Tuesday, 24 July 2012

New Book by M C Raj-Electoral Systems



Electoral Systems

With Specific Reference to PR System in India

M C Raj


A Brief


Author M C Raj has penned many books on philosophy, psychology, spirituality, politics and a few fiction novels. Now he has come out with a book on Electoral Systems with specific reference to Proportional Representation System in India. This book is the result of two parallel processes in the last five years. The first process is that he started off with a research on the German electoral system in Germany. This was a long research. He followed it up with a research on the Sami Parliament and Norwegian electoral system. Norway has enacted a very special legal provision for safeguarding the rights and culture of the Sami people. The Sami Act also provides room for a separate Parliament for the Sami people. Jyothi and Raj then took up a research in New Zealand on the electoral system of the country. New Zealand has a provision for separate electorate for the indigenous Maori people. His frequent visits to Nepal also enabled him to do a research on the Nepalese electoral system that has brought about drastic changes in the democratic set up of Nepal. Finally Raj also made a research on the electoral system of the Netherlands, which according to some scholars has the best proportional system in the world.

A common feature of all these countries is that all of them have proportional representation system as their electoral system. A diversity in all these countries is that each country has its own unique feature in PR system. Germany has reservation for the Danish people, in its Mixed Member PR system while New Zealand, following on the German model of PR has made a special provision of separate electorate for the indigenous Maori people within the MMP. Nepal is a pioneer in Asia in adopting the parallel system of elections within the Proportional Representation system. The Netherlands has a full PR system without the Mixed Member PR system as in other four countries.

The second process is that M C Raj and his wife Jyothi initiated a major Campaign for Electoral Reforms in India (CERI), which has now taken roots in more than 15 states in India and has also made inroads into the parliament of India. India has borrowed its electoral system from the British, which is a colonial residue. The First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system is fit for any democracy with two parties. India, being a multicultural society with multiparty system is badly in need of shifting to proportional representation system, as it provides inclusive space for minorities. Here the term minorities will imply Dalits, Tribals, religious, ethnic and sexual minorities and also women. The CERI campaign is specifically focused on bringing about this change in India. However, the knowledge bank in India on PR system is abysmally low. It is in this context that M C Raj has brought together all the questions that were raised by Indian participants in more than 15 State conferences on PR system, combined it with his untiring researches and has brought the present book on Electoral Systems.

The book has three sections and is spread out in ten chapters. Section 1 deals with the conceptual dimension of Democracy, especially in the way it developed from the period of Enlightenment in the 16th Century and has led to the present modern and postmodern democratic governance. It has a heavy analytical angle in its presentation. The attempt is to wake up the readers from their slumber on a na├»ve assumption that democracy is ‘good’ without even knowing its inner personality and character. This section also deals with the way Indian democracy evolved especially through the different types of nationalist discourses. Both the global and the Indian democracy converge on one common dimension, which is representative democracy. The question of representation immediately throws up the challenge of inclusion and share in power. Both these are supposed to be realized through an appropriate electoral system. When there is no inclusion and no share in power it must be realized that there is an unfit electoral system.

Section 2 deals with the Majoritarian Electoral system. It lays bare the different variants in the Majoritarian Electoral System one of which is the First Past The Post system that is in vogue in India.  The systems are dealt with as much academic discipline as possible. Care is also taken to explain the different terminologies of the system that are used in procedures.

Section 3 deals with the Proportional Representation System and its application to India. The variants of PR system are explained to enhance the general understanding of readers and particularly place the reality of India. The choice of the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system and its various dimensions are not only explained but also the logic of developing India specific electoral system is brought into focus. Being a unique country India cannot afford to borrow any country’s electoral system as it is, without applying the same to India’s unique social and cultural context. This has been done by a group of international experts on electoral systems whom M C Raj brought together in Berlin, Germany. The proposal for PR system in India by M C Raj and CERI are heavily supported by the National Law Commission Report of 1999, which has also recommended strongly PR system for India.

