India! I dare you to be rich

Category Archive: Swarna Bharat Party

Rowan Atkinson has blasphemed Christ. Let’s kill him, shall we? (to my Muslim commentator friend)

A good commentator friend on this blog has been persistingly quizzing me on blasphemy laws. I, the ill-informed man that I am, oppose any role for the state in blasphemy. He believes it harms people's emotions, hence we should prohibit blasphemy. Or something to that effect. See the discussion in the comments section of this blog post.

But I just came across (by sheer accident – no, my Christian friends, I was not actively searching for it) the following blasphemous act of Rowan Atkinson.

Why, this is scandalous! How dare Mr. Bean speak thus of Christ?

Let's kill him, shall we? – my question is addressed to Shadab. Bring out a saw…

=======

On a serious note, I'm publishing the current draft freedom of speech policy of Swarna Bharat Party:

Freedom of speech is the lodestar of liberty. Without it no other liberty exists.

When Lillian Gobitis Klose refused to salute the U.S. flag as an act of conscience, Justice Robert Jackson’s said: ‘If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.’

Freedom of speech is not always pleasant to hear. It can be used by obnoxious people or those we entirely disagree with. But the free society believes that it would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. Defending freedom of speech means also defending the speech rights of people one profoundly despises.

A mature democracy therefore insists on absolute freedom of speech. USA set the example for the world in this regard through the First Amendment to its Constitution. That example has not been exceeded to date for it is simple and comprehensive. It states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The American First Amendment is not outcome-dependent. The US Government is barred from restricting speech no matter any good results that would result from the restrictions. The dangers of allowing the government to restrict speech overwhelmingly outweigh whatever benefits accrue from such restrictions. The USA will never have Nazis and fascists in power, not because America is free of racism or authoritarianism, but because, when a crazy idea is discussed freely and openly, that idea is can also be refuted freely and openly. The more any idea is suppressed, the stronger it becomes.

This was all we needed in the Indian Constitution. Unfortunately, that’s not what we got in the original Constitution. And by now these rights have been so badly diluted that we no longer have free speech protections in India. As a result, India’s press freedom ranks 140 out of 181 nations in the world.

India must have absolute free speech on the lines of the Americans. Nothing less will do. The only restrictions would relate to actual harm (when it is no longer speech), such as direct threats or direct incitement of violence or libel that commercially harms others. And, of course, it is reasonable to expect time-based programming (e.g. on TV) for appropriateness of the audience.

India has a proud heritage of free speech, open discourse and tolerance. Unfortunately, during British rule we lost much of this openness and have never recovered. Draconian laws like s.153A and s295A of the Indian Penal Code pander to fundamentalist delusions and threats. Many more draconian laws are now rampant across India. These must go.

To achieve absolute freedom of speech in India:

  • We will introduce a Constitutional amendment that assures Indians the free speech rights that the citizens of the USA enjoy.
  • We will repeal all laws that curtail freedom of speech (e.g. s.153A and s295A of IPC and s.66 of the IT Act that makes certain online comments an offence) or allow bans or censorship. The colonial provisions of sedition and blasphemy in our laws are entirely inconsistent with free speech. We will amend s.124A of IPC to check the misuse of sedition by state authorities against political malcontents. The amendment will incorporate the Supreme Court’s interpretation in 1962 that, no matter how much the accused spreads ‘disaffection’ against the government, sedition can’t be invoked unless he incites people to violence.
  • We will revoke all bans, e.g. on books and movies, except those involving libel and a direct threat or direct incitement of violence. We will also democratise broadcasting services (TV, radio) on payment of market-determined fee for spectrum.
  • We will abolish the Censor Board. The market can readily supply any necessary rating agencies (e.g. a film industry body) to classify films for viewing suitability by age. Adult Indians do not need a government to tell them what they will nor not watch. If a government functionary in a Censor Board presumably does not fall into depravity by viewing a film before it is censored, it is preposterous to suggest that Indian adults will become depraved or violent by seeing it. Indians must be accountable for their violent actions, regardless of whether they have watched a movie or read a book.
  • We are dedicated to internet freedom. The internet offers a communication system uniquely free from government intervention. We will remove regulatory barriers to internet innovation and prevent any unnecessary interference with new technologies. We object to the governance of the internet by any governmental or intergovernmental organization.
  • We will review laws regarding national symbols and the flag to bring them in consonance with freedom of speech. The rights of citizens – who may choose to express their dissent in loathsome but peaceful ways – are more important than the rights of a nation to its symbols. Symbols do not trump freedom of thought and of conscience. 
Continue Reading

Fund raising appeal: Rs. 3 lakhs to set up systems and office for Swarna Bharat Party. Please commit funds.

