April 1, 2018
After resigning the IAS in January 2001 in order to focus on creating a national liberal party for India, I made three attempts to create/join such a party between 2000 and end-2005. One major effort in this regard was the 5-day national conference on the future of Indian political liberalism I organised through India Policy Institute in January 2004. It was attended by all the big names in the field of India’s political liberalism: Gurcharan Das, Sharad Joshi, S.V Raju, Bibek Debroy, Parth Shah, Barun Mitra and even those who have been later on found out not to be liberals, such as JP of Loksatta (then an NGO) and Madhu Kishwar. Plus there were many lesser known people at that conference.
After my second attempt (with Swatantra Bharat Party) did not go as expected, I started a further – third – attempt through the Liberal Party of India. Gurcharan Das joined as charter member, along with a few others.
Unfortunately, LPI could not gain grassroots momentum and I therefore decided to wind it up. But – motivated by the strong initiative and commitment shown by Anil Sharma – I resumed working on the concept of an Indian national liberal party through the Freedom Team of India from December 2007.
As a result of FTI’s efforts (FTI has now shrunk back to an association from being a Trust), the Swarna Bharat Party was created in June 2013. That this was more of an accident than by design is a side issue now. We have decided to take this forward and put in our best effort.
SBP not only has the world-best manifesto, it is THE ONLY GENUINE LIBERAL PARTY OF INDIA. My articles – which were carried as centre-pieces in the Times of India – have announced this to the entire country in clear terms. Internationally, SBP is already recognised as India’s liberal party (e.g. Horasis India conference, 2017).
A Fake “Liberal Party of India” is trying to sabotage liberalism in India
In the meanwhile, one rather deceptive and devious person by name of Anand Prasad came in contact with me in early 2017. I have written about him here:
Beware of the “Liberal Party of India” being “created” by Anand Prasad (see also on my blog, here)
Critique of Anand Prasad’s so-called “Liberal Party of India’s” “agenda for transformation” (see also on my blog, here)
This devious man purports to be interested in political liberalism but both he and his ideas are obnoxious and unsuitable for India. I’m writing this post today (1 April 2018) so anyone who thinks of joining him becomes adequately cautious, for they will be burnt by a dictatorial, illiterate and confused man who has NO CLUE about liberalism, personal integrity and team building.
April 1, 2018
I was curious about whether Anand Prasad’s “party” has done anything further. It appears they have set up a more detailed website by now, e.g.
This contains the same old things that Anand mentioned in his fake interactions with Swarna Bharat Party, and which are entirely baseless pieces of “policy” – nothing to do with liberalism. My comments below in blue.
The SBP manifesto is highly detailed and systematic. This is, in contradistinction, superficial, illogical and all over the place.
===LIBERAL PARTY OF INDIA’S “AGENDA FOR TRANSFORMATION” ====
For a liberal and free market oriented party that seeks to increase fairness [Sanjeev: this word has no meaning and can never be used by any liberal] and opportunity for the people, create a just and fair society [Sanjeev: a most meaningless piece of nonsense] and an empowered and confident citizenry.
I. Governance reform
1. Bureaucratic, police and judicial reform –
(i) incorporate citizen feedback in appraisals [Sanjeev: this is a most irrelevant and minor issue – moreover, it can’t be done with large departments where citizens do not know anything about what happens inside and who does what.]
(ii) improve training, living conditions, remuneration increase though performance based
(iii) ability to hire experts laterally [Sanjeev: This is not a reform. We need to demolish the IAS and other services, and replace with TOTALLY OPEN MARKET recruitment]
(iv) compulsory retirement from bureaucracy at 40 years though older political appointees/on fixed term contract basis, permitted after 40 years of age [Sanjeev: this is the MOST BOGUS NONSENSE that Anand Prasad keeps touting. There is on relationshopi between age and effectiveness. PURE NONSENSE].