Both the technical and the explanatory dimensions of the book make it appealing to all types of readership in India. However, this book will be unique in the sense no such book on electoral systems has been written in India till now. The academic understanding of PR system in India seems to be abysmally low and this book is bound to fill in a lot of empty areas and avoid many pitfalls in Indian democracy and governance. This book is also bound to create a lot of unprecedented dialogue and healthy argumentation that will go to strengthen the theory and praxis of democracy in India and will lead to unplanned levels of national integration.     

Publishing Status

Manuscript: fully ready for submission, Introduction by an eminent person awaited.

Illustrations: Nil

No. of Words: 44662

No. pages: 115 in MS Word, Arial 12

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Democracy and Inclusive Elections


Democracy and Electoral Reforms

Talk given in Kolkotta to the Working Group of The Welfare Party of India

M C Raj


The Way Democracy Arrived

Present state of affairs in the world needs to be traced from 16 century, from the beginning of the period of enlightenment. This was also the end of monarchy and feudalism. Both these refer to predominant forms of governance of nations. The emergence of enlightenment announced the arrival of individualism, liberalism, bio-power, discipline, ordering and re-ordering into mechanisms and instruments and governance. Communities were slowly replaced by the inalienable focus on individual and the rights of individuals. The underlying economic paradigm was that the individual’s right to accumulate and amass wealth and profit was unquestionable, relegating the rights of communities of people to the backyard of governance. In as much as the state was expected to protect the rights of the individual to indulge in mindless accumulation, he was also expected to do some duties to the state. The primary duty was to pay taxes to the State. The other duty was compliance. The Individual became a obedient citizen. He had to comply with the rule of law that were brought in force in the ordering and re-ordering of the society. Those who did not comply with the changed laws were criminalized and punished.

The rights of individuals were deeply embedded in a form of governance that we now know as democracy. But the point of interest for us in the transformation of communities into individuals is the emergence of citizen as an essential component of the mechanism of governance. With a heavy taxation system in place as a duty of the citizen the transformation of the citizen into a tax payer was also set in motion.

The arrival of the citizen as tax payer was coupled with another engineered phenomenon at the global level. The enlightened individual took upon himself the unprecedented task of ‘discovering’ the world. This discovery of the world strongly meant the invention of ways and means of exploiting the wealth and resources of different continents, especially from people who lived in harmony with nature without giving event the slightest thought to exploiting Mother Earth and cosmic rhythm. Discovery simultaneously meant plundering, not only material resources but dignity, rights and the bodies of communities of people who were easily dumped as barbarians.

Globalization refers to the efforts to render a civilized face to the plunder of world’s resources essentially in the hands of a few individuals. In this order human beings become non-entities. Only citizens and tax-payers are recognized with rights and services. Nations paved way for nation-states with the fabrics of individuals and tax-payers.

A dire need in the globalizing order and re-ordering was the capturing of power to govern. Missionary enterprises became a handy tool in ‘softening’ of the ‘barbarians’ with the messages of love and forgiveness sugar coated also with unlimited supply of cheese, chocolates, milk power, blankets. These became the foundations of plundering the dignity, rights, land and her resources, forests and ultimately power to govern. The enlightened citizens of a globalizing world had to have a legitimizing face for criminal plunder and looting. Democracy provided this legitimizing face. Democracy has come to be the sweetness of a camouflage for all the evils that are wrought in the name of freedom, liberalism, accumulation, profit, limitless surplus, production of weapons of mass destruction, war and ultimately violent transgression of the sovereignties of nations.


The Globalization Order

The ordering and re-ordering of the society with an inextricable obligation on the citizen had its ineluctable consequences for the rest of the world.

