What economic policies does India need to provide progress for the enormous mass of its poorest people?
A friend writes:
"What would you like to see in the manifesto of political parties on economic development in India?
"Can you lead a small team to help us articulate that, with a focus on the 75% of Dalits, Tribals, Minorities and BCs who are left out of the development processess and gains?
"On XXX (date) a group of about 100 dalit and tribal leaders are meeting at YYY (place) to discuss the way forward to the elections of 2014. Please support this initiative.
"If you are willing I'll set up the groupon Economis policy to work with you on this".
The policies needed are simple:
1. Clean, efficient and just administration committed to encouraging development, not control (i.e. administration should stop interference in self-development efforts of the people, e.g. all impediments, such as the Foreign Contributions Registration Act, need to be revoked)
2. Good roads, drinkable water, basic health facilities, provision of an educational system that makes sense
3. A legal system that works (appointment of a sufficient number of *suitable* judges, committed to the values of the Indian Constitution - not people like the High Court judge of a Rajput caste who had to be ordered by a Court to release his 30-year old daughter from captivity because she wants to marry a Brahmin)
4. Liberalisation of economic activity (most of the licences, permits and registrations in our country are not only useless, they are counter-productive). A *very* few essential things need to be retained and those can easily be identified and agreed on.
The problem in our country is not "avidya" or lack of knowledge about what needs to be done.
The problem in our country is "paap" or sin (we knowingly do wrong things in order to benefit ourselves even if it results in great hardship for many other people).
We do not need more manifestos, we need clear commitment to undertaking actions. AAP and other such rule-of-law parties are coming together to create a national front. Let us support this new movement.
Congress and BJP are on their way out.
On that topic, I will send you an article, which is due to be published in the next edition of The International Indian magazine (Dubai).
Born and brought up in Delhi, but from the age of 3 to the age of 8 in Amritsar and started school on holiday in Srinagar. Leaving Amritsar, at school for a year in Solan. Otherwise in Delhi, studying at J. D. Tytler School and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, then at St Stephen's College, where I eventually taught for 3 years. Then 3 years at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Political exile from India in 1976. Lived/studied/worked in Scotland for 3 years, England for 16 years and Switzerland since then.