India is going through an extraordinary phase. On the one hand, there are young, idealistic, brilliant people who are creating wealth and pursuing excellence with great vigour. On the other hand, the governance institutions are in shambles, and government has become the stumbling block in our pursuit of happiness.
In advanced societies, much of what government does is taken for granted. Public order, rule of law, justice, school education, primary health care, basic infrastructure and natural resource development - all these are the preconditions for a civilized society and a great country. All these are in government's hands directly or indirectly, and its failure impedes every citizen's march of progress.
The problem of India is not lack of values - it is absence of a milieu in which good behaviour is encouraged, and bad behaviour is punished. The problem of India is not lack of poverty - it is our incapacity to channelize our energies and resources in a productive manner. The Indian governments spend everyday Rs. 15 billions of public money and yet public services are of appalling quality. We only need 8 days of one-time government expenditure to provide schools for all children; and 24 days of one-time public expenditure to build toilets for each of the 140 million households that suffer the indignity and ill-health of public defecation. The problem is bad governance, and we need to reform our institutions to get the best out of the governments we elect to serve us.
Lok Satta is India's premier governance reform movement dedicated to redefining and focusing the role of government; electoral reform to ensure that the best and brightest attain public office, survive and serve us; significant decentralization of power to enable citizens to establish the link between their vote and their well-being, and between taxes and public services; and creating instruments of accountability in our hands to check abuse of power.
Lok Satta has wide name-recognition and credibility, and enjoys the support of over 10% of the population of Andhra Pradesh. We need to build a truly national movement for governance reforms, in particular electoral reforms, which are central to a fair and effective democracy. In this endeavour, we need your good will, support and encouragement.
The deepening fiscal crisis of governments in India and the political uncertainties on the one hand, and the dynamism in society and the growth impulses in the economy on the other hand, provide us a priceless window of opportunity for governance reforms in the next few years.
All credible people's movements and individuals should now come together to work for far-reaching reforms in the next few years. The status quo is no longer sustainable; If India fails to combat corruption, ensure fair elections, decentralize power, promote high quality public services, and introduce systems of accountability, then a generation or more will pay a very heavy price.
Most of the work has to be done here in India. But we need the resources, which the overseas Indians can mobilize on a large scale. We have the will, the vision, and the capacity to make a difference. We look forward to your support for this cause.
An overseas support group Foundation for Democratic Reforms in India (FDRI) has been registered as a non-profit 501(c)3 organisation at:
Those in India may send their contributions to: