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Top 10 system changes in India’s governance

Sanjeev Sabhlok 28 February 2004

I have been asked today by some friends to articulate the main changes in the Indian **system** (not policy) that I would like to see in order to set into motion processes that would transform the country. Here is a tentative list (more to be thought of in order to arrive at the best 10. Suggestions welcome).

1. Increase the monthly salary of Members of Parliament from Rs 14,000 a month to Rs. 140,000 or some such high amount, and proportionately for all other elected representatives across the country, including Ministers. Create a 50% bonus linked to GDP/ SDP growth.

2. Create elected Councils with technical expertise on the pattern of advanced countries to manage local issues with all powers and financial capacity. World level zoning and ISO standards to apply. Bring ratio of elected representatives to citizens in line with world standards (eg. Delhi should have at least 200 elected Councillors, with full powers over its civic amenities and land management).

3. Disband the all India services by stopping all further recruitment and forcing existing members to reapply for jobs anywhere in government, including the Councils (all jobs at senior levels to be on contract).

4. Introduce a superannuation scheme where everybodys employer contributes, and eliminate the concept of permanent appointments in government. Substitute with contracting arrangements, each contract being completely negotiable.

5. Eliminate all limits on expenditures on elections, while forcing rigorous audit of political party expenditures.

6. Introduce state funding of elections on the basis of a certain payment for each vote

7. Make the Reserve Bank completely independent of any government intervention and let it focus SOLELY on inflation.

8. Appoint as many judges as needed to dispose the entire backlog in 2 years, and pay them equal to half of what the best lawyers at that level of court, earn.

9. Create regulatory bodies for functions considered essential, with all senior appointments made by the Parliament

10. Disband the Planning Commission and merge as many Ministries as possible, with the goal of reducing them to an absolutely bare minimum, say five, in 5 years.

A list of policy changes is very attractive too, but I believe policy issues are trivial compared with system changes in governnace, eg. some policy could include:

-- **completely** eliminate all government expenditures on higher education, and transfer all these funds into primary and secondary education, with schools fully accountable to local councils and parents.

-- disband all subsidies and all public distribution channels, after creating a direct channel for transfer of funds to the poor

Suggestions welcome, and of course this is only a tentative list. Plus, it is amenable to debate.