Agenda for Action

[Preamble | Manifesto | Agenda]

Color code: Words in red are under dispute, those which are green are the suggested changes, and those in purple are new additions All points are open for debate, in perpetuity. See The Rules of Debate before participating in the list.
This list is in no particular order. It does not represent any consensus, yet. Merely a list of the main points being discussed.

Individual Autonomy and Participative Democracy

  1. Strengthening democratic institutions

    1. Strengthening of local government

    2. Remove government control over the media

    3. Introduce and enforce vigorously the Right to Information Act

    4. Government to citizen contact and dissemination of knowledge/ information. Also, promotion of discussion groups by government on various topics/ sub-topics to get feedback from people, directly.

National Reconciliation

  1. National Reconciliation:

    1. Fostering civic institutions and think tanks in all fields, which will interact with the people as well as with counterparts in other countries to build trust and to promote understanding and enhance social capital

    2. Promoting the spirit of voluntarism and thus enhancing social capital.

Changing the Economic System

  1. Privatization

    Government ownership in these sectors should be dissolved/ moderated:

    1. Telecommunications

    2. Media (Television, Radio and Print)

    3. All Metal Production and Associated Industries

    4. Power Generation and Distribution

    5. State Electricity Boards

    6. Automobiles

    7. Cement Industry

    8. Banking

    9. Insurance

    10. Fertilizer production

    11. City Waste Management Services

  2. Capital Markets: Measures to bring back small investors to the capital market by raising the transparency and accountability of listed companies as well as that of capital market intermediaries

    Maintain a market-responsive exchange rate determined by fundamental demand and supply factors.

    Remove numerous controls and impediments to the setting up and functioning of the derivative markets

    Constraints on hedging of exposure on international markets must be phased out.

    Modern, well-regulated, forward and future markets are essential for efficient management of risk.

  3. Intellectual Property Rights

    The patents machinery in India to be tremendously strengthened and intellectual property rights vigorously enforced. No innovation can be supported without this basic institution.

  4. Following prudent fiscal and monetary policies.

    1. Bring the central and state budgets into balance.

    2. Keeping inflation under strict control and using interest rate as the policy instrument.

    3. Keeping real interest rates at the lowest possible levels to boost investment.

  5. Deregulation: Wherever possible, to promote competition, deregulation needs to be done. Internal Deregulation needs to be done before foreign deregulation. The following sectors in particular need to be deregulated:
    1. Banking

    2. Road Transportation Industry

  6. Regulation

    While the government would like to avoid the task of price fixation, wherever necessary, strong regulatory bodies, but very democratic, need to be instituted to regulate profiteering by monopolies and oligopolies.

Provision of Public Goods

  1. Infrastructure:
    1. Closing down all direct construction activities by government agencies, either departments or public sector agencies. The Public Works departments would purely sub-contract and monitor the work of private agencies, rather than directly attempt any construction. There would be very few limits on the potential size of private companies in the infrastructure sector, to allow economies of scale, while promoting competition.

    2. Creation of additional capacity, sufficient to meet the highest expected demand at the highest anticipated growth rates of the economy.

    3. User Pays Principle would operate in all cases. Nobody would be subsidized indirectly. If any farmer or entrepreneur has to be "subsidized," that would be done directly, through the Social Insurance program.

  2. Education:

    1. Free Primary and Secondary Education

    2. Government Subsidized Lunch Programs in All Government Primary Schools

    3. Need Based Government Loans for Higher Education

    4. Economic education at a young age: e.g., to explain why strikes can scare away investors.

    5. Encouraging linkages between private sector and universities.

    6. Merit Scholarships For College Students Interested In Adult Education Programs

    7. Legislation to Promote Private Polytechnics Offering Trade Skill Programs

    8. Mandatory Primary Education To Use Tax Payer's Funded Programs

    9. Industry Participation to Fund Higher Education

    10. Government Funding For Teacher Education Programs

    11. Limited Government Funding For Higher Education

    12. Legislation to Promote Private Universities

    13. Legislation to Introduce National Standard Tests At Various Primary and Secondary Education Levels

    14. Legislation to Introduce Industry Certificates To Promote Quality In Various Professions

    15. Increase the primary education budget to 6 percent of the GDP

  3. Environment

    1. Enact/enforce legislation to protect and expand national parks

    2. Pass and enforce Stricter Pollution control legislation for the new automobiles

    3. Enforce existing laws on Industry to Improve Air Quality

    4. Reward companies limiting air/ water pollution by more than 10% of the mandated limits by tax breaks or preference in government contracts

