Make the economy transparent for social audit

By: Shreepal Singh

Humans are forced to indulge in economic activities by their needs. They by their make-up have an inbuilt basic instinct of always working to ensure their survival. This instinct of always working to ensure survival has a very wide spectrum. At the one-end lies, the base instinct of physical survival and at the other the instinct of dominance aimed at propagating of oneself by multiplication.

Between these two ends, there are all sorts of things like hatred, love, dominance, jealousy etc. by which ordinary humans are moved in their day-to-day behavior.

Not all persons are equal in respect of many matters. For example, they are not equals in respects of their physical or mental capacities or their educational and mental development. Likewise, they may be unequal in the matters of their economic and financial circumstances; owning resources and wealth; or, in their psychological make-up and personal traits. It is a concrete reality that humans are at variance with each other in such vital things for life. These differences in qualities and circumstances of individuals may be inborn or acquired by one’s efforts or, even, the result of the quirk of chance and circumstances.

The miniscule number of persons in any given society at any time is found to possess better education, mental and other personal initiative qualities/capabilities, better economic circumstances, more wealth. A very large number of persons in any given society at any time are found to possess lessor education, mental and other personal initiative qualities/capabilities, worse economic and circumstantial conditions, less or even no wealth.

In the self-governing political instrument of democracy, the uneducated and ignorant vast majority of ordinary persons, suffering under adverse economic and circumstantial conditions cannot and do not vote wisely in the matter of democratic self-governance. However, the miniscule numbers of persons possessing better education, personal qualities, economic means, and circumstantial conditions wisely use/misuse the votes of ignorant/uneducated majority in the matter of democratic self-governance and perpetuate their privileges/advantageous conditions.

It is vicious circle: the better-placed ones enhance their betterment and the worse placed ones, move from worse to worst. This vicious circle cannot be broken by the ordinary democratic means/process. History has seen, this vicious circle was broken by force/violence; but history has also seen, the persons who lead this breaking-up of this vicious circle by force/violence were themselves educated, mentally more endowed and capable. They broke the capitalist democratic vicious circle and replaced it with a system that perpetuated their privileges/ better conditions. In the bargain, though the vast majority of persons moved from worse to good economic conditions, they were coerced to work under violence and turned into mentally slaved.

Yesterday it was not possible to break this vicious circle except by the use of force but today it is possible to break this circle by the use of information technology.

This vicious circle can be broken by the use of information technology in two ways: Firstly, the people have a right to information in the matter of the cost of production of commodities / services incurred by the capital-investor and the price at which they are selling these commodities / services to the consumers/people at large.

The information technology can be used to inform the public in this regard under the pains of law. There cannot be any excuse or justification on the part of the manufacturers to deny this information to the public because the production is not a private affair of the manufacturer. The production of commodities / provision of services are a public affair because in these activities the nation’s resources, citizens’ work, government’s efforts are invested.

It could be made mandatory by law for the manufacturer of products to put on the company’s website the particulars of the cost incurred on such production under different heads (like salary paid to each of his workmen, rate at which raw material is purchased etc.) for the audit of the society.
Such information provided to the public will not only put the manufacturer under the public gaze and social scrutiny, it will also safeguard the interests of all the stake-holders of the manufacturing process, like government’s tax collection, employees’ welfare measures, availability of commodities at the reasonable rates to the public etc.

Secondly, the information technology can be used in the matter of the democratic self-governance. Such a measure will obviate the need, justification or reason on the part of the adversely effected humanity to resort to force or violence, which has plagued the human history hitherto.

In the matter of democratic self-governance, let us use this alternative to the violence resorted today by vast multitude of the disaffected and discontented humanity. Let the discontented humanity use the now-available technological means to break this vicious circle of greedy unlimited profit earning in the name of providing incentive. Let the technology replace the money-driven democracy of today with the people’s direct democracy. Let all public movements, like Occupy Wall Street etc., make this demand of transparency in economic activities their battle cry.