(v) fast track judicial processes by use of smart ideas and technology (mobile courts, judicial BPOs, artificial intelligence, imposition of real costs and complete restitution to be guiding principles)
(vi) life term of judges, unless removed for poor performance
(vii) Commercial courts/arbitration to resolve large disputes in 12 months and small disputes in 6 months
2.Shift focus of the state to “quality” over “cheap”
- Cheap is best mindset has resulted in poor quality of all public infrastructure, products and services
- Consequently, private enterprise is incentivised to profit through non-transparent means, which needs to change
- Citizens must have a right against poor quality – right to damages, seek correction etc. [Sanjeev: this is very vague. SBP’s manifesto where accountability is deeply built into the governance system, is the way to go.]
3. Business reform and ease of doing business –
(i) sectors –
Agricultural: treat it as a normal economic sector –
- ability to trade lands without restrictions
- create a free market for agricultural produce
- expand the market for farm produce by incentivising food processing industries and the multi brand retailing sector [Sanjeev: NO. No “incentives” – this is a recipe for corruption and crony capitalism. ]
- incentivise take or pay contracts, creation of private market places
- remove land ceiling
- right to minerals to the owner of land [Sanjeev: NO!!! The rights to minerals ALWAYS vest with the government]
- change of land use to be permitted with light supervision
- incentivise private businesses to train farmers in new technologies and farming methods [Sanjeev: NO!! No gravy train for anyone. Let people do what is profitable. Period.]
- facilitate micro finance and rural insurance and create regulators to monitor behaviour of such businesses [Sanjeev: NO! Only profitable activities to happen, and these do not need “facilitation”]
- incentivise private enterprise in agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation, storages, waste to energy projects, farmer and e-markets, rural road connectivity [Sanjeev: NO! This is sounding like a socialist manifesto.]
- right to property to be restored as a fundamental right
- compulsory land acquisition to be limited to essential purposes and in such a case, compensation to include value enhancement post development of acquired land
home, cottage and small-scale industries, including traditional art and craft –
- ability to set up on self-certification basis
- make tax compliance easier
- incentivise private investment to provide training to prospective entrepreneurs [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- incentivise creation of multiple market places for products [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- facilitate micro finance and insurance [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- tap into the history, food, handicraft, traditional art and religious tourism opportunities [Sanjeev: NO!! not the business of government]
- incentivise agencies to skill the population in the tourism space, including as guides and in hospitality [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- incentivise building of tourism infrastructure, including hotels, home stays, connectivity by road, rail, air and waterways, tour operators and travel agencies [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- incentivise coastal tourism, and make it easier to set up private and public marinas, jetties, own boats and sea planes[Sanjeev: NO!!]
- incentivise river and fresh water body tourism, building of river fronts and lake water fronts, [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- privatise operations and maintenance of historical sites
- set up tourism police and tourism courts
infrastructure development –
- city infrastructure, including transportation, pollution control and waste management, building bylaws and real estate regulation [Sanjeev: What is this? A list?]
- roads, bridges, ports, airports, train stations, bus stations to be developed by private enterprise including on PPP basis
- power generation, transmission, distribution, to be privatised and competition be introduced in the sector
- telecom and broad band connectivity – incentivise establishment of high quality networks [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- high speed roads and train services – interconnecting cities, thereby helping to decongest large metro cities [Sanjeev: Why is this here if private sector is to develop these things? Let the private sector propose it first]
- water purification and distribution – improve public health and meet [Sanjeev: This is an example of SHODDY policy – no detail.]
- waste treatment systems SHODDY.
- transportation services, including airline, private planes/jets, road transportation, trains SHODDY.
- city rail/metro services to be developed SHODDY.
- hospitality and recreation – including hotels, amusement parks, SHODDY.
- primary healthcare facilities made available to all [Sanjeev: This is PURE SOCIALISM]
- court room facilities to be enhanced and made comfortable SHODDY.
- police stations to be improved and made citizen friendly
- public spaces to be improved under PPP models
utilise coastlines and waterways –
- incentivise coastal tourism, including allowing cruise liners, island resorts, coastal transportation, set up minor ports to support tourism[Sanjeev: NO!!]
