Some of the HP Campaings
HP has carried out numerous campaings at different levels over these years.
Some of them are listed below:
Under the slogan "ALL INDIA IS ONE AND FOR ALL INDIANS", this campaign was launched in September, 1985 (see "The Humanist", Nov.1985 issue), and still goes on - among other activities - as a driving goal.
For the HP, national integration is more than just passively tolerating our diversity without discrimination, National integration must be achieved through persistent and whole-hearted efforts towards increasing communication and cooperation among our communities.
In order to achieve this, the different communities should stop looking back into the past - like bitter and wailing old widows - and look forward into the future, for a mutually cooperative society where human beings and citizens are regarded as such above all other considerations.
Thus, we encourage everybody - especially our activists - to think, feel and act first and above all as human beings and Indians.
Cynics, fanatics, pessimistic, communalist and violent people have no moral stand to deny the above mentioned since they themselves, and their vested interests, are responsible for today's critical situation.
Primarily, the HP aims at clarifying and mobilizing the youth against communalism and for national integration so as to produce a historical break in the chain of resentment, hatred, fear, mistrust and discrimination with which elders poison the new generations.
* If your leaders - either politicians, swamis, priests, mullahs, mahants or elders - preach to you communal division, disown them without fear and with pride, as immoral and unworthy of being followed.
* Make it a point to know, understand, consider and relate to people of other communities, their customs, their problems, their beliefs, etc. Place yourself in their position.
* Consider and treat others according to their quality as human beings, their capacity, their character, etc instead of going mechanically by communal considerations.
* Raise your choice and work actively for any organization or cause promoting inter-communal harmony and reconciliation.
FOR A LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY
Professional politicians defraud the public trust by not fulfilling their electoral promises.
The lack of a law to penalize this crime enables any adventurer or crook to reach government positions. In order to avoid this political merry-go-round, the HP proposes the immediate passing of a NATIONAL LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY (WITH THE PROVISION TO ADVANCE ELECTIONS IF REQUIRED).
If you buy a new colour TV set and, when you switch it on, you discover that it only works in black and white, what do you do? You demand an immediate replacement, refund, etc. Don't You?
Well, if you voted for a politician because he promised something during the election campaign and, afterwards, he does just the opposite, what do you do? Until now, it is very little what you can do if the politician and his party betray you in such a way.
When the traditional politicians discuss about the advantages of democracy over dictatorship, their favourite argument is that the citizens can change the authorities if they prove to be inefficient or fraudulent.
But, during five years of government, much is the harm that a lying politician can produce....
Among others, one of the most serious damages is that people start losing faith in democracy as a system.
So, things like this can be heard: "Look, don't tell me anything about politics. This one is politician promised that he was going to fix things up, and he has not done anything. And so have all the others been. I don't want anything to do with political parties. Nobody can change this corruption. Politics is a dirty affair!"
When a big percentage of the population feels betrayed and expresses it in similar ways, we are facing a dangerous situation.
People shy away from political participation and create a void to be filled by all sorts of bunglers, adventurers, crooks, antisocial elements, etc. This lack of active participation in politics serves nobody, except the vested interests of a few.
That is, turning the face away from the problem does not solve it or avert the consequences, but, in fact, the problem gets aggravated.
Besides, it may encourage some prehistoric brains to cherish hopes for some kind of dictatorship (either military or civilian), upon the apparent "failure" of the democratic system.
The democratic system is not, of course, without some deficiencies. Some of them are not to be found in the system itself, but in the society where it is applied. But, democracy can - and must - be perfected, and the channels for this are already there.
"THE PROFESSIONALS" AND POLITICS AS A BUSINESS
But, why does a political party and its candidates promise things that later they do not fulfill?
Is it due to incapacity? deception? miscalculation? corruption? vested interests? It may be a combination of all these factors.
What is certain is that traditional politics such as we know it, is the business of professional politicians meant for grabbing power.
For them, politics is a career and their parties are organized like companies. they are the managers, who occupy top positions. The youth is the manual labour for pasting posters, painting walls and for full-hearted militancy.
And the citizens? We, the citizens, are the customers. And what do we - the customers - want? To improve the conditions in which we live, to progress and grow as individuals and as a social group.
Then, the professional politicians base their election campaigns on what people legitimately aspire for. "We are going to clean the administration", tells one, "We will eradicate poverty", offers another. Others (or the same ones) also promise what some people illegitimately aspire for. "We will kick all the outsiders out", shouts one. "We will establish our supremacy", screams another.
