November 17, 2012
My second comment on Arvind Kejriwal’s Swaraj
A few months ago I pointed out some very serious flaws with Arvind's book, Swaraj. This is my second comment.
Shailesh Saraf asked today the following on FB:
This is in response to your question on Swaraj below. I hope other FTI members will also weigh in.
I am surprised that at least some FTI members do not appreciate the simple and sexy concept outlined in Arvind Kejriwal's book 'Swaraj'. Here's my quick take. We face 2 big issues: Too much government and too much centralization of power. Swaraj directly addresses the second issue and indirectly solves the first one. Every village/mohalla that is fully empowered to decide its own issues will discuss in its general assembly and allocate all issues in 3 buckets: 1) issues to be solved and executed collectively by everyone 2) to be delegated to representatives and 3) to be left to the market. Even if most villages initially keep most issues in the 1st bucket, competition among villages for talent, capital and other resources, will quickly force all villages to move towards less govt. Further, much easier for you to sell liberty to the few thousand people in your village vs. selling it to 1.2 bn people. Even if you fail or don't want to, much easier for you to move to your preferred village from the lakhs of available options vs. having to move to a different country altogether.
Shalish, the problem is most fundamental. The classical liberal demands liberty as the first principle. Just direct self-rule doesn't meet this requirement. A constitutional limitation on government is the key.
Arvind's Swaraj is extremely confused. It doesn't start with liberty as its premise. It jumps too many steps in a sensible policy thinking process. Please check the policy competition template at: http://freedomteam.in/policy for an idea of what such steps might involve.
I'm happy to see a single policy that meet's Arvind's mental model and qualifies the FTI policy template. I suggest that is impossible since Arvind's models is focused on self-governance.
That is an entirely incorrect way to look at things, for it ignores the purpose of government. Decentralisation of power is ONLY valid within the framework of a tightly limited role for government (at any level, including village). I advocate strong but LIMITED self-government – that is very strongly circumscribed constitutionally.
Arvind's model doesn't display any theory of state. Anything goes, so long as a village decides. That's totally inimical to classical liberal rule of law model.
In brief, if a Gram Sabha says I can't drink alcohol, that is NOT acceptable – if it also has the power to enforce it. There can be NO Gram Sabha anywhere in India with power to impose its will and reduce ANYONE'S LIBERTY.