7 June, 2023


Peoples Participation In Governance – Acute Need Of The Hour

By Chrishmal Warnasuriya

Chrishmal Warnasuriya

Chrishmal Warnasuriya

Proposed Constitutional Reforms – “Grama Raajya”

So, almost 70 years on since our independence we are now discussing the need to return sovereign power back to the grassroots, thus it has taken us all this time to realize that bit-by-bit, the power to govern ourselves has been carefully and continuously removed from us; notwithstanding Article 3 of the Constitution that proclaims that sovereignty of this Republic lies in us, its People and is inalienable. If one were to carefully peruse the constitutional amendments proposed following the committee deliberations (we are reliably informed that the document itself is being carefully crafted beyond closed doors), it casts a critical overview on the present system of power sharing to the periphery; finding fault with the present divisional secretariat, district functions, even some concurrent list subject allocations and restrictions on raising finance in the provinces as reasons for its failure of purpose. They advocate the recognition of local authorities as a third-tier of government and furthermore the establishment of a “grama raajya“ as an independent body at community level to advise and navigate the activities of these local authorities – very good!

Nothing new – Democracy began in this manner 

A student of this science (of politics) will argue that what the pundits have realized now is nothing new to the discipline; if one looks at the nation-state concepts of ancient Greece, widely accepted as the birthplace of modern-day democratic models; those citizens met together and exercised their legislative, executive and even judicial functions in a manner agreed by them; hence the term “direct democracy”. Over the effluxion of time and what we call evolution of man we have moved to a “representative democratic” model, from that under-developed state (that we are supposed to have been in then) to this sophisticated age of modern living (that we are credited to having achieved now). We have slowly but surely alienated that “direct authority” we had over decisions that affect our lives (or governance), mostly for reasons of capital-driven economic and time convenience; delegating more and more of that authority on institutions to do the job for us, paying for their subsistence with our taxed monies. Those Institutions or rather the crooks that we have “elected” into them have quickly realized that other than the occasional comment on facebook that the majority of us will post, that too only if we are really frustrated with the government over something affecting us personally and except for a handful of civil- conscious fellows who are constantly shouting (insignificant in number to make any real impact, except perhaps at a time of elections) they have a free hand to carry on as they desire with their merry- governing and globetrotting, all at our taxed expense and no one really seems to care!

So if we assume that this is what has prompted the “select few” who have apparently been handed over the task of drafting our supreme law (to govern all of us) avoiding public debate or consensus for some silly reason, to recommend that democracy must be returned to the people at the grassroots, it is an admission that the system has failed by removing those powers from us; very good, again!

Global Trend – Peoples participation in governance 

The “grama raajya“ model or empowering the People at the lowest level of political interaction is also nothing new to Asia, if you consider Gandhi’s concept of democratic decentralization in our very own big-brotherly neighbour, which stemmed from the passionate belief in non-violence, truth and individual freedom of this great-small-man; the father of modern India. He advocated the Panchayati Raj (or village Swaraj) as a little village-republic, self-sufficient in its vital wants, non-hierarchically linked with the more politically advanced institutions but enjoying maximum freedom of deciding their own affairs. The concept was for political power to be distributed amongst these villages, hence the term ‘Swaraj’ or what Gandhi ji described as true democracy based on individual freedom, which he postulated could only be achieved in autonomous, self-reliant communities with the fullest participation by its People.

We could perhaps look at our own “home-grown” model by accommodating Local Authorities driven by such Gram Raj concepts at the Centre which will certainly boost our national development. Perhaps an electoral system that will return the Head / Chairman of such a local unit ex officio to the central legislature will alleviate the acute need to have real People participation in the day-to-day running of affairs. This will also remove that “political party cancer” that we have, to divide ourselves into colours and fight during any election only for the party hierarchy to get their family and friends into public office at our cost. We could perhaps accommodate a Bicameral Legislature with equal number of representatives returned from the regions, thus making a meaningful “Upper House” similar to the German Bunderstrat, which may then also pave the way for a limited Cabinet to be inclusive of the concerns of all our regions or provinces (regions & ethnicities) in central decision-making.

Do we not need to change the system?

The present regime appears to have accepted that the present system is not working. That is why they are looking at models of returning the power to the People.

WHEN will we realize that our present system only returns a majority of clowns as our Representatives who thereafter behave as if the Peoples wishes are the furthest of their considerations?

WHY do we not mobilise ourselves as a People in whom this Republic has vested its absolute sovereign power and start acting in the role of Masters of that authority?

HOW do we stop our servants, to whom we have delegated our power abusing their office?

