Since ideology is often confused with idealism, it is necessary to clarify that ideology is a set of beliefs that guide an organisation’s policies, agenda and decision making. An organisation touching governance matters without ideology is akin to a company without product or a life without purpose. Idealism, on the other hand, is a statement of and belief in noble intentions but not the path to their accomplishment.
Ideologically, Nyayabhoomi stands for fierce protection of the citizens’ freedoms and minimum role for the government in the affairs of the people and of the nation. This is also in line with the Constitution of India and its original preamble.
Each of us is born a separate individual. We live and die as individuals. But life is not worth living without freedom. Freedom involves independent thought and self-directed, self-restrained action. No one can tell another what he speaks, what we believes in and how he lives. It is as free individuals, through learning (including making mistakes), initiative and enterprise, that we can reach our goal. A man’s right to think and speak what he will, to work as he chooses, to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the state as servant and not master: these are essential to the India we want.
Formation of a government is necessitated by the need to protect an individual’s life and his freedoms, and to perform those functions that the citizens themselves cannot perform individually. When we choose a government, we choose it for specific functions in order to serve us. There is little role for the government in a free society beyond these core functions.
Well-regulated free societies create an environment in which businesses can compete and thrive, without undermining consumer choice and safety. A free society is best placed to overcome poverty and become rich because its citizens can aspire to their highest potential, confident in their equal rights and in laws that are administered dispassionately and fairly.
Our ideological emphasis on individual freedoms does not come at the expense of the nation whose unity and integrity we are committed to protect in the course of our endeavour for nation-building. It is from an assurance of freedom for ALL its citizens that a nation derives its moral validation and its loyalties.
FREEDOM WITH ACCOUNTABILITY
Freedom is bound at all times by accountability. There is no freedom to harm others. Our rights are limited by the equal rights of others.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
A mature democracy insists on absolute freedom of speech. Without it, no other freedom can possibly exist. No political leader, bureaucrat or judge can prescribe what shall be acceptable in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.
Free speech is not always pleasant to the ears. Speech can be used by obnoxious people and by those we despise. But a free people would rather tolerate inconveniences of too much freedom than the expediencies of too small a degree of it. Freedom of speech means defending the speech rights of people one profoundly disagrees with or despises.
The dangers of allowing a government to restrict speech overwhelmingly exceed any benefits so derived. When bad ideas are floated freely and openly, they can be refuted freely and openly. The more an idea is suppressed, the stronger it becomes.
The only legitimate restrictions to speech relate to fraud, creating undue panic, libel, extortion, divulging military secrets, credible threats of violence or incitement to immediate violence. But these exceptions must be strictly delineated and individually justified.
Unfortunately, our speech rights have been badly diluted. As a result, India’s press freedom hovers around 140 out of 181 nations in the world. We should incorporate the Supreme Court’s 1962 interpretation that, no matter how much an accused spreads ‘disaffection’ against a government, sedition can’t be invoked unless he incites people to violence. A similar view should be taken of the laws related to blasphemy.
Property accrues to us through our actions and the actions of our parents and other well-wishers.
Unless there is a right to own, possess and bequeath property, there can be no incentive to build businesses and create industries. Without property rights, therefore, there can be no trade; hence no civilisation itself.
The role of the government in a free society includes laying down and defending the scope and extent of property rights. We should place strong limits on for what purposes and at what cost the State can acquire private property. Power of the state to coercively acquire land should be severely constrained. Let no citizen feel cheated and deprived when the state has to procure his property.
The issue of religion is intensely private. The right to live, work and worship according to one’s faith is a fundamental freedom. People are entitled to seek the truth, form beliefs and live according to the dictates of their conscience.
How can the state, a mere servant of the people, have a role in such a private matter of its master? The state and religion are distinctly different domains. The government must, at all times, be ‘religion-blind’, ‘caste-blind’, ‘tribe-blind’, ‘language-blind’. It is an umpire, not a proponent.
Being religious does not give us a natural right to break the law, or creating a public nuisance such as fouling rivers, or blaring loudspeaker at late night.
- Official events must not involve lighting a lamp or any ceremony that has religious connotations.
- Our elected representatives must participate in religious events purely in their private capacity.
- No legislator or bureaucrat should bill taxpayers for attending any event with religious overtones.
- Government should not financially support any religious activity.
- There should be laws to prohibit government management of religious institutions.
- Encroachments on public land by religious or other organisations should be stopped.
