These are the views of the Freedom Team of India Upon the Jan Lokpal, currently being debated in the parliament. This is a draft document open for the public to comment on. The concerns and comments will be taken into account for subsequent revisions of this document subjecting that it meets the core fundamental beliefs of the team. While not all comments can be accommodated they however will be help us gauge the informed public positions on the Jan Lokpal debate. Please go through the document and let us know your opinions.
1. What is the Freedom Team of India?
TheFreedomTeamofIndia (FTI) is a team of leaders who will contest elections to offer India the world’s best policies that will increase the liberty and prosperity of the ordinary citizens of India. All FTI thinking is aimed at maximising the freedom and prosperity of Indians. This strong perspective, based on liberty, inevitably leads to a focus on the impacts of a policy on the common man.
FTI applauds Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev for their belief that they are fighting against corruption. However, fighting corruption requires a careful understanding of the causes of corruption.
A question is asked: Why doesn’t FTI make a draft of Jan Lokpal Bill and share it online? That is because FTI does not believe that (under the current system of socialist governance) a Lokpal will be a solution to India’s problems.
Therefore FTI does not wish to offer any draft Bill on this subject. Instead, it offers more, far more: total integrity in public life and very significantly increased prosperity for all Indians.
FTI’s cast iron guarantee of public integrity
FTI stands for the abolition of all socialist policies in India and their replacement of by policies that are grounded in the principles of liberty. Flowing from that, FTI offers a CAST IRON GUARANTEE of total integrity in public life and significantly increased prosperity for all Indians.
2. FTI’s diagnosis of India’s problems
Before a doctor can treat a problem, he must diagnose it properly first. That means understanding its causes. FTI’s diagnosis of corruption is dramatically different to Team Anna’s diagnosis.
FTI believes that corruption arises due to bad systems. Team Anna believes that corruption arises due to bad people. FTI vigorously opposes any suggestion that India’s politicians are born corrupt or criminally minded. FTI believes that all Indians have the same DNA (like any other human), and that no one is born with “corrupt” DNA.
FTI is convinced, from careful analysis of incentives, that bad systems create bad people. Indeed, a bad system can even make a genius look like an idiot. The same Indians do wonderfully well in the West but perform pathetically in India. Why so? Because it is systems that convert geniuses into idiots (and vice versa). There are sufficient case studies available today that show that through good systems; even “ordinary” people can perform great deeds.
It is our socialist system of governance that forces our politicians into corruption. Witch-hunts and chasing after specific “corrupt” individuals will not resolve the problem of corruption, particularly since virtually all politicians are either directly corrupt or promote or connive with corruption.
Further, as SwamiAiyarhaspointedout, “Even if the Lokpal controls the CBI, it will have no control over the courts. These seem incapable of convicting any resourceful person beyond appeals within his or her lifetime. Little will be achieved if the Lokpal initiates a thousand cases that then drag on for decades, with the accused out on bail.”
Blaming the judiciary is not quite right. Unless it is proposed that the principles of natural justice are to be scrapped, the judiciary is obliged to follow the laws of India.
3. FTI’s solution
Since FTI’s diagnosis of the problem is completely opposite to Team Anna’s diagnosis, therefore FTI’s solution is entirely different to Team Anna’s solution.
Yes, FTI believes that the Lokpal can have an effect, but only when the level of systemic corruption in India is reduced to the minimum (say, to less than five per cent of the politicians and bureaucrats of India being corrupt). At that point Lokpal will definitely have an effect and form an important part of the toolkit.
So, what is FTI’s solution?
The first step, FTI believes, is to bring down corruption to a very low level through systemic reform. It is necessary to build systems of governance where only the honest can enter politics, and the policies which are promulgated do not allow corruption to be generated. What is needed are well-thought-out policies that are based on a sound understanding of economic incentives.
FTI’s solution is founded on the philosophy of classical liberalism, which is the opposite of socialism. Classical liberalism is based on the principle of equal liberty for all. FTI does not pay lip service to liberty, like most other leaders of India do (including Team Anna, some of whose leaders don’t hesitate in beating poor villagers with an army belt).
FTI offers real liberty to all Indians (while ensuring accountability). FTI’s principles and policies are outlined in considerable detail here: http://freedomteam.in/blog/draft-policies. We encourage you to read and understand these.
What do these policies mean in practical terms? FTI is working as a team to formulate detailed policies, but you can get an idea about what these policies might look like, by reading the book, Breaking Free of Nehru (BFN) which is freely available here: http://bfn.sabhlokcity.com/. Note that the policies in BFN have not yet been agreed by the team, and it is FTI that will ultimately offer the more detailed policies.
4. Now, to the Lokpal issue in more detail
a) The shortage of Lokpal does not cause corruption
Numerous countries in the West with very low levels of corruption. They do not achieve such low levels of corruption through Lokpal or similar bodies. They have achieved it through systemic reforms, such as state funding of elections, high salaries for politicians, and contractual appointments of senior bureaucrats. Most free countries in the world do not give significant powers to unelected officials like a Lokpal. That does not mean they have significant corruption.
