Strategic Shifts needed in India

In India, lot of things remain the same as there is a degree of consensus prevailing about the way things are. For India to take a new course, this consensus needs to be broken. Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady who played a stellar role in transforming the U.K. hated the very notion of consensus calling it “the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes but to which no one objects”.

India needs the following strategic shifts from the prevailing consensus.

One: From overreaching judicial system to one that is focused, bold, lean and agile

We have accepted larger role for judiciary over the years. This needs to change. To make this happen, the executive and legislature should get their act together. This may need greater openness in Governance as well as greater responsiveness to people. The right to information should be reinforced with right to response and right to justice that should apply to all walks of life.

Governance should have balance of normative, punitive and at times coercive actions. However when you try to approach everything through constitution and fundamental rights there is a tendency to look at everything in binaries and either resort to coercive action or inaction. In life there are no absolutes. Lot of things are right or wrong based on societal norms in that case we should encourage normative action. In many cases we should penalize people through fines instead of coercing people and institutions to fall in line. In the west even reputed institutions are fined than shut down. Here is the explanation on 3 modes.

1. Normative – rule by upholding and propagating norms; Confucian rule by virtue/rites.

2. Punitive – rule through legal institutions, which effectively means through punishment and reward, according to some system

3. Coercive – rule through force and threat of force, in the absence of a system of formal law for its application.

More details at https://reactionaryfuture.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/normative-punitive-and-coercive-states/

Two: From Deficit budgets to balanced budgets

In place of loose public spending on development we need to move to strict prioritization of development projects. New projects should be started after completing the current ones in time-bound manner. Generally, lot of development work is at best desirable and at worst unnecessary. We should focus more on essential projects and strategic projects. We probably can do away with fly-overs in favour of well managed junctions and white-topping of roads in favour of lot of ordinary roads without potholes. Let us also focus on aesthetics and ask people what they really need.

Three: From excessive Debt from people to more equity to people in both Private and Government owned entities

Instead of giving huge loans to industry, let them raise more equity and share the wealth with people. Let the industry also make judicious choices instead of spreading too thin. Government should reduce its shareholding across the board in all PSUs to 26 per-cent and leave the rest to common public with very few exceptions.

Wide-spread ownership of stocks and bonds should be the next frontier in financial inclusion.

Dan Acemogulu in his book “Why nations Fail” talks about extractive and inclusive economies. He characterizes British colonizers as inclusive and Spanish/Portuguese colonizers as extractive, East India Company distributed stocks to British citizens widely increasing their wealth. This also led to a more innovative economy compared to other colonizers who did not share wealth.

Four: From Populism and indulgence of the rich to pay for your own development and security

At the level of Panchayats and in case of towns, lot of funds come from higher level of Government. In some cases, even up-to 93 per-cent. Many of the priorities get decided top down. Instead let the money be collected locally and priorities be decided locally. The higher-level Governments can provide matching grants or supportive grants. In the same manner when Government provides services or infrastructure to the rich, let it charge them. In general, there should be 1-1 association of what people pay and what people get and people need to know where, when and how their money is spent. May be a village needs to develop a water body and a community may need to run their own school, instead of getting funded for a central scheme. Let decentralized development take center-stage. Involve people in choosing what to do and let them own the projects.

Five: Falling Rupee to Digital currency backed by gold

Indian Rupee keeps depreciating due to variety of reasons. One hedge is the reserves in US Dollars. India can build another hedge by issuing a digital currency backed by Gold, which Indian citizens invest in and which can be used for external trade as well as a reserve for rainy days. This can in turn help the Rupee itself to retain its value.

Six: From focus on agriculture as a sector in distress to focus on broader rural economy with agriculture as engine of growth

The very act of all kinds of support from Government at best boosts the production which in turn depresses the prices. Agriculture as a sector is bound to face vagaries. The Government instead should focus on rural economy where our villages and towns again thrive with all kinds of activity. Link them through E-commerce. Steadily reduce involvement of Government. Let the sector find its own feet. Make agricultural income taxable above 10 Lacs by making any income above 10 Lacs taxable irrespective of the nature of income.

If agriculture is seen as growth sector our whole approach to it will change. We should stop seeing it as a burden or necessary evil or a vote bank.

Seven: Instead of big cities, promote medium towns. Instead of states focus on districts.

Big cities cost a lot to run and they destroy the environment as they grow If we have very good physical and digital connectivity and reduced tariffs, economic activity can be widely distributed across large towns. Instead of State Governments being all powerful yet ineffective, let district administrations and development councils steal the show.

Eight: From an opaque taxation regime to transparent and accountable one

The taxes should not be a tribute and tax amount should be used to related objectives. If taxes are collected for Petroleum products, they should ensure roads without potholes. People should see that correlation. All product should be covered under GST. Sin taxes, on alcohol result in a perverse situation where Government is dependent on people drinking. At the same time do away with bans and encourage moderate drinking of greater portion of milder and probably local brew.

Nine: From regulated, tiered education system to liberated, purposive education system.

If there can be Central Board of School Education, there is no reason why there can not be Central Board of College Education that can handle all the undergraduate education, working directly with autonomous colleges, in a loosely coupled manner. Let Universities be there only for post-graduate education. Let Institutes of excellence focus on innovation and developing deep expertise.

Instead of uniformity let us focus on diversity and differentiation. Let these colleges revive ancient Indian know-how in Sanskrit as well as the one in local languages.

Ten: Open the country for foreign business and professionals and free the country from stranglehold of neocolonialism and global religions

India for many decades was closed for business but more than welcoming for Christian Evangelists, Islamic ideologues and neo-colonials. Now this process needs to reverse. Let India be very open for business and let us revive our own culture, tradition, ideas and ideals.

Eleven: From Secular, Socialist to Hindu Dharmic and Entrepreneurial

In India neither socialism nor capitalism worked partly due to lack of ethics. In addition, India is in a state of turmoil due to wearing secularism on the sleeve. Even school prayers get questioned and conversions of Hindus continues unabated. It is high time all this stop.

Liberals and may be most people may cringe at dismantling secularism. But unfortunately, the brand of secularism practiced in India has divided Hindus, discriminated against them and demonized Brahmans. Selective application of RTE, intrusion into religious customs, delaying Ram Temple case are some indicators. These cases are not taken up and another set of cases are which feed neo-colonial and communist agenda get priority.

People try to scare you that India will become Hindu Pakistan. India has better examples to follow from Pakistan such as Raja Ranjit Singh’s Kingdom in Lahore where all communities lived harmoniously without putting down Hindus or Sikhs.

In our neighbourhood every other nation is theocratic. Those who decry 2-nation theory did not ask for Bangladesh to be integrated back to India. Even though Nepal is secular now they ban conversions as well as cow-slaughter.

On top of that it has compromised national security repeatedly. It has kept Indians cut off from their roots and heritage and ensured a field day for foreign-funded activists and NGOs.

Twelve: From GDP Growth to Healthy and Strong Economy

Chasing GDP growth has meant in some cases the growth was fueled by reckless lending. Instead if you ensure the economy is healthy and strong and people are productive and innovative everything will fall in place. Now there is too much of inequality and lot of funds got diverted out of country and too much corruption. Once we focus on health and strength of economy, growth becomes automatic.

Thirteen: From unemployment to productivity, innovation and monetization

Instead of creating jobs in bulk through hook or crook, it is better to focus at micro-level. Make it easy for qualified people to get the right jobs by involving match-makers. Those employed should be productive and paid well. The companies or individuals should be able to monetize their products and services better.

Unemployment not only impacts the unemployed but also causes loss to the nation due to lost productivity. If a competent person does not get a matching opportunity again it is a loss to nation. If a person who is contributing does not get compensated well again is an issue to be fixed in national interest. So some degree of balancing is needed across professions, sectors and people.

We should change our paradigm of creating jobs through higher GDP growth to one where there is greater focus on getting people best possible opportunities one at a time and in turn causing economic growth. Go from micro to macro.

Employment and Income generation should be tracked as composite metric. Many people feel that India’s problem is low wages and salaries than lack of jobs. Lot of people due not get salaries due to them. At the other side we have people who get high salaries as entitlement or due to market dynamics without proportionate value creation.

Fourteen: From me-too to me-me

From constitution to culture and from sports to science and in nearly every field we follow other countries.. It is high time we focus on what we need, want and aspire independent of others. We need to encourage free thinking. That is when we have real freedom.

Fifteen: From Soft Power to Strong Power

Far too long, India has been acting as a nice boy when faced with bullies. It is high time India stands up strong and takes tough actions whether it is within, with our neighbours or world at large. However certain leaders and nations relish constructive confrontation while others expect mutual respect and accommodation. We can not use the same approach in every case.

Sixteen: From discourse dominated by division and discrimination to diversity and differentiation

Indian traditions and customs are many cases projected as discriminatory and used to divide people into discriminated versus discriminating and nothing more. In reality every group that uses identity of caste, varna, language, region, religion, profession and tribe is about diversity of cultures and differentiation. This point is lost out by those who want to run a steam-roller on anything native and destroy any differences.

Seventeen: From respect to all religions to mutual respect and reciprocity

It is important to influence others to accept a superior value system. Currently Hindus and Hinduism get a raw deal. For example there is inadequate acceptance of Hindu religious structures and practices in other countries. In entire middle-east there are probably handful of temples. Other religions do not respect the sensitivities of Hindus as far as conversions go. Many temples were destroyed in places like Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh. India never raised its voice in international forums.