- allow setting up of jetties and marinas – use coastline for leisure activities, water sports, [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- help establish industry to build smaller coastal vessels, yachts, maintenance facilities etc. [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- develop river waterfronts on PPP basis
- use river systems for transportation SHODDY.
housing for all –
- incentivise slum redevelopment in cities [Sanjeev: NO! + SHODDY]
- facilitate inexpensive housing in rural India [Sanjeev: NO!! + SOCIALIST]
- decongest cities by providing connectivity and incentivising housing developments outside cities/in satellite towns [Sanjeev: NO!!]
primary health care for all –
- Establish a health care regulator
- Allow private health care in a significant manner SHODDY.
- Incentivise traditional healthcare and Ayurveda growth [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- Improve focus on clean air and water to reduce health risk SHODDY.
- Implement food laws to ensure unadulterated/quality food production SHODDY.
- State should limit itself to providing health care facilities to areas that are uneconomical for private enterprise SHODDY.
- Promote medical tourism [Sanjeev: NO!!]
waste management –
- establish a waste management regulator
- privatise solid waste management in cities and rural India
- incentivise waste to energy projects and industry –SHODDY.
24/7 electricity and 24/7 drinkable water for all –
- State should withdraw from electricity generation, transmission and distribution, & water purification and distribution [Sanjeev: DUPLICTIVE, SHODDY]
- Ensure competition between private players in the power and water sectors SHODDY.
- Ensure effectiveness of regulators SHODDY.
- Focus on high quality 24/7 electric and drinkable water supply [Sanjeev: NO!! + SHODDY]
- State to supplement private investment in areas that are uneconomical for private enterprise
(ii) move to a compliance regime as against a licencing and approval regime SHODDY.
(iii) ensure a fair and speedy enforcement of contracts – impose actual costs, seek security on grant of injunctions that increase costs for the injuncted litigant etc.
(iv) simplify taxation and reduce tax levels to enhance revenue
- Income tax slabs to be increased – annual incomes upto 12 lakhs to be free of taxes
- Indirect tax levels to be reduced to 4 to 12%
- Compliance processes to be made easier
- Citizens to provide feedback on unreasonable tax man behaviour – feedback to be incorporated in performance evaluation of the tax man SHODDY.
- Tax evaders to be imprisoned – but only after a judicial finding of gross evasion
(v) Public tender – move to optimal quality over the current L1 (lowest price) method of awarding public contracts SHODDY.
- No bids to be accepted below estimated cost price + 8% profit margin SHODDY.
- Public tender contracts to evaluate bids for follow on/ancillary contracts
- No re-negotiation of public tenders after award under any circumstances SHODDY.
4. E-governance and transparency – all administrative and judicial decisions to be reasoned
- All government decisions, along with reasons, to be shared on the governments transparency websites – exception for strategic national security reasons
- Follow up questions be under RTI
- All citizen interaction with government and court orders, with reasons, to be published on websites
5. Environmental protection and afforestation
- Rejuvenation of rivers and other water bodies SHODDY.
- Largescale afforestation drive SHODDY.
- Strict implementation of pollution control measures SHODDY – IGNORANT OF ANY POLICY.
- Focus on harvesting rain water and recharging ground water table SHODDY.
- Focus on solid waste management – both in cities and rural India
6. Education reform – vocational and skill based (to improve employability)
- Focus of education to be skill enhancement SHODDY.
- Education to follow an application oriented approach
- Permit private schools, colleges and institutions – with profit motive
- Schools set up on PPP basis to hold 50% seats for students from economically weaker sections of society SHODDY.
- Government schools – to provide low cost education, funded by CSR contributions and state budgetary allocation SHODDY.
- Regulatory emphasis on quality of education and educational infrastructure [Sanjeev: NO! much more complex than this. see SBP manifesto]
- Focus to be of creation of high quality employable workforce [Sanjeev: NO!!]
- State to limit its investment in education to areas that are uneconomical for private enterprise
7. Courts to refrain from hearing PILs – an alternate PIL tribunal to be established [Sanjeev: DISAGREE ENTIRELY]
- Focus of courts must move back to providing expeditious justice in dispute and such situations.
- Courts to limit themselves to interpreting the law and to refrain from stretching the duty to interpret into an ability to legislate.
- All legislation to remain the domain of elected representatives or, in case of delegated legislation, administrative offices.
- A special tribunal could be set up to deal with governance failures – whose decisions would be subject to judicial review (limited to testing appropriateness or correctness of the PIL tribunal’s decisions).
