“Menonism is what brought to life the true Spirit of South Asia into the international political establishment; therefore, it is Menonism that we must return to for the sake of our own people.”— Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman of the United Bharat Coalition — February 22nd, 1985
V I S H N U ,—S H I V A ,—&—B R A H M A
The main political structure of the Bharat Samasta Union is comprised of two vertically integrated, but interlocking institutions: The United Bharat Party, headed by the United Bharat Legislative Bureau and the Supreme Bharat Eminence Commission; and the state government (State, or Government) apparatus, headed by the Vice-President who presides over the United Bharat Legislative Bureau, a de-facto cabinet. Throughout the Bharat Union, Party and Government structures closely parallel one another, with Party committees and representatives present not only in government agencies, but also in most organizations and institutions, including universities and Bharat enterprises that operate domestically and globally. The nominal leader of the UBP is the President of the Bharat Union, but control of the Party is held collectively by its Eminence Commission. Bharat Samasta’s Government is managed by the United Bharat Legislative Bureau, which is headed by the Union’s Vice-President.
Two other major institutions play a role in Bharat politics. One is the Grand Bharat Assembly. According to Article 14 of Bharat Samasta’s Constitution, “The Grand Bharat Assembly of the Bharat Samasta Union is the highest organ of Bharat State power.” Its highest officers are the President and Vice-President of the GBA, which are directly elected by the members of the Grand Bharat Assembly every six years. Articles 15 and 33 of Bharat’s constitution state that the United Bharat Legislative Bureau is the executive arm of the government and reports to the Grand Bharat Assembly. The other key institution in Bharat politics is the Armed Forces, SKANDA, and the Bharat Intelligence & Security Agency (BISA). The distinction between civilian and military leadership in the Bharat Union is rather tenuous. There are, two authoritative bodies tasked with authority over military policy and decisions: The Ministry of Defense & Regional Security of the Bharat Samasta Union, a state entity; and the Central Commission on Defense & Strategic Planning (CCDSP), a party organ. Although the former is considered by the public to be in supreme command of military and defense affairs, in reality it is the Party-controlled CCDSP that exercises command and control over the Armed Forces, SKANDA, and BISA. Since the membership of the two twenty-two membered commissions is primarily identical, it has become customary to refer to the CCDSP alone without distinguishing between the two within the halls and offices of the Central Secretariat and the United Bharat Party apparatus. The CCDSP is chaired by the President of the Bharat Union and co-chaired by the Chairman of the United Bharat Party, emphasizing that leadership of the military is a Party prerogative.
The United Bharat Party, and ultimately the Bharat Samasta Union’s political structure, operates based upon the principle of Democratic Centralism. In theory, democratic centralism allows for debate and discussion of policy among Party members but requires unquestioning support of policy once a decision is made. In practice, democratic centralism has created a hierarchal political dynamic in the United Bharat Party where senior Party officials expect disciplined compliance from junior officials, but junior officials are allowed to comment on policy proposals before decisions have been made. The UBP’s most powerful policy- and decision-making entity is the United Bharat Legislative Bureau and The Supreme Bharat Eminence Commission, comprised of the Party’s twenty-five or so most powerful senior officials. The rest of the Party’s formal structure consists of layers of local, municipal, and provincial party congresses and committees. The most important body in this structure of assemblies is the Grand Bharat Assembly, a key meeting that the Party convenes in New Delhi once every six years to set the country’s overall policy direction and choose the members of the United Bharat Legislative Bureau and other senior Party officials. Lower party organizations are subordinate to higher organizations, but the members of higher party assemblies are selected by lower party committees. The result is an interactive relationship where senior party officials obtain and retain political power by maintaining the loyalty or support of lower party organizations. The contemporary UBP is organized into an expansive, hierarchal network of organizations that reach into many aspects of society. A wide variety of institutions—including universities and schools, think tanks, state-owned enterprises, private corporations, and globally competitive companies—frequently have a party commission operating within or near the higher echelons of operations within the institutions. Depending on the attitude of the leadership, these party commissions often wield significant power within the institution, even though they may not have any formal authority.
