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--------------------------------------------------------------------- Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it! --------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Dr. Sanjeev Sabhlok <email@example.com>
Subject: Manifesto of Swatantra Bharat Party
Sending attached herewith the Manifesto of Swatantra Bharat Party (the Indian
This was released by Sharad Joshi on 25th August 1999 im Mumbai.
You may kindly forward the same to your friends and interested
Kindly send your comments/ suggestions.
Manvendra S. Kachole
Swatantra Bharat Party.
MANVENDRA KACHOLE <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was received long ago in my mailbox but opened only now after I am on the internet. Copy of manifesto in text format follows:
Swatantra Bharat Party
Loksabha and Vidhansabha Polls 1999
Ambethan 410 501
Tal.Khed, Dist. Pune (M.S.)
SBP: THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE
1. The Loksabha and Vidhansabha elections of 1999 are untimely and are being forced upon us due to the collapse of BJP lead National Democratic alliance in the centre. The lurking economic disaster, the causes thereof and the measures necessary to prevent the crisis should be the prime concern of any block seeking voter's mandate for political power at the center. The Swatantra Bharat Party (SBP) wishes again as in our loksabha 98 manifesto, to alert the nation, with all the strength at our command, of the dangers that the nation faces unless urgent measures are taken to rescue the economy from the clutches of license permit raj, administrative profligacy, industrial indiscipline, crumbling infrastructure and the pseudo welfarism.
The SBP wishes to submit that nothing short of hard work, strict discipline and dogged determination can save us from an inevitable insolvency and ruin.
2. The SBP, was founded six years back in 1993; but the principles it stands for - democratic liberalism - are deeply rooted in the Indian tradition over millennia. In recent times, it is the ideological successor to the economic philosophy of the Swatantra Party of Chakravarti Rajgopalachari. It is inspired by the glorious struggle of the farmers led by the Shetkari Sanghatana reclaiming the freedom of enterprise. This liberal party was founded under a critical situation. The world historic defeat of socialism and of the concept of central planning brought the realization that the nehruvian economic policies could not continue. All political parties feign nominal allegiance to liberalization and globalization, albeit with reservations, under the force of compelling circumstances. In practice, they, along with bureaucrats, license permit manipulators, political commission agents, communalists and criminals have a vested interest in promoting a paternalist State and in pandering to the populist demands for free lunch programs. They lack, consequently, the conviction, the courage and the strength required for the minimal pace of economic reforms necessary for averting an imminent economic disaster.
3. The People's Representation Act, 1989 requires that political parties seeking registration to ensure that their memorandum of rules and regulations contain a specific provision that they would bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of socialism [ Section 29(A)]. The SBP, obviously, can not comply with this provision since it goes against its basic creed of liberalism. Liberalism is manifestation of an unshakeable faith in the individual and is consequently opposed to all herdist systems, including socialism. Nor are we prepared to take false oaths like so many other parties have done. All parties swear by socialism and the most rabid communal parties have sworn by secularism. The SBP refused earlier to stoop to such falsehood or to bow before the kind of undemocratic laws that were not known even to Stalinist era. The SBP was, therefore, an unregistered party and was forced to go to polls without a common symbol of our own. The SBP is now a registered party. Our supporters decided to accept to be sworn by socialism as the constitution of India does not spell out the meaning of socialism and it leaves a wide scope for the interpretation. The interpretation acceptable to SBP is limited to the objective of creating a stateless society and the end of exploitation.
4. The SBP contested the Lok Sabha Elections for the first time in 1995 with a view to keeping before the electorate a clear non-statist and non communal economistic alternative. It had issued, during the campaign, a clear warning that the fundamentals of the national economy had gone weak and that a fall of the Rupee was a foregone conclusion unless remedial measures on the lines detailed in its manifesto were taken. Those who scoffed at the SBP reading are now revising their positions after the recent decline in the exchange rate. It is indeed a testimony to the depravity of the anti reforms coterie that they are making happenings in South-East Asia an excuse and argument for a reversal rather than an acceleration of reforms. The three years under the eleventh and the twelfth parliaments were not only wasted but saw recourse to policies that were strictly counter-indicated-massive hike in expenditure on administration, dithering on exit policy, massive import of food grains and inability to face recession in the economy. The clock is ticking away and no one even seems remotely aware of the impending disaster.
5. The SBP believes it has a superior list of candidates; but it does not seek votes on the claim that it has cleaner and more efficient candidates. Nor does it solicit public support on the pretence that it is better equipped to wield the unwieldy monster of the State for the benefit of the Nation. It seeks power so that it may liberate the potential of each fellow citizen from the shackles imposed under the name of socialism. It is determined to promote, through selective economic dis-empowerment of the State, a new poly-centered federation which could enter the 21st century in full dignity.
