As we celebrate India’s Independence Day today, we should think whether the true vision of freedom has been realised — because without freedom there is no prosperity. I spoke at Manthan in early July 2021 about how Indians are still not free, and why a second freedom movement is needed to make Indian prosperous. The transcript of what I spoke is below. Here is the PDF.
- Part 0: Introduction
- Part 1: The Choice We Face
- Part 2: India needs a Freedom Movement
- Part 3: Nayi Disha: Making It Happen
- The Rules Revolution
- The Present Political System
- A Limited Government
- Mission Free543
- United Voters of India
- Community Organising
- Government for Free India
- Mission 10-20-30
- Item #1: Passing the Dhan Vapasi Bill
- Item #2: Borrow $2 trillion from global markets
- Item #3: Cut Taxes
- Item #4: Building Infrastructure
- Item #5: Free the Education Sector
- Item #6: Create a free-market Agricultural Sector
- Item #7: Remove all barriers to International Trade
- Item #8: Efficient Legal Order
- Item #9: Eliminate all Discriminatory Laws
- Item #10: Devolve power to the States and Cities
- Nayi Disha: A Manifesto for Freedom
- Constitution for Free India
- Epilogue: We have to Choose – and Act
Part 0: Introduction
I am sure you must be wondering why would a tech entrepreneur get into economies and prosperity.
My journey began in late 2008. My son Abhishek was then three years old. One day, my friend, Atanu Dey, said to me, “Rajesh, when Abhishek grows up and says to you, ‘Papa, you had the understanding, the resources to help India. What did you do?’, what will your answer be?”
That motivated my journey in the political space. That began an exploration into the question, “How can India become a prosperous nation.”
Prosperity is possible but not if we do what we’ve been doing. What must we do to make India a rich nation? That’s the focus of this presentation.
I outline an alternate vision for India. I call it “Nayi Disha.” It’s a future of prosperity and possibilities.
Part 1: The Choice We Face
India’s future is in our hands.
The future is open-ended in the sense that we create it through our choices. We have to choose between two futures.
The Past 250 years
India has had a rough road for the last 250 years. It was ruled by the East India Company for a century starting in 1757. Then it came under the rule of the British Crown — the British Raj — until 1947, when power was transferred to the Indian government of India.
Although much has changed over the last 250 years, a dominant theme that did not change is that Indians have not been free. Although Indian in skin colour and ethnicity, the new rulers denied Indians freedoms that were necessary for prosperity.
The basic fact is that development of nations depends on the extent and nature of the freedoms that people have. Cultural, social and economic development requires individual, civic and economic freedoms.
Specifically, economic development depends on economic freedom. Without economic growth and development, a nation is at a serious disadvantage relative to other nations.
Developed nations like the US are economically dynamic because of the economic freedom they have. That dynamism translates into material prosperity and progress.
Compared to the US, both China and India were desperately equally poor for nearly all of the past few centuries. But starting around the early 1980s, China’s leadership under Deng Xiaoping chose to liberalize China’s economy. That lifted around 700 million Chinese out of poverty within one generation and made China the second largest economy in GDP terms by 2008.
Now in 2021, China’s annual GDP is around five times India’s GDP. Meaning, the average Chinese earns five times what the average Indian earns.
It is hard to admit that India is much, much poorer than China today. For every extremely poor person in China, there are around 200 extremely poor Indians.
Small countries with traditionally rich populations — such as Switzerland or Sweden — cannot be compared with large historically poor countries like India and China.
But something allowed China, a country where tens of millions of people died of starvation just a couple of generations ago, to prosper and advance rapidly. How did China do that, and why is India not as successful in eradicating poverty?
I submit that China succeeded because the Chinese gained economic freedom. India’s failure is because Indians don’t have economic freedom.
Future 1: Free and Rich
Imagine India about 15 years from now.
- GDP per capita is around $8,000 — or four times what it was in 2020. Extreme poverty is a thing of the past.
- The composition of India’s economy
- Agriculture accounts for 15% of total labour, manufacturing 45% and services 40%
The structural change in the Indian economy has resulted in the population becoming more urbanized. Around 75% of Indians live in urban areas.
