India Skipped Landlines

English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволю...
English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволюция мобильных телефонов (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Not long back, your average Indian did not have a phone number. Today most Indians have mobile phones. They did not go from no phone, to a landline to a mobile phone. They seem to have skipped the landline.

Nepal is writing a new constitution. And because it is writing a constitution in 2014, and not 1950 or 1777, this constitution should be cutting edge. It should be an attempt to build a better democracy than anywhere else. We might fail in that attempt. We might end up not creating something better than anywhere else. But we should try. One easy way is by not making obvious mistakes.

I talk of partyless democracy as a concept, because politicians in Nepal understand the concept. The current political class in Nepal fought against that concept for decades. They know in their bones what that is.

This new constitution should be designed in a way that the Nepali diaspora is not a loss to the country, because right now it is. Messing up the concept of dual citizenship is a very bad sign. And it is not too late to rectify.

The idea should be to rope in the entire Nepali diaspora. Most Nepalis in the diaspora are still Nepali citizens. There should be a provision to help them vote online in Nepal's national elections. Some Nepalis have become citizens of other countries. This is a tiny minority. Make it possible for them to have dual citizenship. Their Nepali citizenship should be a full citizenship. Why not? That is a brain gain idea. Nepal could use more brains, especially Nepali brains who might know a thing or two about Nepal, who might be emotionally attached to the country.

The right to self determination is a similar thing. That has to be an integral part of Nepal's federalism. That is not a tool for breaking up the country. I don't think so. That would strengthen the country. That would lead to power devolution to the state and local levels and make for a much more efficient government. That would be a good thing.

The entire debate on federalism has been about the map and the names of states. The real debate should be about power devolution. In the new Nepal how much power will the states have? How much power will the local governments have?

A good formula would be that one third of the central government budget should be handed directly to the state governments in proportion to their populations. And one third of a state's budget should be handed directly to the districts in a similar formula. And one third of the district budget should be handed over to towns and villages and cities in direct proportion to a village/town/city's population.

This formula would be simple, fair, and right. It would lead to meaningful power devolution.


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