Note that this is an archival page (i.e. not current. It is placed here to inform further debate/discussion within FTI)
FTI’s DRAFT policy formulations on this page. are very preliminary and will be developed through 2009 and 2010. FTI aims to release all its draft policies for public comment. These drafts can change fairly dramatically as the team (of 1500 leaders) assembles, as well as in response to public comments received over the next two years.
FTI policies released so far are listed below in chronological order of their release:
B) Policy snippets (early drafts)
As a general rule the policies implemented will either be proven best practice from around the world, or best practice as advocated by outstanding thinkers. These will be enabling policies which increase freedoms of the people, give them more choice, and generally provide them with a stable framework of rules, security, and equality of opportunity within which they can succeed in proportion to their talent and effort. There will be an intermediate phase for policies (where necessary), to ensure a smooth transition.
Political system reform
The reason why good people do not enter politics as a vocation is because MPs and MLAs are paid very poorly and they are guaranteed to lose money in contesting elections. State funding of elections (about Rs.15 per valid vote polled) will be introduced. In addition, election expenditure limits will be abolished even as accountability for funds spent is increased. Finally, MPs and MLAs will be paid significantly more than they get today, while abolishing their hidden perquisites.
Administrative system reform
The civil service will be completely reformed in three key ways: (a) senior positions will be made contractual, and paid significantly more (b) existing tenured civil services will be abolished and (c) the number of government departments will be reduced to 10.
Distinction between state and religion
The vestiges of interference by the government into religious affairs will be abolished. The government will not manage or fund religious institutions or occasions. For instance, the subsidy to travel to Haj will be abolished equally as Hindu and Muslim laws will be repealed, and no government functionary appointed to the Tirupati Temple.
Reforming public finance
Only a little over 1/6th of our GDP is spent on services provided by government, with at least a quarter of this being sucked out by corruption; so Indian governance runs on 1/8th of our GDP. It is important to increase the tax base, through broadening it, to a level of roughly 1/4th of our GDP, to allow the government to provide high-quality services.
India’s defence and security has been compromised infinitely more by politicisation and corruption by socialist governments than by leaks of information. Almost the entire information handled by the Government will be made directly accessible to citizens through the internet. The obvious exceptions to this will be: content that identifies individuals and thus impinges on their privacy, and matters generally dealt with by the defence and external affairs departments.
The centralised management of cities by bureaucrats appointed by state governments will be scrapped. Instead, an incentives-based governance model will be adopted, giving full control to elected representatives over the employment of bureaucrats working in local government bodies. Local councils will be given complete flexibility in raising rates from their residents.
A new Constitution for India
A much shorter Constitution and social contract, of around 10-15 pages, to be agreed through a referendum, and to sunset every 30 years, will be prepared. It will focus on the delivery of freedom and security to the people of India, with details of the management of the democracy left to the Parliament to determine through its laws.
First order core functions
The ramifications for increased professionalism in the defence forces and providing it focused capability will be extended and explored.
The new recruitment practices for senior public servants will also apply to senior officials in the police forces, including significant salary increases and removal of tenure. These positions will be recruited through open competition. Complete modernisation of our policing systems will be quickly implemented. Unskilled policemen who, after being given opportunities for training, do not meet international standards of competency would be let go. Vigorous surveys of the public on their perceptions of corruption in the police would also be introduced and senior managers held personally to account for maintaining a zero corruption public image.
Justice is the most basic of all concepts underpinning freedom. Processes will be set in place to appoint as many judges, each on five-year contracts, to the Supreme and High Court as needed, who will prioritise and systematically dispose the entire judicial backlog. The salaries of judges would be brought on par with the 90th percentile of lawyer earnings at that level of court. Cases pending for more than 1 year will be allocated clear timelines for disposal and the list of such cases published on the internet once a year. So-called ‘criminals’ who have been imprisoned for significant periods of time without trial will be released subject to their having behaved well while in jail, and pending the completion of their trial.
Law and order, and dealing with violence
India has had a great history shared by all faiths and cultures. Despite its under-development, India is still held in high esteem because of this unique quality. FTI will promote this message of love and harmony. This does not mean FTI will permit India to become a soft state and it is committed to tackling the current spate of terrorism in a lawful manner.
Through good governance, good education, good opportunities and development in all fields we will strive to help India achieve its rightful place in the world.
- FTI will strengthen law enforcement to ensure equal freedom and justice to everyone. Unfortunately, the Indian police has been treated extremely shabbily for decades. The most important thing is to considerably strengthen the police. In particular, FTI believes that religion and politics do not mix, and condemns attempts by organisations to use the name of religion to influence politics.
- FTI is against injustice towards anyone. That means that atrocity on one group of people is not cancelled out by an equal atrocity on another group. The sum total is not zero but twice the initial injustice.
- Justice will be prompt and no one will be allowed to get away by injuring others. FTI will ensure that all perpetrators of any form of violence are punished. A considerable amount of strengthening of the justice system will be undertaken.
