Archive for the ‘Indian Politics’ Category

Election Eligibility Tests (EET)

November 25, 2018

Thanks to the efforts of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and a responsive Election Commission of India, we have many electoral reforms implemented in our vibrant democracy, including the recent ones of VVPAT (Voter Verfiable Paper Audit Trail)  and NOTA (None of the Above) options of Electronic Voting Machines.

Here I have one more suggestion to improve the quality of Electoral candidates and political activists.

We are all very much concerned about the quality of candidates contesting various elections and the quality of elected people to Parliament, Assemblies and Local Bodies. My suggestion to improve the situation will be to devise an Elections Eligibility Test (EET). Taking this test may be made voluntary initially. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) may devise such tests for different levels of governance. It may also issue Certificates of Eligibility for contesting for various elected bodies, which can be used by candidates in their campaign material. We can give them, ranks and grades of eligibility. This test may involve such features to educate and test prospective politicians on:

  • knowledge of the world around us, our country, our states, our languages,
  • commonsense economics, commerce and trade,
  • our struggle for Independence from Britain and our freedom movement,
  • our cultural and political history,
  • our Arts and sports,
  • our religions and values,
  • rules and regulations and democratic practices of the body to be elected to,

etc.

As more and more people take such tests it will progressively become obligatory for others also to volunteer for such test. Such tests may be left open for normal public also who want to become political and social activists in the future. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) may take up designing the syllabus and question banks for various levels of EET exams; (e.g.) NEET – National Election Eligibility Test, SEET – State  Election Eligibility Test, MEET – Municipal Election Eligibility Test, etc.

We may think of two part exams – Part -1 could be an objective paper of about 30 questions based on the topics we had discussed in the earlier paragraphs. Part-2 may be a detailed exam with descriptive answers on some recent events and party politics.

It will be very nice if political parties themselves voluntarily adopt such tests to selects their candidates. In this regard, the grand old party of India, the Indian National Congress can take the lead and devise an “INC Election Eligibility Test (INCEET) to select their candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Sri. Rahul Gandhi being a young, fresh and influential leader can take the initiative.  I have attempted a sample exam paper for INCEET, which could be used as a model by Indian National Congress leaders and also by ADR.

Model paper for INCEET

Part -1 Tick mark the correct answer(s). Each question carries 1 mark. (Total – 30 Marks)

1. What is the basic difference between US democracy and Indian Democracy?

Both are similar
US system is a Presidential democracy √
US is a federal democracy
US is a 2-party democracy

2. Indian Democracy is based on the democracy followed in –

Germany
Australia
United Kingdom  √
Russia

3. Who is the president of India as on 2019?

Har Govind Khurana
Ram Nath Kovind √
Ram Nath Goenka
Pranab Mukherjee

4. What is the southernmost State in India?

Tamil Nadu √
Kerala
Pudhucheri
Sri Lanka

5. Which is the most populated state in India?

Madhya Pradesh
Maharashtra
Uttar Pradesh √
West Bengal

6. Mark languages recognised among the national languages by our constitution?

Konkani
English
Telugu √
Gujarati √

7. What are the official languages of Union Territory of Pudhuchery?

Tamil,
English,
French,
Telugu,
Malayalam
All the above √

8. What is inflation?

Price increase of food items
Price increase of Gold
Increase of labour cost
General fall of value of our currency √

9. What is GST?

Customs Duty
Replacement for Sales Tax
Introduced in place of Excise Duty
Goods & Services tax replacing many other taxes as above √

10. Which state of India the following freedom fighters are native of?

Lokamanya Tilak
V. O. Chidambaram
Bhagat Singh
Sardar Patel

11. What is the significance of Republic Day on 26th Jan?

First National Govt was formed
Capital was moved from Kolkatta to New Delhi
New Indian Constitution was adopted √
First Indian Governor General was sworn in

12. What does the wheel in our national flag signify?

Gandhijis Spinning wheel
Ashoka’s wheel of Dharma √
Wheel of Justice
Wheel of progress

18 more questions in the same model.

Part 2: Detailed Exam

Answers should be between 300 to 500 words. Each answer is evaluated to a maximum of 4 marks.

  1. What are the merits and demerits of Reservation for several classes of citizens?
  2. What do you understand by secular democracy?
  3. What do you think of Kashmir problem?
  4. What are the issues of Rohingyas muslims?
  5. What do you think of Demonetization?

(The elegibility test  will be evaluated for a total of 50 marks)

This test will make our politicians to take politics somewhat seriously instead of as an opportunity to make money for himself and his party.

Being on the subject of elections, I wish to reiterate my earlier suggestions as below:

A) As of now, 48 Hours period before close of polling marks the end of campaign by all candidates. This can be enhanced to 72 hours with a strict watch on the observance of this restriction. Additionally, CEC may provide for a second ceiling on campaign expenses incurred in these 72 hours. This is expected to reduce the level of bribing of voters and also to reduce the effectiveness of such a bribe, because increased lapse of time.

B) All campaign materials like advertisements, posters, bit notices and letters issued by the candidates and their supporters may be forced carry a prominent warning to voters about the illegality, criminality and illness of accepting bribe for votes. This warning should also assure the voters about total secrecy of their ballot.

Hope ADR will consider recommending this suggestion to the Election Commission of India.

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World’s Largest Working Democracy – India

October 23, 2018

World’s Largest Working Democracy – India

It is again Election time in India, end of this year 2018. Ideally, these elections for five state assemblies could have been held along with National Parliament elections in April/May 2019. But as there was no consensus on this there was no way to postpone them. Though Indian democratic process has its defects, it has been highly successful in making India as the world’s largest working democracy. In addition, there has been a continuous attempt to make the process more and more meaningful, by implementing a number of improvements in the electoral process. However, many of such improvements are not as effective as expected, because of lack of co-operation from the electors and the elected. Basically five groups of citizens are involved in the Indian electoral process. They are: The Voters, The Candidates, The Political Workers, Election Officials and The Election Commission. Here is an attempt to discuss their roles in the electoral process and also to suggest some ways for them to play their roles positively.

The Voters

Many of the voters do not know exactly the duties and responsibilities of their elected representatives. If they are fully aware of these, they will be more careful in electing them and are likely to take the elections more seriously. The elected person is not just a representative of their constituency; he has got many more important roles to play, such as: elects Speaker of legislative assembly, elects the Chief Minister (and/or Prime Minister) of the state, elects members of Rajya Sabha (Council of States), elects The President and Vice President of the Union of India, presents and discusses the issues and projects of the constituency during Assembly sessions and outside. In addition, he gives a proper feedback to the administration about the public reactions to various government projects. Most of all, all voters should remember they are electing a potential Chief Minister (or Prime Minister). Hence they should ensure their selected candidate is capable of donning all the above roles effectively and be eligible to carry even higher responsibilities should the situations ever demand. Voters should never agree to sell their votes for short term gains such as money and gifts. This leads to competitive gifts from all candidates and further leads to unaffordable increase in election expenses. An honest candidate with normal means can never contest such elections and thus defeating the democracy itself. Even if a candidate attempts to bribe, and forces the voter to accept the same, the voter still has a free choice not to vote for him. Voter need not feel guilty, as it is, the sin is on the part of the candidates who bribe him. Your vote is secret and there is no way for anyone to find out whom you voted. Hence voters should vote without any fear or hesitation, irrespective whether you took, or you are forced to take, any bribe. Voters are the basis for our democracy and votes are their tool for ensuring its success. Somehow Election Commission is not adequately educating the mass of electorate on this aspect of secrecy of their ballots.       

The Candidates

The candidates are usually the worst offenders of the election process. They are known to violate all the election rules. This attitude in them percolates into their term as elected MLAs (or MPs). They eventually become arrogant and corrupt. In this avatar no voter will ever like him and may even regret having voted him. We can be sure that none of the candidates would like to be hated by his voters, if ever they want to be re-elected with ease. What they should do, generally for ensuring greater success of democracy?

It is very important to keep the election expenses to be quite low. All candidates and political parties should abide by the ceiling on election expenses as prescribed by the Election Commission. No candidate should think the election as an investment, which forces her to expect dividends from the same. This process leads to higher and higher corruption in our system. Generally, any candidate should be discouraged to spend too much of his or her own resources for getting elected. Unfortunately the candidate, many times, have to spend his own money, not only for his election, but also for bribing his party for nominating him as a party candidate. It is even rumoured that such candidates are instructed, about how to make his ‘investment’ to pay rich dividends later, by using all available corrupt means. This process can be reversed by: a) making election cheaper, b) State funding, or reimbursing, a part of the election expenses, of at least, the most successful three candidates in each constituency and c) by crowd funding the election expenses from different groups of voters such as rich people, industrialists, and businessmen and by smaller donations from others. By proper budgeting, accounting and planning, election expenses can be reduced a lot.

(Please refer to my earlier blog:  https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/a-candidates-budget-for-indian-elections/).

A totally avoidable expense is bribes and gifts for voters. It has been proved that competitive bribing of voters does not really help in getting votes.  In future, it is going to be more and more futile as the voters are becoming aware and getting ensured of secrecy of voting. It is possible they will take bribe from all, but vote strictly as per their choice.

Instead of a candidate becoming popular with the party bosses, it pays to be popular with the voters. Even as a party candidate, he will be able to command his candidature better from his Party, by displaying his popularity with the voters, than his wealth. He may not have to bid for his candidature in a dirty ‘auction’. The candidate can even issue their own constituency-specific manifesto in addition to the manifesto of the party. The candidate should avoid and actively discourage any personal attacks on other candidates and eschew totally any violence either during election process or during counting.