Urban populations have greater opportunity for wealth production and consumption. Because dense urban areas use resources more efficiently, the labour productivity is higher than in rural areas.
With increased manufacturing capacity, India is able to be a net exporter of manufactured goods as well as meet the increased domestic demand.
Wages track labour productivity. With higher productivity in all sectors, Indian wages have increased.
Higher incomes have meant more demand for durable goods and consumer goods — all of which created employment opportunities that a growing working-age population required.
Greater production of goods and services then allowed more investment in infrastructure such as roads, ports and transportation links.
These also increased employment in the construction industries, including housing for the hundreds of millions migrating from rural to urban areas — which again led to increased demand for manufactured and agricultural goods.
Indians earn more, and therefore spend more. They also save more because taxes were capped by law to not exceed 10%. Lower taxes forced the government to be small and efficient.
The Major Changes
The major changes were three: political, economic and civic.
The political change was in the creation of a Lok Sabha of Independents.
Before Nayi Disha, members of the parliament were people who were selected by the bosses or leaders of various political parties. The people of the constituencies had no say in who got “tickets” to contest elections.
Therefore the MPs owed their allegiance to party bosses — not to the people whom they represented.
Nayi Disha changed that. The people chose the candidates. The people held the power, not party bosses.
These “Independent” MPs formed the Lok Sabha of Independents.
They dismantled the “anti-prosperity machine” which had kept India poor.
The primary economic changes were two: first, the Dhan Vapasi program which returned the public wealth to the public.
This brought idle public assets (such as land and locked-up mineral wealth) into production. This increased economic activity, leading to increased employment and increased wealth creation.
The second economic change was divestment of public sector enterprises. This reduced the losses that were being paid for by the people. This enabled the lowering of taxes, which then increased private sector investment — both domestic and international.
Private enterprise creates the wealth of nations. Bureaucrats and politicians don’t create wealth.
The civic changes involved an efficient legal and dispute resolution system. Also transformational were the changes to the city administration. It removed the perverse incentives which motivated the state governments to treat cities as step children and exploit them for electoral gains in rural areas.
Since cities are the engines of wealth creation (remember that entrepreneurs are urban dwellers), the empowerment of city administration created major avenues of economic growth.
Those changes replaced the dysfunctional system of “crony socialism” with free-market capitalism which is the only economic system known to humanity that creates wealth.
Unifying Theme: Freedom
The unifying theme of the changes was freedom.
People who are free to follow their self-determined goals, who employ their skills as they see fit, are people who flourish. This was the freedom that Indians had been denied for so long.
Why didn’t Indians become free after the British Raj ended?
The answer is simple. The British had made the laws that empowered the rulers because that’s what colonialism is about. Those who succeeded the British in ruling India — Nehru and those who came after him — found the British-made rules suited them very well.
In 1947, there was a transfer of power to the Indian rulers. From being subjects to the British Crown, Indians found themselves the subjects of Indian rulers. These rulers were brown skinned but their objective was the same as the Gora Sahibs — to extract and exploit the Indian people to enrich themselves.
The Indian Constitution of 1950 is a British creation. Of the 395 articles of the Indian constitution, 242 were copied verbatim and adopted wholesale from the British India Act of 1935, passed by the British Parliament.
India’s progress was made possible by the wholesale replacement of the British-era constitution of India with a constitution for a Free India.
That’s one future — the “Free and Rich India” future. Now let’s consider the “Unfree and Poor India.”
Future 2: Unfree and Poor
Currently, India’s $2K per capita annual income is only 3% that of the US, 4% of Germany, 6% of South Korea, and 20% of China’s per capita GDP.
If we continue to do the same things as before, India will continue to be poor in per capita GDP terms. The gap between India and China will become significantly wider.
Indian industry will not be able to compete in the global market. That would mean fewer Indian exports. Low and falling exports also mean low and falling imports. Without imports of goods that India needs for productivity gains, the economy will be handicapped. Meaning continued and persistent high poverty rates.
