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How elections are supreior than appointments, and some limitations of the election

  1. Introduction
  2. Comparing some aspects of US and Indian administration
  3. The MAIN advantage of the Procedure of Election over the procedure of appointment
  4. Limitations of the procedure of Election
  5. Negative Voting
  6. Recklessness after elections
  7. Campaign funding and nexuses with media
  8. Problem of indirect elections
  9. Effect of holding simultaneous elections
  10. Cost of holding elections
  11. Summary
  12. What can citizens of India do to replace procedure of appointment with the procedure of election at various levels


The purpose of this and several other web-pags is to explain why certain problems seen in India are much less seen in US/West. One of the factors that reduce the problems in West, perticularly US, is that a large number of officials are elected, while corresponding positions in India, the individuals are appointed. How do having elections reduce nexuses and improve the fairness in the administration? I have tried to explain this phenomenon on this wb-page.

In addition, I have pointed out some limitations of the procedure of election, as it is implemented as of today. I have also proposed the solutions.

Comparing some aspects of US and Indian administration

Consider a district of say population of 30 lakhs with say 20 lakh adult voters. Such a district would need
  1. One head of district executive, say Mayor
  2. Several, say 50-100, elected representatives called as Councilor
  3. 1 District Police Chief, say 200-500 middle level officers called as police inspectors, some 10000 police constables
  4. 1 Chief District Judge, some 20 sessions courts and 50-100 magistrate's courts, with 20-more sessions judges and 50-100-more magistrates
  5. 1 Chief District Prosecutor with some 100-500 junior prosecutors
  6. 1 District Education Officer in-charge of class I-XII, several junior officers and 100s of teachers.
  7. 1 Land Record Officer to keep records of plots/buildings with 100-500 clerks
  8. 1 officer in-charge of water supply, with few clerks and some engineers, workers etc
  9. 1 officer in-charge of gutter supply, with few clerks and some engineers, workers etc
  10. 1 officer in-charge of garbage collection, with few clerks and some workers

    And so forth
The Districts in India and US/West have similar analogous positions, titles may vary.

Now how can citizenry fill these posts? The procedure India used to fill these positions are as follows :
  1. How are councilors appointd in India? The citizens elect Councilors directly
  2. How is Mayor appointed in India? The councilors elect the Mayor
  3. How are officers like district police chief, district education officer etc appointed in India?
    1. The citizens of State elect MLAs directly. There is one MLA per about 100,000 to 200,000 voters.
    2. The MLAs elect CM
    3. The CM appoints Ministers for each deptartment.
    4. The CM and Ministers of concerned depts appoint ALL officers like all district prosecutors, all district education officers, all district police chiefs, water supply officer and ALL other heads of district's govt machinary.
  4. How are judges in district's courts appointed in India? The magistrates (juniormost judges) are recuited by written exams. But subsequent transfers, promotions and recruitment at higher levels are done by High Court judges. eg the Supreme Court judges appoint High Court judges strictly based on their wish and discretion, and the High Court judges appoint judges at district level strictly based on their wish and discretion.
In short, except Concilors, MLAs (and MPs), NO other official is DIRECTLY elected by citizens in India. The Mayor, CM and PM are elected by Councilors, MLAs and MPs repectively. EVERY other official, including ALL judges, all govt lawyers and all police cheifs, are appointed seniors, and are NOT accountable to citizens in any way.

Lets see how citizens of US fill these posts.

  1. The citizens in US elect Councilors, MLAs and MPs.
  2. The citizens in US DIRECTLY elect Mayor, Governor and President.
  3. In most districts, the citizens directly elect district public prosecutors. If not directly elected, the prosecutor is appointed by Mayor after approval of majority of councilors. Rarely, a district prosecutor is appointed by the Governor.
  4. In most districts, the citizens directly elect police chief. If not directly elected, the police chief is appointed by Mayor after approval of majority of councilors. In very districts, police chief is appointed by the Governor. Rarely, a police chief in US is appointed by the Governor i.e. CM.
  5. In many districts, the citizens directly elect the district education officer. When not elected, the education officer is appointed by the Mayor after approval of majority of the councilors. Rarely, a district education officer is appointed by the Governor.
  6. The district judges are sometimes elected. When not elected, they are appointed by Mayor or Governor after approval of Councilors or MLAs. Nowhere in US, do judges appoint judges.
So in a typical district in US, out of 10-15 district level positions, some 4-8 are DIRECTLY elected and remaining persons would be appointed. But when appointed, they are appointed by a district level head such as Mayor and NOT by the State level head. And they are appointed AFTER approval of District Councilors. This is in stark contract to India, where almost ALL district level heads of various dept are appointed by just one person --- the CM, and no approval of councilors/MLAs is needed.