NEED FOR REAL CHANGE
6. Populist election planks are a favourite gimmick of all political parties; the promises may be economic or parochial e.g. cheap rice, `zunka-bhakar', free lunches for children, cushy jobs for the privileged creamy layer of this or that disadvantaged group or construction or destruction of this or that place of worship et al. Election promises are seen as post dated cheques that supplement bribes in cash, liquor, utensils, sarees etc. The promises are not even seriously meant. They are made with the calculation that the people can be fooled into voting for the party concerned at least once and if they get one whack at the power, the rest does not matter.
7. The SBP is convinced that all parties that have wielded power are corrupt; any replacement is unlikely to be any better. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even those who had the privilege of being associated with Mahatma Gandhi soon became corrupt; it is futile to hope that any one in the present generation would be able to bring about any perceptible cleansing of the political apparatus without dismantling the State apparatus for intervention in the economy. This has not happened anywhere in the world; it is unlikely to happen in India.
8. The SBP election manifesto, therefore, is not gargantuan inventory of possible and impossible promises; it is a cogent prescription for containing and reversing the ravages made by the nehruvian socialistic model since the dawn of independence.
The socialistic misadventure that came after independence has resulted in the country suffering under a monolithic quasi dynastic State.
The State has meddled into all kinds of activities and institutions not only economic ones dealing with production, distribution and consumption but also those relating to knowledge, compassion, justice, culture, information etc. where it can claim no competence whatsoever.
The power is so completely concentrated that no person howsoever learned, gifted, brave, able or compassionate can stand with any dignity in the presence of any politician, particularly if one is in power.
The socialist regime meant that nothing was permitted normally; but that anything could be done by those with political pull.
Taxation became an instrument of blackmailing citizens.
For a man in the street, any venturing into industry, commerce or agriculture was practically ruled out.
The only worthwhile occupation came to be governmental jobs which did not require any real qualification and which assured a lifelong career of good remuneration, little responsibility and no risks whatsoever.
Creating governmental jobs and offering them to cronies became a major form of political bounties.
The resultant license-permit-inspector raj strait-jacketed the economy with the inevitable consequences :
poverty, unemployment, inflation, indebtedness, debasement of currency, parallel economy, ramshackle infra-structure, energy crunch; slums;
low literacy and life expectancy, high morbidity and mortality, overpopulation, degradation of environment;
corruption, mafia rule, smuggling, rackets, politicization of crime and criminalization of politics, choked judiciary, break-down of law and order, erosion of democracy, culture of ostentation.
The positive gains since independence i.e. food self sufficiency, improved life expectancy, communications are all due to universal technological strides and have taken place in spite of government rather than because of it.
13. The SBP is the only party that offers an integral and holistic alternative to the nation.
14. Socialism starts on the grand premises that all men are equal and then proceeds to treat them as so many anonymous faceless zombies under the control of an all powerful dictatorship. Our philosophy starts with the premises that all men and women are equal because each one of them is unique; and that, each of them striving according to his lights, acting and interacting amongst themselves, arrives at the best possible results for the community as a whole. If some sort of a government is necessary, one, it should be minimal and multi centered. And, two, all powers, except those explicitly entrusted to the State, should remain with the individual and the family.
15. The long term objective is to create a society with a political government powerful in its legitimate domain and minimal elsewhere, a government that governs but does not dabble in business, arts, education, media, justice, religion and piety. We have learnt it to our enduring regret that the State can resolve no problem and that, in fact, the State is the problem.
16. The task of rescuing the nation would have been relatively easier if the morass were only economic. It is rendered doubly difficult because the socialist regime has not only failed on the economic front but has also created serious social and political deterioration. The post independence license-permit-inspector raj has undone the law and order established by its predecessor British raj. The restrictive regime resulted in black market, corruption, parallel economies, massive smuggling of commodities and funds and general mafia-like rule.
17. Criminals dominate politics and politicians have links with criminals with the result that the Law and Order situation has collapsed. The number of cases piled up in the courts is so large that it is impossible to expect final decision in less than ten to twenty years. This is hardly a situation where any market oriented economy based on the sanctity of contract can thrive.
That is why former socialist countries trying to change over to market oriented economies enjoy a certain advantage in as much as their brand of socialism, even though it brought economic disasters, at least ensured an inhuman but effective discipline.
18. The mixed economies, like India, picked up the less savoury traits of both the socialist and the capitalist systems economic disasters of socialism and lawlessness of the pre raj days.
19. We do not promise any utopia. Our prescription will spell hard work, discipline, determination, general cleansing of the polity and the economy. It means rescuing the nation from the hijackers of independence, thieves and goons. It spells a second birth into freedom that missed its tryst with destiny. SBP promises every patriotic Indian who feels ashamed, humiliated and enraged at the way the Independence and the Republic has been hijacked that they will have the fortune of participating in the resurrection of their great Nation and in the vindication of the honour of the real martyrs whose supreme sacrifices brought us freedom.
20. The operation AZADI constitutes main core of the SBP's ELECTION MANIFESTO FOR THE LOK SABHA AND VIDHAN SABHA POLLS 1999.