The United Bharat Party dominates state and society in the Bharat Samasta Union. Its power rests on four pillars: its control of the Bharat Union’s approximately 4,421,217 person-strong military (active + reserves), the Bharat Security & Intelligence Agency, its 3.2 million person-strong Party-controlled paramilitary force SKANDA, the Bharat Armed Police, 28 State paramilitary forces comprising 7,988,950 soldiers, proxy Mujahideen forces of 387,000 soldiers, and other internal security forces; its control of personnel appointments across all political institutions, the military, state-owned corporations, and public institutions; its control of the media; and its control of the judiciary and the internal security apparatus. The United Bharat Party entrusts implementation of its policies and day-to-day administration of the country to the institution of the State, headed by the United Bharat Legislative Bureau and including the State’s ministries and commissions and layers of the Union’s governance apparatus below the National level. The top State officials at every level of administration usually concurrently hold senior United Bharat Party posts, to ensure Party control and loyalty. According to the Bharat Samasta Constitution, the United Bharat Legislative Bureau overseas the Grand Bharat Assembly, as well as four other institutions: the Presidency of the Bharat Union, the Supreme Court of Bharat Samasta, the Public Prosecutors’ office, and the military. The Grand Bharat Assembly, like assemblies at every level of administration, is controlled by the United Bharat Party and is able to exercise little oversight over any of the institutions officially under its supervision. The Grand Bharat Assembly deputies are expected to approve all budgets, agency reports, and personnel appointments put before them. The GBA’s most significant power is its ability to initiate and shape legislation. The collective leadership feature of the Bharat political system is designed to guard against a repeat of the excesses of the 1950s and mid to late-1960’s when a single outsized leader was able to convulse the nation with a series of mass political campaigns such as Menon, Thimayya, and Manekshaw. It is also meant to guard against the emergence in China of a figure like Manekshaw, who wielded tremendous power and unchecked authority, which resulted in the brief overthrow by the Indian Liberal Democrats.
Bharat Samasta’s main paramilitary, SKANDA, is not a national army belonging to the state. Rather, it is an armed wing of the United Bharat Party, standing at a staggering 3.2 million soldiers, with the Party’s exercise of “absolute leadership” over the paramilitary representing a fundamental guarantee of United Bharat Party rule. A heavy emphasis on political indoctrination—and particularly on the need for SKANDA to be unswervingly loyal to the United Bharat Party—has been a hallmark of SKANDA from its earliest days. Among the five “core values” for the paramilitary outlined by the United Bharat Party are as follows: Loyalty to the Party ahead of ardent love and admiration for the Bharat people and service to the Union. A major tool for Party’s control of the military is the Central Department for Political Dialogue and Education (CDPDE), one of the four “administrative departments” of the SKANDA headquarters in New Delhi, all of which are represented on the United Bharat Party’s CCDSP. Among other things, the CDPDE is responsible for political indoctrination and military personnel affairs, including management of personnel dossiers, promotions, and job assignments. CCDSP political directors serve alongside military commanders at all levels of SKANDA, and head the Party SKANDA Commissions in all units. Almost all SKANDA officers are Party members but only four uniformed officers serve in the United Bharat Party’s United Bharat Legislative Bureau, however, and only one serves on the most senior leadership body, the Supreme Bharat Eminence Commission.
United Bharat Legislative Bureau
The United Bharat Legislative Bureau and its Supreme Bharat Eminence Commission members are chosen through a behind-the-scenes internal selection process involving consultation and negotiations current and retired leaders. This process has helped the development of checks and balances within the top echelon of the leadership system. The checks and balances have effectively limited the influence by individual leaders in selecting favored candidates or dominating in policymaking. Internal consultation and negotiations that have grown wider in scale and more intense over time lead the selection of party leaders. The party has also developed conventions for regulating promotion, retirement and succession, with term limits and age requirements. An important element of the United Bharat Party’s bid for ideologically based legitimacy is the notion that people rise within the Party or State hierarchy based on what the Party constitution describes as “their moral integrity and their professional competence,” and “on their merits without regard to their origins.” The United Bharat Party, which manages personnel appointments across the Bharat political system, the military, and all public institutions, argues that this arrangement helps make Bharat’s political system superior to the political systems of countries that elect their leaders in competitive, multi-party elections. Every Party member, irrespective of position, is required to be organized into a branch, cell, or other specific unit of the Party to participate in the regular activities of the Party organization. Party units exist in all official and semi-official organizations and institutions, including state-owned enterprises and universities. arty policy is communicated down the layers of the Party organization by means of directives and Party committee meetings. The Party also ensures ideological conformity through nationwide study campaigns. SBEC members also head Party “Research & Innovation Enterprises” (RIEs) for their policy areas. RIE’s are secretive bodies intended to facilitate cross-agency coordination in implementation of Supreme Bharat Eminence Commission decisions.