Also, when 4-5 out of 10 officials are elected, NOT all are elected in the SAME election. Say in year 2000, the district elects police commissioner for say 4 years. Then in year 2001, they will elect public prosecutor for 4 years and district education officer will be elected next year, and judges will be elected next year. Thus the individuals who are in power, cannot be sure that ALL of them will be in power next year.

Summarizing, I would like the reader to note this MAJOR differences between US and Indian administration : A large number of top posts in US are filled by Procedure of Election whereas those posts are filled by appointments in India.

The MAIN advantage of the Procedure of Election over the procedure of appointment

Following is the main advantage of procedure of election over appointment : it reduces nexusproneness of senior heads, who would otherwise be in-charge of appointments.

IMO, the MOST important disadvantage of the procedure of appointment over procdure of procedure of election is : when a person in post is appointed instead of elected, the person's calibre etc may or may not change, but the power of the person in-charge of appointing increases. And as his power increases, he becomes more and more nexused. And as he becomes more and nexused, the quality of individuals he appoints degenerates.

Consider states in India. In all states, India, the CM appoints officers such as district police chief, district public prosecutors, district collectors, district education officer etc in EVERY district. In a typical state, which consists of 20-30 districts, CM is in-charge appointing 80-200-more senior district level head officers. Whereas in US, these officers are elected at district level, or appointed by Mayor after approval of majority of councilors.

What difference does this bring? Since CM in India appoints 100s and 100s of officers, too many individuals approach CM to form nexuses with him. eg In India, almost every senior policemen tries to build nexuses with CM (or senior Ministers/MLAs who are close to CM) with the hope that nexus with him will be useful in his ambition to become district police chief or obtain a more senior position. Same is the nexus building tendency in most officers varioud depts in govt. Such tendency is ALSO present in US, but the not as prevelent as in India. Why? ONLY becuase district police chiefs and other district level heads in US are elected or appointed by Mayors/Councilors.

So consider top heads like CM or PM or Chief judge of High/Supreme Court etc. When these top-heads have power to appoint persons in 100s and 100s of positions, the rank and file of individuals inside/outside government, queue up to form nexuses with these top-heads. Its not just the individuals who wish to hold these positions, but many individuals, who would like their agents or relatives to come in those positions also form nexuses with top-heads. eg in India, it is quite common to see elite businessmen queuing upto form nexuses with Ministers etc. These elitemen DO NOT have any ambition of holding any position in police or administration. But they do want their agents/relatives to occupy these posts.

So as the time passes, the procedure of appointments makes top-heads (in-charge of appointments like CM/PM) more and more nexused. , and their decisions also become more and more based on nexuses. And so as the time passes, the quality of individuals that top-heads appoints detoriates due to nexuses they have formed. Whereas procedure of election is relatively free from such nexuses. So the quality of individuals that comes does not degenerate with time.

Limitations of the procedure of Election

Following are some limitations of the procedure of election :
  1. Negative voting
  2. Recklessness after elections
  3. Nexuses with wealthy sponsors and media barrons
  4. Indirect election
  5. Holding simultaneous election
  6. Cost of election
I will discuss each limitation and propose its solution.

Negative Voting

Say there are three candidates A, B and C. Say a voter likes A, and hates B and C. So one would expect the voter to vote for A. But say the voter hates C far far more than B. And he sees that C is likely to win, and A is very unlikely to win, and so B is far far more likely to win than C. So he might vote for B, instead of A whom he prefers most, just to stop C. IOW, the person ended up voting for the person whom he hated, rather than person he liked. Basically, this was a negative vote --- a vote given to STOP the candidate person who was hated/feared, to the most likely winner. Such negative vote discourage the good guys who will get much less votes.

A real example : In the city where I live, Ahemdabad, there are two dominant parties -- BJP and Congress. Togather, they get over 95% of the votes in Assembly/Parliament elections held in past say 15-20 years. But surprisingly, almost over 80% voters intensly hate BOTH of these two parties and their leaders including candidates. But then how come these parties corner 95% of the votes? Becuase a large number of voters hate and fear Congress far far more than they hate BJP. And they feel that unless they vote for BJP, Congress may win. So they vote for BJP. In the same way, a large number of voters hate and fear BJP far far more than they hate Congress. And to avoid BJP, they would vote for Congress. So many times, even when voters believe that someone else is far more appropriate, they would end up voting for Congress or BJP.

Solution to negative vote problem

There is a trivial solution to the negative vote problem. Allow every citizen to cast 2 votes i.e. given the list of candidates, he can vote for any two of them (but cannot cast both votes for the SAME candidates). So the voter would use the first vote in favor of the candidate who is most likely win against the candidates he hates. And he will use second vote in favor of candidate he likes most, irrespective of how strong or weak he may be. This will enable the "good" but weak candidate to gain prominense.