ELECTION MANIFESTO :LOK SABHA AND VIDHAN SABHA POLLS 1999
1. The guiding principle of the SBP's program is Mahatma Gandhi's credo that " All the help that the poor need is that the world get off their backs ". Determined to salvage the nation from the disaster that socialism brought it, the SBP prescription acts on three main fronts and two flanker actions:
1 Re-establishment of Law and Order as the very foundation of a free economy;
2 Pruning of the State so as to reduce the burden of indebtedness and taxation so that Indians can compete with their hands untied;
3 Economic reforms with a view to bringing about reform of socialist structures.
2. The flanker actions would be necessary on
1 political reforms, and
2 SOS measures in favour of the particularly disadvantaged people and against the parasitic elements of the socialist era.
3. The rescue operation (called operation Azadi) should be completed in less than five years. Unfortunately, too much precious time has been wasted since 1991 and it would be necessary to undertake an Emergency Salvage Operation (ESO) in order to avoid a South-Korea-like situation here before the end of the year. This will be concentrated on points 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.7 of operation Azadi. The SBP position on some of the contentious issues like reservations for women, abrogation of article 370, common civil code, Ayodhya temple is spelled out separately.
I. Law and Order
1.1 Ruthless suppression of gangsterism, terrorism and bellicose fundamentalism.
The Mandate of political criminals and criminal politicians is more effective than that of the law and order machinery. Police has been subverted by corrupt recruitment, plethora of laws, VIP security and criminal-politician axis. The criminals are generally much better equipped in transport, communications and even armaments than the police.
The communalists and casteists have succeeded in creating an aura of sanctity around their criminal activities. Criminals and separatists are taking advantage of human rights platform. Gangsters, terrorists and separatists are not entitled to any protection under civil law and they can, at best, expect to be treated as prisoners of war. At least during the transitional period, the benefit of doubt will need to be given to the ordinary citizens rather than to the criminal gangsters. Cities, particularly the metropolitan cities have become hotbeds of crime. The police action there will have to be accompanied by appropriate economic measures that would discourage migration towards the cities and , in fact, encourage people to move back to the villages or to smaller towns.
1.2. Restoration, in the first place, of the Ambedkar Constitution by deleting all subsequent amendments damaging its basic structure.
During the socialistic regime a number of amendments were made to the Constitution that had the effect of taking away and compounding even the fundamental rights of the citizens. For example, the right to acquire, hold and dispose off property was eroded gradually till it disappeared as fundamental right. The quickest way of resolving the problem would be to come back to the situation as it existed on the day the people of India adopted, enacted and gave unto themselves the Constitution in 1950. This gesture would highlight the radical transformation and mark the dawn of the second Independence and Republic. Certain amendments had a laudable objective but faulty design, e.g. the amendments for introduction of Panchayat Raj institutions, for discouraging political defections. New amendments will need to be introduced parallely to achieve the intended objective.
1.3. Moratorium on implementation of all social legislation for a period of five years.
Social reforms and inculcation of so-called ethical values are never achieved through mere legislative fiats. However, social legislation can serve the purpose of laying down certain norms of behaviour. The norm setting comes very expensive as the negative effects on the implementation machinery are disastrous. The police machinery is over-burdened as it is. The burden of having to deal with cases of dowry, marriage before age of consent etc. is heavy and time consuming. In order to restore Law and Order, priority attention should be paid to more serious organized crimes. The responsibility of implementing social reform legislation would be shifted from the police to community organizations.
1.4. Review of all legislation with a view to abolishing the redundant acts and provisions. Bringing together diverse amendments, notifications, ordinances, orders etc. so as to reduce the present plethora of legislation to four volumes: civil, criminal, economic and social.
The socialist epoch and the license-permit-inspector raj has produced a veritable legislative jungle. There is the original legislation, often decades old, there are subsequent amendments and rules and regulations and bylaws and ordinances and notifications issued under them scattered all over so that not even experts and lawyers are in a position to say authoritatively what the legal position is. The common man lives in a state of uncertainty and is often subjected to extortion, blackmail and litigation. Entire body of laws will be reviewed. Laws that serve no purpose, harass honest citizens or help criminals will be weeded out. All valid legislation will be edited in four volumes which will be published on 1st December every year to take effect from the following 1st January. This will ensure that even the man in the street knows what the law is. All future legislation, whatever its date of adoption, will take effect, unless there is reason to have immediate effect, only on the first day of the following year.
1.5. Systematic arrangements for updating the codes so that the presumption of knowledge of law applies only to what figures explicitly in the latest edition of the concerned code.
The presumption of knowledge of law should be limited only to such legislation as appear in a formal manner in print in systematically updated volumes referred to in 1.4 above.
1.6. Computerization of all recognized jurisprudence.
The adversarial system of justice inherited from the British in which the lawyers from both sides argue at length quoting precedents and judgements often contra-dicting each other to a judge who is expected to form his judgement on the basis of the presentations before him results in enormous delays. Computerization should make it possible to have jurisprudence and precedents listed out with specific references. This would permit much shorter arguments and should permit judgements within a period of, at the most, a week after the commencement of the hearings.