In a globalized world where mobility is high and information is cheap, those who are the most talented and able will migrate to better places.
This creates a vicious cycle of worsening conditions motivating “capital drain”. Human and physical capital escapes to where there is greater freedom and opportunities.
Indians have full access to information at their fingertips. They can see other countries rapidly progressing. This is disheartening and leads to loss of confidence.
What India needs is a freedom movement to become economically free. Freedom is the road to prosperity.
Part 2: India needs a Freedom Movement
Freedom and Prosperity: Why Some Nations are Rich
The default condition of humanity is poverty. Our kind — anatomically modern humans — have walked the earth for around 300,000 years. Humans have always been poor — except for the last 250 years or so.
Humanity emerged from grinding poverty with the First Industrial Revolution which began in England, and gradually spread to other European countries and regions that Europeans had settled.
In the second half of the 20th century, various East Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea began the road to economic development.
The formula was simple but required enlightened leadership. It involved rapid industrialization through importation of technology and export-led growth.
Which required open economies.
Nations that closed themselves to international trade and foreign investment missed out on economic development.
Nations that granted themselves economic freedom became prosperous.
Economically free people create wealth which then enables them to develop the technology that creates more wealth.
The first countries to develop took around a century to do so. But countries that began to develop later were able to shrink the development time to a matter of decades. They had the advantage of being able to use the already existing technologies. Technology once created can be copied and adopted by others.
China is the best example of adopting technologies developed elsewhere. South Korea too. It was as poor as much of sub-Saharan Africa as late as the 1960s. In just a matter of three decades, it became a rich nation.
The fact that there are developed nations means that development is possible.
But development is not inevitable because there are nations that are still not developed.
Economic development has been studied for around 250 years.
The modern discipline of economics began in 1776 with the publication of “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by the Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith.
In 1755, more than 265 years ago, Adam Smith wrote:
Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.
It’s simple and yet profound.
Freedom and prosperity are twins. Like the link between freedom and prosperity, there’s a link between oppression and poverty.
Oppression inevitably results in poverty. Review the history of countries like East and West Germany of the recent past. And that of North and South Korea.
If and when we choose to make India free — and it’s a choice that we Indians have to make — India will inevitably become prosperous.
India can be a developed economy in a reasonably short period.
These are the major features of a developed economy:
- The government is limited to its essential functions:
- enforcing contracts
- preventing coercion
- protection of property
- providing a stable monetary framework,
- not interfering in the economy.
- In short, the “protective state” or the “night watchman state.”
- All agricultural, manufacturing and services produced in the private sector
- Highly urbanized population
- Public funding of primary health and primary education
- Privately provided vocational and higher education
- Social welfare provided by voluntary civic organizations
- Domestic free markets, and openness to international trade and investment
In other words: liberty, non-discrimination, non-interference, limited government, and decentralisation.
The role of the government in development is important. That role is to not interfere in the economy.
Large governments are tempted to interfere in the economy — and that spells disaster for the economy. The bigger the role the government assumes in managing the economy, the less likely is prosperity.
India’s Past and Present
About 250 years ago, the Industrial Revolution allowed England and the European countries to pull ahead of the rest of the world. At almost the same time, India started falling behind.
That’s due to the British-made rules that enabled them to extract and exploit Indians.
When the British left, the rulers changed but the rules did not.
Every aspect of Indian life, public and private, is heavily regulated. For most commercial activities, Indians have to seek permission from the license-permit-quota raj.
Rulers have changed, rules have not; and therefore, the outcomes have not.
The government runs schools, colleges, trains, planes, buses, hotels, mining companies, automobile companies, banks, insurance companies, and every conceivable commercial enterprise. It restricts what private firms can produce, dictates who may be employed and on what terms.
The government regulates education, controls temples, and discriminates among citizens based on caste and religion. It restricts free speech, threatens sedition, controls what’s broadcast on radio, censors publications, bans books and movies. In short, the lives of people are planned and controlled by an extensive bureaucracy — just like it was done by the British.
That is why India is not rich.
