Team Anna and IAC. I always thought they were the same, but apparently there is a difference. Anna Hazare has disbanded Team Anna but has the IAC been disbanded? Apparently not. I don't see any reference to that on its website. So now I'm confused.
But that's alright. This street movement and fasting is over, and has rightly moved into the political territory. That's a huge challenge but worth undertaking.
The key point to address now is Anna's comment: "How to look for good people? To give an alternative, a party has to be formed. How to select members of the party?"
EVERYTHING, IN MY VIEW, DEPENDS ON THIS.
Also what does it mean to be "good"?
Remember what Hayek said? "[I]s there a greater tragedy imaginable than that, in our endeavor consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?"
High ideals, good intentions alone DO NOT MAKE GOOD PEOPLE.
Being honest, etc. are the basics. Then comes the policy challenge. The good man is he who understands how to maximise the energy generated by self interest, and minimise its potential harmful consequences. The good man is he who NEVER takes people for granted, and ALWAYS examines the strategic games they might play. The good man is he who understands incentives and human nature. It is all about understanding checks and balances, even as we maximise everyone's self-interest.
Finding SUCH good people is PRECISELY what FTI has been doing for the past few years. We have a very comprehensive process, and rigorous Code of Conduct. No member becomes a full FTI member without five other full members voting for him.
FTI members are CERTIFIED 100 per cent "good" (else they will be smashed into the dustbin like we smash rotten eggs). And they are committed to liberty.
There are NO BETTER leaders in India today (and indeed in the world) than full members of FTI. And these members are preparing exactly for the task that the dissolved Team Anna is aiming to undertake: to contest parliamentary elections.
But we have a process. And we have a method. And that is an important point to note.
I've been in this business (of starting a new political movement) for over 14 years and I can assure you that it is not a trivial exercise, particularly when my standards are FAR HIGHER than Anna's. He is talking about raising (or at least competing with) Rs. 10-15 crores per constituency. That's ILLEGAL. I hope he knows that!
Anna Hazare apparently does not for it is reported: "The activist also wondered how will they get funds for providing an alternative when Rs 10-15 crore is spent for each constituency."
To FTI the question of competing on political expenditure DOES NOT ARISE. FTI members will not spend ONE PAISA more than the official limit. I'm very, very fussy about every paisa spent for political purposes. That's why I have even questioned Arvind Kejriwal's and Kiran Bedi's expenses.
We are classical liberals. We do not disobey laws even though we know the law is bad. We are committed to changing bad laws through the parliament. Yes, there might be the need to break a particular law but that will be done with full advance notice and publicity (e.g. Gandhi's breaking the salt law). FTI has no intention at the moment to break any law. (Although I supported and continue to support JP's effort to break laws that prevent agricultural trade between states.)
In brief, FTI's standards are FAR HIGHER than any group in India. There can be no higher standard than ours. And we don't intend to rush into politics till all main preconditions are met.
Well, I am entitled to say that I helped Sharad Joshi get into national politics (here are links to the workshop I had organised) and raised funds for him. He finally managed to enter Rajya Sabha, primarily as a result of this work (but of course, he deserved his seat regardless of those who may have helped).
Sharaj Joshi is a GENIUS. A man of such outstanding calibre that NO ONE on the political stage in India comes even close. Joshi is a dedicated classical liberal, and his farmers movement was a movement for LIBERTY. The largest farmers movement in the world.
However, Sharad Joshi IS NOT CAPABLE of leading a national political party. For reasons I won't go into here, I quit my life membership of the party (Swatantra Bharat Party) which I had helped form and of which I was National Executive member. He is a genius, but has his limitations.
I have learnt not just from this (SBP) failure but from my other experiences over the past 14 years, and can confidently say that the FTI is the way to go. It is the model to ensure GOOD people, GOOD policy and GOOD strategy. It is the gold standard of politics.
And note, 2014 is DEFINITELY not the last chance to change India. Anna is getting old. He thinks everything is going to come to an end. But no. There will be MANY other chances. Yes, it is best to focus on 2014, but if that is not done properly, THEN even future chances (2019) will dissipate. FTI does not intend to lose its mind in a mad rush to contest (and fail). FTI's integrity of process and goals is not going to be thrown away unless there is clear due process of equal or higher standard.
So, welcome to the real world, Arvind and others of the dissolved Team Anna. Now you must at least establish standards equal to FTI's (or higher – but that is not possible) in order for there to be a discussion on policy.
YOUR KEY PROBLEM NOW IS HOW TO FIND GOOD PEOPLE. Well, FTI has a full fledged working model. Use it. And on policy there is NO better document than FTI's basic principles, and a policy framework that we are currently finalising (expected to be released next week).
I would encourage ex-Team Anna to check out FTI, and if satisfied, consider joining it. Then the policy debates can be expedited with the goal of generating a manifesto within one year.
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