Political workers

Political workers are the most exploited lot in the elections. They work so hard day and night in support of the party candidate and get almost nothing in return. They are the worst victims of political violence. They are the ones who face public ire when their candidate fails to perform. They sacrifice their jobs, their earnings and their reputation. Finally they wonder whether whatever they achieved in the end are worth all their efforts and sacrifices. To make their efforts and sacrifices worthwhile, the political workers should be more selective as below:

  • Never support anyone just because he belongs to a particular party
  • Never allow the party to impose anybody as a candidate
  • Never support a criminal as a candidate
  • Support a candidate only if he is able to spend sufficient time in the constituency
  • Support a candidate who is capable of his responsibilities as an MLA (or MP), as mentioned earlier. Never support a ‘rubber stamp’ representative.
  • As a group of political workers, be co-operative never support groupism within.
  • As a group of political workers select, support and recommend a good candidate to the party high command.
  • During non-election period, do not waste too much time on political activities. Do you job or profession and take care of your family and children. Allocate only weekends for your political work. Just two weeks are enough for political work during election campaign
  • If you are a poll agent in any polling booth, refuse to do anything illegal or immoral
  • Do not allow any illegal activity by any other candidate or his workers. Immediately report to election officers.

Election Officers         

Officers who are posted at every polling booth are the most stressed during the election process. The polling officer, in charge of the booth is completely responsible for the free and fare polling. He starts his work very early ahead of the election date:

  • He will get familiar with EVM in all respect
  • He will initialise the EVM for the particular constituency with the names and symbols of the contestants
  • He will test the specific EVM in all respects in the presence of poll agents of all contestants to demonstrate the accuracy of EVM
  • He will pre check the voters list for the constituency
  • He will open and close the polling process at the appropriate times and seal the EVM in the presence of poll agents of all contestants
  • He will guide his assistants to properly identify the voters and then enable them to vote on EVM
  • He will ensure all the voters are marked with indelible ink before voting
  • He will direct the security staff to conduct the election in peaceful orderly manner.

With so much responsibility the officer needs the support of all concerned (i.e.) Voters, Candidates, Party workers and the security. The officer also should take his election assignment seriously and discharge his responsibilities sincerely without fear or favour.

During the counting of votes the election officer-in-charge should keep his calm and strictly follow the procedures as stipulated by the Election Commissioner. The counting should be completed in one go and the result registered immediately after counting without giving rise to any controversy.

Election commissioner

EC is over all in charge of all the above election process and procedures. Chief Election Commissioner is for the whole of India. He, in consultation with State election commissioners schedules elections to the State Assemblies and to the Central Parliament. He also schedules elections for State Legislative councils and for the central Rajya Sabha (or Council of States). He also schedules by-elections wherever necessary. He grants recognition to Political parties, allots symbols for them, and for independent candidates not belonging to any political party. He is the final authority for any electoral disputes. He frames rules of the election procedures, fixes the date of counting and records and announces the results. He gives the certificate of electoral victory to the successful candidate. State election commissioners monitor the whole electoral process in their respective states. He appoints the election officers for every booth in all constituencies. He approves the booth agents and issues them ID cards. He approves the counting representatives for each candidate of the constituency and issues ID cards. He finally announces the results and issues certificate of victory. It is important all the other stake holders including the press and security staff follow all the instructions given by EC.

It is important The Chief Election Commissioner and other State Election Commissioners instil confidence in the minds of voters that elections are indeed conducted in a free and fare manner. By assuring the voters on this aspect, they can then proceed to achieve a target of close to 100% voting. ECs should give maximum publicity to the roles of Voters and others as described here so that they play their roles properly to the extant possible. They should keep on reminding voters the ballot is entirely secret and nobody can find out whom an individual voter has voted. They should issue frequent notices and announcements that, irrespective of any bribe or intimidation, the voters should make their choice totally as per their individual assessment of the candidates and political parties. They should force all the candidates to include such a notice in all their propaganda material such as bit notices, posters and advertisements in the press. The Election commission should find a way to reduce the election expenses within reasonable limits – a) by providing govt sponsored publicity and propaganda, b) by reimbursing a part of election expenses at least for the candidates in the first three places in popular votes and c) by totally preventing and penalising the bribe for votes.

CEC should specifically educate all the above groups of state holders on their responsibilities in the election process especially the Voters and the Candidates, as summarised below:

Voters: a) To take to voting seriously, since their elected representative has many important roles to play in our democracy and hence the candidate should be capable of the same, b) To refuse any inducements, gifts, bribes (or even threats) offered by any of the candidates or his workers, as this is essential to keep the election expenses low and to reduce political corruption c) Not to vote based on caste, creed or religion, to vote based only on capability, d) Secrecy of vote is fully ensured and to keep the same as secret.

Candidates: a) not to spend too much his own money for getting elected to avoid treating it as an investment, b) to crowd source his funds from different sections of people promising them to take care of their fare needs, c) to use a financial expert to budget your election expenses based necessity and utility, d) not to bribe, induce or threaten voters to vote for you, except through promises to work for their basic and fare needs, e) Not to make personal attacks on your opponents and not to encourage violence in any form , f) to prepare a constituency based manifesto in addition to your party manifesto, g) to strive to become popular with the voter than with the Party bosses.

Long Live Indian Democracy

 

Carnatic/Hindu Music

September 6, 2018

I have a Tamil book on Carnatic music bequeathed by my grandfather. This book was published in 1910, more than 100 years ago. The title of this Tamil book on Carnatic music is, yes, ‘Hindu Sangeetham’. So I am well within my rights to give the same title to my blog also. Most of my readers may be aware of the recent controversy of yet another attempt, by Christian Missionaries of India, to appropriate this essential Hindu culture of Carnatic music into their system with an obvious attempt at incentivised conversion. When I first heard of this controversy I did not believe Christian Missionaries will risk doing this. In all good intention I wrote to some of these Christian organisations a general appeal to reassure the Carnatic Music community of their respect for Hindus and their culture. But when I realised their true intentions, I wrote another appeal to some of the Carnatic Artists I happen to know, to resist these measures from Christian Missionaries. The above two appeals are given at the end of this blog. Subsequently, Sri T M Krishna, an artist whom I like and respect a lot, turned the whole issue upside down, perhaps, to serve his socio-political ideology. I started following TMK on his twitter handle.  I interacted with all in the conversation and I learnt there are several aspects to this controversy. But most of my tweets were not answered by T M Krishna. I am listing my reactions and my comments on major issues below, quoting my tweets wherever needed.

  1. What is wrong if we sing compositions on gods and icons of other Religions?

Nothing wrong at all, if such compositions are sung during the natural course of a concert. I have heard many singers do it and enjoyed the musical and other aspects of such compositions, including the melody, rhythm and emotion. But it should not lead to a situation where there is an obligation on every singer to do at least a few such compositions in every concert or otherwise he will be branded as manuvadi, brahminical or a sanghi, the usual attributes given to secular Hindu artists.

  1. T M Krishna promised to sing and release one song on Allah or Jesus every week. Why not?

If he is doing it on his own I appreciate his initiative, but why only at this point of time and why such a regularity of one song every week?

(I tweeted) I am afraid it will become obligatory on other artists to sing one such song in every concert (as otherwise the concert will be called communal?) which is not good for Music.  I do not think, TMK is doing it for evangelical purposes.

Sri. KVN used to sing Vedanayakam Pillai’s Krithis on Karthar very regularly in concerts, not for evangelical purpose, neither for obtaining the support of Christians.

If Carnatic Art music had not been secular in content, how come Kanimozhi(DMK) is able to enjoy these concerts on a regular basis?

No, I don’t think singing one or two compositions in concerts on other non-Hindu icons (like Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Gobind, Allah, Jesus, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam or our Nation) is wrong.

My Tweet: 90% of Indian Christians are converted Hindus – may not mind & may even be proud to sing and listen to melodious songs on Hindu Gods.

  1. Then why this hue and cry, when Aruns/Arunas sing krithis on Jesus?

My Tweet: Hue and cry is not about singing Christian Carnatic songs. Done 100 years back. But why an event of only Christian songs, and who sings & why. It depends on who is arranging and why? You saw OS Arun wearing the cross while singing? Will TMK do it and back to Thirumann for Vishnu!!

Is it secular to do it? It was obvious that here is an attempt to propagate Christianity through Carnatic music, than to propagate Carnatic music through Christianity. This is simply a cultural appropriation.

  1. How do you say this is a cultural appropriation?

You may all be aware of Churches celebrating their religious festivals with all types of Hindu customs, like Dwjasthamba, Abhisheka, Archana, Procession and Rathotsavam. If it had stopped with that may be Hindus would not have objected. But now they have Yesu Suprabhatm, Christhu Bhujangam, Jesus Sashti Kavacham and Mary Ashototram. And I hear they also have Yesu Rudram, Yesu Suktham, Yesu Upanishad etc. Tomorrow they may pay Rs 100,000 (from the funds of Christian missionaries abroad) to any Brahmasri Rama Subramania Ganapadigal (with full support of T M Krishna) and ask him to recite these mantras (and play them) at Churches. Is this not cultural appropriation and propaganda?

My Tweet: What is done is not to promote music thru’ Christ but to promote Christ thru’ music. Let them first accept it. TMK et al shouldn’t support this.

  1. Haven’t the brahmins appropriated this music from lower castes?

My tweet: “Dravidian movement alienated Carnatic Music from other communities. Want to unfollow everything brahmins follow. M.K. himself was of music caste”. This remained as one of the top tweets in @TMKrishna handle for almost a week with 1500 viewers. 