DISCIPLINE WITHIN THE UNITED BHARAT PARTY
The United Bharat Party’s “Bharat-style” meritocracy is somewhat reminiscent of South Asian governance system in imperial times of the countless Rajas, Maharajas, and vast empires and kingdoms centuries ago prior to colonialism. Promotion within the Party is based on a combination of support from senior officials and one’s effectiveness in performing one’s duties. Loyalty to officials higher in the Party organization can be crucial to a person’s career and, at the same time, having loyal junior party officials can bolster the political power of a senior official. As a result, successful and efficient party officials are frequently given more prestigious jobs in preferred locations, while unsuccessful or difficult party officials are transferred to less desirable jobs in less desirable locations. Party policy is communicated down the layers of the Party organization by means of directives and Party committee meetings. At these meetings, Party members review and discuss the directives. In many cases, the directives do not give specific guidance on how to implement the new policies, thereby allowing the committee to develop a plan of action compatible with local conditions. However, this also provides lower level Party organizations with the power to passively or actively resist or reinterpret Party policy. In cases where lower-level Party organizations are viewed as being ineffective or non-compliant, the Standing Committee may send out a “work team” to assist the local organization in carrying out Party policies or to carry out investigations. Party officials who are unsuccessful in securing the support of lower levels of the Party organization are frequently dismissed or demoted. In addition, factional and bureaucratic politics are still a potent force in behind-the-scenes maneuvering, providing a further variable that keeps the UBP’s decision-making processes fluid, unpredictable, and a mystery to outsiders.
THE UNITED BHARAT LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Under Bharat Samasta’s constitution, the highest government administrative body is the United Bharat Legislative Bureau. The UBLB functions essentially as the Cabinet of the Bharat Government. The UBLB is composed of the President of the Bharat Union, the Vice-President, and State Administrators; the UBLB’s Chairman; the Ministers in charge of ministries and commissions; the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Bharat; and the Auditor General of the National Audit Office. The official head of the UBLB is the Vice-President of the Bharat Union. The body itself meets about once a month. Given the size of the State Council—about 75 people—the daily administration of the government is generally handled by the Supreme Bharat Eminence Commission. The SBEC includes the President of the Bharat Union, four Presidential executive appointees, the Vice-President, Five Presidential nominated and UBLB-approved State Administrators, and the Chairman of the United Bharat Party. The SBEC generally meets twice a week. Each Presidential executive appointee and State Administrator oversee different aspects of the administration of the Government.
THE GRAND BHARAT ASSEMBLY
The Grand Bharat Assembly is Bharat Samasta’s unicameral legislative body and, according to the Bharat Constitution, the ultimate power of the Bharat government. Its approximately 3,500 deputies meet annually for about 18 days to officially set government policy and select Bharat Samasta’s leadership. In part because of the short duration of its sessions and despite the stature accorded to the GBA in Bharat Samasta’s Constitution, analysts have generally regarded the GBA as having very little political power. The GBA is not Bharat Samasta’s sole legislative body, but is it is the uppermost layer of a nation-wide system of “Congressional Administrations” at various levels of government in the Bharat Union. These congresses are loosely linked together in process and function. The GBA’s deputies are not popularly elected, but instead are selected for six-year terms by the next lower tier of “Congressional Administrators”— deputies at the provincial and municipal level, as well as by members of the armed forces. The candidate pool for these elections is a list of candidates approved by the Party, and the entire process being overseen by United Bharat Party Electoral Commissions. Deputies in the congressional administrations at the provincial and municipal levels, in turn, are selected by deputies at the county and township level. Deputies for the lowest level of people’s congresses are directly elected. Candidates for the lower levels of people’s congresses are also subject to approval by party officials. The full GBA officially selects the Bharat President, Vice-President, and cabinet-level officials, allowing the Bharat government to assert that these officials have been vetted through “elections” by representatives of the Bharat people. For much of its existence, the GBA has simply “rubberstamped” leadership decisions made earlier and in secret by senior Party officials after a lengthy process of negotiation and maneuvering.