Date of fund-raising appeal: 9 December 2014

Swarna Bharat Party is happy to announce that:

1. After being after registered in June 2014, it was decided after a 5-day workshop in July 2014 to activate the party. 

2. We obained the PAN number (AALAS5994H) in November 2014.

3. Bank account is expected to be opened in the third week of December 2014 after a key office bearer returns to Delhi from Bihar.

We are proposing to launch the party's presence in electoral politics in the forthcoming Delhi elections. The key objective of this initiative is to introduce the SKC agenda to India, and to get good people to start looking at India's national liberal party.

To activate the party we have hired a professional website desigher to prepare a fully revamped professional website. We are also doing background work to establish an accounting and membership system. Thereafter we will set up an office in Delhi – including a person employed to manage day to day affairs.

These costs are tightly managed, and members are contributing in kind (and of course, time) to the extent they can. However, we also need to raise funds to meet these costs, including the costs of initial marketing of the party.

We have estimated that a minimum of Rs.3 lakhs is needed at this stage, to set us up for the next three months. Thereafter, we'll review and issue any further fundraising appeal.

At this stage we are only seeking commitments. SBP will call on the committed funds after its bank account is opened. We expect to call upon the committed funds by the third week of December.

Please do not commit to donate if you are not an Indian citizen. NRIs can donate but not OCIs/ PIOs. The amount donated to SBP is allowed as deduction under Section 80GGC of the Income-Tax Act. Please note that we are committed to publishing names of donors (and city but NOT the detailed address, phone number or email ID). 

Any funds raised above Rs. 3 lakhs will be retained by the party for future work. 

PLEASE CLICK THIS to complete a short form to make your commitment. Or visit http://goo.gl/forms/yC7kajJnvH

YOUR SMALL CONTRIBUTION WILL ADD UP. TOGETHER WE WILL CHANGE INDIA.

[Source]

Continue Reading

Revised brochure for Swarna Bharat Party: 28 September 2014

A slightly revised SBP brochure has been published today. Please provide your thoughts.

DOWNLOAD

Word: http://swarnabharat.in/Documents/SBP-Brochure.doc

PDF: http://swarnabharat.in/Documents/SBP-Brochure.pdf 

TEXT PROVIDED BELOW. Please share this blog post widely.

===xxxx===

Swarna Bharat Party

A party committed to your liberty – and prosperity

India’s governance is in shambles but most existing parties have let us down. India’s governance failure is systematic but our major parties are part of the problem by refusing to implement reforms, pandering to caste and religion and to the lowest common denominator. Claiming socialist goals of helping the poor, they subsidise the rich and are hands-in-glove with corrupt businesses. Crony capitalism is rife. And our politicians are actively blocking the voice of the people through numerous anti-free speech laws. No one in the elected assemblies of India speaks for our freedoms.

In this doldrums of under-performance, China is fast rushing ahead of us in many fields and poses a strategic threat. We urgently need to get our act together to become a major power committed to human rights and liberty. We will soon have the world’s largest population. We need to quickly become the world’s greatest nation in every way, before totalitarian and medieval ideas now on the ascendant pull us down into the level of many of our Middle Eastern and Asian neighbours.

Swarna Bharat Party

Swarna Bharat Party was created on 1 June 2013 (and registered by the Election Commission on 19 June 2014 ) by a group of classical liberals led by the Freedom Team of India (FTI) to fill a deeply felt void in Indian’s political offerings. We came to the regrettable realisation that virtually none of the current existing political parties in India are capable of providing corruption-free governance that will ensure freedom, equality of opportunity, rule of law, and justice to every citizen of the country. This realisation was the outcome of over a decade of searching for solutions to India’s disappointing performance and quality of life.

We believe SBP has an excellent constitution but are open to total restructuring of the constitution should we receive better ideas.