1.7. Establishment of security forces under the control of Panchayat Raj institutions and Municipalities and Municipal Corporations with a system of responsibility to the community; State police coming in only in case of inter jurisdictional matters.
The Police introduced by the colonial powers worked on the principle that they should have minimum possible contact with the natives. The system continued even after independence with the result that the relations between the citizens and the police are anything but friendly. The police officers owe no accountability or responsibility to the people and the people have little faith in them. The police system could be handed over to the local and municipal institutions so that the police officers as also constables belong to the community that they serve and have a sense of responsibility towards the community. The police officers would then neither look nor behave like foreigners come to terrorize and rule over them but like people who are genuinely interested in the well being and the security of the people from amongst whom they come. The state Police and the central Police would have their work trimmed and would be able to devote themselves with necessary assiduity to inter jurisdictional or interstate cases of breach of law.
1.8. Empowerment of village panchayats in judicial cases
At the grass root level the colonial raj, once again, made a virtue of being distant from the people. Even petty cases go before judges who are entirely foreign to the environment of the infraction of laws or of the dispute. The neutrality and the so-called impartiality of the judges have certainly not produced the desired results. Judges don't know the people concerned and the people don't know them. It would take away a good part on the burden on the courts today if matters relating to land disputes and minor criminal cases are resolved at the Panchayat level itself. This would contribute to the reduction of law's delays.
1.9. Capital and corporal punishments in case of corruption, child abuse, rape and breach of public trust.
The British penal code provides for only specific types of punishments. Death sentence , life sentence, rigorous/simple imprisonment and fine. With the passage of time the crimes have multiplied and assumed diverse forms which were not known earlier. It is necessary to introduce systems of innovative punishments e.g. the murderers could be required to bare the burden of maintenance of the bereaved families or required to serve the community that they have harmed. Particularly, heinous cases of breach of social trust, e.g. corruption, child abuse and rape need to be taken more seriously. During the socialist regime, these crimes have assumed air of social and political prestige and influence. Corporal punishments are in use in modern States like Singapore and it is certain that during the period of transition from the present lawlessness to an orderly modern State, deterrent systems of punishments would have to be innovated.
II. Pruning of The State
2.1. Abolition of extra constitutional bodies like Prime Minister's Office and Planning Commission.
The socialistic regime resulted in creation of several layers of bureaucratic superstructures. Planning Commission has no basis in the constitutional structure of the Country. It is, nevertheless, the largest bureau-cratic empire in the central government. The Prime Minister's Office used to be a very small wing. Today it, more or less, duplicates the entire work than in each ministry. The organs of this type would very simply be totally scrapped.
2.2. Substantial pruning of the expenditure on administration
The administrative expenditure of the government has reached proportions where the governmental bureaucratic machinery could be said to be existing to serve itself. The officials draw comfortable salaries, perquisites, additional incomes and make little or no contribution to productivity of the country. In fact, the administration is a major handicap given to the Indian enterprise. The administrative expenses of the State and the central governments would be brought down through:
a)giving up non-essential functions and closure of concerned ministries, departments and organizations;
b)reduction in the establishment , staff privileges and official ostentation;
c)abolition of cadre and career services.
No government post will be filled in for more than one specified tenure renewable at most once so that each government official faces the prospect of returning as a normal citizen within foreseeable future.
2.3. Opening up for competition all fields and sectors presently under State monopoly, particularly, production excepting special category defence production --, generation of energy , mining, distribution including PDS, domestic as also international trades, tourism, hostelry etc.
As a general rule the government should be divested of all economic activities. Exception has been made, for the time being, about certain categories of defence production. In many developed western countries not only defence production but even defence research is entrusted, on contract basis, to the private sector . We carry a dead weight of a large number of non paying public sector corporations. The procedure for disinvestment by lots is calculated to cause a serious loss to exchequer. The market share price depends upon the earning capacity of any organization, while the real worth of the shares might be much higher which certainly is the case in the public sector enterprises. Privatization should be brought about not by dis-investment of this type but by opening up the sector for competition, permitting entry for both the national and international investment. That would afford an opportunity to the public sector enterprises to improve their performance. If, on the other hand, the public sector enterprises find themselves unable to face the competition the capital assets that belong to them will get divested in the open market in a transparent manner without any scope for suspect deals.
2.4. Systematic and comprehensive schemes for transferring the management and ownership of enterprises to employees, consumers and suppliers of material and services so as to bring in a democracy for, of and by `haves' rather than a dictatorship of ` have nots'.
The socialist era was marked by increasing attraction for jobs both in the government and in the private sector. The liberalization will, in due course, result in fixed salaried jobs becoming unattractive and a shift towards self employment and business. One employer and many employees under one roof has been the essential character of business organization. This structure was not necessarily more efficient; in fact, it resulted in a large number of complex and difficult labour union problems and also had an adverse effect on the envi-ronment. The new epoch of entrepreneurism is likely to produce a new form of business and production organization where a large number of independent entrepreneurs would be working together under a single roof, thus combining the advantages of large scale production, specialization and individual initiative. At social political level the freedom of an individual will be sustained and reinforced by the fact that each citizen would be a property owner and, therefore, better able to resist any trends towards totalitarian rule. Attempts will be made to let blossom, not the Marxist dictatorship of the proletariats, but a democracy of the property owners.
