What to do for Better Governance?

By Subhash Chandra Agrawal*

The other day, Mr. Om Birla, the Speaker of Lok Sabha underlined the need for active participation of the people in democratic and legislative processes to make our democracy better. This, he thinks is the other-side of Parliament’s outreach. The speaker’s words are all the more significant as he presides over the house of the peoples’ Representatives.

While we are celebrating the political Independence and forming governments by the elected Representatives, we do not mean it to be a mere transfer of Power from the Maharajahs to the elected Representatives.

The founding-fathers of the Constitution wanted to initiate a gradual process of democratizing the governance and the society by a non-violent dialogue among the Representatives in Parliament to de-concentrate and to de-centralise Power so as to ultimately empower the citizens. We desired democracy so that the human beings in the society learn to have better relations with each other; to treat each other with respect and camaraderie.  The citizen is not there simply to give his consent once in five years but he and she have to participate in the process of planning and decision-making. It is to be self-governance at different levels thereby transforming the hard power of ruling into a soft power of mutually influencing, persuading, educating, convincing each other in order to arrive at consensual decision-making, and inclusive and cooperative collaboration. This is what we are doing at the level of the Resident Welfare Associations. But, governance at above-RWA-level is at present suffering from a phase of Majoritarianinsm or ‘Populism’. The only remedy available at this juncture is more active and direct participation of the residents and the civil society organisations in the governance.


Here is a sample of a few of many simple proposals that are being made by Mr. Agarwal a prolific thinker and ardent reformer that deserve your attention. Pick up any of them with which you agree and send them to the concerned political and administrative authorities for their serious consideration.

Misuse of RTI by Public Authorities

1. Misuse of section 6(3) of RTI Act by the Public Authorities must be prevented: For example, seeking information on number of postal-orders sold in different denominations was transferred to all postal-circles of India, while such information must have been available in the head office, DoPT. Many public-authorities are deliberately avoiding giving information directly by transferring an RTI application to others. What more, at times, an RTI application is transferred to hundreds of offices of the same central authority. Even state public-authorities are also using same tactics to avoid RTI queries.

Banks’ Inspection Reports on Internet

2. The RBI should put their Inspection-Reports of Banks on RBI website and also direct the banks to put their Inspection Reports and all banking-information including list of defaulters and details of One-Time-Settlement in their websites. Supreme Court in its verdict of 2015 had directed RBI to disclose Inspection Reports of Banks under under section 4(1)(b)of RTI Act. 

Parliamentary Immunity

3. Abolish Immunity for all legislative activities done or said during the House-proceedings. Chairpersons and House-committees are often soft in action. Abolishing immunity will also have a check on wastage of precious time, energies and public funds. It may be recalled even Supreme Court acquitted Parliamentarians involved in infamous JMM-bribery case.

Recommendations of National Commission on Review of Constitution

4. Forgotten Recommendations of National Commission for Review of the Constitution. A former Government at the Centre in 2000 constituted the Commission, which submitted its report in 2002. But the important recommendations are not yet implemented. The Central Government should initiate discussion on the Report.

Shorter Corona Message

5. Corona-message on dialed mobile-numbers should be of shorter duration. Presently, a quite long Corona-message tune is first played before the caller is finally connected to the called person. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and other concerned authorities should modify this tune for a shorter duration, in case the tune is still considered useful.

Unauthorized Occupation of Govt. Property

6. Government-Property in 7, Jantar Mantar Road (New Delhi), unauthorisedly occupied by a political party should immediately be vacated. www.pgportal.gov.in reveals that inspectors of Land and Development Office (GoI) were not allowed even for inspection of the property. Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development should forcibly remove all encroachments and occupants of other buildings allotted to political parties having lost entitlement. Even buildings constructed on land given on subsidized rates to political parties should be taken over by government in case of their split or non-existence rather than allowing to be occupied by individuals in personal interest. Since political parties are defying CIC-verdict dated 03.06.2013 for their being public-authority, the system of allotment of government-accommodations and plots to political parties must be abolished.