As far as policies are concerned, we are keenly aware that without addressing the basis flaws of our electoral and bureaucratic system, no genuine change can occur. We fully support the Sone Ki Chidiya (SKC) total reform agenda, being created under the aegis of Sone Ki Chidiya Federation, which is managed by FTI. We believe the SKC agenda has assembled world-best policies, and we are committed to working with the Federation to improve the agenda. We will work with the people of India to demand reforms that are both desirable and feasible. We are aware that reforms need to be suitably transitioned so there is minimal disruption to society.

It is time to bring sanity into Indian politics.

SBP rises well above religion, regionalism and caste. We are a nationalist classical liberal party: committed to India and liberty. Our aim is to bring Rabindranath Tagore’s dream of Heaven of Freedom, Gokhale’s and Tilak’s dream of Swaraj, Sardar Patel’s dream of a strong and powerful India, Gandhi’s dream of non-violence (of the strong: for the weak have no other option) and Rajaji’s and Minoo Masani’s dream of liberal government – to India. In doing so we appeal to India’s long held traditions of scientific temper, open debate, free speech, and tolerance.

We are determined to make India once again a Sone Ki Chidiya. We are committed to fight for your liberty and to ensure every Indian gets a real chance to make his or her dream a reality.

Activating the party from August 2014

Despite registering the party, we were not keen to activate it, should any other alternative be found. There was great hope in July 2014 that all liberal parties will agree to a process to merge. But that hasn’t happened – yet.

But given absence (at the moment) of any common liberal platform which those who are committed to liberty can join, it has been decided in late July 2014 to activate SBP. We remain acutely aware of the need for all liberals to come together. Unless India’s various small liberal parties merge and jointly undertake national-level actions, they cannot impel real change. It remains our hope that in the near future SBP and other liberal parties will come together on a common platform with a common agenda. We hope that the Sone Ki Chidiya reform movement will create an agenda acceptable to all classical liberals of India.

Once all liberal parties agree to a common agenda and principles of democratic functioning, total transparency, and ideological clarity, we can work out ways to merge under one umbrella.

National Executive

SBP’s initial national executive committee has evolved from the 5-day meeting in late July 2014 and has started functioning as an initial body for the party. There are around 20 people on the national executive. The plan for SBP is the following:

1. We are getting our PAN number and opening our bank account.

2. We are preparing a new website.

3. We are trying to build a membership system.

4. We are trying to build an accounting system, with accounts being as public and transparent as possible.

Only after the membership system is established can we give formal membership to members. Further, only after the basic systems are established can we start various state and local branches.

In the meanwhile the Delhi branch has been started with the process for building up the party country-wide being conceptualised. Liberals from Delhi are invited to come on board.

Join Swarna Bharat Party

Although Swarna Bharat Party is very small at present, it represents the GREATEST IDEA IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF INDIA: our liberty and prosperity. Please lend your support to build India’s most modern and ambitious political party. You can indicate your expression of interest by visiting http://swarnabharat.in/membership/. Someone will get in touch with you.

Continue Reading

Update re: Swarna Bharat Party’s activation and plans

As many of you are aware, it was decided in late July 2014 that Swarna Bharat Party be activated, given absence (at the moment) of a common liberal platform which people like me and others from FTI can join. It was a great desire in my mind for the July workshop earlier this year that all liberal parties agree to a process to merge. But that didn't happen. 

So we'll now activate SBP and take it forward, with a view that sometime in the near future other liberal parties can come together on SOME common platform, with a common agenda.

SBP's national executive evolved from the 5-day meeting in late July 2014 and has started functioning as an initial body for the party. There are around 20 people on the national executive.

The plan for SBP is the following:

1. We are now getting our PAN number and opening our bank account.

2. We are preparing a new website.

3. We are trying to build a membership system. 

4. We are trying to build an accounting system, with accounts being as public and transparent as possible. 

Only after the membership system is established can we give formal life membership to all members. Further, only after the basic systems are established can we start various state and local branches. 

In the meanwhile a Delhi branch has been started. Those of you from Delhi can now get involved. 

Separately, the SKC agenda is being prepared for printing (1000 copies or so) by end-2014.

We are keen and would like to get all liberal parties in India to come together through the SKC agenda. Once all liberal parties sign up to the common agenda, we can work out ways to merge under one umbrella. Without coming together as a team, the liberals of India are unlikely to make any impact on politics for a long time to come.