None of them tell exactly how they will achieve what they promise. Nor when. Then, afterwards, the candidate who wins manages things as it pleases him. And, if somebody complains - as it would be in the case of the TV set - the replies are of this type: "There are unforseen complications", or, "I am all too willing, but the opposition is strong (or the cooperation is too weak)", or, "There are other presing priorities to tackle first", or. "We are looking into that matter", etc. this becomes almost boring, unless you receive a lathi-charge instead of apologies...
So, slowly, the feeling of having been cheated by a vulgar market charlatan creeps within us... then comes indifference... the discredit of a system of a government... and society falls into the clutches of corrupt people.
In sum: those who attempt against democracy and the country are the politicians who betray the popular trust and the political parties they belong to which do not take any action against them.
A FRAUD AGAINST THE PEOPLE
All the previous has a solution. It is to provide the citizens with an instrument to get the politician who defrauded them removed from his post.
That is, a LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY by which all the political parties and its candidates have to submit a government programme. This will clearly state - like a contract - the government measures and actions they will take, the estimated date of fulfilment, and the alternative course of action they will take in case something fails, or if natural catastrophes or social commotions delay the application of the plans.
Then, the election campaign will have to comply with this government programme. In case of winning the elections and not fulfilling his electoral commitments, the politician will be submitted to a political trial for the alleged crime of " fraud of the popular trust".
This political trial for MPs, MLAs and Municipal Councillors may proceed upon the request of the concerned houses or the general public of their constituencies.
For the ministers of the Central and State government including the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers also, a similar procedure may be followed based on the request from the people of the whole country or the particular state.
The percentage of public support, the process and the machinery required to carry out these political trials can be worked out by consensus by all the parties.
Meanwhile a public debate and suggestions from the people can also be obtained. Some possibilities are signature campaigns to obtain the necessary public support, a standing body or commission which constantly obtains public feedback on major issues, etc.
The politicians submitted to trial will not be allowed to put forward, as a defense, any apology or justification which was not foreseen in the electoral government programme. And the authorities in charge of the trial will only confine themselves to compare the electoral promises with the concrete facts of government.
THE POLITICAL TRIAL
The political trial is to be brought to the appropriate Judicial Authority and it is to be carried out by a bench of not less than three judges.
In the event of the representative being adjusted guilty under the act, his seat (office) shall fall vacant with immediate effect and all the officers appointed by him shall cease to hold office.
Besides, he should be banned from running for any election or holding a public office during the next two government periods.
However, he shall have an option to obtain a referendum, so that the population of the constituency concerned confirms or vetoes the judgement. If required, the by-election shall be conducted within 60 days at the latest. In the meantime, the concerned offices shall be run as per the provisions of existing laws.
Of course, all this is apart from-and does not supersede- other criminal cases which may be filed against the politician concerned.
As it becomes clear, democracy can be improved. It is all a matter of demanding some more responsibility. Because, can you imagine how little the traditional politicians would talk during their election campaigns, if the non-fulfillment of what they promise were made a crime?
Well, if no politician wants to support this draft of a law now, the LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY will be proposed and passed by the HP when it is in power.
Of course, things would have been much easier if the traditional parties refrained from fielding corrupt politicians as candidates, if they were the first to demand their resignation when they do not meet the standards of efficiency and ethics befitting their posts, etc... But, with the present conditions, this seems to be too much of an ethical stature for them, isn't it?
Anyway, wouldn't it be comforting to listen to something like this, when the opportunity arises? : "Mr So and So, you were voted by the majority of the people for carrying out a government programme. This Honorable Court has found you guilty of the crime of defrauding the people's trust due to your non-fulfilment of your electoral promises.
Thereby, we, the Honorable Court removes you, and the officers you appointed from offices you held so far."
This political accountability we propose may also go beyond the unfulfilled electoral promises. The accountability should also be applied systematically to any government action or inaction that constitutes a fraud/crime because:
* it transgresses law (national, state or municipal),
* it transgresses municipal regulations or procedures,
* it does not discharge the stated duties due to leniency, connivance or complicity.
This accountability should not only last while the politician is in office but it should also extend beyond that period.
Besides, those directly affected by any misdeed may claim compensation, either from the government, the government officer personally or from the political party he belongs to. Also, any person or legal entity benefitted by the misdeed will have to return anything unduly acquired, and compensate the party damaged if there was knowledgeable complicity or connivance.
In this way, nobody will take or give what is not right, and both the encourager and the encouraged will be discouraged.
The HP is carrying out a nation-wide campaign to draw support from honest and sincere politicians, political parties, lawyers, public institutions and the common people, who are those suffering the consequences of political violence.
At the same time - since the popular feeling regarding our proposal is evident we publicly make a call to any politician, from any political party, to take up the challenge and carry this draft of a law to Parliament to be debated and, ultimately, passed as a National Law applicable to all government levels.
