A talk on governance – Jai Prakash Narayan

Popularly known as JP, Jai Prakash Narayan is an Indian politician, political reformer and columnist. He is the founder and the President of Lok Satta Party, and currently a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Kukatpally constituency in Andhra Pradesh. He was a topper in the IAS exam. During the 16 years of distinguished public service in various capacities, he acquired a formidable reputation in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Dr Narayan’s experience in government convinced him that faulty governance process was the biggest hurdle to India and Indians achieving greater success. And what India needs today is a fundamental change in the rules of the game and not a periodic change of players.

In order to translate his vision into practical reality, he resigned from Service (IAS) in 1996, and worked with like-minded colleagues for the formation of Lok Satta and is currently its National Coordinator. Lok Satta has now emerged as India is leading civil society initiative for governance reforms.

On the 2nd day of Horizons, Dr. Narayan held a very interactive session with the audience, first raising the question “what’s wrong with politics?” The response he got was “entry barriers”, such as wealth, power and influence. Once these entry barriers are removed and entry into the political world become based more on merit, perhaps the quality of politics would improve. India has seen, after all, politicians like Gokhle, Naoroji, etc. The problem now is that votes are being bought and crores are spent on them. Moreover, it is a hard fact that every parliament member below the age of 30 is the son or daughter of a politician, and that 85% of all members are related to politicians.

The next question Dr. Narayan posed to the audience was “How could you get rid of these problems in politics?” Some students responded saying that perhaps a certain level of qualifications could be made compulsory. But this is not always true, since many have qualifications on paper. What are required are meritorious candidates.

He opined that unless we started thinking and analyzing about the problems of politics we won’t be able to find a solution for the problem.

Every generation produces great men and women. The past did as did today’s time. What remains evergreen is idealism and passion. Our country consists of 500 princely states integrated together and no other country can match us in terms of diversity. Hence we should never underestimate what we can achieve. The problem with our country is that citizenship is absent. Those elected to power are accountable to those who elected them. We have a rather hostile system in which one needs to sustain power or turn corrupt to survive. Also, decentralization of power is essential. We need local genius to develop.

He also brought up the importance of education- in which India ranks 73rd- and healthcare. Acording to Dr. Narayan you cannot separate political and economic reforms. Once we start an institutional system and bring in some organization, which we lack, we should be able to address the political issues of our country.

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