In general, allowing the voter to cast 2 or more than 2 votes will ensure
  1. at most one vote is negative votes
  2. other votes are positive votes
If the election involves filling N seats, the voters should be allowed to cast 2N or more votes. This will ensure that at most N votes are negative and rest are positive.

Recklessness after elections

Once a candidate is elected, he does NOT need voters for next 3-4-5 years. Hence he quickly changes sides, and becomes a snob, covert or overt. As soon as elections are over, the candidate forgets all the promises and focuses on serving the wealthy ones and powerful ones, so that he may get some wealth etc in return.

Solution to the problem of "recklessness after election"

The solution is trival --- enact a procedure to recall i.e. expel. There can be several algorithm to recall a person. One algorith is RLPP. Another RLPP based recall procedure is possible in case of MLA, MP etc, which I have described here. The only problem is that RLPP is NOT confidential, and so I would NOT use it to replace some officers like Police Chief.

A confidential procedure to recall, is what I call as CO-RECALL. Please click here to see the details.

Effect of campaign funding and nexuses with media

The procedure of election requires the candidate to make contact with a large number of citizens. This is expensive and so the candidate has no option but to cultivate nexuses with wealthy individuals. In addition, the candidate needs great positive coverage from media. Media is oligopoly these days. Solution to the problem of funding and nexuses with media

The oligopoly of media will reduce when citizenry enacts procedures like COMM.01, COMM.02, COMM.03 and COMM.04.

And the procedure of recall will drastically reduce the problem of candidates forming nexuses with wealthy ones and media barrons. How?

The wealthy ones and media barrons cultivate nexuses with candidates with a calculation --- they know that the candidate after election would serve them and enable them to get special favors from Govt. But the procedure of recall (and procedures like LM.01) would put severe limits on the extent to which the elected ones can pass favors to the wealthy ones and media barrons. This will make candidates LESS attractive to wealthy individuals and media barrons. Hence, they will be less willing to pass huge favors to candidates. This will weaken the nexuses.

Problem of indirect elections

In India, at national level, the citizens elect MPs who citizens elect PM. Instead in US the citizens DIRECTLY elect the PM. Same way at State level, the citizens in India elect MLAs, who then elect CM. Instead, in US, the citizen DIRECTLY elect State's CM. The US procedure is superior. why?

During the elections, say election of MLA, the voter often gets confused. Say there are two main parties in an Assembly election in India --- say Congress and BJP. Say Congress is projecting X as potential CM and BJP is projecting Y as potential CM. Consider a constituency where Congress has fielded candidate A and BJP has fielded candidate named B. The confusion comes when
  1. a voter prefers MLA candidate of Congress over MLA candidate of BJP, but prefers CM candidate of BJP over CM candidate of Congress.
  2. vice versa of above
IOW, the voter gets confused when he prefers MLA of one party and CM of another.

Such confusion is less likely to occur in US, as citizen can cast vote for CM he likes and MLA he likes, and there is NO issue if they are of different parties.

In addition to confusing voters, indirect election also confuses the political parties' workers. In India, is always the case the wanna-be CMs will interfere into elections of MLAs. And why not? After all, MLAs are going to elect CM. And so political party's workers cant dismiss the interferance of CM in choosing Assembly candidates as "something un-called for". But in US, rarely you see Presidents/Governors interfering into process of deciding who should be Senate/Assembly candidates in his own party. Becuase if he tries, the party's members are less likely to tolerate such interferance and dismiss it as "nonm of you business". So political parties' members are also less confused in deciding the candidates for MLA, MP, PM, CM, etc in US than in India.

All in all, indirect election increase confusion in voters as well as political parties. Solution is to replace indirect election by direct elections.

Effect of holding simultaneous elections

Say a district has following positions that are DIRECTLY elected by the citizens : like 1 Mayor, Councilors, 1 Chief District Prosecutor, 4 Additional Prosecutors, 1 Chief Judge, 4 Additional Judges and 1 District Police Chief. Say term of each is 4 years.