- Any religious or other institutions that violate noise regulations must be penalised.
FREEDOM OF OCCUPATION AND TRADE
Since independence, Indians have been raised on the virtues of socialism on the promise of equal prosperity for all. Capital, capitalist and profit became dirty words. Government-owned huge industries were created while erecting entry barriers for the private players. Mechanisms of licence, quota and permit were deployed to spawn favouritism and cronyism, further bringing bad name to wealth creation. It was forgotten that even a farmer, a cobbler, a rickshaw puller or a small kirana shop owner is, strictly speaking, a capitalist whose objective is to make profit.
Profit is natural. In their natural pursuit of it, sellers steer their resources to where the demand is highest. Markets – through voluntary exchange – lead to outcomes in which no person is made worse off, while most become better off. Each market transaction thus adds to a society’s wealth: such increasing prosperity being a happy consequence of freedom.
India was a free market in labour, goods, services, and capital for thousands of years. The world came to our shores to buy silks, fabrics and spices in exchange for gold and helped us become Sone ki Chidiya. But since independence, the Indian state has ignored the learning documented in Kautilya’s Arthashastra. It has, instead, blocked trade and taken up direct ownership of businesses such as Air India and Ashoka Hotel. This is a sure way to impoverish a nation. No wonder, India ranks poorly on the Global Competitiveness index.
Countries at the top in global competitiveness rankings have stable, transparent and effective institutions that foster enterprise, sound and healthy public finances, an attractive tax regime, excellent infrastructure and connectivity, a world-class education system, flexible labour markets, high levels of business sophistication and an exceptional capacity for innovation. All this suggests numerous roles for government in supporting free trade and free enterprise, not directly engaging in business.
Instead of trying to plan an economy or undertaking business activities itself, the state has a pivotal role in establishing and monitoring the rules of the game. It needs to facilitate free markets through appropriate regulations against fraud, abuse of market dominance and breach of contracts. Similarly, while ensuring freedom of occupation, government should regulate certain professions to ensure social decorum and occupational health and safety. The state will also become a facilitator for infrastructure.
RULE OF LAW
Laws must apply equally to all. The state must be blind to differences amongst its citizens.
Social insurance programme is a general, rules-based insurance policy. It is available to all citizens when they fall into poverty. Hence it does not violate the rule of law.
There is an important proviso. The rule of law applies only to the laws and to the state. It does not oblige private citizens to treat each other equally in the matters of trade. They are free to engage on the basis of any characteristic.
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
A society is not free unless there is a level playing field and reasonable equality of opportunity. An absolutely equal playing field is fundamentally impossible since each person’s intelligence and talents are different. This does not mean that avoidable handicaps such as poverty can’t be addressed by the state in the matters of basic necessities such as health and education.
Government must enact a social insurance programme to ensure that Indians who are unable to provide for themselves are able to live in frugal dignity, send their children to good schools and have access to quality health services. The social minimum will remain basic and there will be a work test for any payment made.
The family is the primary institution for fostering values. Only through cohesive families can a cohesive society be built. The success of marriage and family creates a successful society and nurtures new generations. Studies show that married adults tend to live longer, are healthier and even have higher incomes. We particularly value the role of mothers, sisters, and daughters in nurturing a great society; but everyone has a role to play.
A free society is a society of self-driven volunteers. It relies on the voluntary participation of citizens in clubs, associations, charities and community groups. A pluralistic free society has a wide range of civil society organisations, each focused on developing a unique aspect of community life.
As members of Nyayabhoomi at individual level, we are firmly committed to social equality, in addition to equality under the laws. This means we celebrate all Indians and oppose social discrimination, such as through caste structures. We will continue to fight for the equal social status for all Indians. Some of us will also undertake reforms relating to our own religion in private capacity.
NATION: SAMAGRA BHARAT
India is a civilizational idea, and since 1947, it is a united nation. But for all practical purposes, it is founded in territory. Without physical territory that is jointly defended by its citizens, a people become vulnerable to aggression. It is crucial to have an effective, strong nation. We firmly support and defend the integrity of India’s territory and the oneness of its people.
Further, our planet – long battered by a barbaric horde of collectivist ideologies – needs an ethical compass. Indian philosophical traditions – founded on freedom, tolerance for diversity, and an appreciation of differences of opinion – can provide a guide. We believe India has a role to play in building and sustaining a peaceful world.