    5. Introduce air quality index in top 100 cities and legislate goals for department of environment to improve on these index by 5% every year for next 5 years

    6. Introduce similar water quality index in top 10 rivers in 100 cities and legislate goals for department of environment to improve on these index by 5% every year for next 5 years

    7. Encourage State/local Government To Introduce Laws for cities to set aside a certain percentage of city area for forestation over next ten years

    8. Privatize wood based industries e.g. paper; introduce legislation for such companies to plant ten times the trees cut for their business use and provide such records to department of environment and independent environment groups

    9. Provide tax Breaks for Private companies to promote Bio Gas concept at the village level to produce electricity

    10. Introduce severe fines on companies / individuals breaking environment laws

    11. Fund department of environment personnel salaries from fine levied on companies breaking environment laws 7 Provide some government funding to automobile industry consortium to invest in low or no pollution cars by 2010

Social Safety Net

  1. Social Insurance

    1. Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief

    2. Provision of a "desired" minimum wage

    3. Provision of a social safety net (social security system)

  2. Rural Development through effective programs

    The IRDP and such centrally planned programs are designed to convert precious public money into dust, and are helping pull the country down. Such programs need to be replaced with other programs that ensure that capital reaches those who really need it. Concepts like a privately functioning Grameen Bank need to be encouraged.

Law and Order

  1. Law and Order

    1. Enhancing the educational qualifications for recruitment into the Police force and enhancing the salary as well as the training.

    2. Implementation of the National Police Commission's recommendations.

    3. Implementation of the Vohra Committee recommendations.

    4. Requiring an enquiry by the Returning Officer to verify the Police Records of all candidates.

    5. Modernizing and computerizing criminal records (this has come in separately elsewhere, but we will integrate all these points later)

    6. Strategies to improve public-Police interaction.

    7. Severe penalties to Police officials found using third degree methods.

    8. Uniform civil code for the citizens.

    9. Separation of judiciary from executive

    10. Promotion of international peace and security

Administrative Reform

  1. Administrative Reform

    1. Accountability: Except for state secrets relating to critical matters of defence of the country, and perhaps some, relating to the internal security of India, nothing else shall be considered to be an Official Secret. Both the elected and non-elected officials of India are paid by the taxpayer and are accountable to the Indian people for their deeds being in abidance by the laws laid down by the People. The permanent bureaucracy shall be fully privileged, as a fully law-abiding Citizen of India, to go to the media to inform the People about misdemeanours of any other publicly paid official.

    2. Jobs at the levels of Additional Secretary and Secretary to Government to be delinked from the permanent civil service. These jobs could be filled up either from within the service or from any other source, outside the government, on a contractual basis.

    3. Raising the salaries

    4. Cutting down the needless tasks performed by government, and bringing down the size of government to half

  2. Systems and Computerization

    1. A uniquely numbered citizen identification card: This will help keep track of total government benefits provided to each citizen. This can also help to extend benefits, which are not present today, such as a food stamp program.

    2. Taxes: There has to be a completely computerized system of tax collection.

    3. A national computerized system to track individual driving records.

    4. Systems to support the police and judiciary: A national network linking all police departments up to the district level to exchange information. A computerized tracking system of pending judicial cases is also necessary.

    5. Computerizing the collection services of various essential government departments such as water supply.

  3. Transparency and Rights to Information

    The rights to information would be of two types:

    a) Right of each citizen to DIRECTLY call for a copy of any record maintained by government on that citizen.

    b) Right of each citizen to INDIRECTLY - through a Local Board for each government office - call for any non-sensitive record. There would be no non-sensitive record in any department except the Home, Defence and Finance departements. Even within these departments, records would have to relate to really important and sensitive issues of internal security, in order to be elegible for being labelled 'sensitive.'

