“Beyond a Billion Ballots” is an insightful work by Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who suggests a range of political and democratic reforms

For long Vinay Sahasrabuddhe has been advocating value-based leadership. Now he has come up with a book where he has cogently built his ideas about liberating political parties from the trap of populist politics through a set of key systemic changes in India’s democratic infrastructure. Called “Beyond A Billion Ballots”, the book was recently launched in Delhi followed by a panel discussion. Sahasrabuddhe, who is the director of BJP-backed Public Policy Research Centre, said that for decades we are staring at same kind of problems. “We are facing a crisis of motivation and a crisis of purpose.” At the same time, he maintained that the total disdain towards political parties is also not going to serve any purpose. Talking about the internal democracy within the political parties, he said that there was lack of democracy at party level and there should be a body like Election Commission to look into the internal matters of the party.

Expressing his views, Ajit Doval, Former Director Intelligence Bureau, said that the political leaders are taking too much interest in executive function for getting into limelight. Doval found conversion of one power into another as the most dangerous part of the Indian democracy because those who don’t have power remain debarred from democratic activities and reforms. “Different forms of power like muscle, money, threat and political get converted into each other. Parties tend to take only those who are their favourites and not those who are best in the business for the country.”

Former Chief Election Commissioner Dr. SY Quraishi seemed interested in the electoral reforms suggested in the book. “In this book the whole political system is analysed and the much needed reforms are suggested.” Calling democracy as a fragile form of governance, Quraishi said, “Most people live here in a denial mode. They assume everything is negative and nothing can happen. They become mere spectators of the events.”

Calling election as the biggest fountain for corruption in our country, Quraishi asked, “If politicians are themselves corrupt then who will stop the criminals from coming into politics.” But at the same time he cautioned against painting every politician as corrupt. “Painting all the politicians black is a dangerous thing. Since we love democracy, we can’t hate all politicians.”

Political commentator, BV Rao pointed out, “Our voice could never reach the government since the MPs selected by us remain mute in the Parliament on real issues. So the whole structure of democracy gets crumbled” Speaking about the dynasty politics Rao said, “In our country few families are controlling the entire democratic system which is not good for the Indian legislature.” He felt our democracy is tied up in knots. “We cannot unknot all of them simultaneously. We have to go one by one.”

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