Should India also have US-style Presidential Debates?
There are already many debates on whether India also needs to adopt presidential form of government. Their federal system and our parliamentary democracy have nothing in common. For them the head of the government as well as the States is the same person, chosen after close scrutiny and political debates. There is intense personal scrutiny and after months of debates, the President is chosen.
Recently Trump and Clinton clashed on their second presidential debate and the social media went buzz with the details of who said what. An open debate with no PR devised answers and written speech is indeed an intriguing idea that we can adapt for good; or maybe not.Yes! We would get to see the real faces.1. A face off:
How many face offs do we get to see amongst running candidates? Almost nil! They are usually busy painting allegations that are further well-polished by expert PR agents before going public. The counter party comes up with an equally venomous reply with equal efforts and that’s how we get to their opinion, or rather the opinion of their PR agents. A face off would let them speak for themselves, face allegations on the front and frame a reply on their terms if they can.2. Rallies are passé:
People standing in fierce daylight, leaving behind work, sparing the entire day to wait and listen to their already made up opinion of their leader is such a thing of the past. It not only involves more cost but also lacks any purpose of reaching out to people and making them know of their real values.3. Knowing the real faces:
Only a face off can reveal the real faces or let’s say the real temperament of the candidates. Heated debates can go a long way to agitate someone and make him get off the disguise and show what they really are. People will get better chances at knowing who they are going to put into power with their votes.4. Because media they say is sold:
There is too much allegation that the media is biased in its opinion of a particular political party. Instead of hearing things the way the media interprets, people will get to use their own wisdom in deciding the meaning behind the stumbling terms used by leaders for a chance. There will be tension and clarity and confusion – just the thing that reality is all about instead of dialogues and promises.No! The multi-party system would be a huge roadblock.1. The language barrier:
Modi is not that good with English and neither is Rahul Gandhi good with Hindi. In which language are we to conduct the debate and also expect the entire country to follow it? In US, English is the one language that everyone is comfortable with which is not the case in India where not everyone is completely fluent even with the national language Hindi.2. Multi-party drama:
In US, the game is on between only two political parties whereas in India we have multiple parties and coalitions. It will be difficult to determine which of them are supposed to sit for the face-off sessions. Let them all sit together and the scenario will be no better than Lok Sabha under fierce debate where no one listens to anyone. Make two of the primary ones face each other and the rest of the parties will start crying foul for being left out.3. Who will organize?
US has a specialized non-partisan organization - the commission on Presidential Debates ever since its establishment in 1987. India has no such organization that will be able to handle such debates without being biased to one side or the other. The media will not be able to handle the entire thing too for the same reason.4. Different form of government:
Their federal system as opposed to our parliamentary governance is totally two different concepts. The head of the government and the states are two different people for us while it is only one President that gets both the powers for them. Our method of selecting candidates for President as well as Prime Minister is different. There will be multiple debates with multiple candidates if we are to adapt the system.
People voice their opinion on social media these days. Rallies are nothing but a waste of time and money and the spoken words are usually an insult to injure the other parties. This kind of debates could be the future of elections in India. People will be able to voice their opinions on social media independently based on what they see and hear of the direct thinking of the candidates, without prepared speeches and copied lines from a quote book. India should indeed go for US like Presidential Debates in years to come.