Manifesto

[Preamble | Manifesto | Agenda]


Color code: Words in red are under dispute, those which are green are the suggested changes, and those in purple are new additions. All points are open for debate, in perpetuity. See The Rules of Debate before participating in the list.

Fundamental Principles

These are in no particular order. These points also do not represent any consensus, but an effort to move toward one.

  1. Individual Autonomy and Participative Democracy

    We believe that a radical democratization of government in India is the need of the hour. Autonomy of individuals and by implication that of all organizations (entities) is the basic democratic principle. This means that the interests of all, whether rich or poor, illiterate or the "elite," have to be protected.

    Our elected representatives do not have to start their career with a lie. Therefore electoral laws have to be modified to be encourage honesty.
     


  2. National Reconciliation

    The creation of a sense of fraternity amongst peoples of India is a task long overdue. The task of sitting down together and discussing things out has to be carried out very seriously.
     


  3. Changing the economic system

    Over the last fifty years, governments in countries with fewer natural and human resources than India have provided better opportunities for their citizens. Many studies have confirmed that that rapid economic growth tends strongly to reduce poverty. What was therefore needed was the creation of an environment suitable for the generation of rapid economic growth.

    Instead, government attempted to control, by nationalization and other techniques, the major sectors of economy. This has done more harm than good to India's citizens. While not promoting capitalism blindly, a first step has to be taken toward changing the economic system by removing the word "Socialistic" from the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. We need to shift toward a model of minimally regulated capitalism.

    This will involve the following primary principles:

    1. Privatization:

      Privatize (and liberalize) nationalized and other public sector industries so that these organizations are brought in check by market forces. This will also give people better control over their destiny. It will promote competitive and risk-taking behavior which is necessary if the output of the nation is to grow and if India is to regain its equality with the most powerful nations in the world.
       


    2. Private ownership:

      The principle of private ownership of everything - land, property and mental output (intellectual property) - has to be very strongly and clearly defined and protected. All ownership should of course lapse with time, such as the passing away of a person (through stringent inheritance laws), or a within a certain number of years.

    3. Price deregulation:

      In general, we abhor the concept of price regulation by government in any productive activity. Government does not possess nor can ever possess the local knowledge that is critical to the determination of a price. Even if it were to possess such knowledge, its officials would not have the necessary incentives needed to fix prices justly, even if they were the most honest officials around.

    4. Collective bargaining by labor:

      In general, throughout the world, advances in productivity, not unions, have been mainly responsible for the improvements in earnings and working conditions of the average worker. Despite this, as a part of the free-market wage determination process, collective bargaining by firm-specific labor unions will be encouraged. However, industry-wide or nation-wide attempts by unions to interfere in the wage bargaining process amount to using oligopolistic or monopolistic power by labor, and will be discouraged.

    5. Regulation of profiteering:

      Freedom to fix prices (of goods or of labour) should not lead to profiteering. Therefore, strong (thought participatory and democratic) regulatory bodies need to be established to monitor cases of profiteering. Regulation of monopolistic behavior should primarily be through promotion of domestic and foreign competition. Further, as far as wages are concerned, the government would not interfere with this mechanism, except perhaps to suggest "desirable" levels of minimum wage.

    6. Restore confidence in the capital market:
       


    7. Following Prudent Fiscal and Monetary Policies.
       


    8. Elimination of attempts to "plan" the economy:

      While we need strong supporting research organizations which will provide relevant information to the Parliament and to the Government, we definitely do not need any intermediary organization which runs "planning" models which reek of futile and economically unjustifiable attempts at centralized planning. The Planning Commission has to be closed down, or converted into a much smaller but professional, Research Wing for the Parliament.

    9. Independence of Central Bank

      The Reserve Bank of India should be made completely independent of control by the executive. The bank should be completely free to research and implement the best possible monetary policy for India based on the current situation. The only focus of the Bank should be one: to keep inflation in complete check. That is because inflation is the surest way to hurt the lowest earning members of a society. Other economic goals, such as employment and growth, should be purely under the jurisdiction of the executive.

    10. Greater role of the government in provision of public goods

      The government needs to focus attention on education, infrastructure, urban planning, and the environment, and the task of regulating, standardizing and quality control in the interest of the consumer.