If it is passed, it will be for the benefit of democracy and the whole country. It will clean the administration and renew politics, setting an unprecedented example in the world.
Who will oppose this law and what are the arguments they will use? And who will remain silent ?... It will be for all the people to see and judge.
Anyway, if the LAW OF POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY is not passed, the Humanists will reach the government and pass it, making it immediately applicable to all the political parties and the HP as well.
FOR A LAW OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Our's is a parliamentary democracy. That is, a system by which representatives of the people are elected for ruling the country. In most of the cases, if not all, these representative come from organizations (in the best of cases) which are known as "political parties".
Thus, ultimately, political parties are those which rule our country. That is, they decide how much are we going to earn, how much taxes we have to pay, how children have to be educated, what can we buy, what can we manufacture, and so on and so forth. They decide for our do's and our dont's. In fact, no matter how free we may feel to build our individual lives, the political parties decide the limits, the framework, etc, of our existence.
Now, who or what decides the limits, framework, do's and don'ts of the political parties? What is the extent of their accountability in terms of funds, internal democracy or membership records?
Everybody knows that such accountability is almost nil, if not non-existent. Thus, for instance, a party whose handling of "black money" is obscure - to be benign - can later on, from power, put in doubt the honesty of businessmen, conduct raids and demand honesty without having the moral stand in this respect.
In many countries of the world, the law provides a clear framework for the political parties. Law regulates in detail its formation and way of working, making them legally accountable in such terms as handling of funds, internal democracy, keeping of membership records, and many more aspects.
If political parties in power are going to make people accountable to them, it is fair - to say the least - that they themselves are accountable before the country and its Law.
By October, 1985, the HP introduced the proposal for a Law of Political Accountability. This was referred to the politicians, as individuals, who do not fulfill their electoral promises when they assume power. This is a revolutionary proposal whose potential for healing democracy has not been taken into account by the "intelligentsia". However, those who matter - the people - have given it a heart-warming response.
Now, we are extending the concept of accountability to the very organizations that breed irresponsible politicians: unaccountable political parties.
That is, political parties have all the rights but not the duties. This is one of the main reasons why their politicians are used to corruption, privilege, and what not. The children evidence the families they were brought up in. So, the main bodies who run our lives and the destiny of the country should be, themselves, a model of the virtues they expect from the country. Otherwise, hypocrisy and double standards will continue being the hallmark of politics. Socialism will continue being a dream to sell to the masses at their own heavy expanse, which the politicians charge to our account every day.
Therefore, The Humanist Party launches another proposals: to pass a National Law of Political Parties. This Law would regulate their formation and ways of working, making them accountable as any other organization. Because, on what basis do they enjoy the privilege of being the least accountable of all types of organizations when, at the same time, they have the most power and influence?
In different ways, but in equal degree, private companies, charitable trusts, cooperatives, government divisions, etc, are all accountable. If, ultimately, political parties have more power then all of them, why don't they have the same degree of accountability? Absolute power - without accountability - corrupts absolutely. Imagine the police without accountability, or the Army...
The Humanist Party puts forward the proposal of a National Law of Political Parties, by which at least the following three main aspects should be made clearly accountable: handling of funds, internal democracy and membership records.
Handling of funds covers accountability of their sources and use. Where is their money coming from? How is it used? Is it all within our national interests? We, the people, the voters, demand clarity on this. Their funds should be properly accounted and audited by reliable and independent authorities.
Internal democracy means that the party authorities should be elected by the vote of all the affiliates. This will prevent "appointments" due to money, connections and other spurious factors that betray the common affiliate and voter.
Party authorities should not be imposed from "above" through lobbies which accommodate unconfessed vested interests. How can there be party discipline when leaders do not reflect the rank and file of the party? Political parties should be nobody's zamindari.
Accountability regarding membership records means that proper affiliates rolls should be maintained. This is a must for internal democracy. A central bonafide authority should prevent double or triple affiliation. Thus, every membership file should be submitted for checking and approval. In this way, the actual membership strength will be easily verified, avoiding baseless claims. Consequently, whenever an affiliate wants to join another party, he will have to submit a resignation to his previous party.
So, whenever he fills the membership application form of any party, he will sign a declaration where he states that he does not belong to any party.
These are some of the main points this proposal for a Law of Political Parties should cover. It is a unique proposal that will probably be opposed by all vested interests. It is highly suspicious that, so far, no other political party than The Humanist Party has put forward such proposal ( as well as the Law of Political Accountability). This proposal will certainly contribute to eradicate corrupt practices that undermine our democracy and, therefore, our nation. Once and for all, we the common people - sufferers of all injustices - should corner and expose those who just pay democracy a lip service, while they profit at our expense.
We invite the activists of other political parties and organizations to join us in pressurising the power elites with this demand.