RBI Should Seek Clarifications from Bank on Complaints

7. At present, there is no use of sending complaints against banks to Reserve Bank of India,  either directly to the given email ID of RBI Governor or through various portals like www.pgportal.gov.in, www.helpline.rb.nic.in. or to the Prime Minister. These portals simply forward these lodged complaints to concerned banks, which in turn provide eye-wash replies. Instead, the system should be such that RBI should seek clarification from concerned banks and then should reply to complainants keeping in view the clarifications given by concerned banks. If necessary, RBI then should take action against banks found guilty.

Why Two Systems of IT Assesment?

8. Why two schemes for Income Tax assessment? Tax-rates should be simplified by minimizing tax-exemptions and abolishing additives like cess and surcharge .It should be so simplified that a rational individual may be able to file his tax-return by himself. One can abolish all additives like cess and surcharge by retaining maximum net tax-slab at 30-percent in tune with most countries of the world and as per the recommendations of Raja Chellaiah Committee. Much misused tax-exemptions like on charity, donation and contribution made-to or received by political parties may be abolished. Huge expenditure on on-going farmer-agitation and agricultural income shown filed by the super rich proves that agricultural income must not be tax-free. Since ordinary farmers do not have income above rupees 5 lakhs, basic tax-exemption for farmers may be rupees 5 lakhs. The best solution is to raise basic tax-exemption from rupees 3 to 5 lakhs for all.

Further, practical aspects demand introduction of a permanent Voluntary Disclosure of Income scheme with highest tax-slab of 30-percent with compulsion of investing additional 20% in government-bonds. If registration-fees is slashed down to 3-percent with introduction of such permanent Voluntary-Disclosure-Scheme, a major portion of unaccounted money utilized in purchase of property will pass through the banks, and a cashless economy will emerge.

Remove VT Signage on Planes

9. Ministry of Civil Aviation should remove VT on all aircrafts registered in India, as it is abbreviated indication that it is from Victorian or Viceroy Territory. Such prefix VT is removed by several other countries, after getting independence.

Ban Bribes in the Shape of Diwali Gifts

10. Festival-gifts are a social-evil and bribes. Need to be banned with riders before Diwali. Festival-gifts on Diwali to those officers in public and public sector are no less than bribes. These are being given to persons in legislature, bureaucracy and even in judiciary. Both gifting and accepting should be booked under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code or under Prevention of Corruption Act. Central Vigilance Commission can also issue such advisories.

Implement Uniform System of Remuneration

11. Uniform system of pay, perks and pensions is necessary in all states. For example, it was Yogi Adityanath who abolished the undesirable practice of tax-free salaries to ministers; but such practice continues in states like Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir. Likewise since pension-system is abolished for government-employees, then it should be abolished for not only members of Parliament and state-legislators, but also for President, Vice President and judges of higher courts, etc.

Reservation for Women

12. Reservation for women: It is most advisable that there must be a basic 33-percent reservation for women in election-process from level of village-panchayats to Parliament. Many political parties cry for reservations on many man-made aspects like religion and caste, but oppose reservation to women. To prevent wives or other relations being misused as proxy of male politicians, there should be a system whereby name or photo of husband or any other relation may not be permitted in election-campaigns.

Encourage Autos with AC

13. New car-scrapping policy should be aimed at promoting production of small cars and air-conditioned three-wheelers. It is beyond understanding why Central Government is so much eager to promote automobile-industry, in general. It should encourage only cars with ex-showroom price below rupees ten lakhs. Moreover car-manufacturers should be advised to bring air-conditioned models of three-wheelers also. Economical cars and auto-rickshaws occupy low road and parking space.


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Subhash Chandra Agrawal is a Right to Information activist who holds the Guinness World Records for maximum number of letters to editors. He was also instrumental for bringing seven political parties and the Chief Justice of India under the RTI Act.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal is a Right to Information activist who holds the Guinness World Records for maximum number of letters to editors. He was also instrumental for bringing seven political parties and the Chief Justice of India under the RTI Act.

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