Thoughts on Economic Policies Present in the AAP Lok Sabha Manifesto

I read the AAP Lok Sabha Manifesto today, and was rather disappointed with it. I think it is only fair that I mention my bias before I get to my opinion on the AAP Manifesto.

I started out as a supporter of AAP, and considered them the best bad option we had, but I have now changed my position, and do not believe that they present a viable alternative to the other political parties because of their performance in Delhi.

That being said, here are my thoughts specifically on the “Economy and Ecology” section of the AAP Manifesto.

AAP has listed down the following goals under their Economy and Ecology section.

  • Facilitating Robust Economic Growth with Holistic Well Being
  • Creating Decent Jobs and Gainful Employment for our Youth
  • Simplify Rules, Create Accountable Institutions, Curb Black Money
  • Promoting Honest Business, Unleashing India’s Entrepreneurial Energy
  • Empowering Citizens, Particularly Poor and Vulnerable
  • Reinvigorating the Rural Economy
  • Improving Farmers’ Livelihoods
  • Environment and Natural Resources Policy
  • No Contractualization of Jobs
  • Social Security for the Unorganized Sector
  • Protecting the Common Man from Rising Prices

I think most people would agree that these are all worthy goals, except perhaps the contract labor ones, but the goals themselves are not the problem, the problem is how these goals will be achieved, and there AAP has not presented any concrete ideas on what they will do to achieve any of their goals.

For example, here are the measures they have suggested to fight rising prices.

  • Fight corruption and crony capitalism.
  • Arrest black marketers, raid their godowns and release food grains in the open market.
  • Bring a law to regulate the fee charged by schools.
  • Increase the number of government hospitals and substantially improve the quality of services.
  • End corruption in the public distribution system with the involvement of gram sabhas.
  • Instead of direct cash transfer, transfer materials to families.
  • Include dal and oil in ration materials.

It seems to me that AAP’s answer to every question is reduce corruption, and everything else will fall into place, but their short rule over Delhi didn’t inspire confidence this is in fact the case.

When I supported AAP earlier, I didn’t agree with several of their policies, but I did believe that reducing corruption would outweigh everything else. However, their short stay in Delhi convinced me otherwise. A case in point were their policies on water supply in Delhi.

They had listed out a number of items to deal with the water supply issues in Delhi like tackling the tanker mafia,  restructuring Delhi Jal Board, installing bulk meters, and giving out 700 liters of free water etc.

In the end however, they only handed out the free water, and did nothing else. Granted, they didn’t have enough time to implement anything else, but at least in my mind it would have been better if they hadn’t implemented the populist and economically unsound idea of handing out free water as well.


And more importantly, if they come to power in center, or become part of the coalition, they will have to deal with a number of partners much like they did in Delhi, and they didn’t anything that inspires confidence that they will be able to work with the same parties at the center.

12 thoughts on “Thoughts on Economic Policies Present in the AAP Lok Sabha Manifesto”

  1. Do we citizens really have a charter of demands to be given to the political parties?. Will it matter which party is addressing the problems if the problems are resolved??

    1. “charter of demands to be given to the political parties” …
      Good thought… do not stop after leaving question marks … do it…. let u be the first… go ahead.

  2. I appreciate the points of Ms. Supriya. By the way, to begin with, it is corruption which is the first big issue which eats into the every day life of the common man. It has to be addressed immediately. AAP is a hope in comparison to the other existing parties. Secondly, AAP has to be in the firmament for other parties to be disciplined. Why, Why is it that the citizens are not giving a charter to the parties instead of just about discussing the charter of the political parties? If the demands of the citizens are addressed, does it matter whether the political party is A,B, C….

  3. “Arrest black marketers, raid their godowns and release food grains in the open market.”

    And, why not address the fact of why those black marketers came into existence in the first place? Do they really think that it is enough to catch the current criminals when they will be replaced by similar people in no time? Why don’t they plug the policy and legal loopholes because of which black market exists in the first place?

    “Bring a law to regulate the fee charged by schools.”
    So, AAP thinks that if they make a law saying the price of something should be x, that will solve the problem? What do you think the quality of the school will be, if the fee is mandated to be low? Do you think that school will be worth anything? Haven’t we learnt that govt cannot dictate prices of something. If a good school cannot charge prices to cover its cost, it will close down. So, how does this help. This is a perfect example of socialistic nonsense. And, it a perfect example of Kejriwal’s hypocrisy. For gas, he says govt should not fix prices and we should use free market prices like in US. But, for schools, he wants govt to fix prices. Lol!

    “Increase the number of government hospitals and substantially improve the quality of services.”
    Ok, worthwhile goal, but why the bias towards govt hospitals? What is the problem with promoting more private hospitals also? And, it is incredibly hard to make govt hospitals improve their quality. So, its easy to say, but ok, they get the benefit of the doubt on this.

    “End corruption in the public distribution system with the involvement of gram sabhas.”
    Gram sabhas will be magically made up of non-corrupt people. Dream on.