Probity in Public Life

I. Enactment of suitable Lok Pal Legislation for an effective multi-member Lok Pal. It is extremely important that the recommendations of the Lok Pal should be duly honoured by the Government regardless of the party affiliation of the person indicted. At the most one appeal to the Supreme Court within the limitation of 30 days may be allowed and the highest court's verdict should be honoured by Government and Parliament in letter and spirit.

II. Compulsory Declaration of Assets and Liabilities, with source of income, by MPs, Ministers including the Prime Minister and other Senior Public Functionaries, along with assets of their spouses and dependant children. Such declarations may be made to the Comptroller & Auditor General of India or the Election Commission or any other senior independent authority and should be accessible to the public, with provision for stringent penalties for non-declaration or false declarations.

III. Compulsory Audit of Political Party accounts by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India or a similar senior independent authority, and publication of the Audit Report. All donations, Indian and foreign, for Rs. 10,000/- or more to be duly receipted and recorded; penalty for falsification of accounts to be at least de-recognition of the erring Political Party.

IV. Plugging the loopholes in the Anti Defection Law (10th Schedule of our Constitution) to compel the defectors, regardless of their number, whether one or morel to resign and seek a fresh mandate from their electorate. The power of the Speaker to determine whether defection has taken place should be transferred to the Election Commission or the President of India. The number of Ministers should be restricted to 10% of strength of the House or 11% in case of bi-cameral legislatures.

V. Electoral Reforms to curb money power, muscle power and ministerial power, with indepth consideration of Goswami Committee Report as well as of State Funding of Elections, preferably in kind, with strict enforcement of election expenses ceilings, in order to break the nexus between individual and corporate donors on the one hand and political parties and leaders on the other.

VI. Prevention of criminalisation of politics by - (a) debarring at the threshold a candidate from contesting elections if he has been convicted by a law court for any criminal offence involving moral turpitude, regardless of whether he has filed an appeal against his conviction and (b) debarring from Ministership any M.P. or person against whom a law court may have framed a charge-sheet in any criminal offence involving moral turpitude, till such time that he is honourably acquitted by the Court.

VII. Suitable legislation for Citizens Right to Information at all levels of Governance as well as on major Government purchases of goods and services from India and abroad, in order to ensure transparency and accountabHity. Only the few critical matters relating to country's defence may be exempted and treated as 'privileged'.

[these points are from the Lok Seva Sangh]


  1. Tourism
    1. Select 100 Monuments as National Monuments

    2. Bring Security and Maintenance of these monuments under national Park Ranger Services

    3. Introduce an electronic ticketing system to eliminate fraud

    4. Set up a private national independent customer complaint cell directly reporting to the tourism minister

    5. Make Pre-paid addressed post cards available to general public to lodge complaints to the independent cell

    6. Collect 100 percent of day-to-day Maintenance Expense (including employees salaries) from the admission fee

    7. Make admission free for children under the age of 12

    8. Provide 50 percent admission fee discounts to individuals with a valid student id proof

    9. Introduce a licensing fee on the established local merchants/companies using the monument name/pictures on their products

    10. Provide special tax breaks to companies to build hotels / restaurants to set up shop in such towns

    11. Review the sales tax policy. Levy a sales tax (if not existing today) on hotels/restaurants as a tourism tax to directly fund major maintenance of these monuments

    12. Provide twenty five percent of the sales tax revenue for infrastructure development to the state and twenty five percent to the city government