Eighteen: From profit as dirty word to fair profit as a virtue

In many cases non-Profits are used as a front to indulge in illegalities. And any individual who ventures in sectors like Education need to be fairly compensated for their effort. Instead of continuing the hypocrisy accept profit as a virtue but limit profiteering

Nineteen: From tolerance as an asset to tolerance as a liability

Our nature of tolerating inconvenience and getting around them can prove to be a liability. In day-to-day life we accept lot of problems which civic authorities can easily fix. The same attitude we carry to every walk of life. In contrast, in the west they ask for adherence of minimal standards, basic facilities and insist on things working. This at times leads to innovative solutions that benefit the society at large.

Twenty: From Electoral Democracy to Pervasive, Participative Democracy

Real democracy starts after elections and it needs to operate every day and everywhere. That means every public institution as well as Government Departments should take inputs from people and urge their participation in decision making. Every institution should have a way to collect grievances, suggestions and feedback. The Government should have mechanism to quantify these metrics and action plan. The people’s representatives should be in the loop and on top of things. Even without involvement of people’s representatives’ lot of things should work as business as usual. This democratic spirit should pervade all institutions including private sector.

Using digital and social platforms lot can be achieved.

Twenty one: From lowest/highest bid/price/rate to Fair bid/price/rate

When Government tries to get the lowest tariff say in a sector such as Solar, it make the whole sector unviable. The same may happen when auctions happen to aggressive bidders. The schemes such as second price auctions have recognized this problem and are a respobse to such problems. The Government should instead do away with this dogma and look at fair price and choose the best supplier/partner for that price.

For most of the common place things like laying roads, fair rates should be publicly available subject to being contested or commented on by experts and any civic body should have the freedom to use the fair rate and choose the supplier of its choice. Then suppliers have to compete on quality, service, reliability and reputation. This scheme can cover probably 80-85% of items leaving aside unique items which may need more sophisticated approach. Rate contracts helped IT industry grow by leaps and bounds and led to a industry which was ethical and transparent.

Even for sectors where Government has ability to regulate, Government should ensure prices are bounded. The legal framework should discourage price wars as well as inflated prices. While competition is good, anything in excess is detrimental.

Twenty-Two: From 3-sector Economy to 5-Sector Economy

Indian Economy is divided into Agriculture, Manufacturing and Services. At present 19% of GDP is attributed to Agriculture, 17% to Manufacturing and everything else is lumped as services. Generally Manufacturing is promoted using all kinds of incentives with the hope that it can create more jobs. However the job-creation ability per Rupee of revenue is becoming less and less due to automation. We propose a 5-sector approach where Services is divided into Knowledge-Design-Innovation, Trading and Services. Here KDI focuses on creative and intellectual faculties, trading is about inter-mediation and services is about fulfillment. For example is an innovative product is imported into India and popularized it can create lot more trading jobs than if a mediocre product is made in India. We may get ideas to customize the product and make in India. We can also be design-house and get the thing manufactured in a place which gives greatest efficiencies. USA and Japan have excelled in design and corner disproportionate portion of profits while getting thing manufactured in China. If we let all these 5 sectors to grow and embrace globalization, Indian economy can grow in leaps and bounds. Each sector can increase the multiplier as far as revenue/resource and profit/resource. This is particularly important in areas like research where we may have the best brains to create something new but may not have the precise approach to make it a commercial success. Thus depending on the situation we can occupy different parts of global value chain without being dogmatic about doing everything in India in some cases and nothing in India in other cases. Trade is a big opportunity for India and it is essential that it is tracked separately. India is blessed with markets full of aspiration and hope.

From expecting state to do everything to get communities and new-gen platforms to center-stage

Economy is divided into Government, Public-Sector, Private-Sector and informal sector and so on. In pursuit of borrowed ideologies we have sidelined communities who can play a central role. Domains such as Education, Health, Running Temples, maintaining lakes all should go back to communities. State should focus only on those communities/sections who do not have the wherewithal to set up their own institutions. At the other end state should focus on setting model institutions and centers of higher learning which communities can not easily fund. Looking to the future, there should be greater role for peer-to-peer platforms and Uber like companies which connect the people, Economy should be divided into Government, Public, Private, Community and Social Commerce.

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New Laws for New India

Here are proposed laws to settle lot of debates and eliminate lot of misery in one go.

1.New Citizenship Act

Citizenship should be a privilege, not an entitlement.  Acting against unity of India, supporting its enemies while opposing India, causing threat to India by supporting terrorism, sedition and anti-national ideology should result in loss of citizenship. Not accepting united India or national symbols means only residency subject to not being a threat. Supporting terrorism against country and frauds should also lead to loss of citizenship.  Mob violence against security forces should also result in loss of citizenship.

  1. Protection of Dharmic and native religions, traditions, customs and beliefs

State should have responsibility to preserve, protect and promote globally native religions, traditions, beliefs, customs, culture, heritage, civilizational values and accomplishments. India should be redefined as a Civilizational nation and not Colonial off-spring post-independence. Right to return to Hinduism. Ban on conversions out of Dharmic religions and tribes and push for conversion/reconversion into Dharmic religions. Right to restore Hindu temples and other civilizational artefacts. Ban on all kinds of cattle-slaughter and smuggling with broader agenda to treat animals well.

  1. Equality of all communities in Education, Running Temples, benefits, privileges and protection

All communities, castes equal –no minority/caste concept as far as Governance is concerned. Even things like SC/ST act should protect all communities. Any reservation should be restricted to people who currently practice those professions which are looked down upon.  In place of reservation look at social mobility. Do away with RTE. No discrimination of Hindus. Right to run educational institutions to all communities with own funds.

  1. One India law

One country without barriers to migrate and own property (article 35A and the likes go). No special status for any state on any criteria (article 370, special category are done away).  Any reasonable restriction to avoid crowding should be done without discrimination. Illegal aliens should get work permits or asked to leave. Laws against all kinds of parochial and divisive behavior.

  1. Right to participation, response and justice

Right to complain, suggest policy inputs and Ombudsman to process these at every level. Social platform for anonymous complaints and grievances. Do Police reforms so that justice is accessible to common man. At workplaces and companies right to justice to employees, customers as well as stakeholders. Right to response and justice applicable everywhere. For major projects such as Flyovers the local citizens should have window to object. Citizens should be able to participate and give their priority.Citizen should be asked for suggestions of use of Funds including MPLAD schemes.

  1. Uniform and Universal taxation

KYC merged with ITR-0, every citizen and resident has to file his income details, other details and asset details every year irrespective of his income and residency with designated authority. A simpler ITR-0 asks details and just income-band.Very rigorous process to start businesses and opening of bank accounts.  No exemption should be there above 10 Lacs for any type of income including Agriculture. No tax on pensions and retirees up-to 10 Lacs.

  1. Universal Voting (Ease of voting bill)

Mandatory declaration of intent to vote or not with every poll. Voter needs to vote somebody, NOTA or declare no intent to vote. After 3 no-intent, voter ID may remain suspended. Voting Enrollment to be 100% and e-voting allowed the same way as e-filing of taxes. Instead of limits for poll spending by political parties in each constituency, insist on source of funding. Else impose limits on poll spending by political parties. Penalize those who take money to vote.

  1. New Liberty law

Restore property right as fundamental right to individuals subject to caveats. Let the businesses, institutions and communities have as much liberty subject to minimal constraints. Let people have as much liberty. Do away with alcohol ban. Don’t get involved in personal affairs and the like. Protect both men and women.

  1. Digital currency and full convertibility law

Government can issue digital currency backed by Gold. Government can also look at making Rupee fully convertible.

10.Promoting Indic education and civilization

History, science and other ancient ideas can be made accessible to people. Start the Indic medium of education with common glossary of terms in Sanskrit. Make Sanskrit understandable and revive it. Change the mode of teaching Sanskrit. History of India should be taught such that it even includes Hindu History of Afghanistan and not be Delhi-centric.

  1. Open up Higher Education and Professional Service Jobs

Higher Education should be opened up so that Japanese, German and other foreign universities can open in India. Same way jobs such as lawyers, accountants and other professional jobs can be opened to foreigners on reciprocal basis.

12. Pass a law to ensure Right to Uninterrupted Service.

Today an employee and employer have a contract which either can renege by paying couple of months notice pay. Most companies do not pay any compensation when they ask people to leave. On top of that companies may ask people to leave even when they had not adjusted to a company within few months. There are lot of cases of indiscriminate removal citing variety of reasons. All this things happen because there is no significant cost for company whereas impact on employee is much harder.  There is  high degree of asymmetry here. An employee has to compete with thousand others to get the right job whereas an employer has a choice among thousands. Even in case of niche jobs the odds are stacked against an employee. The laws in India protect only organized labour and doing hardly anything in case of white collar employees. Any involuntary exit however well it couched leaves a stigma and cause set-back to employee. It is almost like Triple-Talaq at work-place and need similar legal intervention.

Recent developments of people being forced to leave their jobs on the basis of Tweets they made or allegations present an ominous trend . It is a highly selective approach when you consider that in other cases people known to be guilty evade law for decades.

Companies justify their action citing impact on company’s reputation due to employee’s Tweet which he did in personal capacity. What about reputation of employees when companies get caught due to frauds they perpetrated?  Today a person is known by the company he works for.

 

 

Sixteen Strategic Shifts needed in India

In India, lot of things remain the same as there is a degree of consensus prevailing about the way things are. For India to take a new course, this consensus needs to be broken. Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady who played a stellar role in transforming the U.K. hated the very notion of consensus calling it “the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes but to which no one objects”.

India needs the following strategic shifts from the prevailing consensus.

One: From overreaching judicial system to one that is focused, bold, lean and agile

We have accepted larger role for judiciary over the years. This needs to change. To make this happen, the executive and legislature should get their act together. This may need greater openness in Governance as well as greater responsiveness to people. The right to information should be reinforced with right to response and right to justice that should apply to all walks of life.