All carnatic musicians respect Thevarams as the first ever scripted musical pieces available in the whole world. Tamil Panns are the precursors for many modern day ragas. They are aware of silappdikaram and its documentation and grammar of performing arts of those times including Music. Even with all these historical facts, the Dravidian movement disowned their own music. Though late Sri M Karunanidhi, the doyen of Dravidian Movement is himself from a musical community of Isai Vellalars, he was tragically instrumental in alienating other non-brahmin communities from this music and calling Brahmins as non-dravidians. Brahmins continued to invest their quality time, efforts and resources to keep this tradition of music alive. As more and more Isai Vellalars and Oduvars have dropped out of learning and practicing their musical tradition, Brahmins took up the job of preserving it. Even today many conservative Brahmin families do not allow their talented and trained girl children to perform concerts in public. As performers from traditional music communities dropped out, these talented Brahmin youngsters were reluctantly permitted to perform. Oduvar tradition in Hindu Temple was discouraged by the same Dravidian rulers. When Archakas are getting paltry sums as compensation, how will Oduvars get anything reasonable?

Brahmins did not appropriate carnatic music. It was abandoned by other communities; Brahmins are investing their time, efforts and resources keeping the tradition alive. Even today it is the Brahmins who are mainly saving our music traditions and fighting the appropriation by a foreign Christian culture.

And it is not easy. Aruna Sayeeram struggled for 30 years before she became a front line performing artist at the age of 50. She is now 70 as she gains the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi from Music Academy. Brinda Manickavasagam, a non-brahmin was very lucky to come into prominence early in her life. Of course she richly deserves her place with her rich and effortless singing. Once you gain a place among celebrities, still you have to struggle to retain your rankings. They earn paltry sums, compared to film music singers under A R Rehman or Ilaya Raja.

My Tweet: other communities allowed the Brahmins to dominate in what’s essentially their art. Now they avoid it saying it is brahminical. What a pity!

  1. Why Titles and recognition are given only to Brahmin artists?

When others have disowned this music, what else do you expect? Till 10 years back a lot of non Brahmin artists received many awards. Tamil Isai Sangam is now finding it difficult to find non-brahmin Tamil artists for awards. I heard the organisers of Thirugnana Sambandhar Vizha In Mylapore lamenting that they have no way than to take the cooperation of Brahmin community to find artists and audience for this festival. Othuvar community has been bankrupted and impoverished by successive Dravidian governments’ anti-Hindu policy. Where are Madurai Somu’s, Namagiripettais, Pazhani Subramania Pillais, T M Thygarajans?

  1. Why Tamil songs are not given prominence in concerts?

This art was founded and developed by Dravidians. Purnadaradasa, the Bhishma Pitamaha of Carnatic Music, a non-brahmin, is from Karnataka region of Dravida Nadu. Almost all his compositions are in Kannada.  St Thygaraja was a Telugu composer from Tamil Nadu. Swati Tirunal was from Kerala and mainly composed in Sanskrit. Muthiah Bhagavatar is a Tamil Composer from Mysore Durbar. Tamil Moovar are Tamil Composers of Pre-Trinity period (Mutthu Thandavar, Marimuttha Pillai, Arunachala Kavirayar). We all know about Papanasam Sivan a 100% Tamil composer of Mylapore. All musicians from Dravida Nadu, i.e., Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are learning compositions of all Dravidian languages including Tamil. Only then they can perform all over South India and India, including cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Hyderabad, not counting Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. They select compositions according to the mix of the expected audience, their own mood and choice. Do you know that Tamil Brahmins recite Kanda Sashti Kavacham more often than Vedas, Abirami Andhadi more often than Lalita Sahasranamam? I hope other communities will not disown these great works also like they have done with their music.

  1. Are not the Brahmins biggest manuvadis and communalist and deserve all the mud being thrown on them?

Please be aware that MANU is not a Brahmin and neither Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar was a Brahmin. In those days Brahmins were a respected community and hence they got the prominence. Atrocities being committed on dalits, now and in the last century, were not only by Brahmins, and neither had they the sanction of Manu Smrithi. Presently all the atrocities on Dalits are by other upper caste non-brahmins, and habitual Brahmin-haters know it. They are diverting this blame to Brahmins for political reasons and thereby degrading both the Dalits and the Brahmins . And who are these singers performing for Christians? Almost all of them are Brahmins and you call them communalists. I appeal to all Hindus, especially dalits to care for Brahmins who are safeguarding Hinduism and its cultural traditions from decay, appropriation and possible extinction. As writer Jeyamohan says “Brahmins are small in number and hence they are defenceless. They are surrounded by a social behaviour in which, insulting them is considered a social duty.”

  1. Why do you think Carnatic music is in the domain of Hindu Culture

Make no mistake. Carnatic Music is Hindu Music. It is not like Hindustani music which was influenced by Mughal invaders and it has no lyrical importance. Rik Veda is montonic on ‘sa’. Yajur Veda is 3-toned Ni-Sa-Ri and Sama Veda is 5-toned Da-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga. Ma-Pa were introduced later as 4/3 & 3/2 ratios for consonance with Sa of both octaves. All music system of the world followed the same. Carnatic Music is the original Hindu/Indian music which is the mother music for all other music. We still have 22-sruthi system as described in 4th-century-BC scripts of Bharata Muni and Tamil epic Silapadikaram. Others have diluted this to a 12-sruti (equi-tempered) System. Being secular does not mean forgetting our culture.

Again, Chanda Sastra of ancient Hindus have developed prosody and meters for recitations; such as, Anushtup Chanda for Sahasranama, Gaythri Chanda for gayathri mantra, and a complicated chanda for Bhujangam. Christians have composed recitations using these chandas, Yesu Sahasranama, Jesus Gaythri, Christ Bhujangam.

I have a question for the so-called secularists – if the music being of Hindu origin stops you from enjoying the same, what kind of a secularist you are? – If the music being followed heavily by Brahmins stops you from following it, what kind of caste-free attitude you have?

My Tweet: Carnatic Music had originated from Hindu thought and remained that way. Hinduism was not forcibly introduced as being done now by Christians

  1. But Carnatic music still remains Elitist. Why?

What do you mean by elitist?

Do you think it is only for the rich? Annual income of 90% of followers of carnatic music will be much less than Rs 8 Lacs, the official limit for creamy layer among BCs of our society accepted by all the Social-Justice Activists

Do you think it is only for people living in bungalows in posh localities? 90% of listeners live in 1 or 2 bedroom apartment blocks in typical middle class areas

Do you think it is only for car owners? 90% of listeners come to the concerts by share Autos, Buses or two wheelers.

Do you think these concerts cost a lot of money? Minimum Tickets are less than Rs 100 and many of the concerts are free. Compare this with a concert by SP Balasubramanian or AR Rehman where the minimum ticket is Rs 500 to Rs 1000.

Do you think the Carnatic Artist are Elites? They are all from middle income group

Do you think Music teachers are elites? Most of them are well trained musicians who unfortunately failed to make it to the top of the popularity chart, either because of lack of sponsors or due to family responsibilities.

Then why is this, ‘Elitist’ impression?  What irks these so-called social-justicians, is the fact that 90% of the carnatic music listeners and organisers are Brahmins. Carnatic music practitioners and followers know very well that this music cannot become as popular as folk music, pop music or film music. Most of the artists are so highly talented they could have easily shifted to any of the above formats where their chances of success could have been higher. But they chose to remain as carnatic artists basically to save this Dravidian traditional music for the future generations.

The fact is there are countless opportunities for anybody to learn and practice carnatic music. If you are against any brahmin teacher there are many non-brahmin experts available in all cities. There are carnatic music department available in Anna University teaching many students. There is a dedicated Govt Karnatik Music College in Chennai. Kalakshetra is a secular organisation involved in training students in dance and music. Social-justicians, like TMK and others, may campaign for and sponsor non-brahmin and non-hindu students, so that they throng these courses in big numbers.

The following were my initial reactions in this controversy

My appeal to all the people involved in this controversy

I have heard Sri KVN singing in his regular concerts, to predominantly Hindu audiences, excellent Krithis of Vidwan Vedanayakam Pillai on “Karthar”, the Jesus. I have also seen many Christians attending Carnatic vocal concerts, where songs predominantly on Hindu gods were sung. We have seen many Christian artists singing and playing in Carnatic music concerts, including Sri Jesudas, Sri Jose (on Viola) and Sri Higgins Bhagavatar. But then, where is the problem?

None of the above secular rasikas and artists were concerned or interested in religious propaganda conversion. They were truly secular in that they practiced their religion without minding   the religion practiced by their listeners. But the situation has changed a bit in the last 20 years, since a dominant political party of India and the government fell in the hands of a catholic foreigner. Though she became a ‘secular’ Indian, it has not stopped the political back biters in pandering to (apparently) please her, by encouraging conversions and promoting Catholics to prominence. It even encouraged some people to Hindu-bashing to attract the attention of the so called secularists. This has led to expected reaction from Hindus, some of them even violent. The present regime, which is trying to check such tendencies, is not very successful. On the contrary the Hindu elements have started over reacting. The opposition is trying to exploit this situation by further encouraging Christians and other minorities with their appeasement policies. This is resulting in religious polarization, caused by whom, l leave it to your guess and opinion.

Now let us come to this Yesuvin Sangama Sangeetham: Here is a need to unite our Tamil and Dravidian community. (Dravidam = Tamil+ Telugu + Kannada + Malayalam + others).

  1. Let the Yesu program organisers announce publicly: “We have great respect for Hindus and their music composers. We are not for propaganda or conversion. This is just our efforts to promote Carnatic music among all communities”
  2. Let them say “The selected artists are allowed to sing songs of all religions Hindus, Buddhist, Chiristians and Islam”
  3. Let them openly declare that any artist not convinced about this, may withdraw without any financial or contractual constraints.

