AGENDA FOR TRANSFORMATION
For a liberal and free market-oriented party that seeks to increase fairness and opportunity for the people, create a just and fair society and an empowered and confident citizenry.
I. Governance reform
1. Bureaucratic, police and judicial reform –
(i) incorporate citizen feedback in appraisals
(ii) improve training, living conditions, remuneration increase through performance-based
(iii) ability to hire experts laterally
(iv) compulsory retirement from bureaucracy at 40 years though older political appointees/on fixed term contract basis, permitted after 40 years of age
(v) fast-track judicial processes by use of smart ideas and technology (mobile courts, judicial BPOs, artificial intelligence, imposition of real costs and complete restitution to be guiding principles)
(vi) life term of judges, unless removed for poor performance
(vii) Commercial courts/arbitration to resolve large disputes in 12 months and small disputes in 6 months
2.Shift focus of the state to “quality” over “cheap”
- Cheap is best mindset has resulted in poor quality of all public infrastructure, products and services
- Consequently, private enterprise is incentivised to profit through non-transparent means, which needs to change
- Citizens must have a right against poor quality – right to damages, seek correction etc.
3. Business reform and ease of doing business –
(i) sectors –
Agricultural: treat it as a normal economic sector –
- ability to trade lands without restrictions
- create a free market for agricultural produce
- expand the market for farm produce by incentivising food processing
- industries and the multi-brand retailing sector
- incentivise take or pay contracts, creation of private market places
- remove land ceiling
- right to minerals to the owner of land
- change of land use to be permitted with light supervision
- incentivise private businesses to train farmers in new technologies and farming methods
- facilitate microfinance and rural insurance and create regulators to monitor behaviour of such businesses
- incentivise private enterprise in agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation, storages, waste to energy projects, farmer and e-markets, rural road connectivity
- right to property to be restored as a fundamental right
- compulsory land acquisition to be limited to essential purposes and in such a case, compensation to include value enhancement post development of acquired land
home, cottage and small-scale industries, including traditional art and craft –
- ability to set up on self-certification basis
- make tax compliance easier
- incentivise private investment to provide training to prospective entrepreneurs
- incentivise creation of multiple marketplaces for products
- facilitate microfinance and insurance
- tap into the history, food, handicraft, traditional art and religious tourism opportunities
- incentivise agencies to skill the population in the tourism space, including as guides and in hospitality
- incentivise building of tourism infrastructure, including hotels, home stays, connectivity by road, rail, air and waterways, tour operators and travel agencies
- incentivise coastal tourism, and make it easier to set up private and public marinas, jetties, own boats and seaplanes
- incentivise river and freshwater body tourism, building of riverfronts and lake waterfronts,
- privatise operations and maintenance of historical sites
- set up tourism police and tourism courts
infrastructure development –
- city infrastructure, including transportation, pollution control and waste management, building bylaws and real estate regulation
- roads, bridges, ports, airports, train stations, bus stations to be developed by private enterprise including on PPP basis
- power generation, transmission, distribution, to be privatised and competition be introduced in the sector
- telecom and broadband connectivity – incentivise establishment of high-quality networks
- high-speed roads and train services – interconnecting cities, thereby helping to decongest large metro cities
- water purification and distribution – improve public health and meet
- waste treatment systems
- transportation services, including airline, private planes/jets, road transportation, trains
- city rail/metro services to be developed
- hospitality and recreation – including hotels, amusement parks,
- primary healthcare facilities made available to all
- courtroom facilities to be enhanced and made comfortable
- police stations to be improved and made citizen friendly
- public spaces to be improved under PPP models
utilize coastlines and waterways –
- incentivise coastal tourism, including allowing cruise liners, island resorts, coastal transportation, set up minor ports to support tourism
- allow setting up of jetties and marinas – use coastline for leisure activities, water sports,
- help establish industry to build smaller coastal vessels, yachts, maintenance facilities etc.
- develop river waterfronts on PPP basis
- use river systems for transportation
housing for all –
- incentivise slum redevelopment in cities
- facilitate inexpensive housing in rural India
- decongest cities by providing connectivity and incentivising housing developments outside cities/in satellite towns
primary health care for all –
- Establish a healthcare regulator
- Allow private healthcare in a significant manner
- Incentivise traditional healthcare and Ayurveda growth
- Improve focus on clean air and water to reduce health risk
- Implement food laws to ensure unadulterated/quality food production
- The state should limit itself to providing health care facilities to areas that are uneconomical for private enterprise
- Promote medical tourism
waste management –
- establish a waste management regulator
- privatise solid waste management in cities and rural India
- incentivise waste to energy projects and industry
24/7 electricity and 24/7 drinkable water for all –
- State should withdraw from electricity generation, transmission and distribution, & water purification and distribution
- Ensure competition between private players in the power and water sectors
- Ensure the effectiveness of regulators
- Focus on high quality 24/7 electric and drinkable water supply
- State to supplement private investment in areas that are uneconomical for private enterprise
(ii) move to a compliance regime as against a licensing and approval regime
(iii) ensure a fair and speedy enforcement of contracts – impose actual costs, seek security on the grant of injunctions that increase costs for the injuncted litigant etc.
