FICCI has started a new series of seminars on Governance & Politics. Today was their first conference with Administrative Reforms Commission chair Veerappa Moily and others.  I also spoke on the panel, got about 10 mins of time.  In the audience were participants of CCS Advance Liberty for Change Seminar! Yes, we brought all of them to see the action.  Here are my talking points at the conference:

Government Structure

Fixed term for the parliament/assembly

Fixed schedule of sittings with provision for emergency sittings

Except for the PM/CM, other cabinet members don’t have to be members of the parliament/assembly

Empower each member for the parliament/assembly to vote their conscience (Anti-defection act, schedule 10)

Remove the secrecy around budget—open and transparent process

Political parties and electoral system

Declare donors and audited party accounts

Sovereign functions

Defense expenditures have a strong and vocal lobby but not so for police and judiciary, so fix a percentage of budget allocation to them (4%); Full Price court

Direct/participatory democracy

Create areas for referendums at the local government level

Direct elections for the third-tier of government (mayor as CEO)

Ask citizens to allocate their taxes to broad headings of expenditures

Welfare schemes

Begin to replace them with vouchers and cash transfers

National ID for selection and monitoring

Include sunset clause in all welfare schemes

Ethics:

Transparency (Section 4 of the RTI Act);

Performance pay (citizen charters, report card, benchmarks, fixed year contract;

Impose the same standards and punishments for state provided services as are imposed on the non-state providers (include government services in consumer protection act);

Culture of self criticism and assessment (each branch of government should reflect and come up with suggestions to improve)

Corporate, Media, and Non-profit sector governance

Remove license raj for the informal sector—FICCI as their chamber of commerce

Give management of natural resources to the forest dwellers and local people

Abolish Essential Commodities Act, APMCs, export-import restrictions—Free the Farmer

State Attitude: We believe that people are rational, responsible, and self-governing given the right set of incentives and framework of law. Put it in every government office!

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Parth Shah
Parth Shah

Parth J. Shah is Founder President of Centre for Civil Society, a think tank that promotes choice and accountability across public and private sectors. Parth’s research and advocacy work focuses on the themes of economic freedom, choice and competition in education, property rights approach to the environment and new public management. He is a member of the education task-force of the governments of Delhi and Karnataka, and serves on the Senate of the Central University of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He recently edited Liberalism in India.