If organisers are adamant in refusing to do the above, then, they share the blame in polarizing Tamil/Darvidian communities.

Hope good senses prevail on both sides.

My appeal to all the Carnatic Artists

இசை என்பது பல வகையானது. நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை, சேர்ந்திசை, நாடக/நாட்டிய இசை, இறைஇசை, படை இசை என்று பல விதங்கள். எல்லாமே இசை தான். எல்லாவற்றிற்கும், ராகம், இசைவு, தாளம், பாடல், மேலும் உணர்வுகள் தான் அடிப்படை. இருப்பினும், இசைகள் வேறுபடுவது இவற்றில் எதற்கு அதிக முக்கியத்வம் தருவது என்பதில் தான். மாதிரிக்கு சேர்ந்திசையில் இசைவுக்கும், இறை இசையில் பாடல் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும், படை இசையில் தாளம் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும் முக்கியத்வம். நுண்ணிசையில், ராகத்தோடு இவை எல்லாவற்றுக்குமே முக்கியத்வம் உண்டு.

நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை இரண்டுமே மத சார்பற்றவை. அனைத்து மதத்தினரும் கேட்டு ரசிக்கலாம், இசைக்கலாம். இறை இசை அப்படி அல்ல. அந்த அந்த மதத்தினர் தான் முழுமையாக ஈடுபட்டு ரசிக்கமுடியும். இசைப்போரும் அந்த மதத்தை சேர்ந்தவராகவோ அல்லது பெரிதும் மதிப்பவராக இருக்கவேண்டும்.

இறை இசையை நுண்ணிசை போல பாடலாம். ஆனால் நுண்ணிசையை முழுவதும் இறை இசையாகவே மாற்றிவிடக்கூடாது. அப்படி இல்லாமல் இருப்பதால்தான் கனிமொழி போன்ற நாஸ்திகர்களும் கர்நாடக நுண்ணிசையை ரசிக்கிறார்கள். அவர் நிச்சியமாக இறை இசையை விரும்பமாட்டார். (அவர் ஏன் இந்த கிறித்தவ இறை இசை நிகழ்ச்சியை ஆதரித்தார் என்று தெரியவில்லை).

நமது திராவிட கர்நாடக இசை ராகங்களை இந்த எல்லா இசை வடிவங்களுக்கும் பயன்படுத்துகிறார்கள். இனிமை கருதி சற்றே இலக்கணம் மீறியும் இசைக்கிறார்கள். நுண்ணிசையாளர்கள் அதைச் செய்ய தயங்குவார்கள். பல தேச பக்தி பாடல்கள், ராகங்களில் மெட்டமைத்து பாடப்படுகின்றன. ஒரு பாகிஸ்தானிய தேச பக்தி பாடலை இந்திய கலைஞர்கள் பாடுவதை நாம் ஒத்துகொள்வோமா?

ஆனால் ஒரு இந்து மதத்தை சேர்ந்த ஒரு கலைஞர் மற்ற மத பாடல்களை பாடுவதை நாம் ஏற்றுகொள்கிறோம், அது ஒன்றிரண்டாக இருக்கும்வரை. அதுவே ஒரு மதப்பிரச்சாரமாக, பல பாடல்களை பாடுவதற்கு, அவர்கள் ஒரு கிறித்தவ கலைஞரை பாடவைத்தால் இன்னும் கூட உணர்சசி பூர்வமாக பாடுவார்கள் அல்லவா? முன் காலங்களில் திருமதி ஜிக்கி அவர்கள் பாடிய “எல்லாம் ஏசுவே”, “எனை ஆளும் மேரி மாதா” போன்ற பாடல்களை இன்னும் அனைவராலும் ரசிக்கமுடிகிறது. இல்லையா?

இன்று என்ன நடந்திருக்கிறது? பெயர் பெற்ற நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களை வைத்து அவர்களை இயேசு இறை இசையை பாடவைத்திருக்கிறர்கள். அவர்கள் இறை இசை பாடகர்களே அல்ல. பணத்திற்காகவும் நட்பிற்காகவுமே பாடியிருப்பார்கள். இதைச் சிலுவை அணிந்து வீடியோ காட்சிகளாக வேறு. இது முழுக்க முழுக்க அவர்களின் ஜனரஞ்சகத்தை (popularity) மதப் பிரச்சாரத்திற்கு பயன் படுத்தியதாகத்தான் தோன்றுகிறது. இந்த மறைமுக நோக்கம் நமது நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களுக்கு தெரியவில்லையா, என்ன?

நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களே, உங்களுக்கு பெயரும் புகழும் யாரால் வந்தது என்பதை மறக்கலாமா? சிந்தியுங்கள்.

Gid’s Gift of Carnatic Music

Finally here are just a few words for Carnatic Music Artists, Organisers and listeners. Do not allow these aberrations to affect your enthusiasm for our Dravidian Carnatic Music. It is a great tradition. By following this tradition of music you will never become a fundamentalist, or Manuvadi or a Sanghi. These are all epithets used by political activists and they are not social activists as they claim to be. Sqaure-up your shoulders, keep your head high and be proud that you are bestowed by God, with this precious gift of Carnatic Music. You may even wear a T-shirt with words printed boldly “Rasika of Carnatic Music”.

“Entharo Mahanubhavulu Antariki Vandanamu”

(Many are the great souls, to all of them our salutations)

Spirituality and Patriotism in National Politics

March 24, 2018

There is a general feeling, promoted and attempted to be perpetuated, by leftists and the so-called liberals, that Indian Nationalists in the form of BJP/RSS have hijacked Swamy Vivekananda and Subash Chandra Bose as their icons of Spirituality and Patriotism. It is nice that these people at least agree that Swami Vivekananda and Sri Subash Chandra Bose are the Indian idols representing India’s Spiritual and Patriotic traditions. The thought and Sloka attributed by these leftists to Swami Vivekananda, as the evidence of his ‘secular’ and ‘pluralistic’ ideas, is actually the essence of Hindu thought and their way of living. The Sloka   “Aakashath Pathitham Thoyam Yatha Gachathi Sagaram, Sarvadeva Namaskaram Keshavam Prathi Gachathi”, is an ancient well known principle enshrined in every Hindu mind, even before the time of Swami Vivekananda. (Just as the rains falling from the sky, gets back to the sea; Prayers to all the different gods gets  back to the supreme GOD, Kesahav or Maha Vishnu)  This is one of the very first prayers taught to every child of devout Hindu parents. Most of the world religions have accepted this principle, that there is only one God, identified by different names and forms. As Hindus, we already have many deities, from forms to formless, from animals to trees and from five elements to stars and planets. We intrinsically know that all of them will lead to same Godhood. This principle was kept hi-jacked by the secular leftists, if at all, and it has recently been released and made known to their followers, emulating Swami Vivekananda. How can anyone say that the present regime is discouraging the above thought by projecting (or hijacking) Swami Vivekananda? Is it not totally illogical? When Vivekananda and his thoughts were easily available for all, where is the need for anyone to hijack?

Once I had a school mate (Mr. Abdul Subhan) with whom I used to exchange tiffins, of course, on days when he brings vegetarian food. In due course, just as a token of our friendship, he almost always brought vegetarian tiffin to be able to exchange with me every day. Eventually he became a vegetarian even at home on his own accord. Vegetarianism and Veganism are healthy modes of eating practices recognised all over the world. There is nothing spiritual or religious about it. By promoting vegetarianism one is not promoting Hindu religion and by promoting Veganism neither she is promoting Jainism. Forcing and fouling food habits either way is not acceptable.      

Spiritualism is beyond religion or culture or eating practices. Many of the so-called atheists and agnostics have displayed several trends of spiritual thinking, not necessarily religious. Spiritually inclined persons, irrespective of their religion (or no-religion) have always displayed better value systems. Such spiritual people with better value systems should be at the helm of all public affairs and especially in politics.

Integrity and Sense of Justice are also in some way spiritual qualities, evolved out of spiritual thinking. It has nothing to do with any religion or patriotism. Patriotism (or loyalty) is a must for certain disciplines of human activity. Though it is commonly called as loyalty, Patriotism is nobler than loyalty, since it involves sacrifice. In the name of global or universal view, our patriots and our soldiers and their selfless sacrifices cannot be insulted.   On the contrary they should be honoured and respected.

How can anyone hi-jack Spirituality and Patriotism, leave alone their idols? Senses of Spirituality and Patriotism are important requirement for any Political System, Political Party and Political Leadership. That is why nations have oath taking ceremonies for elected politicians and they also have National Anthems, Flags and Emblems. Do we not display our patriotism collectively on Independence Day and Republic Day?

If Spirituality and Patriotism are kept out of politics, we will have only mob-ocracy and not democracy.

South Indian National Party

January 18, 2018

South Indian National Party
Today (11th March 2017) is the day our Prime Minister Modi and his party, the BJP have scored big wins in UP and Uttarakhand. While one can be happy that Modi and De-mo have eventually won, the size of victory was definitely not expected. Personally I am afraid that this may lead to complacence among the leaders of BJP. In a more narrow sense, I am even afraid this may lead to increased neglect of South India where BJP (and congress) are considerable weak. I have always been thinking we need a strong South India based national political party to offset this neglect. No central government, which is predominantly run by North India based national party, show much interest in solving the problems of the south. It perhaps wants the southern states to be permanently in a state of mutual conflict so that they do not gain much political clout in New Delhi. These North Indian Parties may even feel politically threatened by the unity of southern states. I have listed some of these issues in the following paragraphs. This is precisely the reason why I feel there is a need for a “South Indian National Party”. This party, SINP, should encompass all the southern States namely, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra, Telengana, Goa and Puduchery. In this context, I remember the old suggestion of elder statesman Rajaji, to form a Dakshin Pradesh, as compared to Uttar Pradesh in the North, which eventually developed as power centre in the national politics.