Two: From Deficit budgets to balanced budgets

In place of loose public spending on development we need to move to strict prioritization of development projects. New projects should be started after completing the current ones in time-bound manner.  Generally, lot of development work is at best desirable and at worst unnecessary. We should focus more on essential projects and strategic projects. We probably can do away with fly-overs in favour of well managed junctions and white-topping of roads in favour of lot of ordinary roads without potholes. Let us also focus on aesthetics and ask people what they really need.

Three: From excessive Debt from people to more equity to people in both Private and Government owned entities

Instead of giving huge loans to industry, let them raise more equity and share the wealth with people. Let the industry also make judicious choices instead of spreading too thin. Government should reduce its shareholding across the board in all PSUs to 26 per-cent and leave the rest to common public with very few exceptions.

Four: From Populism and indulgence of the rich to pay for your own development and security

At the level of Panchayats and in case of towns, lot of funds come from higher level of Government. In some cases, even up-to 93 per-cent. Many of the priorities get decided top down. Instead let the money be collected locally and priorities be decided locally.  The higher-level Governments can provide matching grants or supportive grants. In the same manner when Government provides services or infrastructure to the rich, let it charge them. In general, there should be 1-1 association of what people pay and what people get and people need to know where, when and how their money is spent.  May be a village needs to develop a water body and a community may need to run their own school, instead of getting funded for a central scheme. Let decentralized development take center-stage. Involve people in choosing what to do and let them own the projects.

Five: Falling Rupee to Digital currency backed by gold

Indian Rupee keeps depreciating due to variety of reasons. One hedge is the reserves in US Dollars. India can build another hedge by issuing a digital currency backed by Gold, which Indian citizens invest in and which can be used for external trade as well as a reserve for rainy days. This can in turn help the Rupee itself to retain its value.

Six:  From focus on agriculture as a sector in distress to focus on broader rural economy with agriculture as engine of growth

The very act of all kinds of support from Government at best boosts the production which in turn depresses the prices. Agriculture as a sector is bound to face vagaries. The Government instead should focus on rural economy where our villages and towns again thrive with all kinds of activity. Link them through E-commerce. Steadily reduce involvement of Government. Let the sector find its own feet.  Make agricultural income (all income) taxable above 10 Lacs (and only above 10 Lacs).

If agriculture is seen as growth sector our whole approach to it will change. We should stop seeing it as a burden  or necessary evil or a vote bank.

Seven: Instead of big cities, promote medium towns. Instead of states focus on districts.

Big cities cost a lot to run and they destroy the environment as they grow If we have very good physical and digital connectivity and reduced tariffs, economic activity can be widely distributed across large towns.  Instead of State Governments being all powerful yet ineffective, let district administrations and development councils steal the show.

Eight: From an opaque taxation regime to transparent and accountable one

The taxes should not be a tribute and tax amount should be used to related objectives. If taxes are collected for Petroleum products, they should ensure roads without potholes. People should see that correlation. All product should be covered under GST.  Sin taxes, on alcohol result in a perverse situation where Government is dependent on people drinking. At the same time to away with bans and encourage moderate drinking of greater portion of milder and probably local brew.

Nine: From regulated, tiered education system to liberated, purposive education system.

If there can be Central Board of School Education, there is no reason why there can not be Central Board of College Education that can handle all the undergraduate education, working directly with autonomous colleges, in a loosely coupled manner. Let Universities be there only for post-graduate education. Let Institutes of excellence focus on innovation and developing deep expertise.

Instead of uniformity let us focus on diversity and differentiation. Let these colleges revive ancient Indian know-how in Sanskrit as well as the one in local languages.

Ten: Open the country for foreign business and professionals and free the country from stranglehold of neocolonialism and global religions

India for many decades was closed for business but more than welcoming for Christian Evangelists, Islamic ideologues and neo-colonials. Now this process needs to reverse. Let India be very open for business and let us revive our own culture, tradition, ideas and ideals.

Eleven: From Secular, Socialist to Hindu Dharmic and Entrepreneurial

In India neither socialism nor capitalism worked partly due to lack of ethics. In addition, India is in a state of turmoil due to wearing secularism on the sleeve. Even school prayers get questioned and conversions of Hindus continues unabated. It is high time all this stop.

Liberals and may be most people may cringe at dismantling secularism. But unfortunately, the brand of secularism practiced in India has divided Hindus, discriminated against them and demonized Brahmans. Selective application of RTE, intrusion into religious customs, delaying Ram Temple case are some indicators. These cases are not taken up and another set of cases are which feed neo-colonial and communist agenda get priority.

People try to scare you that India will become Hindu Pakistan. India has better examples to follow from Pakistan such as Raja Ranjit Singh’s Kingdom in Lahore where all communities lived harmoniously without putting down Hindus or Sikhs.

On top of that it has compromised national security repeatedly. It has kept Indians cut off from their roots and heritage and ensured a  filed day for foreign-funded activists and NGOs.

Twelve: From GDP Growth to Healthy and Strong Economy

Chasing GDP growth has meant in some cases the growth was fueled by reckless lending. Instead if you ensure the economy is healthy and strong and people are productive and innovative everything will fall in place. Now there is too much of inequality and lot of funds got diverted out of country and too much corruption. Once we focus on health and strength of economy, growth becomes automatic.

Thirteen: From unemployment to productivity, innovation and monetization

Instead of creating jobs in bulk due to hook or crook, it is better to focus at micro-level. Make it easy for qualified people to get the right jobs by involving match-makers. Those employed should be productive and paid well. The companies or individuals should be able to monetize their products and services better.

Today we see if a person is unemployed it impacts the country as well due to lost productivity. If a competent person does not get a matching opportunity again it is a loss to nation. A person who is contributing does not get compensated well again is an issue to be fixed in national interest.

Fourteen: From me-too to me-me

From constitution to culture and from sports to science and in nearly every field we look other countries to lead. It is high time we focus on what we need, want and aspire independent of others. We need to encourage free thinking. That is when we have real freedom.

Fifteen: From Soft Power to Strong Power

Far too long, India has been acting as a nice boy when faced with bullies. It is high time India stands up strong and takes tough actions whether it is within, with our neighbours or world at large.

Sixteen: From discourse dominated by division and discrimination to diversity and differentiation

Indian traditions and customs are many cases projected as discriminatory and used to divide people into discriminated versus discriminating. In reality every group that uses identity of caste, varna, language, region, religion, profession and tribe is all about diversity of cultures and differentiation. This point is lost out by those who want to run a roller on anything native and destroy it.

Defining a new course for new India

Even after 70-plus years of being independent India is not free.  As a country, we may be physically free that too partially (due to partition into three). But our minds and soul are still colonized. The whole country is in the grip of neo-colonialism which undermines Hinduism and other Dharmic religions, native customs and traditions. India’s example and influence are so corrosive that the only Hindu Nation Nepal is a lost cause now.

Freedom and Power go hand in hand.   In his 1983 book The Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith explains: “Power be socially malign; it is also socially essential”.   He distinguished three forms of Power: “First, condign which proceeds from threat; second, compensatory power, which is upon reward; and, finally, conditioned power which in contrast is exercised by changing belief. Persuasion, education, or the social commitment to what seems natural, proper, or right causes the individual submit to the will of another or of others”.  The issue we have is our minds are conditioned to particular set of beliefs that make us hostage to neo-colonialism and possibly to Wahabism as well as to evangelical Church. These three global forces continue to damage India. Galbraith talks about countervailing power using which a section of society can put their resistance to counter other forms of power, in this case it is conditioned power, which needs to be countered in particular.

In this context here are  5 things India should India do attain true freedom, which is meaningful to common citizens

  1. Declare India as Hindu Dharmic Republic and free ourselves from western and locally manufactured dogmas

One of the important changes the new Government of PM Modi did was to dissolve Planning Commission and establish NITI Aayog.  Such moves are extremely important to get the flexibility and freedom out of straight-jacket and stale environments. So far NITI Aayog has demonstrated the flexibility and agility to respond to opportunities as they emerge. NITI ideally should have been about Rana Niti (Strategy), but it can happen in due course. We should move away from dogmas of secularism, socialism and democracy as ends in themselves.  India should redefine its governance, development and statecraft from teachings of Kautilya’ Arthashastra, Nitisara of Kamandaka and spiritual guidance from Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi, by contextualizing to the present, combining these with global learning. It is possible to once again reimagine India as thriving villages, towns and districts instead of divisive states which milk handful of decadent urban centers at the cost of environment. India can embrace environment and economic growth simultaneously by promoting organic farming, hydrogen energy and industry 4.0 riding on custom products and capitalizing huge markets. Our constitution, judiciary, media and all arms of Government have been antithetical to Hindus and Hinduism. It is high time this stops. We should have the freedom to teach essence of Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata without any obligation to cover all of world’s religions when Hinduism survived despite those religions.

It is important for India to reconnect with the roots of its civilization. The central construct here is the concept of Dharma which nudges righteous action where ethics and excellence coalesce with each other. As people we badly need to regain the moral foundation, which is lost in the process of moving away from our own roots, traditions and culture. Stephen Knapp, author of Crimes against India said

“For example, I have traveled all over India and I will say that most of India’s social problems are not because of its culture, but because of the forgetfulness and distancing itself from this culture and knowledge”.

Regaining moral foundation is all the more needed, as we see section after section of society, whether Doctors, Businessmen, media, educators are involved in unethical acts or try to extract more from rest of the society instead of doing their own bit.

India should no longer be play-ground for foreign-funded activists to impose their ideals on hapless citizenry in connivance with five-star lawyers and unsuspecting judiciary. Nor should it be a theatre of the macabre for annihilation of local cultures, religion and traditions using some international convention or other. The whole tradition of India Is to rule through decentralization and self-selection of religious beliefs our of reverence than raw power exercised by any one authority.