1.     Democracy as power of the people was re-ordered to become power in the hands of a few to crush disempowered people and nations.
2.     Freedom became limited to the capacity to enter into a cutthroat mechanism called level playing field.
3.     Justice led to the criminalization of masses of people, communities and even nations and new laws to punish and banish such ascribed ‘criminals’ from the face of the earth.
4.     Governance, which is the distribution of material and spiritual values was re-ordered to become accumulation of material wealth and power to exclude.
5.     Militarization has been re-ordered to crush unrest within the borders of given nation states instead of protecting the boundaries of nations.
6.     Production of weapons of mass destruction has come to be recognized as the power to establish ‘democracy’ at gun point, leading even to the total destruction of freedom of people.

Thus globalization has become a process by engineered paradigms of dominance have been spread, established, assimilated and universalized as the irreversible mechanisms of the governance of nations states. It is this irreversibility that provides a global legitimacy to the modern and postmodern looters to capture accumulative governance in the entire world.

Modern democracy that has come to represent governance of nation states is no more possible except through one or other form of representation. Postmodernism has come to recognize the inevitability of multiculturalism. But keeping in line with its essential trajectory of accumulation, multiculturalism is also an engineered process to further accentuate the need for individual identities as inalienable component of democratic governance. Representation is engineered through electoral processes in such a way that this element of accumulation will always remain intact. 


Democracy and India

India, which is a victim of such skewed instruments and mechanisms of governance, that is colonial democracy, is religiously following the general psyche of all oppressed people. Franz Fanon has succinctly put this psyche in his psycho analysis of the psyche of the black people. Every Black thinks that his ultimate achievement in life is to become a white. This is much evidenced also in India’s strenuous efforts to blindly imitate her oppressors in all possible ways and her borrowing of the instruments and mechanisms of governance from the dominant world. On the other hand it is also very true that in the transfer of power in 1947, it was into the hands of those who believed that accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a dominant few that the power to govern India was handed over. Thus there is no surprise that India is governed in the same way that it opposed governance while the British were governing India. Looked at both ways, as a blind imitator and as a hegemonic force, India has become an inseparable partner of this grand enterprise of globalization.

As in the rest of the world India’s legacy of governance has gone through all the historical phases that the West has gone through. The only difference is that India went through a phase of enlightenment much before even Jesus was born. It is not an accident that Buddha’s enlightenment was crushed in the land of its origin by the hegemonic forces of Brahminism who governed the many nations that constituted India through the Kautilyan principles of loot, exploitation, cheating, brute force. Thus though Globalization is new to India, the mechanisms of postmodern globalization in India are deeply rooted in the ancient principles of Brahminic hegemony. India is in a mindless hurry to get into the fastest lanes of a globalizing world. The way it has opened its economic corridors and doors to the ‘developed’ countries and the way its citizens have gone all over the world to establish their business bears witness to the principles of accumulative governance.


India’s Representative Democracy

There is no wonder then, that India has opted for the British system of a representative democracy in order to sustain and nurture dominant power in the hands of a powerful few. In India the powerful few will specifically mean a few castes whom Hindu divinity has ordained to be dominant. Thus the element of re-ordering in the Hindu society will be badly missed in an order of globalization. India’s globalization and modernization will have this specific dimension of consolidating the archaic principles of caste governance. Just as ‘democracy at gun-point’ of the US and the West has effectively stifled the democratic aspirations of many communities and nations of peoples, India has also crushed the democratic aspirations of many Minorities, Triabls, Dalits, Adivasis and women. India’s continuing governance of certain states of India with AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) is an indisputable evidence of this hegemonic praxis of democratic governance. It is a stark contradiction in terms and praxis. But then, is there any need to say that India’s caste governance has thrived well on contradictions?


Any Hope?


Of course yes!

Democracy is more about share in power than about representation.