Nayi Disha: A Different Direction
For the free and rich future we want, we have to do things differently.
We must learn from the mistakes of the past. Our mistakes and the mistakes of other countries.
The good news is that the knowledge of what needs to be done is readily available. We know how to create prosperity. The bad news is that prosperity requires not just hard work but smart work. The good news is that Indians are capable of working smart and working hard.
Indians prosper exceptionally well in free countries. Indians are the most successful ethnic group in the US and other developed nations.
The greatest barrier to Indians in India is the government. Not any particular government of this or that party but all governments and all parties.
Politicians and their parties have been India’s greatest enemies. Not China, not Pakistan.
India’s real enemy is domestic — the mai-baap sarkar.
So how do we create a freedom movement to free ourselves from the government, the politicians and their parties? How do we make Nayi Disha happen to create Free and Rich India?
Part 3: Nayi Disha: Making It Happen
The Rules Revolution
We have to break free of the sarkari license permit quota raj. We have to free the education sector, and the manufacturing sector — for both of them to prosper.
The manufacturing sector will absorb the labour released from the agricultural sector, and the education sector will provide the skills to the labour force.
We need a revolution to change the rules.
The world has had many revolutions. Some have failed spectacularly.
Chairman Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” between 1958 and 1962 attempted the reconstruction of the economy from an agrarian economy into a communist economy. The resulting famine killed an estimated 30 to 55 million Chinese.
Mao then launched the Cultural Revolution which added millions to the death toll.
The lesson we learn is that revolutions quite frequently are bloody affairs that kill by the tens of millions.
But sometimes revolutions do change the fortunes of nations when wise people are involved.
The United States was founded in 1776 by people like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and others. It is the most successful revolution in history.
Starting as a small poor nation of only a few million people, the United States grew to become the most economically and militarily powerful nation in world history.
Thanks to the enlightened views of Emperor Meiji, Japan’s Meiji Restoration in the 1860s transformed it.
A British administrator, Jonathan Cowperthwaite, transformed tiny, poor, overcrowded Hong Kong into a rich economy in the 1960s and 1970s. His secret — keep government from interfering in the economy and keep taxes low.
Park Chung-hee of South Korea similarly made his country a developed nation within a few decades through openness to trade.
The most striking example of brilliant leadership is that of Lee Kuan Yew. Within 35 years of taking control in 1965, Prime Minister Yew transformed Singapore from “third world to first.” To change a small, third-world mosquito infested swamp into a developed nation was the work of a genius.
Singapore is tiny — less than 2 million people in 1965 and currently less than 6 million. But Lee Kuan Yew had an outrageously outsized influence on the world.
China’s miraculous transformation from a communist economy on the verge of starvation into a capitalist, manufacturing powerhouse that rivals the US economy was because Deng Xiaoping learned his lessons directly from Lee Kuan Yew in 1978.
Lee Kuan Yew transformed China — and the world — not just tiny Singapore.
The lesson is that revolutions are supremely sensitive to the nature and wisdom of the leaders.
Unfortunately, India has had a very long series of bad leaders — starting with Nehru.
Barring a few somewhat competent leaders who had control only briefly — like Narasimha Rao and Vajpayee — India has not had even one exceptionally wise leader.
Since we don’t have the enlightened leadership of a Deng Xiaoping or a Lee Kwan Yew, we have to engineer the Indian revolution ourselves.
Our revolution is to change the rules of the game, not merely replace the people while the rules continue to be the same.
The Present Political System
Our current government and political system is “political party-based”.
The leadership of political parties choose their candidates and distribute “tickets” for contesting elections under the party banner.
The person with the party ticket is not an independent candidate. The candidates therefore work primarily for the benefit of the party bosses, and not the people.
This fact has major consequences that lead to most of the failures of the present dysfunctional political system.
That raises the question: why do political parties exist?
The answer is the fact that the government has enormous power to control the economy. Getting control of the government therefore allows those in power to extract and amass immense wealth. Only a political party is able to coordinate the activities of the hundreds of party officials who control the various government agencies (ministries) that control the economy.
