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India's Liberal Political Strategy: 2004 and beyond Presentation for the Seminar organised by India Policy Institute: 9 January 2004. Version 0.1 28 December 2003. contents. About the Seminar Workshop highlights Strategic review Strategic analysis Strategy Action Plan Your role.
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Presentation for the Seminar organised by India Policy Institute: 9 January 2004
Version 0.1 28 December 2003
“The greatest impediment to action is … the want of that knowledge which is gained by discussions preparatory to action.”
1 Ajay Gandhi, Director (Finance), IndiaPolicy Institute and proprietor, Wings software
2 Antony Joseph, Executive Director, IndiaPolicy Institute
3 Ashok V. Desai, Consultant Editor, The Telegraph. Former Chief Economic Adviser, GOI, significantly responsible for implementing liberalisation in 1991
4 Barun Mitra Founder Director of Liberty Institute, Delhi
5 Bibek Debroy Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, Delhi
6 Gurcharan Das Author of the book, "India Unbound" (Knopf) which has just been filmed by the BBC. Columnist Times of India. Mr. Das was CEO of Procter & Gamble India before he took early retirement to become a full time writer.
7 Jayaprakash Narayan National Coordinator, Lok Satta (ex-IAS)
8 Madhu Kishwar Editor, Manushi
9 Parth Shah President, Centre for Civil Society
10 Pramit Pal Choudhuri Foreign Affairs editor, Hindustan Times
11 Rakesh Wadhwa Active liberal, Gurgaon/ Kathmandu
12 S.V. Raju President, Indian Liberal Group and former Secretary, Swatantra Party
13 Sanjeev Sabhlok Director (Public Affairs), IndiaPolicy Institute (ex-IAS)
14 Sauvik Chakraverti Editorial Director, Centre for Civil Society and author, "Antidote" etc. (ex-IPS)
15 Shalini Wadhwa Active liberal, Gurgaon/ Kathmandu
16 Subodh Kumar Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung
17 Sharad Joshi President, Swatantra Bharat Party
18 Tara Sinha Former CEO of Tara Sinha McCann-Erikson
19 Ramesh Ramanathan, Janaagraha
20 Swati Ramanathan, Janaagraha
1 Ajay Gandhi
2 Antony Joseph
3 Ashok V. Desai
4 Barun Mitra
5 Bibek Debroy
6 Gurcharan Das
7 Jayaprakash Narayan
8 Madhu Kishwar
9 Parth Shah
10 Pramit Pal Choudhuri
Mix religion and politics
Role of government in economic activity
Economic role of govt
Clear road ahead
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
M. K. Gandhi
3. assess environmental factors
1.Identify current mission and strategic goals, if any
carry out strategic plans
maintain strategic control
4. assess human resource factors
These conditions cannot happen if we are to go ahead
Dissonance among leaders; no “followers”
No funds, few candidates, no hope of victory
pressure to abandon
Better to not begin such a thing
Lesson No.1 : Liberals are no different to other human beings, and we should be
humble and accept our individual limitations
Gandhi too had many preconceived notions; the one difference was that he had less of them than others and was willing to continuously learn. He wrote in Community Service News, September -- October, 1946, "I have great concern about introducing machine industry. The machine produces too much too fast, and brings with it a sort of economic system which I cannot grasp. ... as we grow in understanding, if we feel the need of machines, will certainly have them. ... we shall introduce machines if and when we need them." He kept saying that he was a seeker for the Truth and was happy to be corrected. Obviously one man can only learn so much in one lifetime so we can understand why he could not understand the capitalist system of Adam Smith. If he could find the time to understand it, he would have surely changed his views.
Liberals will need to build a political organisation that is based entirely on rigorous thinking, and complete equality.
Lesson No. 2: Never tolerate a person on the Executive Council who does not challenge any view that the person does not agree with.
Just because someone says so, does not make a thing true. Even Masani made such an appeal, that eventually destroyed the party. At page 79 Pasricha says, "Mariswamy, the general secretary of the Madras party, was arguing against the alliance [Grand Alliance of 1971] fairly cogently, when Masani interrupted with the remark that Rajaji was in favour of the alliance. A sudden, dramatic change came over Mariswamy. He stopped in midstream and abjectly announced that he withdrew his remarks unreservedly and totally. It struck me as extremely peculiar that the leader of the National Executive level should so abjectly withdraw his considered opinion merely at the mention of Rajaji's opinion. This is a small illustration of the type of leadership the Swatantra party was able to scrounge." Subservience to autocratic "rule", real or perceived, is a more natural state of man than democracy, particularly in India.
Never accept a sheep or 'yes men'.
