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Correcting a Systemic Flaw in Democracy

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The concept of Democracy has many feathers on its cap, the latest being the globally acclaimed election of Barack Obama as the President of the USA. While a great leader by himself can make a substantial impact on the quality of governance, there is still a long way to go before Democracy itself is accepted as an ideal political system throughout the world. Corruption and nepotism are still able to thrive and constitute major shortfalls that need to be overcome.

Democracy, if it is true, should fulfill the needs of the people as well as be beneficial for society as a whole. The second condition is important because people by nature seek peace and harmony, which will be lasting only when the entire society is happy. Yet both these conditions remain a distant dream in spite of Democracy existing in some form or other in most countries of the world. There must be a systemic flaw that causes Democracy to fail miserably in these tasks.

During elections when we want to cast our vote for a candidate, we take into consideration two aspects. First whether the party to which the candidate belongs, stands for policies and programs that are in tune with our needs. Secondly, whether the candidate is a person with integrity and would fulfill the task for which he/she may be elected.

The first aspect of noting the political party of the candidate is the dominant criterion that decides our vote in the present day. The second aspect - the integrity of the candidate is much more important. This however is usually sidelined in the prevailing party-based political system. The integrity of the candidate can be surmised by the people only by what is known in public about the candidate. There is still no method to evaluate it in an in-depth manner through a reliable procedure during the process of election.

Political parties lay more emphasis on their ideology and agenda and the compliance of the candidate towards it; the integrity of the individual is secondary. The result has been that throughout the world we have Democracy in letter but not in spirit. The party candidate may appear ideal for all external appearances but his true inner nature gets revealed only after the election. People do not have any control over who is selected to be a party candidate to stand in the election. In the uncommon instance of a candidate being an independent, his reputation influences the voters; his inner nature remains hidden.

By the very process of election a candidate tends to become self-centered. Once elected, he is expected to think in terms of his party and/or his supporters who contributed to his success. Such a mindset inevitably compromises impartial thought and action. In today's world filled with divisive and vested interests, nothing less than a selfless attitude that benefits everyone or at least harms none, is required of an elected representative if there is to be justice, peace and harmony in the society and the world. In other words 'Spiritual Correctness' is the need of our times.

So the fundamental requirement for True Democracy is that the process of election should test the integrity of the candidate in addition to his other qualities. This will ensure that the candidate would fulfill the expectations of the voters in a wholesome manner by discharging his duties in a spiritually correct manner.

To some extent, integrity of the candidate can be ensured if political parties adopt true inner party democracy by adopting a system of selection that ensures equality of all and requires selfless thinking as an essential quality. This is possible through a modification of the Troika or Triplet System, first conceived by Fred Gohlke (Koikaze), which is briefly as follows: Suppose 10 candidates are willing to be considered for selection for contesting in election, they are divided into 3 triplets. Each member of a triplet assesses the qualifications of the other two members and ignoring himself, selects one among them whom he considers is most suitable for the job. The member who gets 2 votes is the winner. From 3 triplets three winners are thus selected, from whom the final selection is made by a similar process.
 The existing political parties will not adopt such an impartial and selfless system easily anywhere in the world. To stimulate the political parties into adopting the Triplet System, a World True Democracy Platform (WTDP) needs to be established, which can compete with the usual political parties in every election. The candidates posted by the WTDP should be selected constituency-wise through the Triplet System from among those who register themselves as potential candidates at the WTDP. If the people were convinced that the candidates elected from this platform are qualitatively different from those posted by political parties, then that would enhance the popularity of WTDP in every subsequent election.

Success of the WTDP would mean that a viable and credible alternative to political parties is available for the people, which can post candidates in an organized manner for elections. In course of time political parties would be forced to adopt the Triplet system and ensure that integrity gets the focus of attention, while selecting their candidates to contest the elections. Otherwise the people may ignore them during elections, being no longer considered to be indispensable for Democracy to function.
 Thus, unlike as at present, the best of human nature can be tapped for the crucial task of Governance and it would be relevant to all Democracies in the world, whatever is their stage of development. 
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Vijayaraghavan Padmanabhan is former Professor of Medicine, Madras Medical College. Based in Chennai, India. His interests include Spirituality, Politics, Economics and Medicine.

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