FTI believes that India should not vest too much authority in unelected officials. Such actions will undermine the authority of India’s elected representatives, without in any way improving the governance of India.
b) Lokpal won’t stop the system that generates corruption
As FTI has clearly pointed out, India’s socialist policies generate corruption. So the task of the Lokpal is basically futile. It is far better to focus on the policies to improve India’s governance.
c) Lokpal won’t/ can’t catch all the corrupt
The Lokpal will try to catch the corrupt. That might be fine if (say) 1 per cent of India’s politicians and bureaucrats are corrupt, but when 99 per cent are corrupt, then catching one or two people will hardly make a difference.
d) The big fish will invariably escape
The Lokpal will merely catch a lot of small fish. The big fish will escape since the big fish have access to more sophisticated methods of corruption, by which they can’t be easily caught. Corruption will be driven into Swiss accounts or other tax havens (including benami transactions in Indian real estate). There will be an even greater outflow of corrupt money outside India.
e) The corruption ‘charges’ will increase
Because the corrupt will have to factor in the (presumably) slightly higher probability of being caught, the “rate” they demand will increase. And indeed, without addressing the basic causes of corruption, it will merely be driven underground.
f) Inefficiency in government will increase
Given the extraordinary protections available to them under the Constitution, there is no clear method available to punish Indian government servants for not doing their work. There is no way to get rid of someone only on grounds of inefficiency. Therefore, if their opportunities for corruption are reduced, government servants will slack off, leading to total paralysis. The Lokpal could therefore put a brake on India’s economic growth.
g) Lokpal could itself become a corrupt organisation
Corrupt politicians and government servants have plenty of money to bribe investigative agencies and judges. It won’t take them long to bribe the Lokpal (or his officials).
5. Common questions/comments regarding Lokpal
a. Are there other mechanisms apart from Lokpal to stop corruption? (I.e. if not Lokpal then what?)
Yes, there are many mechanisms. These involve two key changes:
(i) Ensuring that socialist policies are removed and thereby the people of India enabled to undertake many more activities without government regulation; and
(ii) Ensuring electoral reforms that facilitate good people to successfully compete against those who use huge amounts of black money.
These changes will require a change in the political leadership of India. Currently no political party offers these reforms. It is important that people who offer such reforms step forward to offer themselves as candidates in elections. FTIis a platform for such candidates.
b) Did Hong Kong not succeed with a Lokpal-like model?
Hong Kong ranks close to the top of the world in terms of ethics in public life. It was, not long ago, a very corrupt country. The reforms that reduced corruption started with free market reforms. Only after all these were implemented was its Independent Commission Against Corruption made into a constitutional body. The main cause of integrity in public life is its free market policies. India should adopt these first.
Indonesia tried to copy the Hong Kong model and has badly failed, because it did not adopt the free market model of Hong Kong. As Offstumpedhas pointed out, “Indonesia’s corruption eradication commission, one message screams out — India does not need to make Indonesia’s mistakes with the proposed Lokpal Bill. It has been nearly 10 years since the KPK was established by law in Indonesia. Ten years on, no surprises: Corruption has not been eradicated from Indonesia. Far from eliminating corruption, KPK continues to be at the centre of political intrigue in Indonesia.”
c) Won’t the Lokpal create many new government jobs?
Indeed, it will. But if economic growth were as easy as creating new government jobs, then we could very well create a Ministry of jobs whose job would be to create new jobs that dig up holes and fill them again. Surely, creating jobs is not a good excuse to have a Lokpal. Jobs that do not add value to the economy will reduce India’s economic growth.
d) The middle class have less interaction with the government but the poor have to constantly interface with the state? Will Lokpal not help them?
No. Unless the systems are changed, the villager can’t avoid corruption. In particular, villagers need to have the capacity to lodge a case with the Lokpal – something which they are unlikely to possess. They also would need to pursue these cases, something for which they do not have the time. The corrupt tahsidars and patwaris will go scot free.
e) How much percentage of corruption can a Lokpal bring down?
The jury is out on this, but FTI believes that Lokpal will not reduce corruption, but might even increase it.
f) How much will Lokpal cost?
Quite a lot! For almost no social gain.
In summary, FTI does not oppose Anna Hazare as a person. It applauds him and his supporters for being angry with the mess made by corrupt politicians in India for over sixty years.
It does not even want to oppose the Lokpal bill since it is neither here nor there; an ineffective intervention that will probably do some harm and some good. On balance, the Lokpal will make no difference to the lives of Indians. FTI agrees with and supports, in principle, IAC people’s movement against corruption, but not Lokpal as a solution. It asks the people of India to look for the actual solution, which involves a fight against socialism.
All existing political forces (all major political parties are socialist) have harmed India and must be opposed. Most policies will need to be changed, to break away from socialistic ideologies.
Unfortunately, while the people of India are now awaking due to the IAC movement, they are being offered the same socialist solution as anyone else.
The people of India deserve to be shown the right solution, the solution that will work. And we need leaders who understand these policy issues to step forward and lead. FTI invites you to join the team and work towards providing India with alternative governance.