(iv) simplify taxation and reduce tax levels to enhance revenue
- Income tax slabs to be increased – annual incomes up to 12 lakhs to be free of taxes
- Indirect tax levels to be reduced to 4 to 12%
- Compliance processes to be made easier
- Citizens to provide feedback on unreasonable tax man behavior – feedback to be incorporated in performance evaluation of the tax man
- Tax evaders to be imprisoned – but only after a judicial finding of gross evasion
(v) Public tender – move to optimal quality over the current L1 (lowest price) method of awarding public contracts
- No bids to be accepted below estimated cost price + 8% profit margin
- Public tender contracts to evaluate bids for follow-on/ancillary contracts
- No re-negotiation of public tenders after award under any circumstances
4. E-governance and transparency – all administrative and judicial decisions to be reasoned
- All government decisions, along with reasons, to be shared on the government’s transparency websites – exception for strategic national security reasons
- Follow up questions be under RTI
- All citizen interaction with government and court orders, with reasons, to be published on websites
5. Environmental protection and afforestation
- Rejuvenation of rivers and other water bodies
- Largescale afforestation drive
- Strict implementation of pollution control measures
- Focus on harvesting rainwater and recharging the groundwater table
- Focus on solid waste management – both in cities and rural India
6. Education reform – vocational and skill-based (to improve employability)
- Focus on education to be skill enhancement
- Education to follow an application-oriented approach
- Permit private schools, colleges, and institutions – with profit motive
- Schools set up on PPP basis to hold 50% seats for students from economically weaker sections of society
- Government schools – to provide low-cost education, funded by CSR contributions and state budgetary allocation
- Regulatory emphasis on quality of education and educational infrastructure
- Focus to be of creation of high-quality employable workforce
- State to limit its investment in education to areas that are uneconomical for private enterprise
7. Courts to refrain from hearing PILs – an alternate PIL tribunal to be established
- Focus of courts must move back to providing expeditious justice in dispute and such situations.
- Courts to limit themselves to interpreting the law and to refrain from stretching the duty to interpret into an ability to legislate.
- All legislation to remain the domain of elected representatives or, in case of delegated legislation, administrative offices.
- A special tribunal could be set up to deal with governance failures – whose decisions would be subject to judicial review (limited to the testing appropriateness or correctness of the PIL tribunal’s decisions).
8. Improve tax compliance and eradicate black money – a primary tool to be lower taxes and ease of compliance
- Electronic transactions to be preferred over cash – build incentives for electronic transactions
- Strict enforcement of the law against black money/benami property
Use the Aadhar system, but to ensure a robust legal regime to protect data and privacy
9. Right to property to be restored as a fundamental right – forcible land acquisition to be compensated on basis of price after change in land use and development
10. Privatisation of public sector companies
- State ought to try and limit itself to providing governance and creating a suitable entrepreneurial environment for the citizens
- Citizens to be incentivised to contribute to social justice, creation of an empowered society and poverty eradication issues
- Use privatisation revenues to invest in healthcare and education
11. Intellectual property: Patent rights protection to be limited to 3 years
- Profiteering from any invention/intellectual property beyond a 3-year period must be stopped
- Copyright protection to be limited to 6 months
- This will also enhance the need for constant scientific innovation
- This will make medicine, including lifesaving drugs, medical equipment etc. accessible to the common man at lower pricing
- Entertainment will be cheaper and easier to access
- However, strict restrictions against passing off a must – hence trademark protection essential
II Political reform
1. Place high premium on integrity of members and in particular leaders – corruption cannot be limited to financial corruption, but all forms of unfair dealings will be prohibited
2. Al party members to have an alternate source of income unless restricted by law – this will reduce the need to make a livelihood from the political process
3. Democratic party (frequent internal elections) with empowered ground-up leadership – ensure frequent internal elections and empower party units at various levels financially
4. Transparency in electoral funding – all fundraising to be reported and published. Contributions of more than Rs. 5000 will not be accepted in cash. Quid pro quo, if any, to be disclosed on web site
5. Serious criminals barred from the party
6. No dynasty politics – new entrants permitted to operate outside the area of significant influence of existing party member
7. Refuse to recognise cast, religion or community within the electorate – avoid even discussing or taking decisions on cast and community political influences
8. Frequent training of leadership and workers – skill enhancement to enable constructive opposition and effectiveness in governance
1. Affirmative action to replace reservation – primacy on merit
- Reservation is one form of affirmative action. The purpose of affirmative action is to provide state support to a deprived section in society. /li>
- The Indian state decided that the measure of deprivation would be linked to so called historical social injustices, i.e. historical cast based inequality. This has had the inadvertent effect of keeping cast distinctions alive, while the object was the opposite.
- Also, reservation has adversely impacted merit, demotivated other sections of the population, and benefitted only a tiny percentage of the population. Further, benefits of ongoing reservation seem to be cornered by families that are early beneficiaries of reservation. Hence, as a system it its effectiveness has been limited.
