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Issue No.: 573 | March 2015
 

Sone Ki Chidiya’s Total Reform Agenda : An Executive Summary

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Upon becoming independent, India started with a reasonably good Constitution based on the principles of classical liberalism: liberty and strong property rights. But the promise of a free India was short lived. We were soon to experience decades of growth in the size of the government machinery and intervention by government in the ordinary lives of citizens.

Big government (both incompetent and corrupt) destroyed enterprise and significantly curbed liberty of thought and expression in India. India now ranks poorly on international comparisons of liberty and prosperity. With some economic liberalization in the 1990s, one form of illiberalism (statism) did recede, leading to spectacular improvements in many aspects of life. However, other forms of illiberalism, such as religious bigotry, seem to have since strengthened, along with intense crony capitalism. Our democracy has seriously decayed, with the corrupt and criminal fast-tracked into Parliament, even as good people mostly choose to stay away.

There is an exodus of the best and brightest Indians to lands which offer liberty and opportunity. By all benchmarks, India is independent but is definitely not free.

A fundamental overhaul of our governance system and policies

We need to leash the government and unleash the people. This requires a complete overhaul of our governance systems and policies.

This agenda, underpinned by the philosophy of liberty, proposes reforms to ensure that only honest politicians are motivated to join the political system, and that our bureaucracy is accountable and competent. It also proposes a suite of economic reforms and world-class regulatory models and frameworks to enhance liberty and accountability. These reforms involve an overriding emphasis on individuals over institutions, with a government that acts in the general public interest rather than particular vested interests, a government that is less costly but more effective, small but strong, less intrusive and which ensures the rule of law and equal treatment for all.

Key reforms detailed in this manifesto include:

1. A new machinery of government and world-best governance frameworks. This involves:

a) State funding of elections on per-vote basis, fast-track courts to dispose all cases involving elected representatives within one year, and high salaries (but no perquisites or pensions) for politicians to ensure good and competent people enter politics, and the criminals and the corrupt stay away.

b) Consolidation of Central Governments departments into no more than ten, contractual appointment of each secretary (selected from the global open market except where national security is involved), with all further senior appointments made by the secretaries or their delegates on contractual basis without any right to natural justice upon dismissal. Replacement of the IAS and all other tenured services by contractual, accountable executives at senior levels of government, with (at the earliest opportunity) repeal of the Constitutional provision for all-India services and special protections for public servants.

c) Strong and independent tier of local government, with the power to employ CEOs on contractual basis to deliver high quality local services and infrastructure.

d) Implementation of world-best policy and regulatory frameworks (including regulatory impact statements, cost-benefit analyses that are independently assessed; and policies to maximize competition and ensure competitive neutrality). In general, a government should provide almost no services directly, including utilities and education, but enable the people – also known as the private sector – to do so, subject to appropriate (including incentive) regulation.

e) Elimination of corruption within three years through a radically improved governance and accountability system, including a radically restructured real estate system.

2. A focus mainly on first order functions, being the essential functions of the government: 

a) Urgent establishment of law and order and the rule of law, including security for everyone (particularly women) and quick and effective justice for all. This would include freedom of speech at the level assured by the First Amendment of the American constitution to its people, and religious freedom: with the state and religion kept entirely separate. 

b) Reducing taxation, broadening the tax base, and significantly increasing tax compliance to end black money. Along with pruning unnecessary functions, this would bring down inflation and achieve triple-A rating for any remaining government debt. 

c) Economic reforms, including removal of unnecessary restrictions on production and trade, to enhance productivity and create opportunities for entrepreneurs, thus creating a vast number of jobs. This will include facilitating deeper engagement with Asia and delivering more growth from Asia.For farmers, these reforms will involve untrammeled freedom of access to markets and technology while (incrementally) eliminating the minimum support price (MSP) and suspending agricultural loans during a transition period.

3. Performing second order functions only after the first order functions have been performed well: 

a) Procuring or motivating the creation of high quality infrastructure, including in the areas of transport, power, water, sanitation and broadband. Our focus will be on ensuring world-class 21st century infrastructure to facilitate commerce, reduce congestion and increase productivity. 

b) Reasonable equality of opportunity for all, including access to high quality school education for the children of the poor (through privatization of the entire school system, and targeted vouchers for the poor), health cover for the poor, and total elimination of extreme poverty in three years through targeted negative income tax.

Our plan will deliver freedom and (therefore) jobs and much higher real wages for all Indians. It is reasonable to project India as a $50 trillion economy (in current US dollars) by 2050, should the reforms outlined in this manifesto be implemented in their entirety.

For the full (and latest) copy of the agenda please visit http:/ /sonekichidiya.in/
 
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