership. There will be one-time membership fee which will be used for maintaining the association, for informing the public about what UVI is doing, and for membership drives.