2.5. Gradual and selective pruning of State welfare activities with transfer to appropriate institutions of compassion and piety.
The governments of all types known to history, absolute monarchies to republics, are supposed to help of the subjects in case of natural catastrophe, acts of Gods and enemy. However, the SOS activities should not be a part of government's day to day State activities. The government is required to provide a frame-work in which law abiding citizens can compete amongst themselves with a view to get best results for the society as a whole. But there would always be those who suffer from infirmities, physical, psychological or cultural, who would need extra help. This ought to be provided by separate institutions of piety and compassion so that there is no temptation on the part of politicians to offer populist slogans at the time of elections in order to secure power. The best poverty eradication program that has been working in India for hundreds of years is the `Langars' in `Gurudwaras', where any indigent person can go and expect to get shelter and nourishment, in dignity for a period of eight days. The system has had the consequence that there are no destitute mendicants in the Sikh community. If only we had utilized the resources that we have wasted on various poverty eradication programs on providing the minimal security t that would not create any vested or bureaucratic interests, the problem of poverty would have been resolved years ago. Even in the field of health and education better results would be obtained if the fields were opened up to other autonomous institutions of piety and compassion and local communities.
It is emphasized that all the improvements since independence are due to technological revolutions and have come about despite, rather than because of, the Government, e.g. self sufficiency in food, improved longevity, communication and information, transport etc.
2.6. Phased reduction in so-called developmental expenditure to match the emergence of the non State bodies to carry out work.
In India, for long decades it has been taken for granted that the development of infrastructure facilities like roads, railways, telecommunications, canals, etc. would be created and maintained by the government. This has resulted in a slow and stunted growth of infrastructure facilities and poor maintenance. The failure of the railways, the telecommunication system, the choking of roads by throngs of fuel inefficient small vehicles constitute serious bottlenecks. Even the creation, utilization, maintenance of infrastructure facilities should be subject to laws of market and, therefore, handed over to private initiative. Since the private sector has lost the habit of undertaking work in this field some transitional period will have to be allowed to pass so that the transfer from the State to the private sector be more smooth.
2.7. Promotion of the transport, communication, energy, water technology, infrastructure systems either directly or through franchising, privatization of existing services or redeployment of personnel for development work.
While the intervention of the State in any activity of an economic character is to be frowned up on, the State can be confided certain number of infrastructure activities, particularly in cases where a community interest of a region is involved, e.g. river basin development. The administrative expenditure on the staff employed by the government is enormous. For various reasons, including the legal difficulties and political considerations it may be very difficult to bid this staff good-bye with even a golden shake hand. A graceful way out would be to redeploy the staff concerned for building up of the infrastructure facilities.
III. Economic Reforms
3.1. Reduction not only in the rate of taxation but also in the aggregate tax collection so as to reduce the competitive disadvantages imposed on the productive forces.
3.1.1. Radical transformation in the taxation system so that it becomes transparent, non discretionary by relating the assessment to installed capacity, rolling stock and business or residential area occupied;
3.1.2. Recognition of the principle that no tax collecting official has the right to demand or examine any business or personal accounts of any citizen.
The taxation is used not only as a source of funds for governmental wastage but also as an instrument of tyrannizing and blackmailing the people, particularly the opposition. It is necessary to reduce taxes, particularly personal taxes and make the system of taxation objective, transparent and non discretionary. Freedom is understood by most people of our epoch as absence of bondage. In fact, freedom is an ever expanding dimension. The slavery was not considered a particularly obnoxious thing in the days before Abraham Lincoln. Today, the very notion shocks people's conscience. That a large number of people accept happily to serve others at a fixed salary would be thought ignominious in near future. Similarly, people have got so used to being tyrannized by the tax collecting officers that the manner in which the tax assesses are treated has ceased to evoke any resistance. If the tax has to be collected it does not mean that the taxation authority should have right to go into all private records and matters of the assessee. A basic principle of taxation would be that the basis for taxation should be some thing that is physically verifiable, transparent and non- discretionary. He should in no case have the rights to look into the personal accounts and correspondence of the assessee. Once the total amount that a citizen has to pay to the society from his income is settled, the whole amount need not be paid into a central treasury. The allocation of the funds in the treasury need not be left to the discretion of the finance minister or of the government. A minimum proportion of the tax payable can be required to be paid into central treasury for purposes of mainte-nance of Law and Order and security. The rest of the amount should be subject to allotment according to the individual preferences of the assessee who might give a large portion of the residual amount to educational institutions; hospitals; and so on. The allocation of the resources would then become a more democratic and decentralized process.
