Preface

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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 democracies.
 
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 political compulsions.
 
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 rule.
 
New Delhi, August 2000        Ashok Khosla                     SK Sharma
 
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.

 

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