02 May 2009

A Right-Wing Agenda for Governance

The previous post outlined a right-wing political ideology, in Atal Behari Vajpayee's words. To complete the picture we need a right-wing agenda for governance. Once again Vajpayee shows us the way. Here he is, in his "Musings from Kumarakom" in 2001:

Our first task is to strengthen the awareness that we are one people – sisters and brothers who are children of the great Mother India. Some of our citizens focus too much on one or the other aspect of our diversity, ignoring the common national bonds that unite us.

All citizens and communities have an equal duty to strengthen our national unity and integrity, and to contribute to the nation's progress. In recent times, there has been a tendency to focus more on one's rights, and less on one's duties. This must change.

The time has come to introduce radical developmental reforms, which should encompass, besides economic reforms, administrative and judicial reforms. The most important component of these reforms is to fix transparent accountability at all levels and increase people's involvement in monitoring the functioning of all agencies that impact on development.

This places a far bigger responsibility on our citizens than has been realised by them so far. The habit of looking to the Government for a solution to every problem must give way to a new democratic attitude of fully participating in the Government's efforts and of maximising the scope of non-governmental efforts. This calls for a better work culture, a superior civic culture, strong discipline and a radical shift in the attitude of the citizenry from rights to duties.

Recalling how India became a colony of a foreign trading company in the past, they prophesy that India will again be "sold out" to foreigners if economic reforms are allowed to be continued. This is a ludicrous prophesy. India is an incomparably stronger nation today than when the British colonised us.

The true purpose of economic reforms is to further strengthen our economy, while removing its self-evident weaknesses, so that poverty and unemployment can be removed at a faster pace. We need to broaden and further accelerate the economic reforms, so that our economy becomes sufficiently productive to meet the growing demands of our growing population.

We are living in a world of globalisation, created by the information and communication revolution, global trade and greater inter-dependence among nations. Neither Indian industry nor agriculture can ignore the new competitive global environment in which they are called upon to operate. Our agriculture should be freed from many infrastructural, investment and other constraints that have prevented it from growing to its full potential.

We need to reduce the size of the Government, so that more resources can be channelled for people's welfare and development. We must also reform our labour laws and make them more conducive to faster economic growth and greater employment generation. Some of these are difficult measures, but we cannot shirk away from any of these imperatives.

It is our collective responsibility to devise a national strategy that effectively counters the challenges and seizes the opportunities of globalisation.

Guided by the light of the eternal and universal values of our civilisation, inspired by a modernising vision of national development, and powered by the youthful energy of one billion children of Bharat Mata, we can certainly make the 21st century India's century.

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