It is a battle-field of forces, Wahabi style Islam which is changing local cultures towards more regressive practices, followed by aggressive evangelization by Church which also takes political role at times, then neo-colonial forces which use multilateral institutions and UN conventions and acts as proxy to the Jihadi and evangelical forces. India needs to be fourth pole which represents all pre-Islamic and pre-Christian religions, traditions and practices that have some association with Dharma and the kind of divinity that pervaded Indo-European, Egyptian, Asian and Incas civilizations, which was in harmony with other beliefs as well as environment This means make it easy for people to adopt or revert to Dharmic religions. Allow practice of all religions but not propagation of non-native religions in India.  It is also important to counter self-declared intellectuals who try to attack Hinduism using caste, idol worship and cow.

A blinkered version of history is being taught about India in schools, colleges and world over. Instead of teaching Hindu history of Indian civilization which spanned from Afghanistan to Bali, history is taught in a Delhi-centric manner. The world history is also selectively taught giving an impression that Europeans are destined to rule and Indians destined to be ruled. In fact, Spain itself was under Arab rule for centuries. Portuguese became independent just a century before they attacked India. England was under Roman rule.  Large parts of Europe were under the rule of Mongols.  Till 11th and 12th centuries knowledge spread from East to West. India and China were superior in sea-faring. Lot of Indian Mathematics made its way to Europe through Arabs.  Very few European nations had boundaries the way they have now.  Lot of colonial enterprise is due to selected highly determined individuals such as Prince Henry of Portugal and Robert Clive of England.  A highly speculative version of ancient Indian history in the form Aryan invasion and arbitrary dating of ancient India continues to be taught even after nationalist Government came to power. All these things need to change.

Another disturbing matter is demonizing brahmins. Brahmins for centuries looked at gaining knowledge as a matter of penance. They lived simple and austere lives. Their study of Sanskrit and scriptures have imparted them strong skills in logic and abstract thinking.  That time path to knowledge was not pathway to prosperity. Today brahmins are demonized and even their reasonable rights are not respected. Even when lot of violence is between other castes brahmins are blamed. The varna system and occupational caste system are mixed up. At the same time support of Christianity and Islam to racism, slavery and class-based discrimination are not even spoken of. It is rich on the part of EU countries to talk about equality, when during colonial rule they discriminated against the people. Gandhi was called Coolie and thrown out of the train. The issue was not just racism, rather is association of skin colour with lower type of people. Mr. Tata was not allowed entry into luxury hotel during British rule which led him to start Taj Hotel chain.

India needs a new constitution that is Indian in character which replaces the current “me-too” constitution. The new constitution should usher in new form of Governance. India ended up being a colonial succession state, cut off from its rood and burdened with colonial mind-set. It is high time, India is reborn.

India has struggled to uphold justice, equality and liberty. Justice was qualified as social justice where quotas were seen unjust by those who lost out. Equality criteria is applied selectively. Many articles and exceptions as well as special status violate that. Liberty was compromised in many ways starting with removal of property rights. Instead a more pragmatic approach would be to have a single line preamble which upholds respect to every individual irrespective of what he does and who he is and dignity to every form of labour. Also all laws that pit one section against the other should be changed so that people are seen as human beings. It is a matter of exigency that Hindus and Hinduism needs to have primacy considering the thousands of years of assault that continues today.Instead of equality, justice and liberty becoming confusing dogmas, let a nuanced guiding light of Dharma be used by Judiciary and Government.

The laws should be changed to make citizenship to be a privilege that comes with responsibilities. Those who accept the state and inimical to it, can not have that privilege. Many counties have large number of permanent residents.  Many others even provide dual citizenship. India should adopt a model that works for it with a sense of pragmatism.

Historically there have been several cases where converted Hindu communities wanted to return to Hinduism and were not accepted back with disturbing consequences in the case of Kashmiri Pandits. Right to return to Hinduism should be a fundamental right as long as the intent is right and person is committed to respect and practice the religion.

  1. Go from Group Identity and Group rights based on Socialism to Individual, community and Institutional Liberty and Empowerment in harmony with each other.

The Government should work for common man as individual by enabling through laws on “Right to Response” and “Right to Justice at work”.  Common people should have a say on development agenda. Today our democracy is in the grip of pressure groups and control groups. The Government takes notice only if people get to streets. Control groups whether it is politicians, those who fund elections and elite have disproportionate power. On top of that Hindus as a group get second hand treatment repeatedly and are treated as soft targets.The Governments do not have courage to apply laws against farmers who indulge in stubble burning but they easily impose restrictions on crackers even when the former issue is leading cause of pollution.

The communities should be empowered and enable to work for their own betterment and not at the cost of other groups. The individuals who work hard and aspire should be celebrated. The liberty as a concept should be extended to communities, businesses, institutions and even temples and deities.  A deity has a right to say who should visit abode when and who cannot.  The Governments forced their way as an exception to allow entry for Dalits into temples. That was part of the larger social change. Even that should have been led by community leaders. In general, the Government and courts should reduce their foot-prints and let social reformers take the center-stage.

Many times, people suffer alone. Triple-Talaq at workplace where people are fired indiscriminately is a matter of concern. Justice should not be limited to labour who can organize themselves and engage in violence but also to those who can not organize themselves, to white collar employees all the way to CEO. The individual rights should be individual rights.

Companies or individuals who can find jobs to other people should be encouraged with “Udyoga Mitra” scheme. This may involve some pay-out for legitimate value added. There could be train and transfer or tailor and transfer companies. Other model could be such as Uber, where a pool of registered resources contend for  a given job.

There should be national productivity mission and competitiveness mission and every individual should be tracked and moved up the productivity curve using diverse criteria including monetization.

  1. Districts and Destiny: 644 districts and 644 destinies. Focus on Rural Economy than agriculture. Develop 5000 towns and lacs of villages. Strict prioritization. Traceability to revenue. (where is the money coming from? Where is the money going to?)

In the name of Federalism, State Governments have disproportionate power which they do not pass it down to districts.  Each district should be unit of development, with strategic plans that are made public, driven by development council, whose agenda and deliberations again should be made public. The Government owned TV channels should catalyze development, by calling people’s representatives and officials for Twitter Town Hall meetings on a daily basis, instead of being me-too channels. In general, development projects/items can be divided into essential, desirable and strategic. It is essential that every road should be well-maintained without potholes with reasonable quality, 24*7 power, access to drinking water, street lights, security to people environment that is clean and aesthetic and officialdom that is agile, responsive and does not lord over people. (Today in Bangalore instead of giving decent roads all over, we have white-topping like patch-work that costs too much leaving poor quality roads with potholes as is). Next set of deliverables are desirable -white topping of roads, fly-overs, under-passes, walk-overs, cricket stadiums, 2nd bus-stop when there is already one, canteens, freebies and so on. The Government blows up money on desirable items at the cost of essential items, as these items are generally contract-kickback items. Next the kind of items are strategic – metro connectivity, shifting of markets, flyovers over railway tracks, investment in energy, industrial townships and so on.  These items create new opportunities with better connectivity. The order should be essential, strategic and then only desirable. In fact the potholes, stink and squalor and police force working at cross-purposes with laws continues. If a law is made about emissions, the police stop new cars and ask for certificate, leaving  aside trucks that blacken their faces with soot.

The Government should have new kind of charges – civic access charges and road access charges, instead of property tax and tax on fuel. Property tax should be re-designated as some kind of license fee which is paid by the owner and be nominal. The Civic access charges should be at cost with transparency on how it is spent. The same way road access charges should be paid by every registered vehicle and here again there should be transparency on how it is spent. The tolls should be done away. The whole country should be divided into sectors and the physical infrastructure should be maintained the same way as digital infrastructure is (Telecom Infrastructure is) managed.

The Government should stop spending money like no tomorrow. Extreme prudence with strict prioritization can reduce debt and ensure that Rupee is respected. Also stop liberal loans, let companies and businesses rely on equity resulting in greater wealth-distribution. Let the interest rates on deposits factor risk element and stop short-changing savers.

  1. Address common woes of common people in a systemic manner. Empower communities to help themselves.

There should be a powerful grievance management platform that is Social Platform, with special provision for whistle-blowers. These platforms should have four different modes: Private Complaint, Anonymous Identity, Revealed Identity but Private Complaint, Public Complaint, private identity and public complaint and revealed identity. These platforms should also announce future development items and ask citizens to vote or object. Today money is wasted on unwanted flyovers. The roads are white-topped with no consultation with citizens. Toll roads are done when the people pay have no say on how much they pay. There is no transparency on what happens to the money. Walk-overs are done to collect kick-backs from advertisers even when nobody may be actually walking over them. The whole police force is occupied with collecting fines from middle-classes instead of tacking rogue drivers and vehicles.  Again allow communities on the platform to interact and help themselves.

The Government should encourage self-managed townships. Maybe village community’s real priority is to have a water repository, but they may be getting funds for Anganwadi. There should be a process for dialogue, prioritization with trade-offs. The process should be open and encourage participation.

  1. Strategic Approach to Governance (Dreams, Destiny and Dream Team)

Even though India has NiTI Aayog which looks at Policy, there is no body which looks at strategy directly and visibly.  China has both. Every Government department, state, district and public institution should have a strategic plan.   Nearly every ministry should identify strategic shifts that it is planning. Nation should have dream towards better destiny which Is realized by a dream team, for which we are still waiting.