3.2. Comprehensive scrutiny of all governmental expenditure including standing expenses. Utmost frugality in the conduct of all governmental work, transformation of a tyrannical and profligate government into a genuine service to the community;
3.3. Prohibition of deficit financing as also of overdrafts by the State or the Central Governments for financing their expenditure;
3.4. Reduction in the burden of interest charges on national debt by reducing the debt level to correspond with the new role of the State;
The agenda of economic reform is all aimed at enabling the entire economy including agriculture to compete successfully within the domestic market as also in the international trade. The license-permit-quota-canalisation-bans-MEP restrictions will be carefully reviewed and abolished in most case immediately. The tyranny of the trade unions will be attenuated, the heavy burden coming from governmental profligacy and consequent fiscal deficits will be sharply reduced. The government will have to fit into certain economic and financial discipline so that the minimal services that the public expects from the government are delivered efficiently and at minimum cost. The basic rules of private accounting would become applicable to the government as well. It can not spend the resources it does not have.
3.5. Monitoring the regime of markets particularly the trends in profits, wages, rents and interest in the light of the consumers' interests.
3.6. Prohibition of all governmental control, monitoring and subversion of institutions of justice, intellect, piety, and expression and Empowerment of these institutions to raise their own resources;
3.7. Declaration of an early date as the `Zero Regulation Day' on which all regulations relating to licensing of production, restrictions on holding, lease, hiring, renting etc., controls on trade, export and imports will stand abrogated. Such of these regulations as are considered essential can be reintroduced on appropriate scrutiny and approval.
Switching over from a control economy to a free one is as difficult a task as drug de-addiction. The entire economy will need careful watching as if it were in the ICU. It will be necessary to vest certain exceptional monitoring powers in the reformed government so that during the period of transition there is no undesirable trend to utilize the new liberty as license for malafied manipulations.
3.8. Citizens will have full freedom of enterprise including setting up, expansion, modification and cessation of any trade or industry.
IV Electoral Reforms
4.1. Prohibition on electoral propaganda, except by written or spoken word unaided by any contrivance or public medium, during the period between the declaration of election and the date of polling
The need to spend enormous amounts as election expenses provides a major incentive for corruption amongst officials as well as politicians. Tightening the rules about collection of contributions or submission of accounts of expenditure is unlikely to bring about any improvement. The kind of regime introduced by Mr. Seshan only fortifies the bureaucracy and is susceptible to be misused. For example, the restriction on the electoral expenses resulted, in the last round of state assembly elections , in ordinary news items being paid like advertisements since this does not require to be included in the accounts to the election commission. Governmental financing of election expenses will be worse than the disease itself. The simpler solution will be that the restriction on election propaganda applied 36 hours before the beginning of polling should be put into effect as soon as the elections are announced.
4.2. Introduction of the system of proportional representation
India is a nation with wide diversity of races, faiths, cultures, languages and interests often clashing harshly with no single group enjoying numerical majority. A truly representative legislature in this country would have been very diverse and the governments more composite. In fact, till recently, we have had single party majorities most of the time. The non representative character of the government has been a major cause of the political alienation and turmoil. This was deliberately managed through a highly contrived system copied from the British system based on territorial constituencies and first-past-the- post winner. This electoral system has been a source of great misfortunes for the country. The mutual distrust amongst the principal communities gave rise to what was called the communal problem in the pre independence days. The largest majority community insisted on obtaining separate electorates that inevitably produced partition.
Dalits only got reservation of seats. The tricky elections system works in favour of the largest single minority. The representation in the Indian legislatures is necessarily skewed. The proportion of votes polled by any party has little relation with the number of seats it wins. The larger party gets a logarithmic advantage.
Thus it is that the Congress has won comfortable majorities with barely 45% of the votes in most of the elections. The system of reservation forces one single personality on voters of the reserved constituency. The electoral system has been further vitiated by the system of reservations. Now that the reservation in jobs is sought to be extended to those converted to Christianity or Islam, it may soon be extended to elective posts. Reservation of 30% for women has also created similar complications.
Under the present system, a scheduled caste voter is required to vote only in his capacity as a member of a scheduled caste community. The voter concerned may also be a doctor or an artist and might very much wish to have his vote cast in a manner as to influence the decision on the field of his choice. The electoral system thus encourages communalism, casteism and other divisive tendencies. All this could be eliminated by the introduction of proportional representation system which has worked satisfactorily in similar situations in other countries.
4.3. Elected representatives to have full freedom to take positions, express themselves and vote according to their conscience on all matters except when such positions are inconsistent with their electoral commitments or manifesto.
The anti -defection bill has given legal and even moral sanction to defection provided it is done in large enough group. A free market has been created for sale of people's representatives. There has to be a qualitative criterion for identifying cases of indiscipline and defection. At the same time, unrestricted tyranny of the party bosses needs to be discouraged.