Root out Corruption through Transparency

This article is written by Sh. Parmanand Pandey (Advocate, Supreme Court and General Secretary of Indian People’s Congress) on February 15, 2014 and is posted for general discussion on the subject.

It is a delightful pleasure to listen the highly incisive and illuminating discussions of Advocates like Shreepal Singh and Radhakrishna Kumar on any issue in the library, lounge or canteen of the Supreme Court. I have never seen or heard them indulging into trivialities. Both are voracious readers of the books on history, religion, social science, literature and law. Above all they always keep tab on the latest events taking place around the world as they avidly read newspapers. It is my privilege that I enjoy their affection in good measure and sometimes I take the liberty to trigger these intellectually equipped persons.

Yesterday it was the day of Shreepal Singh, who was speaking with spontaneity on what he termed as the ‘Dynamic Democracy’. He advocated for the system of ‘right to recall’ of the Parliamentarians, legislators or any elected representatives. When it was pointed out that frequent recall of the elected representatives will lead to anarchy and it will involve the huge expenses; he said that on the contrary it would strengthen the democracy, As far as the expenses were concerned he said that the new technology had to be employed to the hilt to substantially cut down the expenses. The right to recall will empower the people beyond their expectations and it will keep the elected representatives on their toes is the definite view of Shreepal Singh.

Let me summarize his loud thinking, which he elaborated yesterday.

We give our vote to a person, he/she is elected, and then the elected person disappears and has no time to listen to the problems of the constituents. The people, therefore, have no choice but to suffer this elected person for five years. An alternative has to be created with the help of modern technology, which is quite inexpensive. Whoever is having access to the internet, he/she may take advantage of it in keeping the elected person on constant alert. However, those who do not have the internet facility they should have make the full use of the mobile phones. A mechanism has to be developed by the Election Commission of India with the help of Information technologists for the sake of vibrant and dynamic democracy. Constant vigil of the elected person is the only guarantee to keep the democracy alive in the country. It will jolt the elected representatives from their slumber and lethargy. Unless and until they are made accountable to the electorates i.e. to the citizens of the country, they will continue to indulge in to corruption to the detriments of the people. There is no need at all to impose any moratorium on the public for recalling any parliamentarian or legislator. The day people feel disenchanted with their elected representatives, they can initiate the process of recalling.

The second most important thing for the polity is the transparency. Here also the use of the technology will be very vital. All companies, entrepreneurs and business should be legally oblized to show on the website as to how much they have incurred expenses on the production of an item of commodity and for how much they are going to sell the same. What measures have been adopted to ensure the quality of the production? Transparency will have to be the hallmark of the business and industry. As they say, sunlight is the biggest disinfectant and so, the transparency will put everything in the open where there will hardly be any chance of dishonesty or making black money. Opaque system generates black money and that in turn leads to corruption. It is difficult to control the river of corruption when it meets the ocean of corruption. That is why; the urgent need is to curb and control the very genesis of corruption. It emanates in the dark and evaporates in the light. Transparency is the light and the modern technology is the light giver. So long, transparency is not brought about with the help of technology; all tall talks of removing the corruption go in vain.

The third point is that it has to be fully and properly drilled into minds of the people that natural resources like; water, coal, air, rivers, petrol or other mineral belong to the nation or people. These resources cannot be allowed to be frittered away for the enrichment of the few. They are meant to be used for the greater good of all .Governance means decisions are taken for the benefit of the people in the transparent manner, without any hanky-panky and their complete and strict compliance. Any body willfully failing in performance of duties must be sternly dealt with. These steps, according to Shreepal Singh will be the harbinger of what he says ‘the peaceful revolution through technology’.

My friend Radhakrishna Kumar agreed with the essence and intent of his thinking but he has reservations about the modus operendi of achieving the goal. Every body is groaning under the weight of corruption and inequity in the society. However, what is really important is that the persons like Shreepal Singh are constantly watching and analyzing the problems to get them remedied.

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