The neglect of south starts from early days of Sri Lankan Tamils conflict in 1960s. SPKF, Liquidation of LTTE, gifting of Kaccha Tivu are all subsequent effects of such neglect. There are several great rivers in the North, flowing through several states and being shared by them in a peaceful manner with proper agreements in place and monitored by the Central Govt. To name a few: Bhakra Management Board for sharing of Sutluj and other rivers among Punjab, Haryana, HP and Rajasthan; Narmada water between Gujarat and MP. But when it comes to south, Central Govt is keeping the following river problems unresolved for many years: Krishna water to Andhra (Almatti Dam issue), Mullai Periyar issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Palar issue between Andhra and Tamil Nadu and finally Cauvery issue between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Even after Supreme Court has ruled a solution to this problem, Central Govt is not willing to form a Cauvery Management Board. Recently we have seen the inept handling of Sasikala, Jallikattu and Hydro Carbon issues. Only time we had some unity among the southern states was when, Kamaraj, Nijalingappa, VKRV Rao, C Subramaniam and R Venkatraman were at the helm of affairs in the Congress Party.

Hence I feel the leaders of next generation of politicians in South India, should think of forging an alliance with other such leaders in the other southern states and try and form a South based national party which we may call as “South Indian National Party”. It may propose a unified solution to the problems of South India. Some of their ideals could be:

1. Any inter-state problems should be discussed dispassionately between all the stake holders and propose at least temporary or interim solution which could ward off a permanent state of animosity between the states and its peoples
2. Discuss methods of sharing all the natural resources in a mutually profitable manner
3. Forge a cultural unity among the peoples of southern states. (Music, Dance, Movies and Literature will help a lot in this respect)
4. Impress on the central Govt to have at least one short session of Parliament in the South, say Bengaluru.
5. Arrange for members of legislators of other states to attend the Assembly sessions of any state. We may even invite a few members of Parliament for such sessions. This will promote unity and also familiarity with the problems specific to such state.
6. Last but not the least, there should be mutual respect among the different language groups and cultures.
7. Could promote Southern Tourism in a big way.

Many more ideals could be added after discussion with leaders of different regions.

I am sending this note to several new wave politicians in Southern States to set them thinking on these lines. I wish they will respond and take my idea forward.

L V Nagarajan / 11th March 2017
https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/

Reply to Sagarika Ghose on Gauri Lankesh

November 21, 2017

Ms Sagarika Ghose is a reputed jounalist whom I read regularly, though I may not agree with all her views. In September 2017, She wrote a leading article in Time of India on the murder of a jounalist from Karnataka, Ms. Gauri Lankesh. I ventured to write my comments on this article as below. I was ‘honoured’ to recieve a reply from her, though it was somewhat ‘intolerent’, coming from a normally tolerent journalist. I sincerely appologised to her for arousing her anger. Now after two months I wish t share my thoughts with my readers.

Reply to Sagarika Ghose on Gauri Lankesh

  • So-called, Saffron Terrorists never claim responsibility for their ‘terrorist’ act, yes. Then why is it called a terrorist act? Most of the alleged Hindu organisations behind such acts are openly functioning. Have you ever bothered to inspect and interview any of them? Islamist and Maoist terrorists have an agenda which they want to propagate, and hence, they claim responsibility. Who are these Saffron Terror organisations and what are their agendas, I would like to know. As a responsible and leading journalist can you help us, the general public?
  • Yes there are people celebrating the death of Gauri Lankesh. It only means she has earned so many enemies. Possibly one of these enemies could have killed her, but which one, any politicians, bureaucrats or corporate honchos she was exposing, or any maoist she was counselling, or any Hindu zealots she was making fun of?
  • I was celebrating the death of Osama Bin Ladin, but I never thought of getting him killed, though I know one day he will meet this end. We all celebrated the ‘murder’ of Kasab (as per your favourites Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid), but none of us could have been suspected of killing him. Whole of India celebrate Ram Leela, the murder of a Hindu Brahmin Ravana by Kshatriya Sri Ram. Yes we wanted him dead but none of us but Ram could do it. We all know how many people wanted our PM Mr. Mody dead, including Ishrat Jahan, but the media defended her to the teeth, why?
  • You are so concerned about Ms Gauri Lankesh being branded as traitor, jihadist, Naxalite along with people like Kanhaiya and Khalid. How did the whole media blow Mr Modi’s comment on ‘Puppy under his car’, out of all proportions and kindled anti-Modi sentiments among nationalist Muslims, thus contributing to the much talked about ‘polarisation’. How did all the media blare anti-Modi propaganda 24×7 before 2014?
  • Violent minds, violent language etc will beget violent acts. I agree. Please advise the patriots ‘Owaisi’ brothers also, perhaps they may think and reflect. Somebody could have advised Ms Gauri Lankesh also about this.
  • You have described about ‘unjust-war’ on a host of things starting from the right ‘not to be Hindus’ to the right ‘to be homosexuals’, as though they are all great virtues of the whole humanity. But how do you support ‘Jihad against’ the ‘crime’ of people not willing to be Muslims, all over the world?
  • There are many leaders like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Ghandi and Narayan Guru who fought against caste discriminations and women’s rights without any need to be anti Hindu, like Ms Gauri Lankesh.
  • There are many people in India, who are given Z-type protection only because they feel a ‘real’ gun, not ‘symbolic gun’, is pointed at them. I wonder why Karnataka Govt did not give her the needed protection, if Gauri Lankesh had felt the gun-point.
  • I know, Ms. Sagarika, you are following Umar Khalid. Shall I conclude you agree to all his comments. I follow Mr. Yogendra Yadav, and I don’t agree to all of what he says. I can’t say the same things with somebody who re-tweets some bad comments like Dig Vijaya Singh.
  • As per many estimates BJP has received only 37% vote in 2014 elections. What happened to other 63% who were all against BJP? Are they all feeling threatened? Has any other PM faced so much harsh criticism like Mr. Modi? Are they all silenced? Mr. Kejriwal won a massive vote in Delhi. Is any gun being pointed at him for his oft-repeated swears about PM? Please do not belittle our democracy. Yes, we have a long way to go still, but don’t attempt to derail the same.

Reply to my above comments by Ms. Sagarika Ghose:

On Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 2:27:25 pm GMT+5:30, sagarika. ghose <sagarika.ghose@timesgroup.com> wrote:
“if you think Gauri Lankesh = Osama Bin Laden you suffer from hysterical fantasist delusions and a shameless hate filled bigotry that you try to rationalise through illiterate, myth-based, uneducated ramblings. I suggest you see a doctor, read better books or enrol in night school to gain the basic education you severely lack .
Sent from my iPhone
My Reply to her Mail
Dear Sagarika Madam,
I am honoured to recieve a reply from a respected journalist like you, though it contains choicest hate-words (which I never thought you are capable of. I hope it is not directly from you but from your zealous secretary).
I understand your hurt, since you thought I am equating Ms. Gauri Lankesh to Osama Bin Laden. However, if what I wrote means the same, I openly apologise to you, to all admirers of Ms Gauri Lankesh and also to her departed soul. I only compared the number of powerful enemies she earned during her journalistic career. You may note, I have also compared her with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Ghandi and Narayan Guru, in her fight aginst casteism in Hindu community.
 
I don’t know Ms. Lankesh much, either to love or hate her. Yes I consider myself ‘still to be educated’, and I am doing my best. If ever you want to know more about us, you may visit our blog site: https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/. Perhaps you may like to comment on some of the ‘secular’ posts therein. Otherwise you may as well live in your ‘Clever’s Paradise’.
 
Do you have any comments on the other points mentioned in my mail, even if as critical as this one?
 
Once again I apologise for having hurt you so much, to deserve such harsh words from you. Would you still like to get my feedback on your future articles? I would to love to. 
 
With respects and regards,
Conclusion:
Now it is almost three months since the sad murder of Ms.Lankesh. The congress govenrnment in Karnataka has still not narrowed in on the culprit. I believe it could still be a Hindu fanatic or anybody else. I hope the culprit will be found and punished severely by law and justice. Through this blog , I request all journalists and general public, not to typecast people by the views expressed by them as leftist, liberal, rightists, conservative, extremists etc. Most of them have views of different types on different topics and they have every freedom to be so. This is also a matter of Unity in Diversity. Not only we have to practice tolerence, we should also celebrate such views which is the essence of democracy.

Pink Poem by Tanveer Ghazi

August 14, 2017

Movie – Pink (16 Sept 2016)

Poem –  Tu Khud Ki Khoj Mein Nikal

Lyrics – Tanveer Ghazi

Rendering by – Amitabh Bachchan

 

In an earlier blog (Feminism and Humanism), I had expressed my views on aggressive feminism displayed in a write-up on CNN-IBN web site. I give below a summary of my views expressed therein.