Lesson 3: Nip the evil in the bud
At page 130, Pasricha talks of Masani being "fed up with the state of indiscipline in the party." At page 36, Pasricha points out how the Jan Sangh nipped in the bud any deviationist by expelling him from the party. People who discriminate against women, Harijans, Muslims, etc., etc., need to be blocked at the doorstep, but if they manage to infiltrate, they need to be expelled at the first opportunity.
Nobody in the party seemed to be bothered about building a set of workers who would proselytise. Apostles were in very short supply. A corps of trained, devoted workers, functioning under the direct control of a centre, could have sown the gospel far and wide and counteracted the prevailing socialistic rhetoric." "No attempt was made to formulate a detailed scheme for the training of cadres." (p.115) The party clearly did not have a strategy for the long-term. It was dependent on Rajaji in more ways than one.
Lesson 5: Do not contest elections until fully ready
Repeatedly, Pasricha shows the ill-judged keenness of state leaders as well as National leaders to contest elections well beyond the capacity of the party to organise. Resources need to be spent strategically and very prudently. Recklessness and haste can only destroy. That is one more reason to have ‘big picture’ strategy to be continuously reviewed.
Lesson 6: Never consort with parties the do not have the same principles
The moment the party compromises its fundamental principles, it is as good as dead. We are liberals. We do not provide Indian citizens with a hodge podge of policies - strictly liberal only.
Lesson 7: Ensure rigorous audit of the party
Tendency of state units to be highly factionalised, based on feudal or caste principles. All the demerits of existing political parties began to rapidly emerge in the State units of the Swatantra party including financial irregularities. A rigorous audit of party membership, funds, processes, etc., is essential for the party to not deteriorate "around the fringes".
Lesson 8 : Place a significant membership fee
By putting a low membership fee, wealthier individuals with political ambitions are able to enrol a significant number of dumb followers by paying for their fees.
Lesson 9: The importance of allowing joint stock companies to fund political parties
Force Field Analysis
Old guard (Swatantra)
Scale of 1-10, 10 being ‘big’
KEY CHALLENGE: How to overcome this
1. Indian liberals tend not to see themselves (in a theoretical framework) as providers of governance services, but providers of gently tendered advice to socialists and ruffians through newspapers and booklets. This mirrors what liberals did with the British in 1890s to 1930s, but that method made them irrelevant to India's freedom. One sees the provision of governance as a fundamental liberal obligation, but there are few takers of this basic theoretical view. Ie., of the two key pillars of liberalism, viz., capitalism and democracy, we are 100% at ease with capitalism but 0% with democracy. Most of us preach participation in democracy by the people but shun it like leprosy personally, since democracy is a beautiful word but "too dirty" to touch. We may be half-liberal in a theoretical sense. We have no (or few) Thomas Jefferson or James Madison or Edmund Burke, or Rajaji or even Sapru.
2. We have extremely limited resources in terms of funds, support or people; almost no Indian industrialist of any standing has any interest in promoting liberalism, leave alone a liberal political alternative. We do not even know 50 people who would like to come to the seminar on 9th January.
3. The intricacies and enormous magnitude of the needed effort are not readily appreciated nor the complex problem of inventing a viable incentive system to sustain the effort. .
Humility and courtesy
One on one persuasion
"impossibility of weaning away the half-starved, illiterate electorate of India from the fantastic charms evoked by the repetitive intonations of the blessings expected from the socialistic haven the Congress was building." (Pasricha)
If a powerful and simple message can be created, it will attract people and resources. If such a message had existed in the past, this workshop would have been completely redundant, since someone would surely have taken the message to the people. A major focus therefore has to be in determining whether we have a distinctive and attractive message, and what does it look like? The message would have to be short and persuasive. None of the potential messages so far have met that criteria.
Fact: The election commission cannot recognise a party unless it declares allegiance to socialism. No existing political party, including the BJP has any interest in changing this.
But can a Liberal party be formed with such coercive “allegiance”?
OPTIONS: The Constitution does not define socialism
Ethics: The word “ethical behaviour” does not exist in the dictionary of socialists. They cheat at election time, and fleece the people whenever given an opportunity to govern. Telling a lie in such a miserable situation for the sake of changing the situation so that lies need not be said, is ethically sound.
To achieve an India with the highest standard of living in the world.
To provide durable and long-lasting, highest quality of governance services compatible with principles of economic, social, religious, and political freedom to the people of India.
Solutions that exhort others to do something different or differently or that require human nature to change are not acceptable.
The citizen’s trust and advancement is our most valued asset: trust that is obtained through unflinching insistence on integrity with no compromise on basic principles. We insist on the highest ethical standards in public as well as in private life.
Nothing that we do will be of any value if it does not in some way assist the poorest of the poor in India in making their life better.
Full prepn. of party and policy documents
GO NO GO
Liberals decide to deliver a national party; sign documents
TESTING THE WATER