Government officials — politicians and bureaucrats — have discretionary powers to issue licenses, permits, and quotas for all economic activities.
People create goods and services by working to please their customers, and are rewarded by profits or punished by losses. Being in government, in contrast, one can reap enormous profits without working to please anyone because they have the power to control others.
Being in government is very profitable and therefore political competition is intense. Therefore, political parties. It would be impossible for a collection of independent candidates to coordinate their activities so as to efficiently extract and amass the wealth that political parties can.
When the government has the power to interfere in the economy, it politicizes the economy. The politicization of the economy leads to the corruption of politics. The corruption of politics leads to the elevation of the most corrupt and the least competent to positions of power and influence — which is the definition of a kakistocracy.
A Limited Government
But suppose for a moment that the government was not permitted to control the economy. Suppose the government was restricted to maintaining law and order, providing for national defence, and maintaining a stable national currency.
Then being in government would not be financially rewarding. Therefore it would be pointless to fight so ruthlessly for political power, and therefore there will be no need for political parties.
To de-couple governmental power from the power to extract wealth from the national economy, the institution of political parties has to be dismantled.
That necessitates a new set of rules, not new rulers who wield the same old power to control the lives of others. To do that, the netas and the babus have to be defanged, and the political party system has to be dismantled.
We the people must control the Lok Sabha.
We have to elect MPs who are independent of political parties. They will have the incentive to serve the people.
This is Mission Free543: to free every Lok Sabha seat from the clutches of the political parties.
Mission Free543 is a bottom-up movement to choose 543 MPs (one for each Lok Sabha constituency) who collectively put India on an irreversible path of freedom and prosperity. This will require unity among voters – a selectorate larger than that of any political party. This is “United Voters of India” (UVI) – new power to replace the old.
United Voters of India
Only a third of Indian voters are committed to one of the mainstream political parties (national or regional).
About two-thirds of eligible voters — the majority — don’t have any party affiliation. One-third do not vote (non-voters) and the other third are non-aligned.
The non-aligned voters either decide at the last minute whom to vote for (floaters) or vote for a candidate who has no hope of winning (wasters).
If this majority of NANVs – non-aligned and non-voters – were to coordinate their voting behaviour, it would make the political parties irrelevant. This is the idea of “United Voters of India.”
Using the power of technology, UVI would take power away from political parties and hand the power to shape India’s future to the people.
The central concept of UVI is to aggregate the voting power of the huge group of non-aligned and non-voters to elect a Lok Sabha of Independents to make Mission Free543 a reality.
Even if only half of these voters were to unite to vote for a candidate whom they collectively choose, they can decide the outcome of the contest. It is only because the non-aligned voters randomly distribute their votes over various candidates and a large percentage of voters don’t exercise their franchise that the mainstream parties’ candidates routinely win.
UVI has to be a bottom-up movement by the people. They have to choose a candidate to support who commits to work for a prosperous future.
Technology and social networks can help with outreach. Reaching a consensus among all the non-aligned and non-voters in choosing a candidate is easy using the power of communications technologies.
This is a decentralized movement that has no central command and control. Every UVI candidate is chosen by the people of the constituency and therefore only accountable to the people.
UVI members will hold “primary elections” to choose the UVI candidate, and on election day, all UVI voters will vote for that candidate. In short, it will be a UVI voting bloc that would make their independent candidate win.
Community organising would be required to convey the core principles of limited government, of self-determination, and create a sense of shared purpose among the lakhs of voters in each constituency.
This can be achieved through a combination of in-person persuasion and digital coordination. Done right, UVI, built on the foundations of grassroots community organising, can make Mission Free543 a success by winning in the national elections to form a Lok Sabha of Independents.
Government for Free India
The primary focus of the new government will be to unshackle the Indian civil and commercial society from the clutches of the license, permit, quota, control raj. The result of achieving this would be to increase economic growth, and create well-paying jobs.
The economic part of the agenda is Mission 10-20-30. It stands for the creation of 10 crore (100 million) jobs, within 20 months, paying at least Rs 30,000 a month. For this, 10 specific decisions will be taken within the first 100 days of the administration.
