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Indian democracy reduced to voting and shouting: JP

Lok Satta Party founder Dr Jayaprakash Narayan has said, “India is such a large country that anything we say about it is both true and untrue at the same time! While the country has made enormous progress, we have been blind to some basic needs of our people. The rest of the World wants India to succeed because of China”, he said amidst applause at the two-day India Conference at Harvard University on February 6 and 7.
“We cannot continue to languish in 19th century politics aspiring to live in the 21st century economy. There is an increasing gulf between aspiration, policy, and outcomes. For example, in education, our focus has been on student enrolment numbers without attention to the quality of education. Several international and internally conducted studies like the PISA study by the OECD have ranked Indian education quality at the bottom of the World”, he lamented.
In his highly regarded and enthusiastically received speech, Dr JP said in healthcare, it is well known that India’s spend including both public and private spend is less than 4% of GDP which is about four times lesser than the US and at least twice as low as most developed and developing countries. While candidates battling for party nominations in the US are debating education and healthcare policy, there is no such public debate on ideas by political leaders in India”, he pointed out drawing cheers. He said in the past India had strong State governments, but now there was creeping centralization of State powers into the Centre. “Our democracy has been reduced to voting and shouting”, he said.
He concluded his speech saying, “We need to do three things urgently. One, limit Delhi’s power to Central and international topics. Two, States must get more choice to decide their own manner of governance, and even system of governance. They should make local governments more powerful. Today, only 7% money goes to local govt. This is making citizens professional protestors and mendicants as they have no self-governance. Three, refine the bureaucracy and make them work for the public good by asking them to specialize, and by introducing a transparent system of accountability.
Speakers at the conference included top politicians, business leaders, Bollywood celebrities, artistes, NGO leaders, and Faculty of leading US universities researching on various aspects of India’s development besides over 750 students. Dr JP was a key-note panelist at the conference along with Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for IT & Communications, and Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, a four-time MP from Odisha of the BJD. The panel spoke to all those present on ‘Indian Politics at the Crossroads’. (NSS)