      1. Education:

        Each individual must be persuaded and encouraged to study hard and to gain knowledge to the maximum level of his or her interest or capacity. The untapped ocean of human capital that India possesses can be mined through providing the highest level of education to everyone. We do not want mere literacy, which of course is a basic minimum, but the highest level of higher education attainable for everyone. Huge expenditures, and the latest information technology techniques, will be promoted in this sector through both public and private enterprise.
         


      2. Urbanization:

        The magnitude and quality of urbanization is a sure and foolproof test of economic development. Urbanization promotes economic efficiency in all fields of human endeavour by bringing together a critical mass of human beings specializing in various sectors of the economy. Large number of extremely modern and well-planned satellite cities have to be planned around metropolises which are getting congested today for lack of planning and resistance to urbanization. There is nothing like a maximum possible size for any city. The USA with less than one third of our population easily supports cities which are larger than the largest in India, today. We can easily go for three to four times the existing size of most cities, if properly planned. That is where the government has to step in, not as a builder, but as a promoter of cities.

      3. Infrastructure:

        The role of government is critical in the provision of infrastructure, whose benefits are reaped by all, and so, costs have to be borne by most. Resource constraints can be partially met by involving the private sector in the entire process of construction and maintenance. However, even where such solutions are not feasible, government should not directly construct and maintain any structure, but sub-contract these services to private vendors.
         


      4. Environment:

        There is no shred of evidence of global warming, and the excuse being used by some "environmentalists" to curb production and consumption in the developing world is a misguided and even mischievous. On the other hand there is a tremendous role of government in environmental planning including saving the wild life. Efforts have to be focused on hazardous waste disposal, and cleaning up the water and air.
         


      5. Regulation, standardization and quality control:

        This is a task long neglected due to wasting energy and effort in activities where the private citizen had a comparative advantage. The government must strongly revamp these sectors to ensure that the quality of the products in the economy is upgraded successively and the consumer is protected from various spurious and unsafe products.

  4. Social Safety Net

    Due to the unleashing of innovation and creativity consequent to the shift of economic incentives, incomes of individuals can be expected to become more variable over the course of time. While re-training of those who are deemed surplus in a particular sector of the economy is a desirable objective, it is costly as well as time-consuming. Therefore a social saftety net in the form of unemployment insurance and social security systems has to be immediately brought into place, mostly fully-funded rather than pay-as-you-go, with some progressivity built into it.

  5. Equity through elimination of poverty

    The poor are not all poor because of their "fault," and the rich are not all rich because they deserved it. A society, to call itself humane in the next millennium, will also have to be equitable. Inequalities of income are a necessary outcome of a society geared toward the production of wealth. However, poverty is not. The focus of the humane society will have to be to ensure the complete absence of poverty.

    While the growth of incomes would substantially bring down poverty, there would remain many cases where direct tax credits and other direct subsidies would need to be applied to those who are unable, for no fault of theirs, to cope with the changed economic environment. More importantly, subsidized education will be provided to those who are disadvantaged.

  6. Defence

    As military expenditures contribute nothing to the creation of prosperity, and drain resources from activities that do, we advocate the goal of global disarmament by all nations and the banning of all weapons of mass destruction.

    The weapons that India has developed should be completely - and simultaneously - destroyed along with all other nuclear weapons in the entire world. India should resolve never to use these weapons and not threaten anyone with these dangerous toys. In any case, India should never be the first to use nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict with another country.

    The sole purpose of creating a nuclear weapon must be to help the world understand the futility of trying to hold on to existing power structures in perpetuity, and to insist that everyone in the world will be better off with complete disarmament.

  7. Law and Order

    Vigorous efforts need to be made to raise the morale, competence, ethical behaviour and responsiveness of the Police, both through monetary incentives and improved training. The nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and the underworld, has to be completely destroyed.

     


  8. Foreign capital

    Foreign capital is good because it brings resources, technology, and competition: each of these components is individually, good for the economy. In addition, it helps keep our own best brains within the nation as well as expose them to the working conditions in the best companies abroad. Therefore it promotes the development of management techniques best suited to Indian situations.

    There exists a remote, very small, probability of foreign capital "taking over India," something that can only happen if abetted by local traitors. However, to keep a lid on the possibility of such political interests influencing India's policies, a limit will be imposed in percent terms, over the course of a decade, on the amount of capital any particular country can invest. In other words, the USA or Singapore or Ethiopia can each invest, but their investments should not amount to more than, say, 20% of total investments into India over any single decade.

