Thoughts on economics and liberty

Arvind Kejriwal’s theory of the state #1

Following on from my blog post here, I found a few minutes to go through this document (Comprehensive Note on Swaraj) available at Kejriwal's website:

Assuming this is Kejriwals' theory (although not a comprehensive theory of state) let me note at the outset that its broad thrust – of greater local government and more direct representation – is almost entirely  consistent with what I've been writing about (in terms of local government reforms). The classical liberal model is strongly compatible with subsidiarity.

However, Kejriwal goes overboard and makes too many wild assertions.

Thus, he says: "we inherited from the British too many of governmental systems that were wholly unsuited to our values and needs". These are fighting words – and might even represent some misguided Hindutva conservatism.

But remember, our Constitution was written ENTIRELY BY INDIANS. To suggest that India's constituent assembly was a bunch of fools who were merely copying institutions that the British had created, and merely created a system incompatible with "our values and needs" (whatever these are), is a serious error of fact.

Indeed, Kejriwal will be well advised to study the history of democracy and note that English democracy itself (which allowed universal suffrage only by 1928), was evolving even as India's democracy was designed a few decades later.

To suggest that we have merely copied UK's institutions or those it established in India is absurd. Ambedkar was eminently educated in law and economics, and was a great scholar. He brought the best of the English and American models to India. True, our current constitution is a hodge podge but it did represent state of knowledge of 1950. No better constitution existed then. The underlying model that is followed in India's constitution (Westminster system) works pretty well in England and Australia even today, for instance.  

What Kejriwal forgets to note (and which I discussed in BFN) is that England has moved on in many ways (and others like Australia and New Zealand too) to more incentive-compatible models of governance. Even the Cornwallis reforms in India were diluted by socialists.  Kejriwal doesn't seem to display a strong understanding of modern reforms in governance – nor the necessary change in incentives needed in India. I'd urge him to read BFN (and the online notes).

Finally, Kejriwal's handbill says: "In last 60 years, we have tried every political party and every politician. But things have gone from bad to worse. Merely changing parties and politicians won't help."

That's a SERIOUS MISREPRESENTATION. India DID NOT TRY "every" political party. It did NOT try any classical liberal political party – ONLY socialist parties. What can possibly be expected from socialist parties except "scheme raj" (the multiplicity of schemes to "remove poverty") and total misgovernance? Socialism is the underlying cause of India's misgovernance, but Kejriwal's paper doesn't even show the REMOTEST understanding of that. He imagines that simply by having more local power things will become miraculously better.

Once again I invite Kejriwal to read BFN and to consider revising his ideas to understand the causes of India's misgovernance.

There is NOTHING intrinsically wrong with India's model. It just needs to be modernised and made incentive-compatible. And we need to discard socialism in every form and shape. These "schemes" that Kejriwal talks of, must go.

– that's it for now; more comments on Kejriwal's theory later, as I read/understand more. Please send me comments/ links to relevant documents.

ADDENDUM 1 February 2014


Arvind Kejriwal did not plagiarise Swaraj. Evidence from my 6 blog posts since September 2011.

Comparison of Arvind Kejriwal's 2009 Note on Swaraj and the 2012 book. #1

Comparison of Arvind Kejriwal's 2009 Note on Swaraj and the 2012 book. #2

Comparison of Arvind Kejriwal's 2009 Note on Swaraj and the 2012 book. #3

Comparison of Arvind Kejriwal's 2009 Note on Swaraj and the 2012 book. #4

Comparison of Arvind Kejriwal's 2009 Note on Swaraj and the 2012 book. #5

Comparison of Arvind Kejriwal's 2009 Note on Swaraj and the 2012 book. #6

Ajaypal Nagar’s text was not even paraphrased by Arvind Kejriwal. The claim of plagiarism cannot be sustained.

AAP couldn’t find anything else but my blog to defend Arvind Kejriwal against the charge of plagiarism!

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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5 thoughts on “Arvind Kejriwal’s theory of the state #1
  1. Vishal Kumar Singh

    I may not accurate on my points as  I did not get into major details for lack of time.
    Sanjeev – I did spend some time on lokrajandolan website. It is about local governance which is good. The point which struck me they really are trying to make a bureacat or elected representaive a servant of people in all possible way. The bureaucrat or elected representative should only listen to people and not have any of his mind of his own. After recent events I am more wary that citizen mean mobs.The mobs will now run administration. There are shades of collectivism all around in the site. It looks like there are no requirements of professionals to run the administration.

  2. girish

    there is an underlying assumptions made here that people of this country are dumb and there is no such thing as collective wisdom…the reason why we are debating this is because governance has failed miserably on all counts……to dismiss people as mob is an insult to people of this country…….60yrs and political parties still go to public with slogans of roti kapda aur makan whereas even a smallest country like sri lanka has fared better than us on human development index…………..given a choice most people would migrate to even countries like Kenya,Indonesia and Fiji. haahhaha………of course elected representatives are public servants and elected govt should be called a serving govt and not ruling govt….Do they not say" hume seva karne ka mauka dijiye"…why  and when they get elected they start behaving like tyrants….did u ever come face to face with local corporator after the elections………haha…mean they are gone and not to seen for next 5 yrs…….there is a huge disconnect …now coming to point where u say -should elected representative not have mind of his own…I'm asking one simple question-do u need a rocket science to fix the problem of roads,sewage,Garbage management,traffic woes,water etc etc………only if they can step into our shoes for a moment….but do they really care….in corporate world if dont perform for 3 quarters ur fired but these people go on and go on for years and years…………

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Vishal could have perhaps expressed himself better. He did qualify that “after recent events” he is more wary that “citizen mean mobs”.

    I FULLY agree with you, Girish, that people are NOT dumb, and that there is collective wisdom in crowds. That’s well documented, well understood.

    Having said that it is THEY who in their collective wisdom have elected these thugs for the past 60 years.

    It is THEY in their collective wisdom who DO NOT WISH TO SUPPORT people like me – who are both honest and competent.

    It is THEY who refuse to understand what good policy looks like.

    It is THEY who refuse to enter politics themselves assuming they know better.

    It is wonderful that a person like Vishal Singh has joined FTI, and is willing to offer himself to the people of India as a representative. He will obviously learn a lot as he goes along. However, it is TRAGIC that “educated” people like you (and Arvind Kejriwal, if I may say so), merely COMPLAIN against others but REFUSE to participate in the politics of their nation.

    Even assuming Arvind’s model is right (which is only partly true), he MUST lead the reform by getting the laws changed through parliament.

    By shirking that responsibility and moving to the streets to MAKE laws, is a very poor show.


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