Sunday, October 19, 2008

To Jago or not to Jago?

A few weeks ago I was told my a friend of mine about the TATA Tea Jaago Campaign, which is a pretty interesting ad campaign. And if a tea-company manages to sell some tea while getting a ton of Indians registered to vote, I have no issues with it :).

While googling for Jago, I ended up on the website of Jago Party, a new indian political party whose mission is "to make India a very safe, strong and rich country, [...] using and strengthening democratic institutions. "

Some interesting salient features they mention are

1. Reservation for none, job for everyone through free English education -- Reservation is against the principle of equality and it is a punishment to the merit. Hence Jago Party will abolish all reservations.

2. Hang terrorists, murderers, rapists & corrupts; Judgments in 3 months – In order to reduce crime, mandatory death sentence would be given to terrorists, murderers, rapists and corrupts. Police will be given adequate powers, equipments and staff to meet their challenges. [they did say they would have oversight - AP]

3. All voters will get Rs 600 p.m. in lieu of subsidies, which will be cancelled.

4. 24 hrs electricity & comfortable train journey through privatization; less government activities & more private enterprises, including roads, water, schools, universities, hospitals, ports etc, and most of the Public Sector Undertakings would also be privatized.

5. No Income Tax up to Rs 4 lakh; Reduction in the number and rates of taxes.

All the above are interesting points, but the scary part for me was the "super free private market" part. So, I sent them an email, and Mr. Awadhesh Kumar Singh was kind to respond, and indeed hold a conversation over email on my queries.

I had specifically asked him about his views on the "free market" and what he thought caused the current meltdown in the US economy, and here is what he had to say:
The cause of the present crash in US economy is bad lending practices out of greed to earn risky profit by some of the biggest financial institutions.
Obviously, when we support free market economy, we do not rule out the possibility of some private companies making bad policy decisions. But free market economy has inherent institutional mechanism to punish such companies.

When a company is small, its mistakes are also small and it can be ignored. But in the present scenario, very, very huge companies are becoming bankrupt having trillions of dollars worth assets. Obviously, no democratic government can allow such companies to collapse, because it can have disastrous effects on the entire economy. Hence, the US federal govt is justified in saving these companies and ushering in sound management practices. Once they stabilize, they would be handed over again to the private companies. This is a kind of security and safety net being provided by the govts across the world to safeguard the interest of consumers like insurance policy holders, borrowers etc just like old age pension or medicare. Hence, it is fully justified.

To prevent such crisis in future, govt is also justified in putting in place proper regulatory mechanism for financial institutions to safeguard the interest of consumers. Our support of free market economy also is subject to such regulatory mechanisms.

Their FAQ is pretty detailed, and they are also doing some other interesting stuff - see their RTI page for example. Also, I appreciate their stance on personal freedom.

Recently, I got an email from them asking to join them as a member and pay a small membership fee. I would surely like to help out people who want to help out the country with new ideas [given how fed up I am with the powers-that-be], but with previous attempts at this by people who didn't know what they were getting into(post1, post2), I am not so sure yet, and need your PoVs.

The money is the not the big part, but association surely is. So, what do you say? Maybe I should just do this for now?

P.S. Do you think they are the desi libertarian party? Given they are OK with govt. regulations, it sure seems they aren't.


  1. I haven't read their manifesto or anything...I know them only by your words...
    My suggestion for you is...join them...As you said association matters...even if they are not able to do least they are trying to..and association can make a difference...
    its like cultivating innovation...supporting a start-up...

    And as my association with startups has taught me...startups may not be successful in themselves but they surely produces the market leaders....

    and here the market we are talking of is the nation...

    Go ahead and join them.

  2. btw on a personal note "hanging up the corrupt and rapist" sounds pretty immature

  3. I agree with Aviral - their legal stance does seem a bit naive. However, if you feel that most of your beliefs and ideas for national reform align with theirs, by all means join them. Just make sure you have some sort of say in their policies. The fact that they are willing to engage in an intelligent discussion with you seems promising. Is there a way to find out more about the leaders/other members? Their backgrounds and the work they have done might help you make a more informed decision.

    My 2c.

  4. jaagore campaign is best social responsibility by corporate sector in India.Despite comments of drawing room intellectuals,it must be carried on.

  5. Two things-
    1) In this era, nobody can afford to be a by-the-book liberal. And I think a bit of government interference here and there is essential to keep things in check. Too much deregulation can lead to another Wall Street collapse, or at least something along those lines.
    2) In a multi-party system democratic system like ours, its difficult to find *one* political party whose ideology/manifesto one can completely agree with (especially when the stance on an issue depends on how the ruling party stands on it; just go the other way :-)Its good enough if you are aligned with their stance on majority of the issues, which I think I am. Its high time we have issue based political campaigns/appointments.

    My 2 paise :-)

  6. A friend of mine was involved in the "Jago re" campaign and I too think its a pretty good blend of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Marketing for a brand...
    As far as joining your association...well I am not much impressed with their statements too...what our country needs is aggression but a very cautious aggression...I am not getting it from their statements...

  7. The Indian Libertarian party...that seems definitely possible. No one can be a "pure" libertarian (just as no one can be a "pure" communist) in today's society but requiring minimal government intervention is a hallmark of libertarianism (as is the stance on personal freedom).

    I would say their stance on "corrupt" and "rapists" are definitely superbly naive and slightly out of touch with super democratic norms of being against capital punishment. (which is true for the US too).

    You can join, there's nothing lost as long as they aren't perceived as crazy. The point about multi-party democracies is totally on point.

  8. (as posted in Abi's blog and reposted by request)

    To follow up Animesh's questions concerning disincentiving large families, as put forth by the Jago Party:

    I would say my frustration with the quote Pratik picked out is the path. Providing women with education and access to the workplace has been shown, in every western country, to reduce birthrates drastically-- although I think teh family structure needs to adapt to women in the workplace (instead of them burdening the job of transmitting culture to the younger generation; having kids; caring for kids and caring for the household).

    Disincentivizing the birth of children in a country without easy divorce laws, uncontested female inheirtance and emphasis on "carrying on the bloodline" will - most likely result in higher levels of female infanticide and could even lead to a situation such as China's, where there aren't enough females in half a generation to provide for the carrying out of marriages and so on.

    As far as the party being in a hurry...I can't agree more but that - I think - is the result of it being born from corporate structures. This being said, I wouldnt underestimate them. The ideology of free-markets and self-interest and getting what you work for are all very appealing and have been continuously exported by the US in a number of ways. I see this as it taking serious hold. Indians with protestant work-ethics and a blind eye to systematic disadvantages. How exciting....

  9. I will request Animesh Pathak and others who have commented on his post that they should join Jago Party. If we want the change, we have to be the change itself. Join Jago Party and encourage others to join. Help make a strong India!