I request all liberal parties to carefully review the SKC agenda and approve it in writing, so we can put their party's name in the printed version later this year.

Please indicate expression of interest in joining this party by visiting http://swarnabharat.in/membership/.

 

Continue Reading

10 main reforms to take to the people of Delhi in the forthcoming elections

There are some tricky jurisdictional issues about Delhi that come into the picture, as well. These will need to be better understood. However, I had done some thinking around this issue some time earlier, so I’m noting these points for ready reference. I’d like to add that I’m not committed to these being the ten top reforms, and am open to being persuaded about more promising reforms for Delhi. The manifesto of the Swarna Bharat Party will contain a more comprehensive package, but this is a preliminary list of top 10 reforms.

1. Change in the departmental structure and bureaucratic management to ensure accountability

Without making the bureaucracy accountable, NOTHING can be achieved. This reform will not be as comprehensive as that detailed in SKC agenda. But much can be done directly by the Delhi government. The reform includes combining departments into a few large departments, each headed by a Super Secretary to the Government. The Super Secretary of each department – who will supervise all IAS and other officials in the departments – would be appointed on a contract of three years in the first instance at a salary of around Rs.75 lakhs per annum. Such Super-Secretaries would be eligible for a performance bonus of up to Rs 25 lakhs per annum for meeting their performance contract, which would include tight control over corruption and the delivery of high quality services. Such persons would be recruited from the open market. Any IAS officer wishing to be considered for such a role would need to resign upon appointment to such a position.

This reform will ensure hassle free interaction with government offices, e.g. licensing (RTO), water and electricity departments, etc. As accountability dramatically increases, corruption will dramatically decrease.

This will involve a radical increase in the level of transparency. The Super Secretary will be required (through KPIs) to pro-actively publish data related to government activities along with expenditure records (such as details about each road or park).

2. Drastic increase in the number of necessary jobs

The overall theme of liberty with accountability in the SKC agenda will ensure that Delhi becomes the golden land of opportunity. In addition, government jobs will be created in two basic areas: (a) radical reshaping and improvement of roads and waste management; and (b) radical improvement in landscaping and public amenities in Delhi.

These jobs will create hygienic living conditions in Delhi. All open drains will be closed and strewn garbage eliminated. These will also create aesthetic surroundings through god roads, clean parks, greenery, underground electric cables etc. In particular Delhi’s roads need to be straightened (particularly around older villages, and all tiled sidewalks replaced with cemented blocks. All sidewalks will provide disabled access for people with impaired mobility. These actions will generate a vast number of new jobs and also make Delhi the most liveable city in India. In a few years time, Delhi could aim to compete with the better cities of the world.

Public safety will be made the direct liability of the Super Secretary of the infrastructure department, with any damages for injury from roads/ sidewalks paid personally by the Super-Secretary. Parking on sidewalks will be heavily fined. Specific parking places will be created and auctioned across Delhi in the colonies, to ensure that no car blocks traffic or the side walk.

3. Dramatic change in the real estate system to eliminate all black money from the system.

This change would take around three years to implement, but after that there should be no possibility of any black money in any real estate transaction. This will also include complete overhaul of the developer system to ensure that the mafia that currently operate in this sector are brought to book.

4. Dramatic change in the school system to ensure that the poorest of the poor start receiving high quality education

This would involve full implementation of details outlined in the SKC agenda. This would take around 3-4 years to implement, given the significant change involved. In the meanwhile, great focus would be given to improving teacher quality. This will ensure that all schools have decent infrastructure, e.g. toilets, library, furniture, etc.

5. Radical improvement in the water supply and sewage system

This will involve either implementing incentives in the government water undertaking for performance, or if that’s not possible, then entirely privatising the system through public tender and bringing it under regulatory control. Supply will be provided at a regulated cost that takes into account future infrastructure needs. Unauthorised habitations will also be provided water – at cost. Temporary Infrastructure will be built as matters of property rights are resolved (these matters can take around four to five years to resolve, after the land system is entirely modernised). Sewage management will be professionalised, as well, with appropriate incentives.

6. Radical improvement in the electricy system

This will involve more intense regulation, and ensuring that incentives are aligned with desired outcomes. Supply will be provided on payment.

7. Transport system to be revamped entirely

In particular, focus will shift towards managing the demand side through appropriate congestion levy. The taxi and auto markets will be fully liberalised, and bus competition will be increased through innovative models such as kerb rights allocation. Supply side improvements will also be undertaken to the extent these are cost effective.