8. Improve tax compliance and eradicate black money – primary tool to be lower taxes and ease of compliance
- Electronic transactions to be preferred over cash – build incentives for electronic transactions SHODDY.
- Strict enforcement of law against black money/benami property SHODDY.
- Use the Aadhar system, but ensure a robust legal regime to protect data and privacy
9. Right to property to be restored as a fundamental right – forcible land acquisition to be compensated on basis of price after change in land use and development
10. Privatisation of public sector companies
- State ought to try and limit itself to providing governance and creating a suitable entrepreneurial environment for the citizens
- Citizens to be incentivised to contribute to social justice, creation of an empowered society and poverty eradication issues
- Use privatisation revenues to invest in healthcare and education
11. Intellectual property: Patent rights protection to be limited to 3 years [Sanjeev: This is GOOD]
- Profiteering from any invention/intellectual property beyond a 3-year period must be stopped
- Copyright protection to be limited to 6 months
- This will also enhance the need for constant scientific innovation
- This will make medicine, including lifesaving drugs, medical equipment etc. accessible to the common man at lower pricing
- Entertainment will be cheaper and easier to access
- However, strict restrictions against passing off a must – hence trademark protection essential
II Political reform
1. Place high premium on integrity of members and in particular leaders – corruption cannot be limited to financial corruption, but all forms of unfair dealings will be prohibited SHODDY.
2. Al party members to have an alternate source of income, unless restricted by law – this will reduce the need to make a livelihood from the political process SHODDY.
3. Democratic party (frequent internal elections) with empowered ground up leadership – ensure frequent internal elections and empower party units at various levels financially
4. Transparency in electoral funding – all fund raising to be reported and published. Contributions of more than Rs. 5000 will not be accepted in cash. Quid pro quo, if any, to be disclosed on web site
5. Serious criminals barred from the party SHODDY.
6. No dynasty politics – new entrants permitted to operate outside area of significant influence of existing party member SHODDY. VERY POOR.
7. Refuse to recognise cast, religion or community within the electorate – avoid even discussing or taking decisions on cast and community political influences
8. Frequent training of leadership and workers – skill enhancement to enable constructive opposition and effectiveness in governance
1. Affirmative action to replace reservation – primacy on merit [Sanjeev: SBP does not have any policy on this till equality of opportunity is achieved. All this talk is pointless]
- Reservation is one form of affirmative action. The purpose of affirmative action is to provide state support to a deprived section in society.
- The Indian state decided that the measure of deprivation would be linked to so called historical social injustices, i.e. historical cast based inequality. This has had the inadvertent effect of keeping cast distinctions alive, while the object was the opposite.
- Also, reservation has adversely impacted merit, demotivated other sections of the population, and benefitted only a tiny percentage of the population. Further, benefits of ongoing reservation seem to be cornered by families that are early beneficiaries of reservation. Hence, as a system it its effectiveness has been limited.
- In providing state support through affirmative action, benefits should not be limited to those whose ancestors suffered cast injustices (as if other forms of injustices are not relevant) and should be made available to all deprived citizens in today’s society.
- Proposed alternate:
- Eliminate reservation, since it adversely impacts meritocracy and keeps cast distinctions alive.
- Move to affirmative action, such as providing financial support, redirecting CSR efforts, providing education subsidy, business incentives etc. This will increase the percentage of beneficiaries.
- Emphasis the need for English language education, since English is the global business language, to deprived sections.
- Further, to strike at cast/class distinctions, state incentives should be made available in case of inter caste, inter community and inter religious marriages.
2. Enhance right to self-defence – allow open gun licencing
- Every citizen has the inherent right to defend himself/herself.
- The right to defend oneself with use of arms was taken over by the State on the basis that the State’s armed force/police would provide such defence to the citizen.
- Where the State’s armed force/police is unable to provide this protection, the right to bear arms must revert to the citizen.
- This right is also relevant since a criminal will always carry an illegal weapon, leaving a compliant citizen defenceless against a criminal/preparator.
- However, the right to bear or use arms will not dilute other provisions of criminal law. And hence the right to defend oneself with an arm would be subject to limitations under criminal law.