Ten things India needs to do in J&K

“Life is not about solving problems, rather it is about facing problems with righteous action”

  1. Release a statement on Government of India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir to the world which denies any locus standi to Pakistan or Kashmiri Muslims, but goes by accession agreement and follow-on steps that were taken with all other princely states. State clearly that only disputed part is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. State that Plebiscite is overreach by UN and only thing pending is return of raided territories by Pakistan.

Note: In reality, J&K issue wrongly ended up being a dispute between 2 parties at UN, it should have been a single matter of aggression by Pakistan on India. From Wikipedia account on Girija Shankar Bajapai, who represented India at the UN on J&K Issue.

“American diplomat Mr Vincent Sheean has mentioned in his book “Nehru – The Years of Power” that it was a technical error on part of the team headed by Mr Girija Bajpai which filed India’s appeal to the UN Pakistan’s invasion in Kashmir which led to the issue being considered a dispute rather than an act of aggression by Pakistan. The appeal should have been made under Chapter 7 of the UN charter rather than Chapter 6.[15]

  1. Withdraw MFN status to Pakistan and suspend diplomatic ties with Pakistan the way Saudi Arabia did with Qatar or Iran.

“It is always the right time to do the right thing”

— Martin Luther King

  1. Do away with article 370 and establish the supremacy of Parliament of India on Jammu and Kashmir like any other state. Do away with any special status for any other state.
  2. Do away with article 35A. Do away with any such articles for any other state of India such as Himachal. Emphatically state that all of India belongs to all Indians and all Indians to belong to all of India.
  3. Redraw the boundaries of assembly constituencies as per current populatuon so that artificial limit on number of constituencies in Jammu(to give hegemony to Kashmir region) is removed.
  4. Have 20% minimum voting as a criteria to recognize that a person has won the election. Make it easy to vote through voting by digital means with security and privacy safeguards.
  5. Make Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory for 10 years with Central Government. Appoint a leader who can provide imaginative leadership to the Union Territory who can completely change the narrative and ground situation. Build an internal security force that has locals as well as outsiders which can handle internal security without the help of the army.
  6. There should be nation-wide law that leads to severe punishment for stone-pelting at security forces and destruction of public property. The parents of juveniles and those who motivate them should be held accountable. Fines can be levied on parents (10,000-20,000) and on parents.
  7. Fine should be levied on organizations (Lacs to Crores) which call Hartals and Bandhs by accounting for cost to the economy, private/public property, life and liberty of people.
  8. Ban public funeral processions of those who support violence against the state or indulge in terrorism.
  9. Sanitize villages and localities which support terrorism and sedition. Those who support terrorism should lose right to residence, property and citizenship. Citizenship should be privilege and not right. Exile people who whip up separatist sentiments from the state, now union territory.
  10. Cancel registration of all institutions whether they are NGOs or political parties or media organizations which directly or indirectly support sedition. Issue advisory on TSM(Terror Supporting Media)  houses and journalists that soft-pedal terrorism and who consistently take anti-India position that their accounts should not be taken at face value.

Epilogue: If you analyze the psychology behind the popular support for Kashmir issue is that people feel there is a need to somehow keep the dispute alive. There is also across the feeling that dispute is legitimate. Quite a lot of legitimacy is inferred due to UNSC resolution even though the ball has remained in Pakistan’s court ever since. India can turn the tables by approaching the UN to reclassify the matter as an act of aggression(and not dispute) and ask security council to have a single resolution that requires Pakistan to return all raided territories. Then India should communicate to all nations and media houses not to refer to Kashmir as a contested region, but they should call it as region that belongs to India but partly in possession with Pakistan. Then convince as many countries to accept the map used by India to denote the territories. Then only support that will remain is from Jihadis which can easily be countered.

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20 point program for India

  1. Make India Hindu Dharmic Democratic Republic
    1.  Allow practice of non-Dharmic religions but not propagation
    2. Right to return to Hinduism
    3. Ban on conversions
    4. Ban on Cow-slaughter
    5. Promote ancient know-how Vedas to Yoga
    6. Promote secular know-how in Science, Technology from Indian Sources
    7. History of Indian civilization from Ireland to Iran to Indonesia
    8. Lead a movement to revive pre-Islamic and pre-Christian religions, cultures and traditions world over.
    9. Form Organization of Dharmic countries.
    10. Think of an alternative national language rich in Sanskrit or Simple Sanskrit,
  2. Hindu Model of Development, Governance and Statecraft using modern ideas, Arhashastra, Mahabharata, China and what worked in India for centuries before British and Gandhi/Nehru.Empowered communities and decentalization are some themes.
  3. Agriculture make it taxable and tax be pooled to provide interest free loans in a recurring fashion. Use same model as Capital Gains either pay tax or give money as debt to Government.
  4. Protect people from losing jobs for expression on social media.
  5. Make education sector and health education sector taxable, use taxes to provide interest free loans.Use same model as Capital Gains either pay tax or give money as debt to Government.
  6. Introduce personal bankruptcy laws
  7. Introduce right to dignity financial support for old-aged and unemployed to maintain some standards based on their credentials.
  8. Stop all kinds of violence and injustice through expansion of vicarious liability laws
  9. Citizenship as a privilege and not a right
  10. Bring back planning at ecosystem level – agriculture
  11. Managed Services/Facility as Mantra
  12. Refocus on Honesty, liberty and justice.
  13. Ethics and excellence
  14. Intolernace as virtue and be innovation driven.
  15. Fairness as Value
  16. Change the paradigm from solving problems to facing problems with righteous action. Let life be an unending boxing match with spurts of escalations, but let us not hold back the punches.
  17. Empowered communities and institutions
  18. Right to response
  19. Right to justice at work.  RTI and RTR for all organizations
  20. Lead in 5 new areas with Global Market – Space, Nuclear, Defence, Custom Manufacturing and Pharma
  21. Be a role model for other countries in: Civic Infrastructure, Digital+Fintech, use of tech(digital, social, mobile) in Governance,  Higher Education+Training+Skills, Organic+Environment Friendly+Solar+water
  22. Align everything to be Market-oriented economy.
  23. Education for knowledge preservation and research.

Fifteen Steps India should take on Jammu and Kashmir

  1. Release a statement on Government of India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir to the world which denies any locus standi to Pakistan or Kashmiri Muslims, but goes by accession agreement and follow-on steps that were taken with all other princely states. State clearly that only disputed part is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. State that Plebiscite is overreach by UN and only thing pending is return of raided territories by Pakistan. Convince other nations to reflect the correct map of India.
  2. One of the major issue India faces is the anti-India stance of agencies such as Associated Press and Reuters as well as nearly all of Western media in print as well as TV. Even though Western Governments appeciate India’s concerns on terrorism, western media has a totally hostile at best neutral stance on Kashmir issue. They call terrorists as fighters, ultras, rebels and militants but seldom as terrorists. On top of that they care two hoots about exceptional accommodation of minorities ans general approach where no group of people or region dominates others. They have either no information or refuse to acknowledge religious cleanssing of Hindus. They fail to see that behind the facade of self-determination, the agenda is to create yet another Islamic state through violence. Unfortunately Indian media carry the versions of Reuters as is. Some channels like NDTV put the problem in reverse. Whereas due to excessive violence armed forces are forced to use pellet guns or do any exceptional manouveres. The scenario is projected as if action of armed forces is the trigger and violence is the result when reality is exactly opposite.GEven when India pats itself on its back for secularism, as far as Western media is concerned it is just a Hindu country. The same media changes its tune when it comes to rights of Muslim minorities or protection of Churches in rest of India. They hardly acknowledge destruction of hundreds of temples in Kashmir valley nor do they have any sympathy for simular actions in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. Government of India needs to issue advisory on media houses that soft-pedal terrorism and who consistently take anti-India position that their accounts should not be taken at face value.  Government of India should also taken any counter action as per law starting with pursuation going all the way to penal action.
  3. Do away with article 370 and establish the supremacy of Parliament of India on Jammu and Kashmir like any other state. Do away with any special status for any other state. The terms of article 370 are not only against India but they treat Jammu and Ladakh unfairly vis-a-vis Kashmir valley.
  4. Do away with article 35A. Do away with any such articles for any other state of India such as Himachal. Emphatically state that all of India belongs to all Indians and all Indians to belong to all of India.
  5. Move towards 4-tier democracy and distribution of power Center, State, District/City, Panchayat/Ward, with lot of focus on districts. Let districts be the harbingers of growth and let power devolve to districts.
  6. Make Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory for 10 years with Central Government, District Councils and Panchayats as instruments of democracy. Completely sanitize the administration of sympathizers of separatism. Unfortunately unlike Punjab where we had Congress CM who even gave up his life for unity of India, CMs in J&K act contrary to national agenda. At one level they act as proxy to separatists and at another level they keep pushing for talks with Pakistan even when they can do more by stopping support to terrorism within. They first say talk to people instead of using security forces, and when Government shows willingness to talk, they say talk to separatists, then they say talk to Pakistan – basically it is a merry-go-round where they block all kinds of progress.
  7. There should be nation-wide law that leads to severe punishment for stone-pelting security forces and destruction of public property. The parents of juveniles and those who motivate them should be held accountable. Bandhs – good, bad or state-sponsored should be banned. Only peaceful protests and advocacy should be allowed.
  8. Build an internal security force that has locals as well as outsiders which can handle internal security without the help of the army.
  9. Sanitize villages and localities which support terrorism. Those who support terrorism should lose right to residence and property.
  10. Cancel registration of all institutions whether they are NGOs or political parties which directly or indirectly support sedition.
  11. Supporting sedition and/or terrorism should result in loss of citizenship. Exile people who whip up separatist sentiments from the state, now union territory.
  12. Withdraw MFN status to Pakistan and suspend diplomatic ties with Pakistan the way Saudi Arabia did with Qatar or Iran.
  13. Declare Pakistan as terrorist state.
  14. Have a nation-wide “Right to Return” law to enable all those who had to leave Hinduism on fair or foul circumstances. Promote return to Hinduism for converted Pandits in particular and Hindus at large. Hindus have suffered because whenevre converted Hindus wished to come back they were refused by their brethern.A law is also required to restore temples that were destroyed due to invasions and to protect Hinduism from conversion. Similar laws should protect native tribal cultures.
  15. Appoint a leader who can provide imaginative leadership to the Union Territory who can completely change the narrative and ground situation. Whoever comes in the way should not be allowed to stay in the state.