8. Revamp of agriculture

The APMC acts will be abolished and farmers in and around Delhi freed from the requirement to sell in mandis. This will allow for competition in the wholesale sector, In the long run, proper wholesale produce markets will be established.

9. Drastic reduction in unnecessary business regulation

Delhi will be made the most business friendly city in India by drastically eliminating all unnecessary regulation, and ensuring that all modern techniques are implemented to make it easy to do business in Delih. Under no circumstances will innovative technologies like Uber be prevented from operating in Delhi. [I request the PHD chamber of commerce and other industry associations to provide their business improvements suggestions for Delhi]

10. Radical modernisation fo the health system

Delhi does not exercise control over many of the large hospitals in Delhi. However, the SKC agenda will be implemented in Delhi to the extent possible, and all means of increasing competition in the health sector considered and implemented.

In addition, overall administration will DRAMATICALLY improve and corruption will reduce even more dramatically, almost to be come non-existent in three years.

DESIRABLE BUT CAN’T BE DONE BECAUSE DELHI IS NOT A FULL STATE

1. Electoral reforms as outlned in SKC agenda

2 Change in the local government system as outlined in SKC agenda

3. Full reform of the justice system

4. Rezoning of lands to allow high rise residential buildings within 20 kilometres of Connought Place (subject to aircraft clearance requirements)

5. Elimination of poverty as outlined in the SKC agenda

6. Security: Although the Delhi Government does not have Delhi Police under it’s control, the Delhi government can cover all public places with world-class CCTV infrastructure with active remote monitoring. In addition a citizens’ volunteer force can be organised to help people report crime.

Continue Reading

Indians are spending billions on higher education abroad, determined not to return to India’s socialist nightmare

Lok Nath sent me an email he had written to a government functionary in 2009. I've extracted and lightly edited (and cleaned up spellings). Let me say he is very passionate and has said it very well. LET LOOSE THE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM AND INDIA WILL DO WONDERS.

===

Our great Architects [have] ensued that NOT everybody gets quality education. Why do Indians have to go to Australia and other countries to study at the first place spending 20-30 times the tuitions in India. They are all from middle class families whose only aspiration is a good education for their children.

These students never want to come back, believe me. If one is 1000 does, out of "mera bharat mahaan" principles, he/she only comes back to work for a multinational company only to get disappointed vis-a-vis the quality of life that their peers have and starts hunting for jobs again.

Had they been assured a quality education in India that they DESIRE, they would never go out at the first place.

Now here [are] the statistics:

 -About 350,000 foreign students (close to 100,000 being Indians) study in Australia. India gets 8,000.

-There are over 3300 Universities and Accredited Colleges in USA for a population that is a quarter of India

-UK and Ireland has over 250,000 Indian Students

-The US and Canada has over 500,000 Indian Students.

Here of some of suggestions:

1) For the kind of population esp. the young population we have, we need at least 2000 more universities of International capacity. This is what a well-read liberal economist has to say on his blog.

Adjusted for population size, relative to Australia, India gets 133 foreign students. That is not a typo. Let me spell it out: it is a hundred and thirty-three, not one hundred and thirty-three thousand. Australia get around three thousand times the number of students per capita compared to India. (India is approximately 60 times Australia’s population.)

How much do Indians spend in studying abroad? Estimates range from a conservative $5 billion to a generous $10 billion per year. That a humongous sum. Why do Indians go abroad to study? Because they are forced to. India does not have the colleges and universities for them. Why? Because the government does not allow free entry into the education system. It’s the Congress party with its Nehruvian licence-quota-permit-control raj. It makes them money. It helps them get votes by restricting supply and then doling out the limited supply to favored vote banks based on religion and caste. They — the people of the Congress party — make money while the country suffers huge losses.

2) You need to build a system of lifelong education.

3) You need to build a framework of continuing education by establishing "professional societies" of equal credibility as in west.

 3) Get the existing faculty to deliver. Put the content for free on the internet

 4) Let Private sector manage this all. Don’t regulate the fees like a pseudo-socialist. The fees can be offset by the whole ecosystem of Govt. sponsors and banks.

 5) Let Banks fund the education with liberal repayment. 

Continue Reading