- Further, persons with a criminal record will not enjoy the right to carry arms.
- The ability to carry arms will also contribute to establishing a more confident society.
- The benefits of a right to carry arms, far ought weigh the negatives.
3. Decriminalise, permit and regulate prostitution
- The principle cause of sexual harassment of women in the Indian context is male frustration. Availability of sexual release on commercial basis will significantly reduce this frustration and thereby reduce sexual harassment of women.
- However, laws against forcible exploitation of women/men for sexual purposes will be strictly enforced.
- Further, like any other profession, citizens should have the right provide commercial sex, provided it is safe, hygienic and out of free will.
4. Decriminalise gay sex, adultery and bigamy
- The idea of criminalising gay sex, adultery and bigamy has never been native to Indian tradition and culture. It is an import into India and based on an antiquated belief system.
- None of these should be a crime and there should be no discrimination on this basis; an exception being that any of these might be grounds for divorce.
5. Implement a uniform civil code – equal treatment for men and women [Sanjeev: NO!! We need minimum standards, not interference in people’s religious laws]
- All laws must be equal for all citizens, regardless of gender, cast, community of religious practices.
- The idea of separate personal law is a historical construct, the time for which is in the past in a modern world which is focused on the notion of equality.
6. Women to be encouraged to join armed forces and police – target 30% women [Sanjeev: NO!! No government targets in any situation/ case]
- Like the right to carry arms, many women in the armed forces/police will enhance the confidence of many women and is one practical approach to bringing true equality in gender.
- Also, there is no reason why a woman bearing arms would in any manner not be as effective as a man carrying an arm and defending the country/enforcing the law.
7. Focus on reviving and strengthening constructive Indian tradition and culture, [Sanjeev: NO!! Not the business of government]
8. Secure and protect the freedom to eat, drink, wear cloths, live, express oneself, etc. – limited only by law and not by sensibilities of others
IV. Structural reform (these will need constitutional amendments)
1. Directly elected prime minister/president (same for chief minister/governor) [Sanjeev: NO!! This is not even remotely relevant]
- The principle here being that the chief executive of the state must at the first instance feel responsible directly to the citizens and not to the elected representatives (i.e. not to MPs, MLA or their party leaders).
- Hence, in executive decision making, the chief executive could take decisions without having to balance the interests of the members of the Lok Sabha/state assemblies or party chiefs.
- Consequently, decisions will not be taken to preserve an office/chair.
- However, in legislative decision making, role of the parliament or state assemblies will not be diluted.
2. Lok Sabha and State Vidhan Sabhas to have 50% seats on proportional representation and 50% on present election format [Sanjeev: NO! No proportional representation – a terrible system.]
- This would be an improvement over the current system, i.e. re-elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
- Every party with a significant vote share (say more than 5%) will have the ability to be represented in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies
- Independents too would have the ability to be elected through the current system of elections
3. Smaller states [Sanjeev: IRRELVANT. There is no relationship between governance and size]
- States must be broken into units that are easier to govern – say 75 to 100 small states
- The split could be based on geographical or cultural considerations
4. Federal structure
- Central government must control defence, foreign affairs, judiciary, currency, federal offences, central taxation, etc. (list I in the constitution)
- States could have control over other administrative matters without interference from centre – state police, state taxes, etc. (list II in the Constitution)
- Article 370/special status laws for states should be abolished
- Citizens should have freedom of movement, occupation, acquire land and residence in any state of choice
- No state can discriminate between residents of that state and another state
5. Local authorities SHODDY.
- Local administration without interference from centre or states (introduce new list IV in the Constitution)
- Local authority to have enforcement ability/police
- Local taxes to generate revenue locally
6. Constitutional review
- The existing Constitution is based largely on the Government of India Act, 1935, which was framed by foreign rulers
- Hence, many provisions in the existing Constitution may need revisiting to give primacy to ideas of freedom, primacy of the citizen, role of the state in serving the citizen, federalism, speedy judicial processes, enhance predictability in law (move away from common law to a rule based system), etc.
- Introduce a Supreme Court of Appeals and another Constitutional Supreme Court
February 20, 2018
I have no time or inclination to discuss the many thousands of individuals who’ve connected with my work over the past 20 years and then turned out to be far less than what they said they were.
