With Specific Reference to PR System in India
M C Raj
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 naïve 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.
Manuscript: fully ready for submission, Introduction by an eminent person awaited.
No. of Words: 44662
No. pages: 115 in MS Word, Arial 12