  2. Shipping
    All commercial activities relating to Shipping such as ship-owning, ship
    management, finance, insurance, ship-building etc., will be carried out
    by private individuals or companies on a laissez-faire principle.=20
    Considering however that shipping is one of the essential lifelines for
    any nation, particularly one with a long coastline such as India,
    Government will promote Indian shipping and related activities with a
    view to helping India become a major ship owning nation, and major Indian
    ports the premier maritime centres of the world.
    To promote shipping industry and related activities in India, Government
    of India will run a user friendly and competitive Register of Shipping.=20
    Taxation on ships registered in India will be competitive with the major
    successful quality shipping registers such as Norwegian International
    Shipping Register and Singapore.  Only Indian residents or shipping
    companies (Indian or foreign owned), managing ships from an Indian base,
    will be permitted to register ships in India.
    Government of India will not practice any special reservation of shipping
    trade for Indian nationals or ships.  Indian ports will be open to ships
    of all flags, except those declared belligerent by the Government of
    India.  Ships flying the flag of all friendly nations will be free to
    trade with India and along the Indian coast provided they maintain proper
    safety and environmental protection standards in accordance with the
    international maritime conventions, comply with applicable Indian
    maritime laws and pay the applicable taxes and light and port dues.  All
    Indian maritime laws will accord with the United Nations Convention on
    the Laws of Seas and other applicable international maritime conventions.
     Government of India will strictly enforce the international safety and
    environment protection standards on all international shipping operating
    within its territorial waters in accordance with the applicable
    international maritime conventions.  Laws relating to local shipping will
    accord with the international maritime conventions but will be suitably
    modified to cater to local needs.
    No more favourable treatment will be accorded to ships flying the Indian
    flag.  [Government of India nevertheless reserves the right to promote
    Indian shipping by according a favourable taxation environment for ships
    registered in India.  Government of India will also help in providing
    financial guarantees to promote Indian shipping in accordance with a
    clear criteria arrived at in consultation with the shipping industry.=20
    This however will be done without contravening any international
    covenants to which India may be a party.]
    Indian ships would normally be manned by Indian residents holding
    qualifications approved by Government of India.  Exceptions however may
    be made if an Indian officer or rating is not readily available when
    needed.  In this case the foreign crew member must be properly qualified
    to the satisfaction of the maritime authority of India.
    Government of India will maintain an effective maritime administration
    with a view to exercising effective Flag State and Port State control
    ensuring proper safety and environmental protection standards on board
    Indian registered ships anywhere, and foreign ships when calling at
    Indian ports, in accordance with the applicable international maritime
    conventions.  Flag State control will be carried out by effective
    monitoring of survey work which will be delegated to classification
    societies of good reputation.  These, as a minimum, must be a member of
    the International Association of Classification Societies.  Cost of Flag
    State control will be recovered through tonnage dues.  Cost of port State
    control will be partially recovered as explained under the heading "Free
    Government of India will promote maritime training of highest quality by
    exercising effective monitoring role over maritime training institutions
    which will be run privately.  Considering that Indian officers and
    ratings are held in high esteem world-wide, and are a source of
    considerable foreign exchange for the country, Government of India will
    encourage maritime training in a major way.  Proper control and checks
    will be maintained to ensure highest quality of training meeting the
    international maritime training standards.  Bureaucracy in the approval
    of training courses however will be kept to the minimum and requirements
    in excess of international conventions will not be prescribed.  In view
    of the large highly educated population, India has the potential to man a
    great percentage of the world shipping.  Government of India will help to
    arrange easily repayable soft loans for aspiring young people wishing to
    take up the sea career but who are unable to afford the cost of
    Government of India will maintain an
    effective coast guard service along the Indian coast with a view to
    providing :-
    (i)     an effective search and rescue service (including medical aid and
    advice) covering the area for which Government of India is responsible
    under the applicable international maritime conventions;=20
    (ii)    an effective pollution control service with maximum help from
    private industry; and
    (iii)   an effective anti-piracy and theft control service.
    Following principles will govern the above mentioned services :-
    (i)     All help to save life at sea will be rendered free of charge.
    (ii)    All services rendered to save property or for pollution prevention
    and control will be rendered on full cost recovery basis.  No charge
    however will be made for anti-piracy or theft control related services.
    Government of India undertakes to maintain excellent vessel traffic
    management services, radio-communication services and navigational aids
    along the Indian coast to the recognized international standards.  Cost
    for such services will be recovered through the port and light dues which
    will be levied on all international and coastal ships calling at Indian
    ports.  Aim will be to provide the service at no profit no loss basis.=20
    Where possible, user-pay principle will be observed.
    India will participate actively in the conferences of International
    Maritime Organization, International Labour Organization and other U.N.
    bodies related to shipping.  Purpose of the participation will be to :-
    (i)     promote maritime safety and environmental protection;=20
    (ii)    promote welfare of seafarers;
    (iii)   protect the interests of the Indian shipping industry; and
    (iv)    promote India=92s image in the international forums.
    Costs of participation by Government officials in the above mentioned
    conferences must be met from the public purse.  Any participation by the
    industry to protect its own interest must be privately funded.
    Government of India will need to maintain a reasonable administration to
    facilitate active and meaningful participation in the international
    maritime conferences.  Costs for such administration must be met from the
    public purse.
    All shipbuilding, ship repair and ship scrapping activity in India will
    be carried out exclusively by the private sector without any subsidy from
    Government of India Government of India will exercise sufficient control
    to ensure safe and environment friendly practices in the above
    activities.  Cost of the required supervision will be recovered through
    licensing fees.
  3. Port Management