  1. A woman can decide to take time to internalize and process an incident. Outward expression may hide internal trauma. But In case of serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault one should not hide her internal trauma. She should express her internal trauma as quickly as possible after any such crime. Otherwise you are risking yourself of mal-intent.
  2. A woman can choose to file a complaint at any time she deems fit – even a month after the incident if she so chooses. However for any crime, the complaint should be made immediately after the crime. Surely efforts will be made by the criminal to stall the same. Any undue delay will only aid the criminal in such efforts.
  3. Even if it started as a consensual affair, a woman can say ‘no’ at any time. When you start any activity jointly, it is always difficult to walk out in the middle. This is very much true in consensual sex. Think thousand times before your consent, either by intent or by default. Otherwise, say ‘no’ at the earliest.
  4. A woman can have multiple sexual partners. What she chooses to do in her own time isn’t anybody’s concern. It is immoral for both men and women to have multiple sex partners, but may be not illegal. Anyone has a right to be immoral. Having any kind of expertise, or lack of it, does not enhance or diminish this right.
  5. A woman’s clothes aren’t testimony to her character. True. Indecent people do parade in decent clothes. Some time, very decent people do come in rather revealing clothes. But decent people, both men and women, are expected to attire themselves decently in public and they also expect others to do the same. Revealing clothes expose people, especially women, to some risks.
  6. Even in a feminist world, men have to be courteous to women. Women value generosity in a man. Similarly, men value modesty in a woman.
  7. Don’t exploit woman’s emotions as leverage for bargaining for her freedom and choices she makes. Many women are also seen to exploit such emotions against men. Any such exploitation either way is despicable.
  8. You wouldn’t like to be told how to live your life. Don’t tell woman how to live hers. Woman sometimes need advice of friends and close relatives, even on some private matters. She should not hesitate to ask. Any unsolicited advice does irritate you, I agree.
  9. Her freedom – to wear what she wants, to go where she wants, to choose her friends – isn’t yours to bestow. Any youngster will sometimes need the advice and acceptance of his/her seniors on such matters. Outsiders definitely do not have any say on this.

Having said all this purely in the interest of safety of my wife, sisters, mothers, daughters, colleagues and friends, I sincerely wish for more space for all women to grow, to move about, to progress, to enjoy and to achieve as per their wish and aspirations. It is going to be about a year since the release of the Hindi film PINK, where Amitabh Bachan plays the part of an advocate for the victimized girls and makes many significant statements supporting freedom and safety for women. He also advices girls some responsible behavior while demanding and enjoying such freedom. At the end of the film he celebrates women freedom with a poem rendered very convincingly, in his sonorous voice.

On this Independence Day of India (15th Aug 2017), we celebrate the independence India obtained from Britain. We also celebrate this as a day of freedom from many other ills of our society which we got rid off during this 70 years of Independence.

Let me celebrate this Independence Day 2017 as a day for Women’s Freedom, by translating the PINK Poem into English and dedicating the same to Women’s Freedom.

 

Translation by L V Nagarajan

 

You decide your path and depart

Why fear? And hesitate for what?

Go! Even time is on your side, Start

Yes time is on your side, Start.

Decide your path and depart

 

Folks who restrict; bend them as a bow

Break the restricts to pieces

And use them as arrows,

Make them as arrows

Decide your path and depart

 

Your conduct so pure, why hardships to endure 

With sins in their mind,

Who allows them to judge you?

Why allow them to judge you?

Decide your path and depart

 

Those tricks of cruelty, burn them to ashes

The wick in your lamp can become

The big torch of your anger

Light the torch of your anger

Decide your path and depart

 

Raise your scarf as banner; for skies to shudder

If ever your scarf falls,

A quake should occur. 

Yes, a quake will occur

Decide your path and depart

 

Original Hindi Version

 

Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal   Tu kisliye hatash hai

Tu chal, Tere Wajood ki  Samay ko bhi talash hai.

samay ko bhi talash hai

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Jo tujhse lipti bediayan…Samajhna inko vastra tu

Ye bediyan pighal ke..Bana le inko shastra tu..

Bana le inko shastra tu

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Charitra jab pavitra hai..Toh kyoun hai ye dasha teri

Ye papiyon ko hak nahi..Ki lein pariksha teri.

Ki lein pariksha teri

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Jala ke bhasm kar use jo krurta ka jal hai

Tu Aarati ki lau nahi..Tu krodh ki mashal hai..

Tu krodh ki mashal hai

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Chunar ko udaa dhwaj bana gagan bhi kap-kapayegaa

Agar teri chunar geeri..Toh ek bhukamp ayegaa.

.ek bhukamp ayegaa

(Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal)

Happy Independence day to all.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in Indian Elections

March 26, 2017

Introduction:
In the recent elections to five provincial states of India, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were used for all the voters. After the massive victory of central ruling party, BJP, there were many baseless complaints about EVMs, raised by responsible politicians, including sitting and former chief ministers. Though they did not provide any proof of rigging of the machine, their allegation surely creates some doubts in at least some small sections of the people. There are many features in the EVM which prevents any type of mechanical, electronic or network based fraud. The actual Balloting Unit (BU) is only a slave unit to the main Control Unit (CU). The micro programmed chip which resides in the CU is manufactured and programmed abroad. Once programmed, it cannot be altered in any way. The CU does not have any remote input and hence cannot be controlled from remote by any network device. There are many tests done at the booth level before the machine is put to use. These tests are witnessed and approved by the booth agents of the contestants, before the machine is finally sealed off securely and thereafter, will be always under the watchful eyes of police, election officials and the agents of contestants till the results are downloaded and declared. All these features are generally accepted and agreed upon by all the politicians and the voting public. However a few doubts are expressed in the following areas.

The Doubts:
The program inside the CU could be biasetowards one particular button. This doubt is easily answered, as button numbers of candidates of different political parties are different at different constituencies and doing an en-mass biasing of buttons is not a choice at all. In addition a mock polling test is conducted one hour before the polling in front of the agents and officials, with more than 50 votes polled at random and the results shown to all. After this test the CU is sealed and secured. There is a demo of this mock polling, available on U-tube as below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWn4Yn1XoYY

The following are some of the questions answered by Election Commission in their website:

http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/evm.aspx

Q11. Can booth – capturing be prevented by the use of EVMs?
Ans. By booth-capturing, if one means, taking away or damaging of ballot boxes or ballot papers, this evil cannot be prevented by the use of EVMs as EVMs can also be forcibly taken away or damaged by miscreants. But if one looks at booth capturing as a case of miscreants intimidating the polling personnel and stamping the ballot papers on the symbol and escaping in a matter of minutes, this can be prevented by the use of EVMs. The EVMs are programmed in such a way that the machines will record only five votes in a minute. As recording of votes has necessarily to be through Control Unit and , whatever be the number of miscreants they can record votes only at the rate of 5 per minute. In the case of ballot papers, the miscreants can distribute all the 1000 odd ballot papers assigned to a polling station, among themselves, stamp them, stuff them into the ballot boxes and run away before the police reinforcements reach. In half- an –hour, the miscreants can record only a maximum of 150 votes by which time, chances are the police reinforcement would have arrived. Further, the presiding Officer or one of the Polling Officers can always press the “close” button as soon as they see some intruders inside the polling station. It will not be possible to record any vote when once the ‘close’ button is pressed and this will frustrate the efforts of the booth-capturers.

Q21. Is it possible to program the EVMs in such a way that initially, say upto 100 votes, votes will be recorded exactly in the same way as the `blue buttons’ are pressed, but thereafter, votes will be recorded only in favour of one particular candidate irrespective of whether the `blue button’ against that candidate or any other candidate is pressed?
Ans. The microchip used in EVMs is sealed at the time of import. It cannot be opened and neither any rewriting of program can be done by anyone without damaging the chip. There is, therefore, absolutely no chance of programming the EVMs in a particular way to select any particular candidate or political party.

Q24. In the conventional system, it will be possible to know the total number of votes polled at any particular point of time. In EVMs ‘Result’ portion is sealed and will be opened only at the time of counting. How can the total number of votes polled be known on the date of poll?
Ans. In addition to the ‘Result’ button, there is a ‘total’ button on EVMs. By pressing this button the total number of votes polled upto the time of pressing the button will be displayed without indicating the candidate-wise tally.

Q28. In the conventional system, before the commencement of poll, the Presiding Officer shows to the polling agents present that the ballot box to be used in the polling station is empty. Is there any such provision to satisfy the polling agents that there are no hidden votes already recorded in the EVMs?
Ans. Yes
Before the commencement of poll, the Presiding Officer demonstrates to the polling agents present that there are no hidden votes already recorded in the machine by pressing the result button. Thereafter, he will conduct a mock poll by asking the polling agents to record their votes and will take the result to satisfy them that the result shown is strictly according to the choice recorded by them. Thereafter, the Presiding Officer will press the clear button to clear the result of the mock poll before commencing the actual poll.

Q29. How can one rule out the possibility of recording further votes at any time after close of the poll and before the commencement of counting by interested parties?
Ans. As soon as the last voter has voted, the Polling Officer in-charge of the Control Unit will press the ‘Close’ Button. Thereafter, the EVM will not accept any vote. Further, after the close of poll, the is disconnected from the Control Unit and kept separately. Votes can be recorded only through the . Again the Presiding officer, at the close of the poll, will hand over to each polling agent present an account of votes recorded. At the time of counting of votes, the total will be tallied with this account and if there is any discrepancy, this will be pointed out by the Counting Agents.

