Request to fund India’s first-ever All India Policy Writing Competition

Request to fund India’s first-ever All India Policy Writing Competition

Date of request: 22 October 2012

Purpose: To request you to contribute a small amount to the Freedom Team of India for holding a national policy writing competition. [Suggested Rs.5,000 to Rs.30,000, but smaller or slightly larger contributions will also be accepted]

Closing date for commitments to donate: 5 November 2012.

The Freedom Team of India (FTI), founded in July 2009, is a forum for policy, strategy, and leadership development, focused on the defence of life and liberty in India. Its members will lead India, through elections, to unprecedented prosperity.

Systematic and thoughtful planning is imperative to resolve India’s ongoing leadership and policy crisis. A key aspect is the alignment of principles and purpose.

FTI subscribes to the classical liberal philosophy of equal freedom (with accountability) and respect for knowledge and innovation. If the government performs its necessary roles – of defence, police and justice, and possibly some infrastructure and social insurance – well enough, then citizens are generally capable of solving most of their remaining problems by themselves.

Over the past three years, FTI has attracted over 100 outstanding leaders, including many graduates from India’s and the world’s best educational institutions. Most of its members currently hold (or have held) senior roles in the public and private sectors in India and abroad. With total commitment to personal integrity, all FTI members bring a single-minded dedication to liberty and good governance in India. Over the past few years, these leaders have extensively discussed and agreed key strategies and frameworks.

FTI’s policy development architecture has now been launched
FTI follows a “pyramid model” of decision making. Higher level agreements are achieved first, then the details. Policy development should be undertaken after a process for such development has been agreed. FTI has now launched its policy development architecture, comprising:

a) Vision, based on liberty [FTI's brochure]: An India where everyone is guaranteed equal opportunity and equal dignity, and has the freedom to pursue his or her own happiness under an accountable and participative government.

b) Basic principles that outline the kinds of things we want to see in India

c) Policy framework

The last of these three – the policy framework – is important. Based on the world's best policy development frameworks (and further refined by FTI), it is a set of ten questions that all FTI policies must address. These questions inquire about the nature of a policy issue, any role for government in ‘resolving’ it, and how a government can effectively deliver such role. By addressing these 10 questions, a policy’s logic is made clear, and we must necessarily arrive at good policy.

Proposed policy writing competition
Policies, which create the system of incentives in a society, underpin its performance. FTI is keenly aware, as Chanakya was, that public policies must be incentive compatible. Only that will ensure integrity in public and private life: enabling its people to flourish. India's current policies are not incentive compatible, and systematically generate moral hazard (cheating, criminality) in every aspect of public life.

FTI’s next step is to develop detailed public policies (based on the ten questions described above) on a range of public policy issues. We will also attach, to each policy, an FAQ that explains commonly asked questions.

To assist FTI in this task of policy development, we want to invite the best ideas from India's best students and policy researchers. We propose to do this by holding a national policy writing competition with significant prize money attached. FTI will provide the detailed policy architecture (outlined above) and ask respondents to submit draft policies consistent with this architecture. We will announce this competition to all colleges and universities in India, and disseminate through social media.

The benefits of a policy competition include the following:

a) although most FTI members are themselves keen policy thinkers, this will provide FTI with a range of innovative policy ideas, thereby enabling FTI to propose superior policies to India in the coming months;

b) thousands of Indian youth will come to know FTI’s systematic approach to reform, which will – in its own right – be a valuable contribution to India’s education and democratic process;

c) thousands of Indian youth will be motivated to read FTI’s vision, basic principles and policy framework. We believe that these three documents in themselves are transformative and can change the way people think about society and its problems. These documents will prompt India’s youth to think independently and carefully about why things don't work properly in our country;

d) the competition documents will include a reading list that will help disseminate ideas of liberty and good governance to the remotest part of India; and

e) some of the youth who participate might even feel confident enough to apply to join FTI, to prepare themselves to lead India.

FTI aims to publish its policies by mid-2013, in order to be influential in the national debates leading to the 2014 parliamentary elections.

We believe that FTI's systematic approach to reform will ultimately persuade the people of India. When India is looking for credible alternatives, FTI’s platform – which includes (a) leaders of unparalleled integrity and calibre, and (b) world-best policies, will prove attractive.

Funds FTI needs to raise
FTI needs to raise Rs.5 lakhs for prizes (with about Rs.20,000 per policy plus some overall awards) to launch this competition.

Request to contribute
If you think this competition will add value to India's future, and wish to make a commitment to contribute, please write to Sanjeev Sabhlok (policy project team leader) at Only a commitment is sought at this stage, by 5 November 2012. This will allow FTI to decide whether to proceed with this proposal.

If FTI decides to proceed with this proposal, we will notify you and formally seek the amount you have committed. If there is an over-subscription, FTI will reduce or re-balance your commitment and seek a revised (lower) amount.

FTI is keen to build democratic capital. We don't think anyone should contribute more than Rs.30,000. This is all about ownership of a new, different India. We invite you to put your blessings into this little project.

At the time of announcement of this request, FTI has received Rs.95,000 in commitments (mostly from FTI members), ranging from Rs.5,000 to Rs.30,000 per donor.

Please note that:

i) Only Indian citizens are eligible to contribute to FTI, and all contributions will need to be made in Indian rupees electronically into FTI’s bank account.

ii) FTI will publish the names of all its donors, and the amounts they have donated.

iii) Should any prize money not be used for the purpose intended, FTI will return the contributions on pro-rata basis. (Although FTI does need funds for many other purposes, such support should be separate to support for this policy competition.)

Update, November 1, 2012:

FTI has received commitments of more than Rs 4.7 lakhs as of today. Help us reach our goal by November 5, 2012.

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