    All Indian ports will be owned and managed by private industry.=20 Government of India will excercise minimum control to ensure :- (i) Proper safety and environment protection standards; (ii) fair competition by involvement of reasonable number of private enterprises; (iii) fair tendering process in consultation with the shipping and related industry; (iv) timely dredging of approach channels and other areas required for safe navigation. (v) provision for berths, anchorages, mooring buoys and navigational aids for safe navigation, safe waiting areas and safe cargo handling. Ports will be managed by autonomous bodies (governing bodies) which will be formed in consultation with all branches of the shipping industry.=20 These bodies will be chaired by a Government appointee and shall be charged to run the ports on fair commercial principles ensuring fair but not excessive return for the share holders. Wherever possible competition will be generated by allocating terminals to as many different companies as possible. It may be necessary for Government of India to retain direct responsibility for maintaining common approach channels, fairways and mooring buoys. A national or local authority may be created for this purpose in consultation with the shipping and related industries. Cost for such services will be recovered, at no profit no loss basis, by levying a charge on all ships calling at the port in proportion to the ships=92 tonnage. Generally, Government will be only a manager and coordinator for such services. Actual services (e.g. dredging, laying of buoys etc,) shall be carried out by private industry on open tender basis. PILOTAGE SERVICE All pilotage services will be provided by private enterprises. These enterprises will have to give full account of profit and loss with a view to ensuring fair but not excessive return wherever competition is not possible. Government of India will exercise sufficient control to ensure :- (i) proper training, licensing and professional standards of pilots; (ii) timely, safe and efficient pilotage service to shipping; and (iii) disciplining of pilots when necessary. Cost for the Government supervision will be levied to pilotage companies on an equitable basis through a licensing system. SHIPPING CASUALTIES In independent panel of investigators within the framework of maritime authority of India will investigate all serious accidents involving shipping in Indian territorial waters, and all ships flying the Indian flag (serious =3D involving loss of life, serious injury, pollution or substantial damage to a ship or a shore structure). Aim of the investigation will be to learn lessons to avoid similar accidents in the future (and not apportionment of blame). Where serious negligence or lack of competence is involved, appropriate disciplinary action against the concerned officer or pilot will be taken. Disciplinary action may include cancellation/suspension of an officer=92s certificate of competency (if issued by Government of India) or the pilot=92s licence. Appropriate penalties will be provided for cases where accident results from reckless behavior or criminal intentions. Findings of all investigations will be given wide publicity. When foreign ships or nationals are involved, a copy of the investigation report will be sent to the foreign administration. PORT STATE CENTROL A minimum of 10% of all ships calling at an Indian port will be inspected by Government surveyors to ensure proper safety and environment protection standards in compliance with the international maritime conventions. Ships may be targetted on the basis of their past record, external condition, type of trade, or other factors which may be decided by the maritime authority from time to time. All ports on the Indian coast will cooperate by making sure that a ship inspected at an Indian port is normally not subjected to another port State control inspection within 6 months of the previous inspection. FREE SERVICES Following services shall be provided free of charge by the Government of India :- (1) Casualty Investigations. (2) Initial inspection under port State control. Subsequent follow-up visits to be charged on full costs recovery basis (see Note 2 below). Notes: 1. Above services are provided to ensure safe operation of shipping along the Indian coast with a view to discharging our responsibility in compliance with the international maritime conventions, and to protect the Indian coast from maritime disasters. The services should therefore be funded from the public purse. 2. Initial Inspection under port State control is carried out on a random basis to verify that the ship is being properly maintained in compliance with the applicable maritime conventions. No charge is justifiable for this visit. If deficiencies are found during the first visit, then the Government surveyor needs to re-visit the ship to confirm that the deficiencies have been made good. Cost of re-visits should be charged to the ship as it is a direct service to the ship and the visit would not have been needed had the ship been properly maintained in the first instance.

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