- In providing state support through affirmative action, benefits should not be limited to those whose ancestors suffered cast injustices (as if other forms of injustices are not relevant) and should be made available to all deprived citizens in today’s society.
- Proposed alternate:
- Eliminate reservation, since it adversely impacts meritocracy and keeps cast distinctions alive.
- Move to affirmative action, such as providing financial support, redirecting CSR efforts, providing education subsidy, business incentives etc. This will increase the percentage of beneficiaries.
- Emphasis the need for English language education, since English is the global business language, to deprived sections.
- Further, to strike at cast/class distinctions, state incentives should be made available in case of inter caste, inter community and inter religious marriages.
2. Enhance right to self-defence – allow open gun licensing
- Every citizen has the inherent right to defend himself/herself.
- The right to defend oneself with use of arms was taken over by the State on the basis that the State’s armed force/police would provide such defence to the citizen.
- Where the State’s armed force/police is unable to provide this protection, the right to bear arms must revert to the citizen.
- This right is also relevant since a criminal will always carry an illegal weapon, leaving a compliant citizen defenceless against a criminal/preparator.
- However, the right to bear or use arms will not dilute other provisions of criminal law. And hence the right to defend oneself with an arm would be subject to limitations under criminal law.
- Further, persons with a criminal record will not enjoy the right to carry arms.
- The ability to carry arms will also contribute to establishing a more confident society.
- The benefits of a right to carry arms, far ought to weigh the negatives.
3. Decriminalise, permit and regulate prostitution
- The principle cause of sexual harassment of women in the Indian context is male frustration. Availability of sexual release on commercial basis will significantly reduce this frustration and thereby reduce sexual harassment of women.
- However, laws against forcible exploitation of women/men for sexual purposes will be strictly enforced.
- Further, like any other profession, citizens should have the right to provide commercial sex, provided it is safe, hygienic and out of free will.
4. Decriminalise gay sex, adultery and bigamy
- The idea of criminalising gay sex, adultery and bigamy has never been native to Indian tradition and culture. It is an import into India and based on an antiquated belief system.
- None of these should be a crime and there should be no discrimination on this basis; an exception being that any of these might be grounds for divorce.
5. Implement a uniform civil code – equal treatment for men and women
- All laws must be equal for all citizens, regardless of gender, cast, community of religious practices.
- The idea of separate personal law is a historical construct, the time for which is in the past in a modern world which is focused on the notion of equality.
6. Women to be encouraged to join armed forces and police – target 30% women
- Like the right to carry arms, many women in the armed forces/police will enhance the confidence of many women and is one practical approach to bringing true equality in gender.
- Also, there is no reason why a woman bearing arms would in any manner not be as effective as a man carrying an arm and defending the country/enforcing the law.
7. Focus on reviving and strengthening constructive Indian tradition and culture,
8. Secure and protect the freedom to eat, drink, wear clothes, live, express oneself, etc. – limited only by law and not by sensibilities of others
IV. Structural reform (these will need constitutional amendments)
1. Directly elected prime minister/president (same for chief minister/governor)
- The principle here is that the chief executive of the state must at the first instance feel responsible directly to the citizens and not to the elected representatives (i.e. not to MPs, MLA or their party leaders).
- Hence, in executive decision making, the chief executive could take decisions without having to balance the interests of the members of the Lok Sabha/state assemblies or party chiefs.
- Consequently, decisions will not be taken to preserve an office/chair.
- However, in legislative decision making, role of the parliament or state assemblies will not be diluted.
2. Lok Sabha and State Vidhan Sabhas to have 50% seats on proportional representation and 50% on present election format
- This would be an improvement over the current system, i.e. re-elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
- Every party with a significant vote share (say more than 5%) will have the ability to be represented in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies
- Independents too would have the ability to be elected through the current system of elections
3. Smaller states
- States must be broken into units that are easier to govern – say 75 to 100 small states
- The split could be based on geographical or cultural considerations
4. Federal structure
- Central government must control defence, foreign affairs, judiciary, currency, federal offences, central taxation, etc. (list I in the constitution)
- States could have control over other administrative matters without interference from centre – state police, state taxes, etc. (list II in the Constitution)
- Article 370/special status laws for states should be abolished
- Citizens should have freedom of movement, occupation, acquire land and residence in any state of choice
- No state can discriminate between residents of that state and another state
5. Local authorities
- Local administration without interference from center or states (introduce new list IV in the Constitution)
- Local authority to have enforcement ability/police
- Local taxes to generate revenue locally
6. Constitutional review
- The existing Constitution is based largely on the Government of India Act, 1935, which was framed by foreign rulers
- Hence, many provisions in the existing Constitution may need revisiting to give primacy to ideas of freedom, primacy of the citizen, the role of the state in serving the citizen, federalism, speedy judicial processes, enhance predictability in law (move away from common law to a rule-based system), etc.
- Introduce a Supreme Court of Appeals and another Constitutional Supreme Court