Democracy is more about governance than about rule of law

Democracy is more about equal opportunity than about level playing field

Democracy is more about inclusion of all sections than about subscribing to dominant groups


A Different Electoral System

Many nations in the world have already started realizing the fragility of systems of governance that they have created. Efforts are being made to reverse their own folly. One of the major changes that has come about in recent past is the endeavor to change the mechanisms of representative democracy. Some nations have taken conscious and strenuous efforts to usher in true representation of all citizens in the instruments and mechanisms of governance. This has been done by ushering in the Proportionate Electoral System in the place of Majoritarian Electoral System. India has borrowed the British legacy of the First Past The Post (FPTP) system, which is a majoritarian electoral system. Changing electoral system is not a panacea for all the problems that a country faces. But when it comes to governance, electoral system plays a crucial role and if an appropriate system is not put in place it could spell a doom for the entity of a nation. 

Perhaps it was this realization that led the makers of the Constitution of India to heated discussion on the choice of appropriate electoral system for India. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Muslim leaders on one side and all others on the other side. Syed Karimuddin Saheb and Mehboob Ali Saheb vehemently argued for PR system while all the others wanted the FPTP system. Finally it was decided to go with the British FPTP system under the argument that with only 15% literacy it was impossible for Indian voters to understand the intricacies of PR system.

Much before the debates in the Constituent Assembly Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Babasaheb Ambedkar spearheaded the fight for political nationalism in India and constitutional governance already in the 1930s. Unfortunately Gandhi spoiled a true democratic emergence through his fast unto death against separate electorate and made the separation of Pakistan inevitable. In 1930 Jawaharlal Nehru had openly said that India should have PR system.

Sporadic voices are heard in the Parliament clamoring for PR system in India. But these voices have till now remained feeble. In 1999, the National Law Commission has made a strong recommendation to the Government of India to usher in PR system. It is in 2008 that CERI was started with an avowed purpose of changing the electoral system of India to a appropriate PR system. The Campaign was started after many years of work among the poor and substantial research on electoral systems in five countries. Among the many programmes CERI organized, the most significant one is the Workshop of electoral systems experts from all over the world. This was organized in Berlin, Germany in October 2011. As a consequence CERI prepared a tailor-mad policy for PR system in India. This policy book was released by the Chief Election Commissioner of India in Delhi on 09 February 2012. This was immediately followed by a national conference in Delhi.


Why do we need Proportional Electoral System in India?

First we must understand that representation through elections must lead to share in power and not create an illusion that by casting votes our duty as citizens is over. The FPTP in India is grossly disproportional between the percentage of votes and percentage of seats. Such disproportion leads to exclusion of minorities and concentration of power in the hands of powerful group of people who are smaller than many minority groups in India.
          

Some Issues that Beset our Electoral System

1.     India is a multi party democracy and therefore, renders the FPTP system of elections redundant and unrepresentative. It invariably produces ruling party or parties that are not mandated by majority of the voters in India.

2.     FPTP is suitable for enhancing representation in any country with two party democracy. In this case a clear majority for one party will be the outcome and a clear majority of voters will be able to give mandate to political parties to govern. This is clearly not the case in India.

3.     India has already arrived at coalition politics irreversibly both at the Center and in the States, and many of our electoral problems, sometimes even crisis such as corruption, violence, communalism and casteism are because of this misfit of our electoral system to the composition of the democratic governance of our country.

4.     India, as a multicultural society is in need of special provisions for historically oppressed minorities, Dalits, Adivasis/Tribals, MBCs and women. Such provisions have to be integrated into the electoral system itself in order to enable such communities to come to level playing fields and gradually grow out of the present ‘reserved seats’ for only SC/ST categories.

5.     The present FPTP system has proved beyond doubt that from the time of independence it gives leverage only to certain dominant groups in India to capture and retain power of governance without sharing power with all sections of people. CERI firmly believes that sharing of power is an essential ingredient of any representative democracy and governance.