WHERE do we draw the line and say enough is enough or do we go on like this without changing the system and at the next election as well, pick another bunch of cronies and permit them to carry on for a further term, enjoying and partying the spoils of our taxed rupees with their royal jet-sets and families?

Power to the People!

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Latest comments

  • 1

    UNP Actor Minister threatened the inhabitants in Muthurajawela, and told his security too note the face of the guy who was protesting the loudest among the crowd. .

    The protest was to save their properties and land.

    The UNP Minister who is an A grade Thug was there to make political capital out of the locals’ misery.

    Will this Batalanda constitution which is being drafted behind closed doors according to this writer, prevent scum bags getting elected to give Power to the People?.

    Venerable Rathna , who was instrumental in getting Bodhi Sira elected, now says the ex LTTE Terrorist supporters are in the forefront to draft this “Behind the Doors Batalanada Constitution”.

    Will these ex Terrorist supporters give Power to the low caste People?.

    • 3

      KA Sumanasekara,
      you are so masked. Servile as no other, why ? You dont have own identity man ? Why to lick the balls of your men this way is beyond human understanding.
      Poor srilanka, and srilankens.

      • 1

        People’s and Sri Lankan experts’ participation is needed to re-think the whole failed Economic Development model and examine the Role of Harvard University’s economic hit men who are advising PM’s office ,in Sri Lanka’s development disaster at this time.

        Harvard economic hit men advising Ranil should ask IMF to track down all the looted billions of Sri Lanka stowed in off shore bank accounts rather than load VAT taxes onto poor people of Lanka.

        Sri Lanka needs environmentally and socially sustainable development process given annual droughts, food crop failures water shortages, floods and sea level rise due to climate change.

        But after the Volkswagon car plant debacle organized by the clown Harsha de Silva, Ravi K. says Coca Cola Corp. wants to invest in Sri Lanka – a vary dangerous project indeed. Coca cola was thrown out of India for water pollution and there are various cases against it – just like Volkswagon.

        In a number of districts of India, Coca Cola and its subsidiaries are accused of creating severe water shortages for the community by extracting large quantities of water for their factories, affecting both the quantity and quality of water. Coca Cola has the largest soft drink bottling facilities in India. Water is the primary component of the products manufactured by the company. Sri Lanka is facing drught, water and energy crisis, and electricity shut downs annually due to climate change and global warming, and environmental degradation due to a failed development model.

        Development model of Ranil-Sira Jarapalanaya, inviting hodes of Chinese and Indians to invest when resources are depleting and climate change shock is here.

        • 0

          Good stuff mate.. But do our Yahaplana suckers understand !!!!

  • 0

    Mr. Warnasuriya: This subject of “Peoples’ Participation in Governance” is a “Misnomer”. This has been proved well and truly by the present Government. Did the PEOPLE vote to bring back those “Rejected” at the poles and award them with “Cabinet” positions? What happened to the “National List” names that the People relied would be in Parliament to represent the intended class of the society? Did the PEOPLE know that an “Elite” class of “School Mates” and other “Buddies” would be appointed to manage the State’s functions? Did the People know or want those “Aged” and “Outdated” and “Retired Cronies” who opted to live abroad in greener pastures would be brought back and given assignments as “Consultants” and “Advisors” in State Ministries? Did the PEOPLE participate in “Dishing” out multi million worth of perks to the elected representatives and give them a free hand in “Marketing” and “Selling” some of those making huge profits? Did the PEOPLE grant any “Authority” to those in Governance to arbitrarily decide to disburse the National Resources to “Foreign Investors” on a platter? This list of QUESTIONS can go on and on, not only pertaining to this present Government, but also dating back to decades of Governments that administered this country. Then what is the “ACUTE NEED” of the country? If the PEOPLE are those who bring a Government into being, then those very PEOPLE must “REFLECT” on the PERFORMANCE of each and every present day representative and the VISIONS of those striving to get elected, and make an INFORMED and INTELLIGENT decision as and when they (voters) go inside that small cubicle to mark their choice of the representation. In this task of making the INFORMED and INTELLIGENT decision; a massive responsibility lies with the INTELLECTUAL class representing all walks of life to give assistance to the PEOPLE in making the correct choice. That is the ACUTE NEED OF THE HOUR and the only ALTERNATIVE to send this whole lot of present day DRIFTERS to oblivion. STOP criticizing and questioning, because it is of no use any more; but GET GOING without DELAY on the programme for a COMPLETE CHANGE.

  • 0

    [Edited out]

    Politicians are crooks. You want voters to rally around them.

    I think, People should watch and remember these things when the election comes.

  • 0

    Start with a code of conduct for ministers and ask them to sign.

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