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24 October 2011

India must move towards MMP electoral system, say experts at Int’l workshop in Berlin

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Realizing the urgent need for electoral reforms in India towards a proportionate electoral system, the Campaign for Electoral Reforms in India (CERI) and the Platform-Dalit Solidarity in Germany together organized an International Workshop of experts on electoral systems from Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nepal and India.

The experts deliberated on the disadvantages of the British model of the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system for a fast changing India and came to a conclusion that India must move at the earliest towards a Mixed Member Proportionate electoral system (MMP).

According to a Press release this Workshop was held in Berlin on October 17,18 and 19. The Press release was jointly issued by Mr. Walter Hahn and Mr. M. C. Raj, Coordinators of Platform-Dalit Solidarity in Germany, Stuttgart, Germany & CERI, Tumkur, India respectively.

The Indian delegation also included a member of the Upper House in India. These scholars were earlier involved in one way or other in the many researches that CERI did in all these countries.

Technical details of implementing the MMP to the context of India have also been worked out by experts and will be brought out as a tailor-made policy document for India. Armed with such a document CERI plans to make the next moves for electoral reforms in the Parliament of India, the release said.

Meanwhile, from India Dr. Arshi Khan, Associate Professor in Department of Political Science in Aligarh Muslim University, presented the case for increasing the strength of Lok Sabha and to introduce Proportional Representation electoral system for making Indian Parliament more conducive to different sections of society.

Dr. Khan also reportedly said that the experiences of representation since 1951-1952 has strengthened the majoritarian model ignoring the rights of minorities particularly Muslim community. It is important to change the strength and nature of Lok Sabha so that it could be really representative of the people, mainly of the weaker sections, he emphasized.

Even the Dalit parties under the FPTP electoral system, members of Parliament seem to be loyal to Party rather than the community. There must be a change for the good of the country, he added.

Meanwhile, the release stated that India is the largest democracy in the world. One recognizes that it is a multi-cultural society, which is in need of very special measures for democratic governance. The complex reality of Indian society makes it difficult even for experts to develop a clear understanding of the undercurrents that guide its destiny. However, India’s electoral system is neither an undercurrent nor a complex reality. The praxis of the FPTP electoral system in India has further accentuated the intricacies of its governance. Politically speaking India has arrived at an era of coalition politics. One may not see a reversal of this coalition politics in the near future. It is a well recognized truth that FPTP system of elections is best suited for countries that have two party system, the release contended.

The release said: “FPTP electoral system vogue in India is a legacy borrowed from the British. India has come a long way in its political life from the time it got independence from the British. It is now a major player in the Asian economic scenario. However, the representative nature of its democratic governance leaves much to be desired in terms of the results it produces for more than a billion of its people. India, with its multi-party system and coalition politics is in dire need of changing its electoral system to a more inclusive representative system that also addresses the needs of coalition politics in a multi-cultural society”.

Later on, Dr. Arshi Khan attended a conference on Ataturk and Turkey organized by the Government of Turkey and the Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts from October 17-22 in the historic city of Bitola of Macedonia. There he presented a paper on Turkish foreign policy showing difference between the period of Ataturk and the present period.

While, it may be mentioned here that Mr. M C Raj is a well-known writer in India with more than 15 published books. He writes on philosophy, psychology, spirituality, politics etc. He is a frequent international traveller giving lectures in different universities and Conferences. He is a reputed social activist with the latest Karmaveer Puraskar award and Ambedkar International Literary Award. He generally writes on Dalit issues and is an international opinion leader. He leads a powerful Dalit Movement in Karnataka.

Having done three researches in Germany, Norway and New Zealand he has initiated a major national campaign for electoral reforms in India known as CERI. He has brought together Indigenous communities in ten countries in a historic First Round Table of the World Parliament of Indigenous Peoples. He has also started Booshakthi Kendra, the first ever Dalit Ashram in India.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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