My Suggestions:
In addition to all the above features, to improve the voter confidence, Supreme Court had ordered a system called Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). Under this system, the Balloting Unit, BU, includes a sealed printer with a viewing window and sealed box underneath where the paper strip falls after Voter verifies his voting preference as printed therein. This will help in actual counting, in case of any major contest about the result. Though it is not clear how this system will be used when it comes to wider use, my suggestion is the following:
These voting slips should actually be counted as a sample in some random booths to check whether it follows the general trend of voting pattern in the respective areas of polling. For example we may decide on actual slip counting, in 10 polling booths in a bye-election, in 30 polling booths throughout the state in a state assembly election and in 100 polling booths throughout the country in case of parliamentary elections. In case of any major discrepancy in voting trends, more PU’s may be examined for further investigation. In case of any legal demands, full counting of the slips may also be ordered by the court. This would definitely improve the confidence of voters and candidates on the EVM procedures.
Here is my another suggestion to increase the voter confidence: it is to allow for mock-polling within the actual polling period also. Two such intermediate mock polls may be allowed at the times chosen by the agents. During this mock poll, the times of the commencement and end of mock poll, and the actual voting pattern may all be noted and stored in the control unit (CU), for later verification at the time counting . During these intermediate mock polls, say for about 15 minutes each, actual polling may be stopped and resumed immediately afterwards. The CU programme should include a feature to find the ‘RESULT’ between different times also. This will help the agents at the time of final counting, to check and verify whether the intermediate mock poll results tally with what is already noted down. This timed counting feature will also help to detect other polling frauds, if any, found in future.

With this feature, the results when downloaded will be interpreted as in the example below:
TOTAL
Total votes polled – 1,25,372.
This may be verified against actual votes polled added with total intermediate mock poll votes polled.
RESULTS
Intermediate mock poll results are first retrieved from CU, as below:
1) From 11.30AM to 11.45AM – 57 Votes – Party-wise : A – 25, B – 18, C-4, D-10
2) From 3.15 PM to 3.30 PM – 66 Votes – Party-wise : A – 20, B – 22, C-11, D-13
Total – Mock Votes – 123 – Party-wise : A – 45, B – 40, C-15, D-23
Verified with the actual Test data and found correct by Election officials and agents.
RESULTS (ACTUAL)
Actual votes polled – 1,25,372 – 123 Mock Votes = 1,25,249
Party wise votes:
A – 36,253 – 45 Mock Votes = 36,208
B – 42,117 – 40 Mock Votes = 42,077
C – 26,318 – 15 Mock Votes = 26,303
D – 20684 – 23 Mock Votes = 20 661
Total – 1,25,372 – 123 Mock Votes = 1,25,249
Accordingly B will be declared as the winner.

Conclusion:
It is sincerely hoped this will convince all the political parties about the use of EVMs. More than that, voters will not have any doubt on the election process. What is required is for the machine to be redesigned in a way that you may get the results in a time tagged manner. As far I could see, the counting procedure does not seem to include any facility for printing of the result. Such a facility may also be considered, as manual noting down of the result form the machine display is susceptible to human errors and mischief. It is now for the Election Commission and EVM designers to take up the issue. Long live Indian Democracy.

Post Script:

As I published the above blog on EVMs on 28th March 2017, I was disturbed to know from the media about the recent fiasco of EVM/VVPAT in MP, while testing and demonstration. VVAPAT was apparently found to print the same election symbol irrespective of the button pressed on Balloting Unit. The Election Commission has not only not offered any explanation for the fiasco, they stayed away from assuring the voting public any credible investigation. This definitely reduces the confidence of Voters like me on these machines. I also understand the concerns of politicians. However the solution is not to discard the EVMs and to go back to cumbersome Paper ballots. On the contrary we should find ways of improving the reliability and tamper-proof quality of EVMs. None of the politicians have suggested any solution but only blamed Election Commission. Response of EC is also far from satisfactory. While it is okay for normal politicians to immediately ask for debunking of the EVMs (with or without VVPAT), I thought, we can do something better than all of them. We can suggest solutions to make these machines better. As a voter I want the EVMs to continue with more improvements as we go along.

I have already suggested two solutions as above. The first suggestion is as explained in earlier paragraphs to allow for intermediate mock polls at random times during polling. My second suggestion was to decide on the operation VVPAT machines and declare openly about the mode of its usage, post completion of counting. Now my third suggestion is to improve the operation of VVPAT itself. Actually, the news came about the VVPAT fiasco, as I was posting this suggestion on VVPAT.

VVPAT machine is connected at one end to Balloting Unit (BU) and at the other end to Control Unit (CU). When voting button is pressed, the BU prompts the VVPAT printer to print the slip, which goes into the box after verification by the voter, (if at all he is smart enough to verify and report in case of any mismatch). VVPAT also sends this voting info to CU for recording it as a vote cast. Here is the catch. As a voter I prefer to verify what is recorded in CU and not what was registered in BU/VVPAT. Hence my suggestion is: Connect BU directly to CU as existing in the normal EVM. Connect VVPAT to CU and let VVPAT print what is recorded in CU after the vote is cast. Additionally, VVPAT can have another output to BU to blink the vote-recorded button LED for 6 Secs. This way voter will find it easy to verify the functioning of EVM, thus boosting his confidence level. Having a VVPAT machine in between Balloting Unit and Control Unit, introduces a source of tamper and hence must be avoided.

Presently VVPAT machine is connected as below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The voting process will be:

– Press the required button in BU

– Look for the VVPAT to printout your selection

– Check whether your selection is shown correctly in the printout

– Look for the printout slip to get cut properly and falls down in the sealed box below.

Now you may leave the booth.

Suggested change is as below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When connected like this, flow of voting information reverses. VVPAT will be able to now print what is registered in the Control Unit instead of what is selected in the Ballot Unit. We can use the ballot button lamp more intelligently as per the voting process described below:

– Press the required button in BU

– The blue LED behind the button will light up

– The CU will register your vote and communicate the same to VVPAT and the BU

– The Blue LED will start blinking six times to indicate your choice as recorded by the Control Unit

– At the same time VVPAT will print out the selection as recorded by CU.

– You may verify both as above and leave the booth.

I request the media and other powerful NGO for democracy to take up this suggestion seriously and improve the reliability and tamper proof nature of EVM and VVPAT machine. Let us make our electoral democracy fair and just.

Suggestions for Indian Govt. led by Shri Modi

June 10, 2014

Some suggestions for Shri Modi Govt. 

L V Nagarajan

Following are the suggestions from a law abiding tax payer and citizen of India for effecting a visible change in governance as promised by Shri Modi. These suggestions have already been conveyed to BJP Communication Cell. Any suggestions, which are agreeable and can be implemented by an executive order, should straightaway be implemented instead of the usual procedure of forming reform committee etcetera. Such usual procedures will only lead to delay and eventual loss of focus.

1.0 Electoral Reforms:

All Chief Election Commissioners for the last 20 years or more have complained that political parties lack the will to implement the electoral reforms already accepted by all concerned. Even such a small change like introducing NOTA option required a Supreme Court order to get implemented. While all the recommendations of electoral reforms may be reviewed in the present context, at least a few of them should be straightaway implemented without endlessly waiting for such a review. I have suggested a few of them below:

a)      The multiplicity of candidates is somewhat making our democracy meaningless. We have to find ways to avoid (or at least reduce) the same. Following measures may be considered:

–        Increasing the security deposit to about Rs 1 Lac or more

–        Consider loss of security deposit for all candidates who come 4th or below

–        We may give time for final withdrawal of candidates from contest till a few days before election, with an incentive of return of deposit. (With the use of EVMs, the candidates list can be modified even just a few days before the elections)

b)        We may introduce some additional eligibility criteria for the candidates. Education, experience, service record, moral background will all form part of such criteria, as below:

  1. For candidature to Parliament: Graduation or membership of a state legislature for at least 5-years.
  2. For candidature to state legislatures: Graduation or (High School education plus membership of local bodies for at least 5-years) or (membership of local bodies for at least 10-years).
  3. For candidature to local bodies: High school education or previous membership to such bodies for five years.

With the above scheme, even an unschooled common man can become an MP within 15 years, with his service record of electoral office.

2.0 Judicial Reforms

Number of criminal and civil cases pending in all our courts in India exceeds several lacs as per some reports. Out of these, number of cases pending for the last ten years or more exceeds one lac. We all know that justice delayed is just denied. Justice delayed for more than ten years is not only denial of justice, but also a promotion of injustice. With our very low conviction rate and. with our judicial procedures so delayed, people boldly commit illegal activities with the surety of enjoying the benefits of such activity for a long time before law and justice catch up with them. Hence it is very essential to reform of judicial system to ensure prompt conviction and timely justice. I have following suggestions:

a)      All civil cases of more than ten years duration should be referred to special panels of juries constituted in every panchayat of the country. The jury should consist of a district magistrate and several people of the district who command the respect of the local people. The jury should concentrate more on an acceptable compromise than on the disputable legalities. They should try and clear all the case in one hearing without allowing adjournments.

b)      All criminal cases of more than ten years should be referred to special fast-track courts constituted in every district. Special justices should be appointed if needed. These courts should hear all the cases on daily basis without allowing any adjournments except the ones required by the judicial process. They should try and clear the cases within a maximum of 4 hearings.

c)      On completion of the above process, need for special panels of juries and fast track courts may be reviewed and the same reduced or dissolved completely. Any case that exceeds the ten year pendency limit should be referred to such fast track courts in future to ensure timely justice.

3.0 Income Tax reforms 

Personal income tax is said to make a very small contribution to the national exchequer. However for the tax-paying middle class citizens it is a major out-flow from their finances. Moreover filing income tax returns, managing the Tax deduction at source and waiting for refunds are all occasions for great stress for the tax-paying aam-aadmi. Considering the fact that this middle class is the one that otherwise contribute a lot to the national exchequer by way of other indirect taxes like excise duty, service tax, sales tax and other municipal taxes the government should act with grace on their income taxes. Some of the immediate steps to be taken are:

a)      The income tax exemption limit should be raised immediately to Ra 5 Lacs from the current assessment year itself without waiting for the budget. It can be reconciled easily in the budget as and when it is made. It will relieve a large number of people from the periodic stress they undergo. Proportionately, tax saving investment limit under section 80C may be increased to 2 Lacs.

b)      TDS should be totally abolished for bank deposits, especially for senior citizens. Most of the retired people live on their interests from deposits. With inflation overtaking the interest rates, already their quality of life is permanently on the decline. With TDS you really put them to increased stress. Submitting form15G/H and keeping them up-to-date, banks struggling to manage these TDS deductions may all be avoided by this step. The present tax exemption limit of 2.5 lacs does not at all match with TDS for an interest income of Rs 10000 per quarter. Hence TDS should be totally abolished for bank deposits.

c)      Income tax refunds are never taken seriously by the government. Several millions of rupees are held up by the Govt. and this money belongs to law abiding tax-payers. If releasing large amount of refunds poses any financial strain on the govt., I have the following suggestion: Refunds may be paid to the parties by way of cash coupons of several denominations, which can be used by them for any future payment to the government – like registration charges, stamp duty, advance tax and self-assessment taxes etc.