In general whenever the enemy has a tactical victory, it should lead to strategic loss, by making the goal many times harder to achieve.

New India called Bha(a)rath

Is India Union of States?

Viewing India as union of states or provinces has fed into rationale for partition and sedition and has caused untold misery. In addition, it has led to parochial mind-set which undermines unity of nation and ill-treatment of sections of people local or otherwise. It did not make sense as nation pre-existed the states/provinces/kingdoms by millennia. India is not union of states. Rather India is the state. The states are nothing but administrative provinces. The idea of linguistic states is all the more troubling.Languages do not define people, as people have moved from place to place and adopted new languages. It has pitted languages against one another. People rather choose English than any one of Indian languages as official language. Commonality of languages is sought to be undermined. Vocal minorities force their veto on the nation. All languages should be respected. People should take pride in learning more Indian languages, instead of being dogmatic and parochial about languages.

In any case our much-acclaimed federal system has not delivered spectacularly. They have failed to develop districts by passing down power. Most states have skewed development and it is districts which have cultural coherence. The states that are vocal about imposition from center hardly hesitate to impose on districts and dominate sub-regions. Most of development has been top-down undermining decentralization and community initiative which made large empires viable as early as 300 BC.

What is India then?

We have lot of conflicts because people are not clear about this. Is India a piece of land? Is India defined by religion or ethnicity? India is a civilizational tree which has branched out far and wide. Afghanistan, Balochistan to all of current India and Bangladesh had Hindu history. Iran is Aryan civilization. The sociologists who studied Indian villages have opined that while each village is self-contained to some degree, the villages are far too interconnected with other districts, states at time far and away. Hinduism as well as other native religions have formed a common binding thread for the whole nation.  We at times suddenly discover the commonality of practices and beliefs say between Tamilnadu and Bengal or Kerala and Gujarat. In fact Indian religions spread all the way to Indonesia and if we go to Vedic pre-vedic period it spans to Ireland on the west. Ireland-Iran-India-Indonesia had common religious beliefs.

Can India be only called Bha(a)rath?

If Ceylon can become Sri Lanka and Burma Myanmar, why India can’t be known by one name i.e. Bharath? Bharath has a physical definition. It is a country surrounded by 3 seas and it is a land to the south of Himalayas. This is defined in Vishnu Purana. Bharath is like tree with branches in the form of states, districts, towns, territories and villages. It is a seamless nation.

What does Bha(a)rath stand for?

Bharath is due to king Bharath – who represented nobility and scholarship – a king who became Rishi – to whom several verses of Veda are attributed. So Bharath is about Dharma and a shared value system – it is not about DNA nor about diversity. It is about respect for this collective tradition and culture. Anybody who relates to this value system naturally belongs. Soul of Bharath is the commitment to Dharma that enables society to progress with some inherent order where all approach life with a sense of duty and emphasis on correct action. Bharath is not defined by looks, language, diversity or cultural artefacts. It is defined by a set of values that are in sync with our civilization. So, respect for local tradition, values and culture with openness to evolve them with time is an important enabler for Bharath. We need to get the notion of Dharma back in our national discourse. We need to lay down list of values Bharath should celebrate. Some candidates are fairness, honesty, hard work and hope. These values go along with respect to environment and respect to all living forms. We need to bring back focus on simplicity, Saadhana (perseverance with determination, patience and discipline) and Tapasya (constant contemplation about higher things in life).

What happens to Secularism?

Whenever there is a talk about doing away with secular tag, pat comes the comment that India will become Hindu Pakistan. Those who say that choose to ignore thousands of years of history of Hindu Kingdoms. Kautilya’s Arthashastra even today provides a template for good governance. Kautilya in his treatise Arthashastra elaborated the traits of the King of a well governed state thus: “in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases himself, he does not consider good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as good”.

What is wrong with the status quo?

  1. Understating India’s Past:People ask why every advance originates in the West and not in India. Even when Indians contribute they do more when they work in USA, UK or Europe. India was a thought-leader since Vedic times. Recognized and respected highly even by Chinese civilization. Now we have a colonial mind-set. We have to be two steps behind UK or USA. By underplaying Bharath, we have acquired collective amnesia of past achievements of India in ancient and medieval times. We have an opportunity to promote a unified Indic medium of education and refocus on our culture, languages, traditions as well as reacquire ability to decipher the know-how embedded in our own scriptures and literary sources. There should be a single curricular framework nation-wide with no differential treatment of English and Indic mediums without rural/urban divide.
  2. Interest of Hindus: The interest of Hindus seems to be mortgaged to look good to others. Otherwise how can one explain lawyers falling over each other for illegal Rohingya migrants, but not even lifting a finger about rights of Kashmiri Pandits or Hindus refugees from Pakistan. Nobody talks about plight of Hindus in Islamic countries in neighborhood. These countries have seen sustained reduction in their population, attacks on temples, kidnappings and forced conversions. If we all are essentially same people, why cannot all the member countries in the SAARC adopt secularism? Only with shared value systems we can find way forward. Why India alone is singled out? Even within India attacks on Hindus and Hinduism continue to happen. Islamization is conquering district after district in West Bengal pushing Hindus out. Traditional Indian culture had made protection of cows and brahmins mainstay of Kings. Modern India celebrates slaughter of cows and forced migration of brahmins through constant discrimination. The successive Congress Governments gave carte blanche to missionaries to convert large sections of Hindus all over India. They overlooked illegal migration as well as conversion to Islam on some pretext or other. Hinduism being a non-missionary religion became an easy target. India since 10th Century AD or even earlier got attacked physically as well as culturally. The latter has left a deeper wound resulting in partition of India and attempts to set up Islamic state in Kashmir etc. India has been victim of conversions and destruction of religion – body and soul. India should pass a law to retrieve all structures which were built by destroying temples, whatever form they may be now and another law to retrospectively ban all conversions out of Hinduism/Native Religions/Cultures.  Finally, we should protect our interest and not asymmetric situation where Hinduism gets targeted by predatory religions whether it is Islam or Christianity. To keep it simple, slaughter of all kinds of cattle should be banned.
  3. Vote-bank Politics and Fractious Polity: Our democracy seems to begin and end with election. All the policies seem to target vote banks even when they are unsustainable.  The idea has been to make people dependent and rob them of initiative. Instead the focus should be providing access to facilities and opportunities. Real democracy starts after the election.  We need Government to be citizen-centric. Today people’s opinions are seldom sought in crafting the development agenda. The projects are started without any consultation with citizens. The priorities are skewed to suit the beneficiaries of contract kickback model or middlemen. Current polity and society have become very fractious. We have successfully pitted communities against one another. The quotas have become dog-fights. The unity of Hindus and nation is undermined through these quota-wars.  There is constant clamour to label communities as non-Hindu to get minority status. Where minorities actually suffer and don’t even have right to life, they hardly get protection such as Kashmir valley or villages in Bengal. In addition, we have a divide between India and Bharath. Elitist India that constantly looks outside is at odds with Bhaarth where tradition is to look within. India unfortunately conveys the notion of a soft state. New India should overcome that.
  4. Distortions in the Constitution: We need to remove all the distortions in our constitution. Anything that is at odds with the principle of treating all manners of people alike needs to go. There should be absolutely no labeling of communities as minority and majority. All communities should have equal rights to set up institutions for education or worship. In addition, article 370, article 35A, personal laws and any kind of special exemptions should go. All of India should belong to all Indians, where everybody is free to settle anywhere without any restriction. Castes which were amorphous became codified during British times and after independence they have become instruments of governance and politics. Castes should be seen as yet another identity which maintain sub-cultures through endogamy and let castes coalesce on their own as people move around and cultures unify and converge. Instead of fighting them or exploiting them let us work with them.
  5. Dysfunctional Police-Legal System: Our police-legal system is nothing but disaster. It takes too long to get justice if at all, costs too much. In several cases accused have got death faster than closure. The judiciary has been whimsical and inconsistent and at times even corrupt. They try to do the job of the Government by neglecting their own job.
  6. Freebies, Subsidies and Dole: Over the years a culture of decadence has crept in. Giving freebies to influence voters, vote for note culture, contract-kickback model, etc. Numerous schemes such as PDS, MGNREGA should be rationalized and involvement of Government should be minimal.  We have to move out of artificial and administered prices to economic prices by increasing competition and coopeartion. India probably has the worst roads among countries with similar GDP.24*7 power is still a luxury and Government is yet to be citizen centric.
  7.  Forgotten Middle Classes and Common Man: Successive Governments also pampered the poor and humoured the rich. India ranks the fifth in the world on NPAs. State Government after State Government doles out freebies and subsidiedss to all and sundry for wide-ranging goods and services.This has led to society forget the middle-class values of honesty where any debt is seen as sacred obligation to pay back. It is only one class of people who get taxed and penalized, while others get away. We need a new value system that promote fairness. Neither mindless socialism nor aggressive play of markets has helped India. The policies should be fair to all. We need to use our communities as strength and have policies that ask from contribution from all classes of people. Today we either put undue burden on the state, expecting it to do everything or let the market through businesses do the function. This has caused a split in the middle in sector after sector. You either have a choice of Corporate Hospital which you cannot afford or Government Hospital that is ill-equipped. Nether the market forces through fair competition makes health-care affordable nor welfare state is capable enough. We need the middle path.