  9. Institutional competition

    The existing instututions would need to be strenghtened wherever necessary and other, new ones established, to promote competition and freedom, and to provide checks and balances on other institutions. An example would be the strengthening of the press and the judiciary to provide checks on the executive.

  10. Administrative Reform (professionalism and transparency)

    1. Develop strategies to professionalize the governmental decision-making mechanism at every level.
    2. Ensure that only vital official secrets are protected from the public eye. Private secrets of government functionaries, relating to misuse of power for personal gain, are to be completely exempt from the Official Secrets Act.
    3. People need to have strong rights to information.
     


  11. Population Policy

    The only known relationship between population and economic growth is that fertility declines as a nation gets richer. High fertility is a symptom of poverty, not its cause. Population size, by itself, has no known effect on the growth of the economy. In other words, economic growth has to come first and that will lead to a decline in population. In addition, higher education and lower infant mortality lead to population declines.

    Therefore, while the public and private efforts to increase the supply of contraceptives will be boosted, and education of the people on the availability and use of contraception will be promoted, people will be allowed to make their own choices on the number of children they want. No targets will be set either for fertility or for population size, since population will automatically decline, rapidly, as other policies come into effect.

  12. Reversing the Brain Drain

    Creating opportunities for every citizen as outlined above would help create sufficient opportunities for NRIs. Second, those born in India should always retain the right to India's citizenship.

  13. Unclassified points

    
    1. Free primary and secondary Education. 
    
    2. Easy access to safe drinking water to every citizen by government. 
    
    3. Steps to improve the law-and-order situation, including: 
    
    a. Enhancing the educational qualifications, salaries and training of the
    Police force
    
    b. Modernizing and computerization of the criminal records
     
    4. Comprehensive environmental policy to combat pollution, at the same
    time promoting economic development. 
    
    5. Promotion of Population control through education and economic growth. 
    
    6. Complete privatization of Public Sector organizations which are
    involved in activities better done in the private sector.
    
    7. Pragmatic Tax reforms, including a. realistic tax-brackets to make
    taxes bearable to the common man. 
    
    b. Simplification and computerization of the filing and collection
    procedures to improve monitoring as well as compliance. 
    
    8. Complete privatization of television, radio and print media i.e.
    freedom to own and broadcast through electronic media. 
    
    9. Involvement of the private sector to the maximum extent possible in
    infrastructure activities such as those done by PWD and Irrigation. 
    
    10. Making Reserve Bank of India free of government control
      
    11. Barring individuals for at least ten years from Public office with a
    Criminal record from National and Intra-Party elections
     
    12. Formulating a definite strategy to make Rupee fully convertible (as and
    when the economy gains strength).
       
    13. Rural Development through programs like Grameen Bank
      
    14. Provision of a "desired" minimum wage and safe and hygenic workng
    conditions for all workers. 
    
    15. Phasing out Reservations without hurting the interests of those
    affected.
      
    16. Provision for elderly care and a provision of a social security system
      
    17. Introduction of a citizen identification card
      
    18. Introduction of laws to eliminate age discrimination in education and
    employment. 
  14. Agricultural Reforms:

    1. Financing of farmers: Approach to be similar to venture capitalism. Farming should be given the status of industry. Variable interest rates. Futures markets in commodities.

    2. Crop Insurance.

    3. Moneylenders and financing companies need to register themselves.

    4. Goal to bring down the percentage of population in agriculture to 15% of labor force.

    5. Drip irrigation to avoid the impact of failure of monsoons.

    6. Greater use of hydro-resources for electricty, and linking up canals to provide irrigation.

    7. Complete removal of agrictural subsidies and permission to trade commodities freely and globally.

  15. Electoral Reform

    
    * Representatives of the people will be paid liberally to attract the best
    and most experienced people from India into governance. An MP would get
    about Rs.20 lakhs per year, and an MLA about Rs.5 lakhs per year, fully
    taxable. Apart from free housing at the state capital, no other perquisite
    will be provided.
    
    * "The people do reserve the right to put reasonable limits on individual
    and corporate contributions to limit the influence of money, if and when
    it is perceived by them that decisions by law-makers are not being made in
    a fair manner." 
    
    * Let all donations be fully documented and publicly available for
    inspection on the internet
    
    * Let citizens groups take up the responsiblity of monitoring closely the
    actions of the politicians and businesses and swiftly come down if there
    are cases of quid pro quo detected. Let decisions be taken after due
    process and due consideration of all sides, and only on pure merit.
            