More will follow.

 

Democrazy

February 17, 2012

Democrazy

L V Nagarajan

Democracy is any form of governance in which all the subjects can directly (or indirectly) participate in the decision-making process. It may be government of a country or just a small association like housing societies. Housing societies, for example, have only a few members and it is fairly easy to involve every member in the decision process and make the process more meaningful by even educating them on the subject matter. This may be termed as Direct Democracy. Larger the number of members, even a housing society, needs a managing committee with representatives selected through an election or a consensus. This may be termed as Representative Democracy. Larger the numbers of citizens, greater are the difficulties on the implementation of a direct democracy, especially in all the wings of a national government such as legislature, judiciary and executive. Representative democracy is a form of governance by the people through elected representatives. This is the most common system found in today’s democratic states. These representatives are elected by the people for a typical duration of four or five years. During this period they are supposed to represent the people who elected him, in all governmental process. But none of the democracies in the world has made this obligatory on the representative. Once he is elected, he is simply left on his own for the whole tenure. A representative is usually proposed as an electoral candidate by a political party and once he wins, he is expected to be more loyal to his party than people who elected him. This loyalty to the party is very well ensured in some democracies by enactment of anti-defection laws and the like. But, what about loyalty to his electors? At least some democracies do care. To ensure real democracy and to give voice to the people during the tenure of a not-so-loyal representative(s), these democracies allow three forms of political actions. They are known as Initiative, Referendum and Recall.  In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen’s initiative) provides a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (plebiscite) on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance, or, in its minimal form, to simply oblige the executive or legislative bodies to consider the subject by submitting it to the order of the day. A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may be the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, or simply a specific government policy. A recall is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote (plebiscite), initiated when sufficient voters sign a petition. (ref: Wikipedia).

Even without these forms of political actions namely Initiative, Referendum and Recall, the ‘representative democracy’ has found overall acceptance among citizens, political analysts and politicians in many countries. However, there are continuous attempts by civil societies and citizens’ groups, to improve this election process, to get the same closer to real democracy and to ensure higher empowerment of citizens. One of the major deficiencies of current electoral system in many countries is that there is no guarantee that the elected representatives have a majority mandate from his electors. This is highly apparent in a multi-party democracy, where the winner gets only about 40% votes. Though higher than his opponents individually, it is lower than the 60% obtained by the combined opposition. In some democracies, to ensure that the winner gets a real majority mandate, elections to key positions are held in several rounds to eliminate all other candidates except the top two. Repeated rounds of elections for every constituency will be impractical and also be highly expensive. Neither can we force a two party system on any state, as, by itself, it is un-democratic. On further review, even in a two party system, a real mandate, though more probable, cannot be ensured. It is possible that a party with lower percentage of popular votes may win more number of constituencies to form a government. This has happened even in several advanced democracies in the world.

Proportional Representation based on popular votes is the usual solution proposed by many. A simple proportional representation (PR) system, which elects representatives based on party-list of candidates, seems to be less of a democracy, as the candidates are totally decided by the political parties and they are even less accountable to the electors. But several improvements have been done to this system to make this more democratic and these modified PR systems have been adopted in many European countries, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. (For a very good description of how these systems work, please refer to:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/BeginnningReading/howprwor.htm.)

To illustrate my point about the two-party democracy and its inadequacies, let us consider the following extreme scenarios. The only two parties, say, the Greens Party and Saffron Party, have popular votes of 51% and 49% respectively, overall in a total of 100 constituencies of a State. In an extreme case-A, let us consider Greens have 100% of support in 51 constituencies and Saffron have 100% of support in the remaining 49 constituencies. Greens will form government with a majority of 51 seats. It is fair enough, but not desirable, because the state is split vertically. In the extreme case-B, let us consider Greens and Saffron have perfectly uniform support of 51% and 49% individually in all the 100 constituencies. Greens will now form government with 100% victory. Saffron will be considered to have been rejected by the people. Here again, the state stands divided, horizontally, shall we say. Luckily, in a diverse population, the supports for Greens and Saffron are neither like case-A, nor like case-B. Even under such conditions, case-C throws up a paradox. Here we consider Saffron to have 55% vote in 60 constituencies and 40% in the remaining 40, amounting to 49% vote overall. Consequently, Greens will have 45% vote in the above 60 constituencies and 60% in the remaining 40, amounting to their overall vote share of 51%. Now Saffron, with 49% vote-share, will form the government with a massive majority of 60 seats, and Greens, with 51% vote-share, will be considered routed in the elections. Here comes the moral of the story. To avoid such a situation every party will withdraw their efforts from places where they already have major support and concentrate on where they are weak. While in one sense it is good for democracy, it may also lead to ‘vote-bank’ politics and appeasement of a few constituencies.

Hence we may conclude that a two-party system is not as great a solution, and at the same time multi party system is not as bad, as both of them are made out to be. The fault is in the electoral system. While it will be too drastic a change for any large country like India to adopt any of the existing PR (Proportional Representation) systems, some kind of proportional representation will have to be adopted early to avoid such problems as party misrepresentation, and the under-representation of political minorities, racial minorities, and women. As an Indian voter I suggest, the following simple changes in the electoral system initially for legislatures and parliament.

As of now members of Rajya Sabha (Council of States) are elected by elected representatives of legislatures, who themselves are elected by a miss-represented majority vote of the citizens. The Rajya Sabha consists of 233 elected members. The quota of members for each state is determined based on population of each state. The elected members of the respective state legislative assemblies elect their quotas of Rajya Sabha members on the basis of first transferable vote. Most of the time the parties know exactly how many of their own nominees can be elected by them and they nominate as many and get them elected by issuing a whip to their legislators. Occasionally they nominate one or two extra persons, to garner the possibility of obtaining the splinter votes of smaller parties who have no sufficient strength to get there own men elected.  Hence it will be fair to say that even these 233 elected members of Rajya Sabha, (RS), are mostly nominated by political parties and their election process is a mere formality. In the present system where a third of the members of RS retire every two years, the RS elections could happen twice or thrice during the tenure of a state assembly. Some times it may occur at a point when a state assembly tenure is about to be completed before a new general elections. It is possible that after the new elections the composition of parties in the new assembly could be vastly different, though the comparative percentage votes polled by them may not be as vastly different. This situation is particularly true in a multi party democracy.

Here is where my suggestion comes in. To get a fair representation, at least in the Rajya Sabha, we may decide on the quota of members for each political party based on amount of popular votes polled by them in the most recent assembly elections. For instance if we take the case of Tamil Nadu, it has a quota of 18 elected members in Rajya Sabha. When a third of them, i.e., 6 members retire, as per the present (2012) strength of parties, the assembly will elect 4 members of ADMK, 1 member of DMDK with the help of others, 1 member of DMK with the help of others. Their percentages of votes polled in the recent 2011 assembly election are respectively, 38.4, 7.9 and 22.4. But the Congress Party which obtained 9.3% votes does not get a Rajya Sabha seat. As per the proportional representation system, the allocation of these 6 seats will be: ADMK-3, DMK-2, and Congress–1. The parties will straightaway nominate their members without any election per se. If Tamil Nadu’s full quota of 18 seats is allocated this way, it will be as: ADMK – 8, DMK-5, Congress-2, DMDK-2, and PMK-1.  This reflects the will of the people more evenly in spite of the electoral alliances. In most of the matters Lok Sabha has overriding powers over Rajya Sabha, and hence, this higher degree of split membership will not hamper the present way of functioning of the government. Even as of now the ruling congress party has only 71 seats in Rajya Sabha, less than a third of total strength. BJP has 51 seats. There are 25 more political parties having seats varying from 1 to 13.

To find a similar way of proportional representation at the state level, we should make it constitutionally obligatory for the states to have legislative councils. As of now only six states have legislative councils (J&K, UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh). The upper house or the legislative council has limited legislative powers, and was primarily intended for consultations and can not hold up legislation passed by the legislative assembly for more than a few months. The Legislative Assembly is composed of members directly elected from individual constituencies. Whereas the Legislative Council consists of members indirectly elected: by members of the Lower House, by nomination of the State government, and by elections from specially designated teachers’ and graduates’ constituencies. Alternately, member-ship to the legislative council may be based on the percentage of popular votes polled by the parties in the most recent assembly elections. Exact mechanism of allocating these seats and the process of election/selection can be decided upon after obtaining some experience with the similar process for the Rajya Sabha as suggested earlier.

Apart from obtaining an equitable representation for all political parties and minorities, this system will have many long term advantages. All parties will try to have a broad based support instead of a localised support, because even in regions where they lose the elections, the votes obtained by them has still some value in boosting their percentage of popular votes. Voters also will be encouraged to vote for a party even if their candidate is likely to lose in a particular constituency. To be considered for proportional representation, we may stipulate, a party should contest a minimum number of seats and in them it should obtain a minimum percentage of votes.