V Special Corrective Measures
Finally, half a century of socialism has let more than half of the citizens remain deprived of the basic dignity of human life. It also allowed a community of cronies to a mass of wealth beyond the wildest dreams of even a Maharaja of the British days. Specific and rapid corrective actions are called for in the following matters:
5.1. Rehabilitation of scavengers, prostitutes and criminal/nomadic tribes.
5.2. Making all private property jointly owned by the family.
5.3. Public scrutiny of assets and wealth of those who have held public office or post in the public or co-operative sector for over five years.
SWATANTRA BHARAT PARTY POSITION ON CERTAIN CONTENTIOUS ISSUES
'Stability' is the main theme of the ensuing electoral campaign. It looks attractive, given that the last parliament had three prime ministers within less than two years and that successive cabinets dithered in urgent matters like petroleum prices. The economic reforms were virtually suspended since the left component of the United Front (UF) dug its feet in. A weak government had no alternative but to capitulate abjectly on pay-hike. An impression has, therefore, gained that it would be in the interest of the Country to have a single-party government that would be able to have its will on the strength of an assured majority on the floor of the parliament.
The idea would bear a closer look. Alliances are not necessarily bad. They have worked successfully for decades in several prospering European countries. So would the UF have worked here if it were less heterogeneous. Officially the UF was committed to economic reforms, but pursued many nehruvian policies because the minuscule group of leftist parties had just the critical strength to tip the balance and hijack decision-making. The massive import of food grains, the expansion of the Public Distribution System, diverse populist 'free lunch' programmes, failure to deregulate the economy, unwillingness to reduce the administrative expenses et al. were all consequences not so much of the composite character of the government as its vulnerability to pressure from its leftist components.
The UF was a prisoner of its past. For long years after independence, Congress had the hegemony of power while the opposition consisted of diverse opposition parties who had little in common except their anti-congressism. The Ayodhya episode made the Hindutva parties sort of untouchables for the UF partners as well as the Congress. The Congress Party , old enemy numero uno, has started looking less heinous by contrast to the UF -- but not good enough to share power with it. The pro-reform elements in the Congress and in the UF could have come together to form an alliance government that would have provided not only stability but also reforms and progress. Unfortunately, Mr. Kesri went berserk and the President of India was not inclined to give the alliance-culture a real chance. What failed in 1997 was only one incongruous alliance of mutually contradicting parties and personalities, not the alliance-culture per se.
'Stability' thus becomes an attractive slogan and the voter may conceivably fall for it. He may be in for a surprise. A party winning an assured majority in the parliament and hence a mandate to run its government through a period of five years may not be an unmixed blessing. In fact, it may spell disaster on the economic front.
Right since independence, the trauma of the partition and the perceived external threats and diverse separatist movements all combined to drive people to favour a stable and strong center in a highly disparate country. This was difficult even while the generation of freedom fighters was alive and active. A strong center was artificially fostered and maintained through a clever contraption. The elections were patterned on the British system of territorial constituencies and 'first-past-the-post' system. This permitted the largest single minority a disproportionately high representation in the legislatures. With 40-45% of votes a party could manage to have as much as two thirds majority.
In a country with such wide diversity of faiths and cultures a system of proportional representation or a rule, as in France, that required the winner in each constituency to obtain an absolute majority would have produced parliaments more truly representative of the national panorama. We would, in that case, have been pushed to the alliance-culture at least 35 years earlier.
Stability by itself is not an advantage. Out of the 50 years of independence we have had single-party governments enjoying absolute majority for all but five years. The post-independence decline happened despite continuous political stability. In fact, there is reason to believe that India's failure to keep its 'tryst with destiny' was largely due to the political stability rather than the absence thereof.
Mr. Nehru used his solid majority to abandon Gandhian tenets and to herd the parliament into accepting planning, industrialisation, commanding public sector and closed economy. Mrs. Indira Gandhi used her Durgamata majority to pamper the bureaucracy, to promote a host of hare-brained anti-poverty programmes and to step on the toes of a couple of friendly neighbours by directly encouraging insurrection. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi wasted his sympathy wave majority on synthetic fibres, Bofors deals and Doon-culture programmes. Briefly, 'stability' has historically been bad for India. Strong governments tend to be irresponsible.
The new government will need, in order to avert the impending economic crisis, to turn the government machinery inside out, deregulate the economy and pursue supply-side economic policies. But such radicalism will demand strength, courage and conviction rather than a rubber-stamp majority.
2. Reservations in legislatures for women
The SBP is closely associated with Shetkari Mahila Aghadi (SMA) -- the Women's Front of the mainstream Farmers' Movement in India which initiated in 1986 the campaign that women should contest all seats in the Panchayat Raj elections in Maharashtra. The political establishment, disturbed at the prospect of the awakening of a new consciousness amongst women, invented the subterfuge of 33% reservation for women with a system of rotation of reserved constituencies which, unfortunately, is the model for the bill tabled in the Lok Sabha for consideration.
The SMA has done pioneering work to get political representation for women. Its credentials on the subject are irrefutable.
