People First is a
trust dedicated to instituting good governance, promoted by
Development Alternatives, a reputed non-government organisation
in the field of institutional development, appropriate
technology and environmental systems. Dr Ashok Khosla,
President, Development Alternatives, and SK Sharma, a former
civil servant, are its managing trustees.
The Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Foundation joined the movement.
A major consultation was organised in the Parliament Annexe in
May 1997. The consultation resolved that India needs true
democracy in which power flows upward from the people as
advocated by Gandhi, combined with tested details from the best
Power having got centralised, the legislators are unwilling and
unable to return power to the people. It is for this reason that
all movements in the past such as those led by Dr Ram Manohar
Lohia and Jai Prakesh Narayan failed. It can now be realised
only by the sovereign people themselves through referendums.
Lateral thinking led People First to the evolution of a powerful
concept — an institutional mechanism, Sovereign Rights
Commission with authority to direct referendums, except on
issues fundamental to democracy or the integrity of the nation.
Impressed by the concept, Shri PA Sangma, then Speaker Lok Sabha,
circulated our document in the golden jubilee special session of
parliament held in August 1997 with his message calling for a
nation-wide debate on it. Following a seminar organised in
December 1997, Justice MN Venkatachaliah, too, in a message
praised the concept as a legitimate, non-violent method of
transforming our society.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh, Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh,
said in a TV interview that he firmly believes that India needs
Gandhian democracy. Many leaders across party lines privately
subscribe to this view but avoid saying so due to misplaced
In his interview published in OUTLOOK of March 27, 2000, Shri KS
Sudershan, Chief of the RSS, said that democracy was not a new
concept for us. It has been there ever since the Vedic period.
The gram panchayat used to get its mandate from religious
scriptures called dharmashastras. The Constitution we frame, he
said, will now be our dharmashastra. Dharma is actually a
philosophical concept signifying universal values of humanism.
The present Constitution, based on exploitative colonial
institutions, is clearly anti-people. It was authenticated in
the name of the people in violation of their trust. As such, in
law, it lacks legitimacy. Replacing it by one based on the
wishes of the people is a legal necessity.
People First has filed a petition challenging the legitimacy of
the Constitution before the recently constituted Commission for
Review of the Working of the Constitution. Many people advised
People First to draft a legitimate constitution to facilitate
its adoption through referendum. This document is the product of
such an exercise.
We request the Prime Minister to direct the Commission to
organise public hearings, consultations and local referendums,
based on them refine this draft, and get it approved by the
people through referendum along with the next national election.
To facilitate such consultations, the Commission can be enlarged
to 30-40 members of whom at least three-fourth should be
apolitical professionals --- some eminent dedicated rural social
workers, and the rest political leaders of known integrity.
We am grateful to Dr BB Dutta, former Member of Parliament,
Prof. Ashwani Ray of Deptt of Political Science, JNU, Swami
Agnivesh, social activist, Sansar Chandra, social thinker, TN
Zutshi, social activist, and many others for their contribution.
And for the inspiration, to our youth who deserve a better
world. This initiative is our own atonement for having been a
party to the abuse of the common people under a neo colonial
New Delhi, August 2000
Please visit our website: www.peoplefirstindia.org to study the
views of other citizens on its bulletin board, and to enter your
comments on this draft Constitution.