    This of course can be re-written by better writers on this list and
    elsewhere. 
    
    The key thing is to ensure that strong independent bodies emerge which
    will check all possible loopholes
    
            - Election Commission: could be easily made stronger,
                    particular the unilateral power (appealable
                    only in the Sup. Court) to dissolve parties 
                    which do not disclose funding, or cheat in
                    disclosing that.
    
            - MRTPC: to be staffed by very highly qualified 
                    economists and law experts who would prosecute
                    firms - including staying their activity,
                    if collusive or monopolistic practices, including
                    putting up barriers to entry, were discovered.
    
                            (I am being rather simplistic here,
                            but let that pass)
            
            - Internet disclosure:
    
                    All MPs to disclose complete assets to the public
                    on ascending to the Parliament/ MLAs to the assembly
                    
                    And to disclose all earnings including income tax
                    statements, on the internet.
    
                    I don't care for imposing limits on qualifications
                    for MPs. I strongly care for having full info
                    on their wealth
    
            Each group - the two commissions, and the MPs, would be
            much more highly paid than they are today. Hugely paid.
    
            - Press and Lok Pal: to be made even stronger
    
            - Bureaucratic rights to disclose private secrets. Bureaucrats
                    disclosing corruption by MPs and Ministers, with
                    evidence (including taped evidence) would be rewarded
                    heavily by the Lok Pal.
            
            - Rights to info: all files which do not relate to defence/ home
                    would be freely accessible to Local boards of citizens
                    selected randomly as in the case of juries.
    
            - Citizens Groups: To bring life to social capital building,    
                    citizen groups would not only get tax-exempt donations
                    but also get matching grants upto a certain amount. That
                    is meant to equalize the weight toward the citizens,
                    and to ensure that all systems are being monitored
                    carefully by private citizens themselves.
    * Voting records of each and every MP/MLA on each and every Bill would be publicly available on the internet, so that citizens could determine how well their interests were represented by the said representative.

    ## More on Administrative Reform:

    Work against institutional arrangements and processes that encourage
    adversary relationships.  
    
    Demystify, decentralise and democratise the public budgeting and
    planning processes.
  16. Outline of "Inherently Government Functions."

    (according to Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) 7.503 of the USA)

    
    1.  The direct conduct of criminal investigations.
    2.  The control, prosecutions and performance of adjudicatory
    functions other than those relating to arbitration or other methods of
    alternate dispute resolution.
    3.  The command of military forces, especially the leadership of
    military personnel who are members of combat, combat support or combat
    service support role. 
    4.  The conduct of foreign relations and the determination of foreign
    policy.
    5.   The determiniation of Agency policy, such as determining of the
    content and application of regulations, among other things.
    6.   The determination of Federal program priorites  for budget
    requests.
    7.   The direction and control of Federal employees.
    8.   The direction and control of intelligence and
    counter-intelligence operations.
    9.   The selection or non-selection of individuals for Federal
    Government employment, including interviewing or hiring of individuals.
    10.   The approval of position descriptions and performance standards
    for Federal employees.
    11.   The determiniation of what government property is to be disposed
    of and on what terms.....
    12.  ((This specifically referes to procurement activities and prime
    contracts))
    13.  The approval of Agency responses to the Freedom of Information
    Act (FOIA) requests.....
    14  The conduct of administrative hearings to determine the
    eligibility of any person for asecutiry clearance, or involving
    matters of personal reputation or eligibility to participate in
    Government programs.
    15.  The approval of Fedral licensing actions and inspections.
    16.  The determiniation of budget policy, guidance and strategy.
    17.  The collection, control, and disbursement of fees, royalties,
    duties, fines, taxes and other publes funds....
    18.  The control of teasury accounts.
    19.  The administration of public trusts.
    20.  The drafting of Congressional testimony, responses to
    Congressional correspondence, (includes brifing material to congress
    staffers) or Agency responses to audit reports from the Inspector
    General, General Accounting Office, or other auditing entities.
  17. Some Points for IT Policy

    1. Involvement of private parties in cabling and uplinking
    2. Encouragement of semiconductor and disk industries
    3. Encouragement for the consumer electronics industry
    4. Allowing private companies to own and operate theirown communication 
    satellites.
    5. Doing away with obstacles such as license fee and earmarking of 
    territories for companies.
    6. Permission to be granted for Internet telephony
    
    

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