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On Mon, 24 Aug 1998, Manoj Padki wrote:
> We already have 2 contributors who run think-tanks: PJ Shah & Barun Mitra. I
> personally would like to see ONE think-tank that I can back, and where we
> can concentrate our fire-power. We're going in the direction of too many
> single-person think-tanks & that diffuses our power. What do you think?

Dear Manoj,

Personally, I have no objection - and I am sure none of us have any
objection - to 'merging' with any one or more of such bodies, if it is
convenient, and the objectives of debate, as on IP, are not diffused.

At the same time, I really don't see how any conflict of interest arises
through multiplicity. Instead, I see the need for hundreds, or even
thousands of independent citizens think-tanks/ advocacy grps/ etc., which
involve separate people, and carry on local initiatives to the extent
possible. The model we were talking about was 'participative democracy.'
People need to be completely free to do whatever they think is best. In
this particular case, there are perhaps some shades of difference between
the Liberty Instt., Civil Society, and IP. 

In particular, IP has not started with any kind of 'ideology': even the
basic beliefs are always open to debate. Every line/ word is open to
constant revision through better argument/ evidence. The final manifesto
might differ radically from what is on the web today, if we find
inconsistencies in the current arguments. I do expect IP to keep changing
and to keep on debating, based on the pure merit of each case. Therefore
IP does not have any 'institutional' position, or any viewpoint which it
pushes. It is like the Olympics of Ideas. The only claim about IP is that
the ideas arising from it are the 'best' at any point of time, subject to
the limitations of participation. By subscribing to IP you do not forfeit
your right to think radically differently from the existing 'consensus.'
Only: you have to take up the challenge to persuade others about your
views. And if you can, then you form the consensus. 

At the same time, networking across similar (but different) grps could be
done through linkages on the Board/ Governing Bodies/ Advisors. There is
perhaps no 'loss of power,' but enhancement of 'power' - if that is the
appropropriate word - through such linkages. Having one institute in New
Delhi, talking these kinds of open economy ideas is far less effective,
perhaps, than having 100 such institutes, located all over India, talking
similar things but in different ways. In fact, innovation can be best
served by this diffused model.

People need to be able to walk up to the nearest Institute/ group and
discuss things with the locally available members. They need to be able to
read the publications in the libraries, etc. It would be much easier for
an institute located in Trivandrum to organize debate in Kerala than for
an institute located in Assam/ Delhi/ anywhere else. However, each of
these institutes can network and supply to the public, each other's
publications, with an open mind.

This concept is the same has having many colleges/ universities: it is
easier to disseminate knowledge this way, than by having one university in
India located in Ranchi, for example. 

However, and this is an open request to Parth/ Barun: if you feel that
this is something your institute wishes to do: i.e., work out an 'ideal'
manifesto based on policy debate, get it 'approved' by thousands of
well-known Indians, etc., and keep working on it FOR EVER, then , sure: I
would go for that. We could reverse the $70 to Antony by contributing it
back to him, and instead, move this discussion to another, appropriate,
web site, and call it anything else.

Just my 86 paise (2 cents).


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