What should we change?

  1. Change Legal  System: We should reengineer processes of Governance and law to make then simple and lean with focus on productivity, quality and innovation. We have borrowed constitution and legal systems, after that we have let lot of distortions come in and allowed decadence to set in. The Government bows down to pressure groups and vote banks. But common man is at the mercy of God. Whether it is Government, businesses or other agencies all of them are strong against the weak and weak against the strong.  Mahatma Gandhi propounded the concept of “Su-raj”. As per him “Good governance” has the following eight attributes, which link it to its Citizens: 1) Accountable 2) Transparent 3) Responsive 4) Equitable and inclusive 5) Effective & Efficient 6) Follows the rule of law 7) Participatory and 8) Consensus oriented. If the Government lives up-to ideals propounded by him, we may not need anything else. Replace current legal system with one that is simpler and leaner, where the focus is on effective outcomes. Free up the system from colonial practices and come up with what works in India. Let law not be an end in itself.Replace constitution with one that is aligned with our own ethos which is far simpler and direct without much caveats and confusion.
  2. Protect and promote Hinduism: Any system of education or preaching which teaches hatred of Hindus and disrespect or indifference to nation should be stopped. All conversions out of Dharmic religion should be banned even retrospectively if needed. India should champion promotion and propagation of Dharmic Religion basically promoting native religions, traditions and cultures which were outplaced by predatory religions. In that sense India should find common cause with Jews who suffered a lot since last two millennia. There should be primacy to native traditions, religions and cultures. That means protection of native religions, tribal cultures and practices and even among the converted adoption of local cultures, names and civilizational values should be encouraged and external influence should be minimal. They should feel the pain of compatriots instead of relishing it and relating to the pain of people in other countries when they don’t care about Hindus in India. Things like Haj subsidy which increases the distance between Indian should be stropped. Adoption of regressive practices should be highly discouraged. Our laws should be based on civil code that is rooted in local ethos and values and not that of Sharia or West. Bharath should take a leading role in preserving, protecting and promoting Dharmic religions, native religions, cultures that got displaced by Christianity and Islam. We should be open and proactive in encouraging people to adopt Dharmic Religions. We should facilitate those who want to revert. We should block further outflow by banning conversions out of Dharmic religions on any pretext. This should be seen as a correction for last 1500 years of onslaught and seven decades of wrong policy after independence. Cattle slaughter should be banned nation-wide. To make the economics viable, organic farming should be embraced big time.
  3. Unity First  Approach : All the five pillars of democracy have let down people as well as nation. To promote their misplaced ideals, they have given short-shrift to India’s interest and interest of Hindus. Under these circumstances India needs genuine unity much more. We have patted ourselves on the back about diversity for too long, let us stand for the unity of the nation. Hinduism gets attacked for caste system and idol worship. As if west did not have slavery and racism. Even middle eastern countries are still wedded to medieval value systems. When nobody knows the truth how is worshiping non-idol makes it better? How single God becomes the better truth or only truth?
  4. Teach Our History Right & come up with unified Indic Curriculum: History of India has been taught very selectively. Even as far as freedom struggle goes contribution of Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA, INA trial by British which in turn led to Naval Mutiny that forced to leave British is not taught at all. History should be taught about the whole civilization from India to Iran. Hindu History of Afghanistan, Baluchistan should be taught as well. Also, latest state of knowledge on ancient India, topics about Aryans and now discredited theories should be taught. The role of Vijayanagara, Maratha, Chola and Ahom, so many empires should get the rightful place. The Delhi-centric chronicle of invasions should be replaced with a balanced one that includes how invasions were resisted and kind of agony these conquests caused.Teach students about advances in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math advances which were there starting from ancient India. Promote quality learning of Sanskrit to achieve this. Come up with a unified curriculum for the whole of India which promotes Indic medium on equal footing with English medium. Develop job opportunities for people who are well-versed with Indic studies or educated in Indic medium. Make the employment landscape broad-based than counting on 2-3 avenues where everybody wants to be part of.
  5. Find Alternatives to divisive quotas: Do away with divisive quotas and come up with alternate mechanisms that improve economic viability of every profession. Promote dignity of labour and use mechanization to avoid hazardous and unpleasant tasks. Make use of scholarships and improve schooling system. Make schooling broad-based to cover as many professions as possible. Focus on fundamentals and approach education with sense of purpose in building depth and differentiation. Make education complete by covering aspects of character and professionalism along with proficiency. Focus on social mobility and economic mobility. Even in education sector focus on mobility, improvement and evolution through mentoring. Deemphasize regulation and ranking.
  6. Do away with the concept of minorities: Let all communities have equal rights and ability start their own educational and religious institutions subject to certain safeguards and checks and balances. Promote education based on community goodwill and philanthropy as a counter to self-financed institutions. Open up education to companies, industry associations, corporates and Foreign entrants.
  7. Move away from Socialism:Do away with socialist underpinnings of policies where you attempt to punish the rich and sinners. The whole policy framework whether it is taxation, auctions or contracts should be based on the concept of fairness. Neither socialism nor excessive competition serves the nation in a sustainable manner. Let fairness be the guiding light.
  8. Have  a movement using Lean Sigma to boost Productivity and Competitiveness:Have a movement to boost productivity and earnings at individual, institutional and national level. Let productivity improvement and employment generation be a movement. Arrive at district based development model, where each district drives its own destiny, by collecting revenue and tapping as many local sources, seeking co-operation of all to make the district a model district with support from state, center and NITI Aayog. Let districts compete.
  9. Focus on common citizen:Focus on common citizen and take every complaint and suggestion of common man seriously using technology and appropriate work culture among officials. Corruption and negligence should be severely punished. Pass a law on right to response which includes whistle-blowers. The Government should come up with Right to Response law. The officials treat the complaints in grievance portal with disdain, at state level complaints are ignored. There may be vulnerable people even among the rich such as widows and badly treated executives even among best of the companies. Change the prevailing culture where we live with things that don’t work, don’t look good and violate laws instead of taking them seriously. Many common citizens suffer because their employers do not treat them fairly. The Government should come up with “Right to Justice at Work” that covers all section of employees not just the labour class. In many cases white collar workers including CEOs have their share of trauma. Many citizens suffer because we do not apply the concept of vicarious liability on organizations. Mobile App based cab companies to hospitals to financial institutions to schools get away when incidents happen hurting their customers.
  10. Transform Agriculture: Transform agriculture by focusing on trading and markets. Do away with complex scheme of subsides.
  11. Assertive Foreign Policy: Change foreign policy that is based on legacy positions of appeasement and India’s projection as a soft state. Demand reciprocity. It simply does not make sense for India to support Palestine when it provides a template and process to forcibly create Islamic states. Repeated articulation of faulty narrative on Jammu and Kashmir in media in India and overseas by vested interests needs to get challenged by Government of India.
  12. Manage Media and Civil Society better:Cancel licenses of NGOs such as Personal law boards that keeps India backward. Make any kind of Fatwas punishable.Any media outlet or journalist who supports terrorism or endorses terrorism by calling them as fighters where it affects India’s interest adversely should not be allowed to operate. Same things should happen to institutions like Amnesty, Human rights watch who are silent on sufferings of Hindus and attacks on security forces.
  13. Clean-up Electoral system: Free up electoral system from the influence of bribing voters through direct payments and freebies. Loan waivers should be clear no-no. Any involvement should be targeted to prevent suicides by managing risks in systemic manner. Those who take money to vote should lose their voter Ids.
  14. Look at Dharma as a unifying concept for ethics and excellence If you go by Dharma doing your job very well itself becomes part of your personal ethics. We need to promote that anywhere and everywhere.

Getting the Union Cabinet Right

“The important thing for Government is not to do things which individuals are doing already and to do them a little better or little worse; but to do those things which at present are not done at all”.

– John Maynard Keynes, 1926”

In 2014, just before the Lok Sabha Elections, there was expectation that the new Government will usher in radical change in the way Governance is done. The slogan “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance” during the campaign of PM Modi also seemed timely. There were discussions on TV channels as to the appropriate structure of Union Cabinet.  Some of the discussions are captured in http://thinkindia.in.com/. In general the thrust of recommendations was to abolish wasteful  ministries and make structure of remaining ministries lean and efficient. Some specific recommendations included having a unified energy ministry, transportation ministry and agriculture ministry,

The first union cabinet that was sworn in 2014 May was compact almost half the size of earlier cabinets. However, this did not last long, as the cabinet after few reshuffles grew to around 60 or so, with 25 Cabinet Ministers. On top of that there were questions why certain seemingly unrelated Ministries were held by the same Minister and so on. Over the last 3 years, while the contribution of the PM has been striking and some union Ministers have shone in limelight, there is still a feeling that more can be done considering the challenges the country faces.

While Government has articulated many important missions – Clean India, Startup India, make in India and Digital India, the governance and execution structure of these missions needs more work. Certain regions continue to fall behind on even some basics. Certain sectors such as education and health still need lot of work. Certain reforms related to police and ensuring safety of men, women and children remains an unfulfilled agenda. On top of that we have pressure groups on some pretext or other indulge in violence and destruction of public property.

In addition, there seems to be good enough talent pool within the country. Even within the cabinet and party, it appears the existing talent is not utilized fully.

