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10 pt 'formula': a response
Dear KS (I hope it is OK to call you that?)
Thanks a lot for heeding to my plaintive call in the wilderness (!) for
everyone to come up with a bunch of points. I also find most points
completely laudable. The level of generality perhaps qualifies them for
the "preamble" level (I hope you have checked out the web page which has
a rather extensive bunch of points already listed).
Now, coming to the specifics:
> Fundamental Beliefs
> 1. Belief in God who reinforces human endeavour.
"That religion is a purely personal matter never to be brought into the
area of poltical discourse, and no religion is supreme nor worth fighting
about. All religions are to be fully respected."
The above is already listed on the Preamble. All religious are fully
respected and spiritual rights are primary and personal, which cannot be
violated. Hope that you do not wish to imply that everyone **must**
believe in God - that might not be compatible with the Free Citizen's
declaration of personal sovereignty.
> 2. Belief in democracy where people truly govern themselves.
Already listed somewhere very clearly.
> 3. Belief in nationhood that sublimates diverse religious, linguistic and
> ethnic identities within and promotes universal human welfare.
We have the following para on this:
"That political groups which use differences of religion, caste, or
language, to come to power, have hurt India very badly both before and
Do you wish to re-phrase it somewhat? Please do so and that revised
version will be put up on the web.
> Basic Objectives
> 4. To bestow on every citizen a minimum level of consumption and a basic
> quality of environment.
The Vision statement calls for a 100 years of focused effort to achieve:
"Wealth: To make India the most prosperous nation in the world. In the
process we shall completely banish (not merely alleviate) poverty from the
face of India."
Beyond that, the Free Citizen declares:
"I have no obligation to tend for other humans in my nation once I have
paid the dues mutually determined. That does not mean that I become
uncivic. I retain the right, as a free citizen, to contribute in cash or
in kind, over and above the taxes I pay, to help causes which I believe as
being good for the society in which I wish to live."
In other words, we contractually determine what we are collectively
willing to pay for (i.e., taxes). Thereafter the primary focus of
governmnet must be to promote wealth creation, and taking care of the
weak. This is what the Manifesto states:
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 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
I hope this takes care of your point. There is a 'touch' of 'socialistic'
thinking in what you stated, though: "to bestow" a minimum level to every
citizen. Let us define these charged words like "bestow" very clearly,
since it might revert us back to the era of the "mai-baap" sarkar which
misappropriated productive resources in the pretext of 'bestowing' what
you said above.
> 5. Consistent with the objective set out at No. 4, to provide every
> citizen the fullest opportunity for material and spiritual advancement
> through self-effort and to guarantee enjoyment of the fruits thereof.
I really liked this one. I have no dispute with this at all. I'll see
where this can be put on the web at once. This reaffirms liberty, effort,
private property and individual sovereignty.
> 6. Consistent with the objectives set out at Nos. 4 and 5, to make India
> grow economically and take its rightful place in the comity of nations.
This has been covered in the Vision statement. We are talking of the
"cross-over" as the World's Number One rich nation by about 2100 AD if all
good policies are adopted. That is the only "rightful" place for India
that I am willing to accept. All other 'places' are inferior and I will
not have the largest nation in population and human resources take a
secondary place to a nation 1/3rd its size. Well, you and I will be dead
and gone but our great grand progeny will take that exclusive 'rightful'
> Action Programmes
> 7. Educate the people on the political, social and economic developments
> at the regional, national and global levels.
This one is good and sounds promising. But I am not quite clear how this
is to be done, and what is the 'course material' to be used. Could you
> 8. Demystify, decentralise and democratise the public budgeting and
> planning processes.
This is a key point, where you have tremendous expertise through your
years of work very senior capacities in the Ministry of Finance and, later
in the IMF and National Housing Bank. Nobody has raised the public
budgeting issue yet. Could you please elaborate a little bit? This is a
MUST have point, and with more detail.
> 9. Facilitate direct participation of the people in the governance by
> suggesting structured alternatives.
Some possible citizen groups, social capital buidling, Local Boards for
each office, etc., are already there in the manifesto. Would you like to
expand a bit more on this: what are these structured alternatives, what
shape they will take, how will we ensure that they work...
> 10. Work against institutional arrangements and processes that encourage
> adversary relationships.
I believe that nobody has raised this point yet. This is an excellent one,
which all of us who have worked in government, know well about: the
tendency to filibuster each other, to delay, to beat about the bush, and
do other things to aggravate and make difficult the achievement of any
uniform objective. Empire building is part of the problem, for sure, as
also the tendency to have 4-5 full Secretaries in a ministry, 4-5 DGPs in
the Police in each state, and so on, so that no one knows how to get any
work done. I have not thought too much about this and allied issues, but
would be grateful to have your suggestions on this.
I would like to thank you for the time taken to suggest these points.
Hope Hyderabad is doing fine! Do meet Ajay Gandhi when you get the time.
He too lives in Hyderabad. (his email is email@example.com). You two
might start off a branch of the Civil Society or the Liberty Insititute,
or even your own institute if you like. I also know you mentioned last
time we met about there being a huge number of retired civil servants
including a bunch of retired Chief Secretaries who are interested in
sharing their experiences with the country, and in doing something
positive. I would seriously recommend associating together to discuss and
disseminate simply policy issue to the people, through simple flyers, and
Newspaper articles have a role to play, for sure, and Ajay Gandhi has been
doing that. But directly talking to the people is another - very important
- part of civil society, and those who know better, must start doing that.
Part of the 'education' of the people you spoke about above.
There was this very nice young person called Sairam who came all the way
from Austin in Texas to meet me in LA a few weeks ago. He is in Hyderabad
now. I am endorsing a copy of this to him (sairam@U.Arizona.EDU) and
would like you to meet him. Very bright and very clear thinking young man.
>From KV Picket, too, like me and Charu (Go Picket! Beat HPS!!). He too
could help organize some young persons to work with you while he is there
(assuming that there any good people left behind in Hyderabad now: he too
will soon return to work in Chicago in a computer firm: as usual: all our
best Secunderabadi Picketians are in USA: "Picket Drain!" this is called).
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