Chapter 14

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Concluding Observations


The administrative system envisaged in this Constitution is that of a pyramid whose broad base is composed of numberless village communities of the country. The higher panchayats shall tender sound advice, give expert guidance and information, supervise and coordinate the activities of the village panchayats with a view to increasing the efficiency of administration and public service. But, in the non-violent state of Gandhiji’s conception, it will be the basic units that would dictate to the centre and not vice versa.
 
In fact, the whole system will be turned upside down; the village shall become the real and moving unit of the administration.
 
It may be argued that the Indian villages are, at present, in a bad way. There are petty jealousies, quarrels, party feelings and rivalries among the villagers who are still illiterate and devoid of keen civic sense. It will, therefore, be risky to repose too much confidence and trust in the village panchayats. Such arguments betray gross ignorance of the fundamental principle of human psychology: ‘Trust begets trust.’ What does it matter if we commit mistakes and even blunders? We learn through our mistakes. We need not, therefore, hesitate to devolve a large measure of political power on the village communities. The process of devolution and decentralisation may be gradual and by graded instalments. But the ultimate objective must be clear-cut, definite and unmistakable. I have no manner of doubt that under the Gandhian Constitution our villages will rise to their full stature and become once again the bright models of genuine and lasting democracy.
 
EDITORIAL COMMENT
Rural-Urban Synergy

The emphasis of Gandhi on villages made the urban elite fear that he was taking the nation back to the bullock cart age. They did not understand that rural-urban synergy is vital for strengthening the environmental resource base and using it in a sustainable manner. They also could not comprehend that villages could be improved to have quality better than most third world cities —- good roads, sanitation, water supply, electricity, schools, colleges, hospitals, health clubs and housing. Such villages do exist in some western nations. They would contain population growth reducing the pressure on cities and making them manageable. By neglecting the countryside, we have caused immense damage to both our villages and cities.
 
Gandhi also emphasised on fully empowered city governments accountable to the citizens through effective transparency mechanisms. Urban neighbourhoods too should, like village panchayats, be units of self-governance.
 
Globalising the economy while retaining the present centralised exploitative system will land us in serious trouble. We presently have Rakshasa Raj —- centralised, non-transparent, bureaucratic. It can foster only devilish attitudes. We need Ram Raj in which every local entity is autonomous, there is complete transparency, and the state provides infrastructure and coordinates, but does not interfere or exploit. Such a decision-making structure will nurture social and spiritual values and responsible societal behaviour.
 
The only method of realising such governance is through an institutional mechanism for reforms through referendums. People First has launched a nation-wide movement "Swadeshi Loktantra Andolan" for realising it. The nation-wide call of the movement will be:
 
The nation today is on the verge of social, environmental, economic and political collapse that can only lead to anarchy and balkanisation. If the political leadership has the slightest patriotism, it should rise above short term legal and illegal benefits, and come forward to establish an institutional mechanism for reforms through referendums.

—- PEOPLE FIRST

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