There are certain templates which countries like USA have followed. The US President has only 15 Secretaries and is able to run a huge country. While the USA is more federal and more developed with better systems than India, there is still merit in having a focused structure with clear-cut purpose. John Maynard Keynes emphasized the Government needs to focus on what Government alone can do. Things like law and order, security, infrastructure can be deal-breakers if not taken care of.  Y V Reddy in an interview spoke about tyranny of 10% – 90% of the time we talk about FDI, Organized Sector, Corporates, though they constitute only 10% of the economy.

In summary, we need a framework to design a “good” union cabinet. We propose 5-C framework consisting of Context, Construct, Culture, Competencies and Counters.

Context

In my earlier article published in February 2016 https://swarajyamag.com/politics/can-we-apply-strategy-lessons-from-business-world-to-politics,. I had characterized the strategic position taken by the Government as a variety based position that meets common needs of all people, in contrast with narrower positions addressing narrower groups of people and regions. This correlated well with the theme of Governance of PM Modi where he saw Development as a Mass movement. In addition, I had proposed that the Government should reinforce its strategy using needs based position in the form of a value proposition triad – consisting of “Achche Din”(Development), “Sachche Din”(Countering Corruption) and “Surakshit Din”(Countering threats), where the three dimensions of triad operate in tandem.  Further I had proposed that Government should evaluate an access based position where benefits/services are provided or concerns addressed as per individual needs instead of making decisions at community level, where undeserving may get benefits.  Even looking at sub-groups within a community can be considered as a special case of this approach.  The overall approach can be considered as targeting personal sector. Focus on personal dimension means underplaying pressure groups and vote banks. Overall a philosophy of participative Governance was proposed where individual is at the center of discourse.

Under the theme of Sachche Din, the Government has made important strides in tackling corruption and compliance issues with demonetization, tackling shell companies and benami properties as well as black money kept abroad. The Government also initiated steps to tackle NPAs and made it harder for people to game the system. Under “Surakshit Din” theme, the Government has a more robust foreign policy and has not hesitated to conduct surgical strikes as well as respond to external terror and internal terror. Under Achche Din, host of measures have been taken including deploying GST. All these are work in progress.

In addition, the Government has addressed the concerns of sub-groups (Muslim women, sub-groups of OBCs, pensioners) as well as taken special steps to connect with people over the heads of intermediaries. The dialogue is two-way. The people can report their concerns through tweets to grievance portals to mobile apps to myGov portal.

However certain issues continue to dominate head-lines – distress in agriculture, destruction of property and loss of lives due to protests, deficiencies in education, health-care, law and order and civic governance, just to name a few. More importantly when it comes to security, foreign policy and tackling corruption, Government seems to have taken a fresh approach, it has done to lesser degree in economic matters as well as in tackling long standing deficiencies. While the Government has excelled in tactics, and deserves credit for large number of improvements that touch common man, it appears that the Government is yet to take a transformational approach.

There is also a misconception that just because large number of activities are done in private sector, there is lesser need for planning. In fact, a need for a sophisticated strategic plan that operates at eco-system level is more important today than any time earlier. Just focusing on policies will not do.

Construct

Here we look at the construct of individual Ministry. We suggest that we should look at each sector/Ministry from the perspective of Conformance, Performance, Reform and Transformation.

  • Conformance is about continuity with integrity to ensure that laws of the land are respected and due diligence is done. Here the focus is on process adherence and people orientation. For example, Law Ministry has got to be high on conformance.  The conformance is as much about being responsive to people, provide them timely service and respond to calls of distress with a robust process.
  • Performance is about focus on outcomes and culture of execution and making changes in processes, people, culture and metrics to ensure that things get done on the ground in time. For example, Rail Safety has exposed certain execution issues on ground, even with progress otherwise. Health-care, education and poverty alleviation need strong boost to performance.
  • Reform is about change management, where we think we know what should change, but it needs dialogue and negotiation with stakeholders. GST is a classic case of reform which took rather too long and has still some distance to go. Police reforms is another area where there is some degree of clarity yet things have not taken off due to lack of political will and enormous co-ordination required with the State Governments.
  • Transformation is about new ways of thinking/doing not only at Government level but also at societal/eco-system level. At times, the philosophical underpinnings of Governance are dictated by our mind-set, which comes in the way of transformation. We can safely say that Agriculture is one sector crying out for transformation. The Government is heavily invested in agriculture, yet issues remain. The civic Governance is yet another area. Basically, here the way we have been doing things such as reliance on contractors and civic bodies just does not seem to work. In both these cases we really need to think through using an innovative approach. There may be more sectors such as Defense Manufacturing where country has failed say compared to our space program. The way court cases get delayed is another area where routine reforms will not do.

Same Ministry may have multiple agendas vying for attention. Railways needs to be both Performance driven as well as transformation driven (business model). Even I&B Ministry can play a transformational role by encouraging participative Governance by providing connect between people and their representatives/officials as well as extensive field-work.

For every Ministry, we should draw up a transformation, reform, performance and conformance agenda. We should characterize each Ministry as to where the highest focus should be among these four and relative order in line with the Governance agenda at a given point in time.  Each Ministry should be equipped with the right personnel and resources to drive these agendas.

Culture

Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.  Under culture we address how the Ministries should collaborate. At times for the sake of cohesive Cabinet, some competent people get left out. Ideally cohesion and talent mix should be managed without sacrificing ether.

Each Ministry should handle as cohesive functionality as possible without excessive coupling with other ministries. Arun Shourie in his book on Governance has deplored the number of inter-ministerial interactions required to make even routine changes. Some of these things may no longer happen under a strong PM.  Yet, it is better to have a structure which can stand the test of time.

Wherever synergies exist, the Ministries should be combined to fewer Ministries. Where the work-load is very high we can have Ministerial Clusters which co-ordinate with each other, with one of the Ministers playing cluster-coordination role. We can have Energy Cluster, Transpiration Cluster, Development Cluster, Security Cluster and so on. These cater to sustained communication and co-ordination as well as joint planning. The bodies such as CCEA become decision making bodies to which these clusters present their integrated plans.

Certain Ministers either as the only role or as additional role should be identified as mission owners. The mission owners should champion missions such as Clean India, Make in India, Digital India, Startup India, Women’s safety, River rejuvenation etc. Generally, any mission covers multiple ministries.

Certain Ministers should be accountable for regional development to different regions. So, we should have a Minister focused on North, West, South, East, North-East, etc. They can also play a role to facilitate dialogue among state Governments in the region.

Once we arrive at a structure, we need to assess how it stands up to challenges facing the nation. For example, USA formed Homeland Security Ministry which combined variety of security agencies under one umbrella. Chidambaram had proposed a separate internal security Ministry. These suggestions need to be evaluated. At the same time, having separate skills Ministry, Women and Child Welfare Ministry have only had limited impact. It is also worth looking at transferring all centrally funded institutions such as IITs, IIMs and NITs to Science, Technology and Knowledge Ministry with a charter on innovation. MHRD can be a nodal Ministry with focus on employment and mass education.

Competencies

It is important that every Ministry, mission, region and national objective be served by right set of people with the right mind-set and right competencies. Certain Ministries need specialist handling, such as Finance, while certain others can do well with conventional wisdom. Again, these assumptions can be turned on their head by high achievers who succeed in their own way. Generally, a Cabinet Minister should be prudent, courageous and conscientious where he/she can guide the entire cabinet in matters of national importance. Being silent when one should speak is the biggest crime here. Certain Ministries have seen wonders where Ministers have been detail oriented such as Power and Defense. In addition, the Ministers should have integrity, passion, pragmatism, political skills and ability to be forceful to different degrees based on the situation.

In general, transformational skills need the ability to appreciate/evolve new paradigms. So, a Minister who is a thinker/thought leader and preferably a passionate communicator will fit the bill here.  A transformational leader will also think of new strategies say to win in global trade.

For reforms, we need a great communicator who has good relationships with stakeholders who is pragmatic and willing to negotiate the rules of engagement.

For Performance agenda, we need leaders who are focused on execution, with “can do, will do” approach. Managing large organizations, variety of people, circumstances, crises and willingness to work from the trenches is important here.

For Conformance agenda, we need leaders who are strong on processes, policies, laws as well people-orientation. These people who can navigate complexity in meticulous manner every day so that wheels of Governance keep running smoothly. They should evolve processes to communicate with citizens and stakeholders in an ongoing basis. They need to be caring and sensitive to concerns of people. Sharing plans and reporting progress, responding to emergent situations and distress are very vital here. Conformance by no means is simple or routine. There are always situations that need to be addressed before they become crises.

Each Ministry should have appropriate talent mix among Ministers and assisting/advising bureaucracy/experts.  The Ministry should be supported by legislators and political parties. The Ministries should actively engage with them.

It is desirable that the Ministers individually and collectively are driven by sense of purpose than merely by sense of prestige, power or pelf.

There should be a culture of participative governance where all Ministers connect with people directly through variety of interfaces: Social Media to Grievance portal should assure people that somebody is out there to listen to them.  The Government should be always conscious about what is important to common people. The people expect Government to be responsive and provide timely service/information. Railway Minister has set a good example of sharing annual progress report.

Counters

Any Ministry can become engine of growth. Culture and Tourism Ministry can pay special attention to places of cultural importance and make sure that the amenities are best in class all over India. Every Ministry should have economic and social indicators that it can report/track to justify its existence and communicate its performance. The employment generated, contribution to GDP, contribution to FDI, contribution to exports, promotion of new India as brand could be themes around which metrics can be designed. The measurement framework should be evolved to compare relative performance of Ministries as well performance relative to national agenda.At national level, we need to have vision, mission, objectives and strategies well defined. In line with that metrics need to be defined and those metrics should percolate to every ministry.

Note: Revised Article is available at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/getting-union-cabinet-right-shreekanth-m-prabhu/