6.     The very idea of majority is skewed in the majoritarian electoral system. In FPTP one does not need to gain a majority of votes to be declared a winner. The candidate has to only gain more votes than the other contestants to be declared winner. It can be less than 10 of the total votes polled. The present Indian parliament has two MPs who have won with only 9.6% votes. This leads to the next issue in FPTP and that is the huge wastage of votes. All votes that are wasted are unrepresented or vice versa.  Any democracy that allows wastage of the votes of her citizens can only be called a sham democracy. In the FPTP system, parties with less than 25% of votes have proved capable of gaining adequate number of seats and subsequently forming governments. This results in huge wastage of votes, which is the antithesis of representative democracy.

7.     By its very core principle FPTP professes to declare a candidate with more vote than the others as winner. Similarly it also declares a party with more seats than the other parties as eligible for forming the government. The high risk for democracy in this case is the huge disparity between the share of votes and the share of seats. This often is not a representation of the will of the people. This has the potential to lead to manipulative politics.

8.     Rightly or wrongly, a general impression in India has been created that political parties are accountable to none either before or after elections. CERI is in agreement with the argumentation that further empowering of the National Election Commission of India is a serious need in this regard. However, we also like to highlight that inner party democracy in India has received a body blow under the FPTP system. Most countries in the world that have opted for PR system have ensured such inner party democracy.


How Do we Understand Proportionate Electoral System?

Let us take the example of one political leader Mr. X for illustration. He is politically popular in his state and has formed a party of his own. Let us imagine that this leader is from Maharashtra that has 280 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Mr. X is popular all over Maharashtra among people of his community. But there is not a single constituency where his followers live in majority. Under the FPTP system he is unable to win even in a single seat in the elections. After the election results are declared Mr. X realizes that he has 10% of votes in the State of Maharashtra. But with this 10% of scattered votes he is unable to win even one seat. In the PR system seats are allotted according to the percentage of votes that a party gains. Mr. X has to prepare a list of candidates that his party would like to send into the Legislative Assembly in proportion to the percentage of votes that his party would gain. His party gains 10% of votes and will become eligible to have 10% of members in the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra. This will enable his party to send 28 members from the party list that they submitted to the Election Commission before the elections. This is a huge difference that a party that was unable to win even a single seat in the FPTP system will be able to gain 28 seats under the PR system simply based on the percentage of votes that it gains.  


Some Salient Features of PR System

*    More than 80 countries in the world with democracy have already shifted from FPTP to PR system. India, being the largest democracy in the world with multi party system and coalition politics is ripe to adopt the Proportional Representation electoral system.

*    Countries with concern for providing representation to minorities have taken recourse to PR system. India, with different types of minority groups will do well to change to PR system of election in order to provide adequate and meaningful representation to all sections of people.

*    The efforts to tinker with the FPTP system to the already changed political scenario in India is much more complicated and problematic than developing an understanding of the PR system among voters. Since PR system translates all votes into seats it has the best possibility of providing representation to all voters in the first place and also to all minority groups in India.

*    PR system creates a win-win situation to all parties, as there is the possibility of more than one member representing a constituency through the List PR. This will drastically reduce the play of money and muscle power, corruption, violence, communalism and casteism. As long as the FPTP system is in practice all the efforts to reduce corruption in elections are bound to be only a half way journey to a majority of voters, as the system itself promotes cutthroat competition.

*    Since voters are bound to vote for parties and their ideologies through the List PR, the convergence of voters on ideology based parties will be enhanced much better and correspondingly it will reduce foul play at the time of elections. Needless to say that an ideology based governance is destined to create a strong nation.

*    Countries with PR system have already proved to provide more stable and more inclusive governments.

The anomaly of parties with less percentage of vote share forming governments will easily be avoided in the PR system.