    “Instead of direct cash transfer, transfer materials to families.”
    Umm.. why? What is easier, cheaper, faster to do – transferring cash or materials? The entire point of direct cash transfer is to eliminate corruption in transferring materials. So, on one hand they say that they want to reduce corruption, on the other hand they are supporting a policy that would increase corruption! Huh?!

    “Include dal and oil in ration materials.”
    Same as above. Why? when we have cash transfer? Just an artificial point to garner votes?

  4. Haha, the economic manifesto is like that written by a school child. If I become PM I will do x, y, z. Lol! This is not how economic vision is articulated.

    AAP followers (Kejriwal understands this but is hypocritical in his speeches) must first of all understand that corruption is a symptom and not the real cause. So, if they say they will fight corruption, they must address the underlying issue. The real issue is a broken economic system which is a legacy of the socialistic license control which has morphed into cozy arrangements between business and govt as the economy was opened up. They should have just said that they will promote economic reforms and free market policies in all resource allocation, that would solve all corruption problems – 2G, coal, gas, etc, etc. Instead they want to empower the govt even more, like the stupid Lokpal which is meant to solve problems reactively, when the problem is in fact excessive govt power and the problems can be solved proactively by making policies pro-free market.

    If 2G, gas allocation is done in a free market (instead of a minister interfering with allocation) where is the room for corruption, and what is the need of a Lokpal?

    Their vision seem to be populistic nonsense of targeting individuals in a broken system, which is insufficient because their policy bias is towards govt and state control. At best, they will catch a few crony capitalists and give a temporary respite, but they will perpetuate the system that led to the status quo. So, what is the point?

    And, the point about “creating jobs” is insane. Govt doesn’t create jobs. It should create infrastructure (which is not even mentioned) so that private sector is healthy and creates jobs. Funny because Kejriwal said this in front of CII. But, it is not included in his manifesto because it requires reducing state control over business, and he cannot support that as he has a socialistic vision. The biggest problem is state corruption and state control over sectors in the economy. Where the state is absent, like IT, India is doing fine. State trying to provide everything is not possible as we have been trying it for decades now under Congress and it hasn’t worked. Don’t people understand what happened in 1992, don’t they understand what reforms are? Don’t they see that APP manifesto is no different from Congress manifesto and the same socialistic nonsense?

  5. Congress and BJP two sides of same coin.

    AAP is for common citizens and not for industrialists and the rich.
    some mistakes by aap in early days of their governance pardonable than the multi million scams by the big and experienced parties.
    common people should support aap.

    1. Congress used to say that it was for common citizens, now AAP is saying that. The manifesto is the same.

  6. Hi Manshu.

    Though I agree with your thoughts to a certain extent regarding AAP. but not completely. I beleive that though AAP may not be competent enough or might have fallen back on their promises or not performed as per expectations etc. (the innumerous reasons we have for writing off AAP)

    I still feel AAP is required to be in the system. for the following reasons
    1. Competition is healthy. There is hardly any competition in our political market. i means.. though the contenders are many. but the market leader( BJP and Congress) have been dividing the nation based on their idealogies.. BJP wooing the Hindu vote. and the congress going to appease the minorities.. to the extent that they keep on addign the minority groups. AAP provides that sensible third option which may not be viable as of now.. but maybe 5 or ten yrs down the lines.
    also if you notice.. it is post AAP that these political parties have started taking the common man seriously. Did you ever find Rahul Gandhi taking about empowering the people prior to AAP?

    2. We need someone who talks about the country as a whole and not based on the various reasons (read divisions on the basis of religion,region, caste , creed etc) based on which we have political parties formed in the country.

    Agreed, AAP has disappointed lot of people and after the initial euphoria , the sentiments of people towards AAP has changed tremendously. This can be credited to the antics of the AAP leaders and also the reason that AAP may not be a favourite with the media.

    I would recommend , “Swaraj” written by Mr. Kejriwal… after the Anti corruption movement.

    I completely agree with you that tackling corruption alone will not solve india’s problem and especially with just the introduction of a Lokpal Bill..

    The entire system needs overhauling…. and people are an integral part of the system. since this is a comments section i will not take the liberty of writing a full fledged post out here.

    Just one point i would like to add. As per Mr. Kejriwal (in one of the interviews) they had promised free water only to the people with meters. Hence this was motivation for people to get the meters. and water would be free only upto 700 litres. if one consumes 701 litre they would have to pay for the entire 701 litre. This strategy solved two problems. one was conservation of water and also regulation in water distribution through the meters.

    Havent got the above verified by any other source though. It is Mr. Kejriwal’s own words.

  7. Well said. If they were really serious about corruption, they would never have quit the next day of filing case against Ambani. They should have acted responsibly (honouring the confidence delhi people entrusted in them) and followed through the corruption cases (like CWG and gas pricing). They were serious, but for different cause: Lok Sabha, and tried to achieve quick publicity, which in normal circumstances would have taken ages. So, they went for shorcut, martyrdom.

    The manifesto as you said is more of goals, rather than action beyond actions (except for corruption). The need of hour is to reduce subsidies and spend that money in development and job creation, so that productivity improves and people can automatically afford things which are being subsidised.

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