We have, nevertheless, serious doubts about any system of reservation being an instrument of ensuring social justice to any community. It is our conviction that reservation is particularly inappropriate to correct gender injustice. The actual experience in most states has confirmed our apprehensions. Reservation of seats for women has resulted in the womenfolk of the established leaders parading as representatives of women with no improvement in performance and no reduction in corruption.
In fact, this reservation has given rise to resentment amongst those who normally sympathize with the women's cause. Reservations for women is being pushed by women in the creamy layer consisting of professional politicians and activists of funded non-government organizations. Men who have hazy ideas about the women's question and are afraid of being branded as `non-progressive' tow the lines taken by self-professed and self-serving champions of women. We, however, appreciate that reservations is , at present, a fashionable word and perhaps it is too late in the day to argue against it.
The SBP is strongly opposed to the manner in which the reservations are proposed to be implemented, particularly to the system of rotation for determining the constituencies reserved for women candidates in any particular election that is certain to prove calamitous both to the women's cause and to the nation.
The rotational system consists of drawing by lot 1/3 of the total number of constituencies that will be reserved for women, excluding constituencies that were reserved on the occasion of the last election. The system has serious consequences.
1) The constituencies drawn need not necessarily match those where the most meritorious women candidates belong. Good candidates in the prime of their activities might find themselves deprived of the possibility of contesting elections.
2) It would become extremely difficult, barring those who are exceptionally charismatic, or otherwise advantaged women, to get elected from unreserved constituencies.
3) As a combined consequences of 1) and 2) above, it would become impossible for any woman to get elected twice to the Lok Sabha or to any state assembly.
4) Election for two successive terms will become even more difficult for male as they may not be, in 50% of the cases, able to contest elections from the same constituency.
5) Women legislators will realise that they can not contest from the same constituency in the next elections and men legislators would know that chances of their contesting from the same constituency is 50:50. The slim chances of getting to contest two successive elections for the same seat will adversely affect the servicing of the constituency.
6) In cases of resignation, death, incapacity of the incumbent legislator or dissolution of the house followed by a mid-term election, the advantage of being a reserved constituency might not be equally available to all constituencies.
7) Only 1/3 of the voters will be able to exercise a vote in favour of women.
These disastrous consequences of the rotational system for the national economy as also the polity have not been fully understood or examined.
The evil effects of the rotational system could be avoided if a system of three-seat constituencies is introduced. Three of the existing constituencies will be combined to form a single constituency. Each voter would have three votes at least one of which must be used for a woman candidate. The two candidates winning two highest number of votes in each three-seat constituency will be declared as elected for two general seats irrespective of their sex. The third seat will go to the woman candidate who wins the maximum number of votes from amongst women candidates not taking into account the winners of the two general seats.
This system is free of all the defects of the rotational system. It suffers from the minor handicap that the constituencies will become unwieldy. The large size of the constituencies might, in fact, prove to be a blessing in disguise since the merit of the candidate rather than the propaganda carried out in the immediate pre-election period will play a more significant part in the choice by the voters, The multi-seat constituency system will also permit voters to spread out their votes amongst different candidates and parties in a manner that will better correspond to their scale of preference. The present system permits the voter to accept or reject a candidate/ party without any possibility of taking an intermediate position.
3. NATIONAL CIVIL CODE
The proposed Common Civil Code has been, for some times, the subject of a wide spread national debate and that the debate is being dominated largely by the denominational dogmatists and by the self-seeking politicians,
Article 44 of the constitution contains a directive principle that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.
The directive principles in the constitution were adopted at a time when the State was viewed as the supreme arbiter and authority in all matters social, economic, cultural, educational et al. The SBP on the other hand believes in a minimal political government and a plurality of governing institutions and is, therefore, opposed to the idea of the State deciding considered moral or ethical.
Further, according to the Constitution, the Indian Republic is a secular State, which means, 'equally skeptical of all religious dogma' and not a State enclosing the dogma of all faiths. However , a uniform civil code would be a laudable objective in the long run and the best way of endeavoring to introduce it will be through the elaboration of an optional and norm-setting national civil code:
1) Elaboration of a National Civil Code connotes neither disputing the relative merits of various religious, civil systems, nor imposition of one religious code on all the peoples, nor a hotchpotch melange of diverse religious stipulations;
2) The National Civil Code must represent a well integrated scheme based on equality, justice and reason;
3) Every citizen of the Republic should be a-priori considered as being governed by the National Civil Code; however any citizen or his guardian should have the possibility of opting for the civil system of any of the established systems of faith;
4) The State judicial system should not intervene in civil disputes between citizens opting for the same religious code;
5) Disputes between citizens for a single religious code be decided according to the National Civil Code, should any of the parties choose to take recourse to the official judicial system.
6) Disputes between citizens appertaining to different religious codes will be subject to the National Civil Code.
4. ABROGATION OF ARTICLE 370
The question of abrogation of the Article 370 of the Constitution arises if and when the constituent Assembly of the J & K State makes a recommendation to that effect to the President of India. At the present juncture, the issue is being raised with an eye on the appeal it has for the communal vote.
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