Cover Story: Back to Basics
Trained Legislators can alone be
Carriers of Good Governance
Intro : Recently, the ruling BJP and the Lok Sabha Secretariat conducted training programmes for debutant lawmakers. The effort is a milestone initiative in the democratic process that will not only develop effective democratic leadership but will also build in the culture of training to develop a model of good governance. If the lessons learnt during the training programmes are imbibed meticulously by the trainees, we can hope positively for better legislative proceedings in the coming years.
Indians, unlike people in most other democracies; have a love-hate relationship with politicians and political parties. Unless they require some help for mostly a personal cause; people relish hating politicians. Obviously then, as democratic institution; political parties receive scant or almost no attention in our public discourse. Save for election time, parties and especially the way they conduct their affairs hardly earn a serious consideration in public discourse. For most of us parties have become a favourite whipping boy. One wonders, despite being a democratic society; whether we have stopped thinking about them.
No wonder then that when someone tells us about a training programme for politicians; we tend to ridicule the very idea behind. “Training of Politicians? You mean these ministers and MPs? Don't tell me. What can they learn? They always preach. Will they listen?” Questions galore and doubts persist, as few believe that politicians can ever be trained.
In a polity already reeling under multiple crises, with crisis of credibility at its centre, even a significant attempt to restore confidence in the system is often jeered and looked at with suspicion, needlessly! A case in point is the recent two-day workshop organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party for its first-timer MPs. Considering the fact that BJP is easily the only national political party conducting such capacity building programmes not only for its MPs and MLAs but also it's ministers and other office bearers, it is important to understanding BJP's Philosophy of Training.
It was really a motivating and enlightening experience to attend the training camp. It enhanced my knowledge on how to work effectively for betterment of the people of my constituency taking all workers together. Those, like me, who are new in politics it was also an opportunity to know both the philosophy of the party and also the tools to take the nation to pinnacle of glory.
—Dr Satyapal Singh
|Excellent experience! We were educated how to follow parliamentary procedure and keep in mind the priorities of the party while working in the field. The party policies and ideologies on certain core issues were also explained. We were briefed how to deal with party workers, people of the constituency and also the mediapersons.
—Dr Udit Raj
MP, North West Delhi
For BJP training is not new. Right from Jan Sangh days, training camps are regularly conducted in BJP. Infact, Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya had realised way back in early sixties that to convert those who are popular and therefore electable into persons with capabilities to govern; Party requires an institutional set up for training. The origin of the concept behind the birth of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini (RMP) in Mumbai was in this thinking.
The sincerity of BJP’s emphasis on training is reflected through both, the meticulously planned conduct and thoughtfully designed content of such programmes. Most such trainings happen as a residential programme as it facilitates rubbing of shoulders, meeting of minds and eventually evolving a commonality of approach. There is no other way to build an effective organisation. Besides, in BJP, training is much more than typical classroom learning. Always, every session is highly participative, engaging and with enough scope for questions and answers. Resource persons, regardless of their seniority, make it a point to mingle with the trainees, break bread with them and interact to develop bonding.
When it comes to syllabi for training; BJP has always focused on three principal ingredients. They are: Motivational, Knowledge and Information centric and finally Skill Oriented. Motivational crisis in politics is not only grave but also multi-dimensional. Here, the thrust has always remained on motivation through deeper understanding of ideology. Often, it has helped promote greater clarity in thinking as also restoring the purity of purpose. In the other segment concerning knowledge and information, emphasis has always remained on developing sound understanding of developmental issues, policy matters and at times legal and technical aspects. When it comes to skill orientation, focus largely remain so soft skills, IT, Social Media and Media skills as well as aspects of personal management including time management.
What were the takeaways? Firstly, realisation of the fact that Party attaches great importance to its MPs, their thinking as also their performance in general. Secondly, motivation generated by highly inspirational content of several presentations and lastly, introduction to skills, techniques and science of management, including selfmanagement.
In a democratic polity where an ignorant politician is tolerated for being electable, a serious effort to add greater capability to those who have proven their electability certainly can prove to be a climate-changer. And when climate changes for better, game change too can follow.
Does training make any impact? Yes and no. No, since it is—always and for any segment—hard to monitor the impact of training for a longer duration, a confident Yes may always sound hollow. But Yes, as it certainly helps the trainee turn the searchlight inward. Politicians are also human beings. They too yearn for righteousness and have a desire to do good. Training rekindles the fire. Training serves as a reminder of lofty ideals and goals and at times also makes one re-dedicate oneself to them.
Not just India, but no country can afford the growing skepticism about democracy. The way to prevent this from happening goes via reforming democratic institutions in India. Of all these, priority needs to be accorded to reforming political parties. And one of the most effective ways of Political Party reform is improving their Human Resources. Naturally then, training has no option! If a serious attention to the organisational health of political parties is not given, parties will become “empty vessels” as what The Economist had described few years before.
-Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (The writer is Director General of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini and can be contacted at [email protected])