PR Measures for India

1.     Mixed Member Proportional Representation with 70:30

2.     Two Votes

3.     Closed List system

4.     Representation of Minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, MBCs, Women etc. special measure in the Party List

5.     1% or 3 Seats Threshold

6.     Webster Method of counting

7.     Internal Party democracy

8.     State Funding

9.     One Day elections

10. Gerrymandering – Not allowed




Saturday, 24 March 2012

Blissed Out News


Defying the set norms
Last Updated : 20 Mar 2012 10:13:23 AM IST

By Zoya Philip

BANGALORE: With his latest book, Blissed Out, MC Raj is all set to break the traditional and societal barriers that have long existed. After publishing 15 other books, his latest book challenges what is considered normal and abnormal by the social environment that the entire world lives in.

Blissed Out was launched at the Reliance Timeout in the presence of a few eminent personalities and his family members.

It is the search of a woman, Helen, for her true identity. As she seeks her true self, the story takes the reader on a voyage through the UK, US, India and Aotearoa, the ‘land of the long white cloud’. Aotearoa is the most widely known and accepted Maori name for New Zealand.

“A couple of months ago I was in New Zealand for a conference on indigenous knowledge. It was there that the idea to weave a plot that had a strong presence of a Maori came to my mind,” says Raj. The story line dwells on Helen’s quest to discover herself after the death of her Maori husband. It also sheds light on the struggles that the Maori faces in a bid for self-determination and realisation.

As Helen gets entangled in the struggle, sub-consciously it turns her into a leader of a sort. As her search continues, she encounters intriguing aspects of religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, before finally uniting with a professor in India. While Helen seems content with the end product of her quest, a young man enters the scene. His entrance in the story gives the plot a whole new dimension and turn.

“Blissed Out is a book that was an outcome of various real life experiences that my female friends told me about. It is a reflection of their lives, at some point of time or the other while they searched for themselves and true love,” he informs.

“In fact ‘blissed out’ was how one of my friends described one of her relationships as,” reveals the author. He further adds that any woman could relate to the book as it is influenced by real life instances and stories. “Helen was adopted by her uncle after her parents died. While her uncle was a strict disciplinarian, Helen was hell bent to rebel and break away from the set norms. After her husband’s death she leaves the Maori community to find herself. Though it is a novel, there is an underlying message in the book. It urges every girl, every woman to discover her true identity and rebel against the norms,” he says while clarifying that by defying norms he is not trying to persuade them to go against anyone. “It is only to encourage them to stand up for themselves,” he says.

The book is written in a non-unitary directional manner. What the author is trying to imply is that instead of only moving forward, the story’s direction often reverses along with a number of events that occur simultaneously. This as a result gives birth to curiosity which keeps the reader glued on.

Meanwhile another sensitive aspect that the book brushes is, sex and relationships. “Why should it be alright for men to have multiple relationships and a taboo for women. How is that justified?” he questions. “This is not to say that promiscuity is the order of the day, but to say that how one lives one’s life is solely their prerogative. No one has the right to question or raise fingers at their decisions,” he asserts. In his words, the book, Blissed Out is all ‘about getting over your inhibitions’.


Topics:


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Blissed Out-Latest Book by M C Raj


Raising uneasy questions subtly

Published: Sunday, Mar 11, 2012, 9:47 IST 
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
In a rather unusual ceremony, SK Biswas, former director of Indian Institute of Science, released four books by social activists MC Raj and Jyothi Raj in the city on Saturday.
Unlike run-of-the-mill book launching events, the discussion that followed the release was not confined to these four books alone. Larger issues that concern the society like identity politics, development, moral policing and sexuality were interestingly dealt with.
The authors are well-known for having led one of the most powerful Dalit movements in Karnataka. They are the founders of Rural Education for Development Society (REDS), a people’s movement that was started in Tumkur district, and, by now, has spread across almost 2,000 villages of Karnataka.
Shouldn’t it reflect on basic aspects of life like health and sanitation? Saying that these questions are something that he often grapples with, Raj said his novels touch upon them subtly.
Of the four books, three are novels—Blissed Out, Raachi and Yoikana. The fourth book, World Parliament of Indigenous People, is a testament co-authored by Raj and his wife Jyothi. It is based on a first-of-its-kind conference of indigenous people organised at Booshakthi Kendra in Tumkur last year.
“The big question that Raj poses in all his books is that can human beings free themselves from the multi-dimensional hierarchy of caste, class, and gender posed on individual identity by the society,” Biswas said.

Friday, 17 February 2012

CERI National Conference Statement


Conference Statement

More than 250 delegates from 22 States of India gathered together for two full days at the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra at the National Conference of the Campaign for Electoral Reforms In India (CERI) and have arrived at the following Statement of the Conference, after due deliberation for the consideration of the Election Commission, the Parliament and the Government of India.

Indian Democracy is still in a state of emergence though democracy at the global level is at crossroads today. From distribution of values for the larger welfare of all it has altered to the accumulation of values in the hands of a few. The emergence of nation state also saw the evolution of new forms of concentration of power and new concepts of individualism and liberalism intruding into spaces of governance. These concepts also gave birth to capitalism as a powerful social and political system. The contours of democracy in modern times emerged as a systemic dominance over the powerless, a major shift from people’s power to concentration of power in the hands of a few people. On the other hand, among the ordinary masses there also evolved a quest for power as resistance and power as participation. The flame of democracy is kept alive in such communities of peoples.

India, supposedly the largest democracy in the world, is a multicultural society, which is in need of very special measures for inclusive democratic governance. The undercurrents of India’s complex reality make it difficult for any form of democracy to function freely. The First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system in India has further accentuated the intricacies of its governance. It challenges the premises of representativeness of citizens in democratic governance, as it is neither proportional nor inclusive. In political terms India has moved to an irreversible phase of multi party system and coalition politics. Many countries in contemporary world that are genuinely concerned about inclusive representation to their citizens in governance have taken up the Proportionate Electoral System, which takes care to give representation to all voters. PES ensures that generally indigenous and minority communities get their proportional representation in the Parliament.

Campaign for Electoral Reforms in India (CERI) initiated this process in 2008. We are delighted that the Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr. S.Y. Quraishi released the CERI Policy Document for Proportional Representation System and has promised the formation of a Committee to look into Proportional Representation system in India. We are also happy that CERI will be made a part of such a Committee when it is formed. This National Conference adopts the Mixed Member Proportionate Electoral System with a ratio of 30% direct seats and 70% party list seats and also two votes system with closed party list. In counting and distribution of seats the Conference confers with the Webster-System.

Introduction of MMP may call for an expansion of the size of the parliament. The Conference is of the opinion that India, being a huge country with more than 120 crores and 74 crores voters will have to make an expansion of the Parliament in congruence with the size of population without undermining the need for manageability. Therefore, this Conference expects that the proposed Expert Committee by the Election Commission would take up this matter and recommend to a later Parliamentary Committee of India that we hope will be set up, to consider all possible complex dimensions and arrive at a size of the Parliament that will be proportionally inclusive and professionally manageable. This Conference seriously debated on bicameral parliament in India and has decided to respect the wisdom of the Indian State to deal with this issue.

This National Conference took the question of reservation/ separate electorate for Dalits, Adivasis/ Tribals, Women, BCs and Minorities in the MMP and suggests that the present arrangement of reservation to be continued and be integrated in the party list system of all parties contesting elections as it is reflected in the CERI Policy Document. A widespread healthy democratic practice in PES is ‘threshold’. This Conference discussed on aspect and suggests a threshold of 1% of overall polled votes or a win of three directly elected seats. Under the pretext of delimitation India generally witnesses gerrymandering. This conference opines that there will be a need for redistricting after national census but not before elections.

This conference discussed on the question of internal party democracy and opines that parties should have utmost freedom of how they want to conduct the affairs of their party without the government exercising much normative control. However, taking into serious consideration the existence of feudalism, nepotism and tendencies to perpetuate dynastic control over parties, this Conference also highlights the utmost importance of ensuring inner party democracy in every electoral system, be it FPTP or PR system. This Conference strongly recommends that the State should be responsible for all electoral financing.