Item #1: Passing the Dhan Vapasi Bill
Dhan Vapasi is the monetisation of surplus public wealth and return of that wealth to the public. The total amount of public wealth is conservatively estimated to be around $20 trillion. That works out to be roughly Rs 50 lakhs per Indian family. From this, it is possible to return Rs 1 lakh per family every year.
With money in the bank, people will get the purchasing power that will increase demand for goods and services. This increase in demand will push industries to create jobs at an unprecedented pace.
The first set of public assets that will be monetised is Lutyens’ Delhi. This is a British legacy — where the British Rulers lived lavishly at the expense of Indians. Indian netas and babus continued to live as lavishly — again at the expense of Indians — as the British did. Now it is time for them to go.
Item #2: Borrow $2 trillion from global markets
Since the public asset monetisation would take time, the government will borrow US$2 trillion from global markets – backed by the public assets. Of this, a trillion dollars would be used for Dhan Vapasi for the first three years, and the other trillion dollars for funding infrastructure in India.
Debt is not bad when it is used for funding activities that have a high return on investment.
India can borrow against the future wealth creation that would enable it to repay the loans.
Currently the world is awash with loanable funds. There are trillions of dollars invested at zero or negative interest rates. Therefore when India promises a positive return, loans will be easy.
Item #3: Cut Taxes
Every Indian and every corporation in India is burdened with high taxes that are needed to run a bloated and wasteful government. Most taxes will be totally eliminated and the remaining will all be brought down to single digits. Income taxes will be eliminated.
The many GST slabs need to be reduced to a single tax rate.
These changes will position India globally both as a manufacturing centre, and as a market for goods and services. International investment will start flowing in which in turn will drive jobs creation.
Item #4: Building Infrastructure
The second trillion dollars raised via international borrowing will be invested in modernising India’s cities and creating new cities. This will benefit the rural populations by allowing them to urbanize. No country can be a developed economy without a high degree of urbanization.
Infrastructure funding will catalyse economic growth. It will create millions of jobs and therefore create demand for goods and services.
Item #5: Free the Education Sector
Indian education is plagued with massive corruption and inefficiency due to government meddling. The bribery in the education sector keeps politicians happy and makes families desperate.
The free market must be allowed to operate in education. Any firm, any corporation domestic or foreign – must be able to provide any educational services at whatever terms and conditions they see fit.
Freeing the education sector from government control will allow entrepreneurs to provide education at different levels. Remember that the Dhan Vapasi will put money in people’s hands and education is always one of the top priorities for every family. This will create an educated workforce which can do skilled jobs in manufacturing and services sectors.
Item #6: Create a free-market Agricultural Sector
Agriculture has always been plagued by government controls. What farmers buy, from whom they buy, whom they sell to, how they sell, at what price they sell – government regulations have starved farmers.
Farmers cannot even sell their land to non-farmers making exit from subsistence farming almost impossible. The government must remove restrictions on land use. Farmers need freedom, not more subsidies which come with controls and constraints.
Item #7: Remove all barriers to International Trade
All barriers to import, export and market access will be removed. These reforms combined with the exit of all public sector enterprises will free the private sector to create wealth on a level playing field.
Government actions have distorted markets with import tariffs and protections for inefficient domestic industries. This has hurt the Indian consumer and prevented Indian industries from becoming world class.
Consumers will get the best products at the lowest possible prices, whether the producer is domestic or international. Initially imports may rise but so will exports as firms take advantage of the low tax base and easing of land, labour and capital laws and rules which create the necessary conditions for businesses to grow.
Item #8: Efficient Legal Order
Efficient administration of law and dispute resolution is a prerequisite for maintaining social order which is the foundation of economic prosperity. The Indian police force has become politicised, while the courts have become slow.
The police and the judiciary have to be reformed and shielded from political interference. Judicial “Target 3-2-1” reform will require that all pending court cases have to be cleared within 3 years, any new cases adjudicated within 2 years, and appeals settled within 1 year.