But I make do an exception in a few cases, to illuminate the public record.
This is one such occasion. This post is mainly about the highly questionable person by name of Anand Prasad, a lawyer.
I received an email today from one alleged Liberal Party of India (screenshot here). Anand Prasad owns the domain liberalpartyofindia.org – see screenshot taken today. (Btw, I owned this for 13 years but allowed it to lapse after we decided on SBP as the name of India’s liberal party. See archival records of this domain on archive.org.)
It is essential to discuss the kind of leadership of this alleged “liberal” party, so no one in India is possibly confused and it is clear to all that SBP is the ONLY liberal party of India.
DEEP SEATED PROBLEMS WITH ANAND PRASAD’S IDEOLOGICAL STANCE AND ABILITY TO KEEP HIS WORD:
Exactly one year ago, Anand Prasad showed a lot of interest in joining Swarna Bharat Party. I spent many hours on the phone with him, despite his tendency to ramble endlessly and not stick to the point. He also had some seriously flawed ideas and could only barely be called liberal. But I was happy to engage with him – I like to encourage everyone to become a liberal leader of India.
He then sent me a document which contained his ideas. It was absurd and half-socialist. One of our party members reviewed it and wrote: “I would like to state that the document leaves a lot to be desired as a classical liberal document, as it has a lot of opinions and objectives that can only be best described as socialist.” Further, “These are all classic socialist mumbo jumbo.” This party member’s review of the Anand document here (in Word, tracked).
I’m very kind to people, so I provided him with firm but polite feeedback (This is the link to my feedback (in Word, tracked).
After this,I spent many hours again with Anand over the phone. He needed to agree broadly with the SBP’s manifesto before he would join the party. He also had to specifically point out where he disagreed. I recall discussing this and he soon said that he agreed entirely with our approach. ONLY THEN was he invited to join the party.
But while he had agreed with the SBP manifesto, at a meeting of some people in Delhi, he again put forward his own manifesto – that too without incorporating the feedback we had already provided. Basically he had PRETENDED to agree with SBP’s manifesto.
Almost immediately after his joining we had a regular Skype call among party members in which he was also present. At that meeting he suddenly raised the issue of the party name. I explained the long history of how the party name came about and said if he wished he could, within a week, provide a set of options that had been tested with the grassroots. It is amazingly difficult to change party names, but I was once again encouraging and agreed with his proposal to test alternative names.
He said he would. There are many witnesses to that skype call, in which there was agreement that despite the great challenge involved in changing the party’s name, we would once again consider an alternative. We went over BACKWARDS to accommodate his concerns.
Then, within a week of that call (and of joining), he resigned.
AFTER HE RESIGNED he started calling all SBP leaders across the country over phone, asking them to resign from SBP and join him, instead. NO ONE LEFT SBP.
Clearly, the entire time he spent engaging with me was a pretence, designed to better understand the party from within, and to find out all details of its key leaders. ANAND HAD BEEN CLEAR FROM THE BEGINNING THAT HE WOULD RUN A PARTY WHICH HAD HIS AGENDA AND WHICH HAD THE NAME HE WANTED TO GIVE IT.
That’s not how we function on SBP. Everything is decided by vote. My preferred name since 2000 or so has been Liberal Party of India (and I even launched one in 2005 for a short while) but I have always deferred to the opinions of the team and this name was chosen after a number of voting processes.
I would like to warn everyone therefore that they engage with Anand Prasad’s “Liberal Party of India” at their own risk.
a) IT IS NOT A LIBERAL PARTY and has close to ZERO understanding of liberty or economics.
b) IT IS RUN BY SOMEONE WHO’S WORD MEANS NOTHING.
That’s all I wanted to say.
Note that even though the Liberal Democratic Party of Prodyut Bora is not a liberal party, I have no reason to provide any adverse comment about his party or about him. Prodyut’s character is impeccable. Out here, the situation is different.
FINALLY, to anyone who has been misled by Anand Prasad, I say this: join SBP if you are a genuine liberal. We have a lot of work to do to liberate India. Don’t distract this work with fake parties.