31st March 2012
Some thoughts on Arvind Kejriwal’s model of governance
Thanks to Bindu for linking to this video:
I've been broadly aware of Arvind's model of governance in the past. Let me now elaborate on some issues that Arvind touches upon in this video, and I'll send this blog post to him for his information as well.
STRONGLY AGREE WITH ARVIND ON THESE ISSUES:
a) Strong local government
I agree with Arvind that decentralisation is crucial for any system of good governance. In BFN I've strongly advocated local government – and provided examples of how this can be done.
The idea of direct democracy, though, is unrealistic. Referenda should be held only on one or two issues per generation. I'd like the new Constitution of India (to be drafted) to be approved through referendum. There is a huge risk that through such models of "direct" democracy, that elites and particularly those with plenty of idle time on their hands (and SIGNIFICANT foreign funding, like Arvind?) will gain control over the national agenda. [Btw, Arvind, you MUST tell the people clearly that you have been significantly funded by foreigners. And now that you are actively participating in POLITICS, please assure the people that you will never again accept funds for your work from foreigners.]
b) Decentralisation of power
On this I'm entirely with Arvind. There is NO reason why a government should dabble in anything apart from defence, police and justice. All other things should be done by the people themselves, whether as a cooperative, private agency, or any other model. Let there be a thousand local experiments. 80 per cent of the powers of state governments should be devolved to local bodies, and departments of education/health purely act as regulators, not as direct providers of services.
STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH ARVIND ON THIS:
c) Anti-free trade position
I notice that Arvind made some very strong (and significantly ill-informed) comments re: the role of foreigners in India, in particular against trade. But trade that is voluntarily engaged in, is the essence of democracy. Since Arvind cites ancient Indian kings let me assure him that Chanakya was a great votary of trade, and also, that India DOMINATED world trade till around 1750.
On this matter – of economic policy – Arvind needs to go back to the drawing board at once before uttering one more word – for he is making comments that are seriously at odds against liberty.
IT IS CLEAR THAT ARVIND ONLY PARTLY UNDERSTANDS THE MEANING OF LIBERTY
Let me say this clearly: Arvind you NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF आज़ादी.
Arvind needs to internalise the concept of liberty.
Arvind, please be clear: India only had an independence movement. It NEVER had a freedom movement. So if we never had the first freedom movement, we can't possibly have a "second" one. Can we?
Arvind, please also note that in BFN the highlights of ALL world-best policies (not only in the field of democracy but in the fields of public administration and economic policy) have been suggested. Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India must also be compulsory reading for Arvind.
Arvind, assuming you are SERIOUS about the outcomes you seek for India (and not in it just for the sake of petty awards from foreigners) you will benefit by paying attention to the findings of those who (like me, for instance) have spent (over 30, in my case) years thinking and practicing public policy. And yes, there are many others whom Arvind can read and benefit from. Start with Hayek, then read Friedman, Demsetz, and Masani.