Item #9: Eliminate all Discriminatory Laws
All policies must follow the “generality principle” which mandates that all citizens must be treated equally by the government. Laws and policies which discriminate based on caste and religion must be removed.
Reservations based on caste and religion must be removed.
Discrimination creates perverse incentives and damages social cohesion by creating animosity and resentment between groups. The government encourages religious conversion by providing privileges to specific religious groups. This is clearly immoral and must be prohibited.
It is ethically wrong and morally odious for the state to discriminate among citizens who are individuals worthy of equal moral worth and respect.
Item #10: Devolve power to the States and Cities
Just like the central government squeezes the state governments, so also the state governments squeeze the city governments. The chief ministers of states extract resources from the cities and use that to get rural votes. Cities, the engines of economic growth, are starved of resources, and the nation suffers due to the neglect of cities.
Devolving power to the cities is needed. This requires decentralization of decision making and returning to the states and cities the authority and the responsibility of making those policies that affect and concern only them.
Nayi Disha: A Manifesto for Freedom
The overarching goal of Nayi Disha is to free every citizen and every sector of the Indian economy from the debilitating effects of political and bureaucratic meddling. The Dhan Vapasi scheme will provide a steady basic income to every family, the most vulnerable families being the greatest beneficiaries. It will provide the necessary financial freedom that is currently missing for the poor.
Indians are as capable of creating wealth as any other people on earth. As noted before, in every developed country, people of Indian origin have the economic freedom they lack in India. Abroad, they rank at the top of indicators of educational attainment, wealth and income.
If Indians in India are given the freedom they must have, India cannot be held back any more.
Therefore the central organising principle of Nayi Disha is freedom from government.
In any modern nation, the institution that safeguards the freedom of the people is the constitution of the nation.
Therefore for Indians to have the freedom they need, its constitution has to provide the necessary foundation.
Constitution for Free India
The constitution specifies the basic, high-level rules. These rules define which rules are permitted at the lower levels. The lower level rules are legislation that generally are under the control of the government of the period.
India needs a constitution that is consistent with a nation of free people, not a constitution that continues the British colonial rule of subordinating Indians to the government.
The 1950 constitution of India places the government as the ruler and the people its subjects. This relationship has to be inverted.
As it stands, the constitution of India is never read by anybody.
At over 170,000 words, it’s too long to be read, and even if attempted, it is incomprehensible because it is written in legalese.
India must have a constitution that is written in plain language that every literate person can read and understand, and is short enough to be comprehended by an average adult.
India’s constitution has to protect the rights and freedoms of Indians. It has to put severe and clear limits on the powers of the government. Only then will Indians be free to achieve their full potential.
Nayi Disha requires a new constitution.
Epilogue: We have to Choose – and Act
We have to choose between two distinct paths to two different destinations.
One is full of promise and prosperity, and the other full of continued hardship and frustration. One requires a different way of thinking and doing; the other demands nothing new — just do what we’ve been doing for the last 250 years.
Every government since 1947 has promised plenty and delivered practically nothing. India has been prevented from achieving its vast potential not by enemies without but by the enemy within — the government of India.
Indians are as capable of creating wealth, as intelligent, and as hardworking as any other people. India is blessed with a long history, a rich and diverse culture, adequate natural resources, immense human resources, and a benign climate.
India is not victim to frequent natural disasters, chronic civil unrest, or periodic foreign invasions. There is no conceivable reason why India would not be richer than China — a country that was as poor as India just a few decades ago.
There’s only one factor that accounts for India’s obvious failures: abysmally poor governance.
That said, we Indians have to look within. Ultimately we are the masters of our fortune, the captains of our ship of destiny. If we want India to prosper, we have to want good governance, and we have to match our desire with our actions. We have to work to create the good government we must have.
We can choose a Nayi Disha. Or we can choose to be what we are. It’s up to us – to choose and act.
I hope one day we can tell our children, “Together with millions of others, I helped transform India so that you can have a life of liberty, prosperity and deserved opportunities. Not in America, not in Singapore, but right here in India. And not just your generation but generations to come. WE created a New India.”