Should the district hold ALL elections at the SAME time or should it hold election of say 1/4th of positions every year? say
  1. In year 2000, they hold election of Mayor, 1 Additional Prosecutor, 1 Additional Judge
  2. In year 2001, they hold election of 50% of the Councilors, District Police Chief, 1 Additional Prosecutor, 1 Additional Judge
  3. In year 2002, they hold election of Chief Judge, 1 Additional Prosecutor, 1 Additional Judge
  4. In year 2003, they hold election of 50% of the Councilors, Chief Prosecutor, 1 Additional Prosecutor, 1 Additional Judge
  5. In year 2004, they hold election 2 Additional Prosecutors, 2 Additional Judges
  6. In year 2005, they hold election of Mayor, 1 Additional Prosecutor, 1 Additional Judge again as their term expire ....
    and so forth.
The advantage of holding scattered elections over holding elections simultaneously is following : say ALL officials are elected on the same day and have term for 4 years. Then they know that no NEW person will come into their clique for next 4 years, and so if they were to form nexuses, each can feel safe for 4 years and hence become reckless. Whereas say that the elections of varioud officials are scattered. Then say in year 2001, a person becomes police chief. Say he manages to form nexuses with chief judge, additional judges, chief procedutor and additional prosecutors. This will indeed make him reckless. Burt he knows that in 2002, just a year later, chief judge, 1 additional judge and 1 prosecutor will/may change. The new persons MAY NOT be willing to form the nexuses and might exposes his deeds. Likewise, in year 2003, chief prosecuor would change and so would 1 additional judge and one additional prosecutor. Again, the police chief cannot be dead sure that new comers would be willing to hide his deeds. This would reduce his recklessness.

In addition to reduction in recklessness, having one general election every year or six months, also enables citizenry to have co-recalls. I described co-recalls earlier on this web-page.

So instead of holding all elections simultaneouly, it is better to hold elections in rounds.

Multiple candidates per constituency

We in India have 1 Loksabha election where citizens elect 535 MPs, one per constituency. Instead I propose following change :
  1. merge 4 constituency to form a bigger constituency. This way, the nation will have about 135 constituency

  2. Let each constituency have 4 MPs. So number of MPs will be 135* 4 = 540, almost same as it is today

  3. Each year, 1 out of 4 members retire in constituency, and the constituency elects that MP in that seat
This will reduce recklessness in Ministers and senior officers like dept secretaries. How? today officer knows that MPs will NOT change for 4-5 years. So once they have formed nexuses with existing MPs, which takes 5-6 months, they become reckless for next 3-4 years. But in the new picture, the officers/Ministers KNOW that 1/4th of MPs will change every year, and the new comer may decide to expose their deeds. This will make officers and Ministers less reckless.

In addition, the increasing size of constituencies will reduce effect of castism, becuase in a lathe constituency, no cast will have more than

Cost of holding elections

An election costs Rs 10 per voter in India at 2004 price level. So if a district has population of 10 lakh voters, cost of general election would be Rs 1 cr. Now say there are 50 depts in District and each dept has 1 head and 5 directors (or co-heads). So there are 50 heads and 250 directors. If we were to hold election for each of the head, the cost would Rs 50cr and if we were to hold elections for positions of directors as well, cost will be another Rs 50cr. This is quite an astronomical amount.

There are several ways to reduce the cost. First, a big part of the expenditure of Rs 10 per voter is police expense. So much policing is needed as our streets are full of criminals. But when police/courts improve, the number and strength of criminals will decrease, and so will their courage to operate in public. Hence police expenditure during election will reduce. But even then cost of election of will be substabtial.

Another way is to use fill some of the less important positions by appointments, but have RLPP-based procedures for citizens to expel/replace that person. So persons in key positions like police chief, judges, public prosecutors etc should be elected, while officer like district education officer may be appointed by mayor, but replaceable by citizens.

Another way is to hold simultaneous elections --- i.e. say if 12 positions are filled by elections, instead of holding 12 elections, the citizenry may hold one election every year in which 3 positions will get elected for a term of 4 years.

Also, by issuing National-ID cards with bar code and magnetic strip will enable the polling officer to establish identity quickly and with accurancy. These measures will further reduce the costs. In addition, may technical ways can be adopted to reduce the costs.


So all in all, we have following ways to fill a position at district level
  1. Election by citizens OR
  2. Appointment by Mayor after approval of Councilors
  3. Appointment by CM/PM and by Minister appointed by PM/CM
Likewise following are the ways citiznery can fill state level positions
  1. Election by citizens of the State OR
  2. Appointment by CM after approval of MLAs
  3. Appointment by PM and by Minister appointed by PM
And likewise following are the ways citiznery can fill national level positions
  1. Election by citizens of India OR
  2. Appointment by P after approval of MLAs
And in addition, we can have following procedures to recall/replace a person at any level
  1. expulsion by Jury (this will ONLY bring expulsion and no replacement)
  2. co-recall (I explained it earlier)
  3. Replacement by RLPP
The procedure of appointment makes person inside and outside govt to cultivate nexuses with those in-charge of appointment. As the persons in charge of appointment become more and more nexused, the quaility of individuals they appoint detoriates.

So despite some drawbacks, the procedure of election is far far superior than procedure of appointment, and is one reason why US/Western administration is less corrupt /nexused that administration of India.

What can citizens of India do?

The citizens of India can do following to improve Indian administration : The first 3 steps will involve quite some efforts. The remaining 32 steps will ONLY cost Rs 3 to Rs 10 per step.

Next : Procedure for confidential recall