This National Conference firmly believes that issues like negative voting, right to recall etc. make themselves irrelevant in PR system and issues like corruption, violence, communalism and casteism will be drastically reduced in PR system as witnessed in all countries that have taken up to PR system. Therefore, this National Conference of CERI appeals to the President of India, the Prime Minister of India, to the Parliament of India, to the Election Commission of India and to all citizens to make all possible efforts to usher in Proportionate Electoral System in India at the earliest possible time. Passed unanimously at the end of the Conference.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Dalit Mysticism


Mysticism East and West

Indigenous and Dalit Mysticism

M C Raj



Mysticism is fundamentally an experience to do with the self, the subjective. Science bases itself on the objective. To explain mysticism scientifically can take away the precious subjectivity. One’s subjectivity is an inalienable objectivity in the realm of the self. Such a subjective objectivity does not render itself to rational analysis of the other. But if mysticism does not propel the self towards the other there will be reasonable ground to question its validity. This is because in the Indigenous world mysticism is the essential consequence of communicative interaction with the other, organic beings, cosmic bodies, cosmic waves and space. Thus ‘fuga mundi’, the phenomenology of the pinnacle, the phenomenology of the cave etc. have very little to do with the indigenous order of mysticism. ‘Fuga mundi’ implies engineering of mysticism. However, if mysticism is engineered it is no more mysticism. It just happens in human bodies, in the being.

Mysticism is a body phenomenon in the indigenous world. In its fullness it is whole body orgasm and bliss. Such mysticism transcends all boundaries of definitions and identity. However, a mystic will blast into millions of pieces if he/she tries to contain it to oneself as it will be a cumulative contradiction. Mysticism being founded on communicative interaction it is under blissful compulsion to reach out to the other. It is one movement of being and becoming identified as two. But they cannot be two separate movements. It is cyclic process of being a mystic that propels one into becoming as an essential part of being. Thus there is an inextricable intertwining of the self and the other, the inner being and the external world.

Communicative interaction takes place at different level. If it is full body orgasm and bliss at one level it evolves organically into value fundaments and worldview that mark the self and the community. Cosmos is the all embracing theatre that synchronizes the movement of being and becoming, the self and the other, the inner being and the external. Cosmos is eternal. Matter is eternal. The self disappears in the fluidity of the cosmos. It is immaterial to the cosmos. Cosmos will live without the human self. This makes the indigenous mystic an utterly humble being. The worldview born out of the body of the mystic invites the other for communicative interaction and the being of the mystic receives cosmic calls to multiple becoming. In this being and becoming the indigenous mystic is an inseparable part of the cosmic movement and change.

Body is the epicenter of the mystic’s communicative interaction. Knowledge is full body phenomenon just as mysticism is. The cells in the body are in incessant communication with all cosmic energy waves. It is possible that cells in a body receive also negative and destructive waves that lead to Tantrism, Vajrayana and negative shamanism. Cosmic energies set up a process of entropy for replenishing energy in organic beings. The body of the mystic is a veritable crucible of energy waves emitted from Mother Earth. She is eternal. She is the embodiment of the cyclic process of generation, provision and protection of life and its sustenance. Earth is sustained by space and all other elements of nature. The mystic is in awesome wonder at the way his body receives energy waves from elements of nature in eight different directions. At his conscious he becomes a worshiper. Ancestors of indigenous communities have the capacity to communicate energy through their ‘wavial existence’.

The whole body orgasm and bliss is an inexplicable experience of freedom from all sort of compulsion. The mystic is always celebratory dancing in gay abandon with cosmic waves. Mysticism is thus a springboard for liberation of his people. Just as mother earth and cosmic elements the mystic is angry whenever his people’s freedom is either restricted or violently taken away. Striking back becomes an essential part of becoming. The being and becoming of the self of the mystic is equivalent to the being and becoming  of the world.