General musings in this thread: The Rajni Kothari approach of influencing policies and ideas/ ideology with movements and an ecosystem linked to factions *within* political parties is highly underrated. (1/n)
India is not non-ideological. But India does have a different ideology space (well described in the book Ideology and Identity by Chibber and @rahul_tverma )- with the classic left- right, liberal- conservative kind of binaries being inapplicable. (2/n)
Also, both ideology AND identity matter (as they do in most heterogenous societies). So the key point is - for most ideologies (other than those defined by India’s unique ideological axes), the fact is people are neither in favour, nor opposed - they are just ...indifferent.(3/n)
This opens up an opportunity. Create movements and ecosystems. Let them translate into factions *within* political parties. They can piggyback on the party winning power based on the few truly salient issues of ideology, and identity. Then swoop in and push agenda (4/n)
The left and communists did this quite well. They accomplished far more of their policy goals- on social issues (such as history) and economic issues through the vehicle of the Congress party, than the Communist parties. Conservatives and classic liberals have also ....(5/n)
...accomplished many policy goals - most notably on economic reforms - more due to well connected an developed policy ecosystems and factions with multiple parties (Congress, BJP, even regional parties). So too for social issues such as cow protection or personal laws...(6/n)
...which have been achieved by Hindu and Muslim social conservatives not by separate parties, but through movements, ecosystems, and factions that influence parties from within. (7/n)
The implication is - if there are a set of policy ideas and even a broader ideology that it coheres into, analytically the partisan fight of politics while interesting is far less important. What is much more important is - how is the movement and ecosystem developing....(8/n)
...And does that translate to a faction with influence within multiple political parties. People whose ideas fall in this indifference space - such as say classical liberals on civil liberties, post Keynesians on economics, Hindu conservatives on say temple de-control....(9/n)
...are better off approaching their ideas that way. Create ecosystems, movements and “sleeper cells” within multiple political parties. Activate them when those factions with sleeper cells get internally powerful for entirely different reasons. (10/n)
So it is a wrong recommendation to say, for e.g., that the INC should become a classical liberal party. Such a party will die- because classical liberalism is not a salient enough ideology in India to sustain a political party. Instead make it an ecosystem and a faction (11/11)

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More from @akshayalladi

4 Dec
Which of these reforms involving using political capital is the most *impactful* for the Union government to do:

Note- Privatisation here includes asset monetisation as well, such as selling prime land used by PSUs, armed forces etc.
For the same set, which of these reforms is the most *feasible* to do- that is the political capital consumed will not be very high.
Given your view on both poll 1 and 2, what is a pragmatic course of action you would recommend for the govt. - where they can do the highest impact, but also feasible reforms
Read 4 tweets
2 Dec
Thread: The argument on the merits of the farm reform bill are anyway compelling, and validated by experts. Self described “Pro-reform” people in commentariat have hence latched on to the high minded principle - laws should be with consultations. Excellent. Let’s Google...
Read this report of Standing Committee of Parliament submitted in 2019. See what are the reforms called for in APMC. The standing committee by the way has 31 MPs across parties, only 13 of whom were from the BJP
Read this news story about a committee of CMs. See what their terms of reference was.…
Read 7 tweets
18 Oct
100% agree. This is a fundamental issue of sovereignty, not an FoE issue.
This point is worth elaborating. It is wrong to frame this issue as some debate about what are the responsibilities and limits of free speech. Reasonable people can differ on that question. But this issue is NOT about that.
The nation-state of France has been created to advance the interests of the French people- that is the nation. A state has a legitimate *monopoly* of power - that is to create laws, and enforce them, with violent force if required.
Read 13 tweets
20 Aug
Thread: Interesting debate online on UCC. Will blog my views when I find the time, but the headlines- I am in favour 1. Cultural diversity doesn’t always need different family laws for different groups. 2. The liberal argument is clear- the state should frame laws for individuals
BUT even if one doesn’t accept the liberal argument, Indian conservatives have rightly embraced one aspect of modernity which is nationalism. Nationalism argues that the nation is a corporate body that seeks its sovereign state to advance its goals.
Different systems of law altogether (as opposed to mere provisions for disadvantaged groups as an exception) detract from that principle of a unified corporation. As a “strong society, weak state” (to use the Daren Acemoglu framing) India has been outside the “narrow corridor”..
Read 7 tweets
6 Jun
Long thread: Poorly argued column on why Modi doesn’t feature in a list of India’s reformist PMs. Since some version of this argument is used by many, counters in this thread, with an argument of what I think is the fundamental misdiagnosis by most (lazy) analyses
First the headlines: 1. Modi IS a reformist PM 2. As a reformer he clearly ranks below PVNR, it is arguable if he is tied with ABV or not; including MMS in the list of reformist PMs is 🙄 3. However Modi’s economic mgmt. has been poor; econ. management is NOT = reforms
So on q1- is he a reformist PM? Just tot up a list- IBC; inflation targeting; GST; RERA; infra financing through InVITS, TOTs and REITs; corporate tax changes. This is before current round where every sector in the Indian economy is opened up for private sector ...
Read 20 tweets
3 Nov 19
Long thread: I see this 👇 line of argument often enough in public policy analysis that I think we should coin a phrase for it- “The Panacea Fallacy”. It is a flawed argument that argues against a policy action by pointing out the banal fact that it is not a panacea
We can do this with regard to ANY policy, even one that is very effective: “Have economic reforms ended poverty completely?”, “The US has the most powerful armed forces in the world, yet their people still die in armed conflict” etc. The value add of such an analysis is low.
The right way to evaluate a policy step is not to ask whether it is a panacea or not (newsflash- nothing is), but to ask - does it confer significant benefits, with limited costs as compared to the alternatives (which includes do nothing) and is it feasible to do politically
Read 18 tweets

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