As far as law and order is concerned, FTI will follow the following principles:
FTI condemns all killings not authorised by a court after due process. No group or individual can take the law into their own hands and violate the freedoms/rights of other people. FTI’s aim will be to isolate the exact person who is causing violence. If such an individual has managed to get followers then FTI will identify and isolate that entire group. It condemns and will aim to punish all persons and organisations that participate in or incite inter-community or any other group violence, with or without support from external countries.
Second order core functions: Infrastructure, equality of opportunity
A direct mechanism to transfer funds to millions of poor people in India will be put in place, based on annual income tax returns to be filed by each family. Instead of one thousand government programmes that deploy forty lakh bureaucrats in the name of helping the poor, we will only have one programme, called the negative income tax. Under this project, each individual (family) in India will lodge an income tax return, and those who fall below the poverty line will be paid an income subsidy (hence the term ‘negative’) rather than taxed like others. India’s largest IT companies will be invited to propose methodologies to implement this system. After an year of implementation and evaluation of the programme, all subsidies will be scrapped and the public distribution system shut down.
Everyone till age 18 or year 12 will be provided access to high quality education. The government will ensure this education, but will not directly run or operate any school. All schools will be fully privatised and left free to compete in the market, and funded through parental choice thorough scholarships for each child, the quantum dependent on parental income. This will ensure equality of opportunity (Affirmative action: As soon as a system of high quality universal school education is put in place, reservations and quotas of all sorts will be abolished.)
Every student who gains entry into university will be provided with a loan (if he or she wishes) to pursue studies. The government will not directly run or operate any university. All universities will be fully privatised and left free to compete in the market.
The government will not directly deliver the service, but get it delivered. In the manner we pay for roads, defence, and police, ie, in proportion to our incomes, hospitalisation and emergency care will be provided by the government to every citizen by charging taxes which will form a compulsory insurance premium. People will be free to take private insurance at levels beyond this coverage for ambulance services, designer spectacles, a private hospital room, treatment at a hospital of choice or by a doctor of choice, use of experimental medicines or medical techniques not available for general use, early booking of elective surgery, or cosmetic surgery.
One India One Indian:
FTI opposes policies which discriminate between people on the basis of a group they may belong to by the accident of birth. FTI will ensure that everyone is first and foremost an Indian and that the law is blind, meaning it does not ask which group a person belongs to, but what he or she has done. Thus, there will be no second class citizens in FTI’s India. FTI opposes discrimination on ANY the following grounds for public office or government spending: (a) age; (ab) breastfeeding; (b) impairment; (c) industrial activity; (d) sexual preference; (e) marital status; (ea)parental status or status as a carer; (f) physical features; (g) political belief or activity; (h) pregnancy; (i) race; (j) religious belief or activity; (k) sex.
FTI will introduce minimum standards and uniform prohibitions to bring about consistency in everyone’s treatment under the law, and disband all government-imposed regulation of religions. This also means the abolition of reservations subject to the provision of equal opportunity first, and the end of special financial benefits to any religious group including the end of all tax-benefits to religious organisations.
Third order functions
The transition to freedom is always a time of great pollution. Given our large population, things are therefore likely to get very bad before they start getting better. We have to brace ourselves for environmental disasters as the economy opens up. To avert such disasters, mechanisms of accountability and justice will be put in place to ensure a clean environment. Awareness building and enforcement of accountability will be the main pillars to protect the environment. We shall also rapidly phase in, through regulation, the world’s highest standards in the use of non-polluting technology wherever such technology exists.
The government will allow markets to be as free as possible with minimal regulation. Regulation will be based on best practice. Prudential standards will be established and monitored to protect consumers.
Safety in the workplace, in public travel such as air, rail or road, and product safety including drugs and food will be regulated firmly for accountability. Severe punishments will be imposed on people who trifle with the life and safety of others.
Work hours and holidays
The work culture of India is being adversely impacted by a series of endless holidays. Instead of giving holidays for all and sundry reasons, the work hours will be streamlined, so that people can get more rest to recuperate during a week. In brief, with about 3 national holidays (and no state holidays), it should be possible to bring the work week down to 38 hours, which is the standard in most Western countries.
C) Draft policy detail (may be included later in draft policies)
Political system reform
Political representatives will be required to reveal the sources and extent of their wealth including shares, land and other “assets”. They will also be required to reveal their involvement with public or private companies and put their interest in such companies in a blind trust on which they have no control.
As part of electoral reforms, the government should offer the option to political parties that so desire, to get their policy positions fully costed by one of the range of independent agencies nominated the Election Commission after due scrutiny. Political parties which offer a responsible manifesto would then get an edge over parties that do not. Parties would need to complete detailed prescribed spreadsheets for each policy and send these to the Election Commission within a week of the date of election being announced, for these policies to be costed within two further weeks. The EC would get these costed at taxpayer expense. [See counterpoint]
The stable framework of rules and security includes strong property rights.
Tools for eliminating corruption
The reforms to the political system and bureaucracy will directly reduce corruption. The package will constitute the tools for eliminating corruption. [more details later]