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Foundation for Democratic Reforms

Administrative Note:

Week's Agenda: Defence & Foreign Policy

Sairam has mailed me the discussion paper of FDR. It is a 122 page
booklet priced at Rs.50 ($1.25), with a condition: Extracts from this
book may be quoted or reproduced freely with proper acknowledgment and
under intimation to the publishers. I think that is a little problem. JP
should allow its full publication and use for debate. This is clearly
not a revenue-generating effort. So let it be freely distributed over
the internet.

There is need to have an open national debate at this stage. We
definintely need to work together. I see in JP a similar vision and a
similar frustration that is driving IPI and other similar efforts.

Title of the document:

"Lok Satta: Harnessing People's Power for the Rejuvenation of Our

The chapters are very well organized, and the discussion is very good.

Illustrative Chapter title: "Can Economic Liberalization Alone Deliver?"

Illustrative para:

"As the latent, untapped productive and entrepreuenrial potential of our
middle and upper class is now unfettered, there will be moderately high
growth rates for some time. However, as the bulk of the population is
excluded from this economic reform process, high growth rates cannot be
sustained and they will eventually taper off."

Comment: I think that despite Dr. Roy's efforts of 1991, and many other
valiant eforts, we have had a very lukewarm liberalization in any case.
So, there is no one who is 'pinning their hopes on liberalization." We
have not liberalized ANYTHING at all, not our bureaucracy, not our
educational system, not our economy. So the case against liberalization
does not exist. 

FDR has an institutional approach. It rightly focuses on governance. A
very fine focus, indeed. Many of the points are very similar to what we
have been arriving at. 

FDR has virtually no economic policy. IPI is focused on economic policy
as the key ingredient while emphasizing the role of governance. There is
much scope for cooperation.

The FDR's document is a very good first discussion paper; more on the
lines of what we propose to publish on the 1st of Jan. 2000 AD. But it
needs tremendous work to be made into a powerful policy document. Also,
it is TOO verbose. 122 pages is not the kind of document size that we
must be looking for. 20 pages max. People do not have the time or
inclination to read 122 pages. Some of the wordy and lengthy critiques
of current system can be simply dropped. Also, bullet points need to be
used. It reads more like a government report at this stage.

I would urge Mr. Sastry - who attends JP's meetings frequently - to
request JP to permit the publication of FDR's document widely, both at
the FDR's web site and at the IPI's web site, in PDF format. I don't
have JP's email address and would urge those of you in Hyderabad to
request him personally on all our behalf to join with IPI in the
debates; even if he comments once in a while, that will be a good thing.

At the moment, neither the work of IPI nor of FDR approaches the quality
India needs, in order to achieve the ambitious goals we have set for us
as Indians. Keep working. I like Arvind's and Puneet's idea of
restricting debates very drastically to keep the focus going. We are
running short of time for the 1st draft.

For those who are not aware, the finalization of IPI's registration is
in process. We should be able to meet the deadline of end-1998 for
sending out the 1st letter to 10,000 people.


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