Beginning to gear up for the marathon slog that is NaNoWriMo. I'm doing a lot of background work, material that probably won't be in the book, but is essential for building a story in a setting that makes sense. To that end, I'm detailing the government and culture of the state that controls Task Force Singh. The main change is I'm getting away from Star Empires, because what a tired out trope that is!
The Beta Hydri system was settled roughly 300 years before the book's starting date, by way of a huge colonization effort headed by India. The effects of climate change and the ravages of the Warpox epidemic (a weaponized form of smallpox released in the 2060s by an unidentified group) was leading to mass famine. Volunteers from across southern Asia begged to be included in the mission. All told, over 5 million refugees were packed into colony ships and sent out.
The rigorous conditions on the poorly-maintained ships heading to their new home, named Arjuna after a mythical hero from Indian folklore, led to the creation of a strict hierarchy and a strong work ethic. Shelters needed to be dug and fitted out, vast hydroponic farms put into operation, and a million other details worked out. The colony thrived with an isolated oligarchy running things.
Power has concentrated in the hands of the Jagirdar; landed nobles who ruled through sheer economic power. The Jagirdar were the captains of industry and governors of the vast warrens of worker housing. A strong patron-client system grew as the Jagir houses provided for and protected the workers in their territories, while the lower class agreed to support their patrons nearly without question. As the colony grew to exploit both the resources of Beta Hydri and those of nearby stars, conflict among the Jagir houses grew to near warfare. Finally, the leading houses came to an agreement to form a new government based on wealth, a plutocracy with some nods to a representative government.
Today, the Ganaraajy Arjun (Republic of Arjun) controls sixteen star systems besides the home system of Beta Hydri. The government is headed by a Prime Minister. This official wields wide executive and judicial powers but holds his office at the pleasure of the Gomed Hol, the legislative body made up of Jagirdar representatives. Earning one of the 250 seats in the Onyx Hall is simple: you bid for it. Powerful families will place a dozen or more of their clients and relatives in Gomed Hol to further family interests. A seat is held until a challenge is made for it by an interested party.
The people are represented in the Samsad (Parliament), which is based on population. Currently, the Samsad seats 573 voting members and numerous non-voting observers from the colonies. The Samsad is where legislation is proposed and passed, although the Gomed Hol can veto any bill with a simple majority vote. This has led to legislative gridlock and blocked any attempt at reform.
Members of the Samsad are elected from regional councils, which are elected by the people. One of the greatest issues on Arjuna is the growing demand for direct representation and more regional power. The Samsad is considered too remote, with each member speaking for an average of 3 million citizens.
The Prime Minister is charged with appointing officers to the various ministerial posts and running the day to day operations of the state and government. Prime Ministers are usually chosen by the party with the majority in the Samsad, or by coalition vote. Prime Ministers remain in office at the pleasure of the Gomed Hol or until his party falls out of the majority and a new Prime Minister is called for.
There are several unofficial political parties in the Republic and many small factional groups. The major players are:
- The Expansionists. They support a strong central government and expanding the Republic. Currently, they hold a slim majority in the Samsad with strong support in the Gomed Hol.
- The Traditionalists. A conservative, religious party dedicated to returning to old Hindu ways and promoting religious unification under one faith. The more radical members want a return to the caste system. They are partners with the Expansionists in the current government.
- The Unionists. Their main platform is full membership in the Republic and full citizenship for those living on those worlds designated as colonies and ruled by appointed governors.
- The Democracy Now Party. They demand the dismantling of the current state and full suffrage and free elections under a new constitution. They hold a small number of seats, but are quite vocal and vote as a solid bloc. They tend to support the Unionists, but the latter seems to be embarrassed by the antics of Democracy Now supporters. This faction has been linked to terrorism in the past.
- The Consolidationists. Bitter foes of the Expansionists, they advocate spending precious Rupees on building infrastructure and improvements in the territories already controlled by the state and improving the lot of the citizenry.
- The Isolationists. They fight defense spending and expansion tooth and nail. Once the strongest voice in the Samsad, they've lost dozens of seats over the years and are now a distant third after the Expansionists and the Unionists with almost no support in the Onyx Hall. Natural allies of the Consolidation Party, they break on several issues, so a true union seems impossible.
As I said, almost none of this will show up directly in the book, but it will help me build characters and tensions inside the task force. And if I get to a second book, I can see it being a more political novel focusing on the aftermath of the war shaking out in the defeated Ganaraajy Arjun.