I had contributed a series of suggestions about party agenda to the Aam Aadmi Party, and several people asked me about them. Instead of forwarding a whole series of emails to everyone who asks, I'm compiling them here. There is some editing for coherence, but all the points are identical and any other party wanting to adopt them is welcome to do so too.
Note: These suggestions are not comprehensive, and generally omit ideas likely to have occurred to a lot of people.
Mosquito borne illnesses kill hundreds of thousands of people in India and force even more to spend money they sometimes don't have on healthcare and preventative measures like coils and creams as well as increase the country's burden on health. This is not counting the many who suffer from anxiety for health and discomfort. This will result in savings of hundreds of rupees per home for those who spend on their safer health.
Additionally, mosquitoes covering vast distances easily, individuals have no means to protect themselves long term other than continuous deterrent.
Aggressive mosquito control can change many lives for the better. AAP could have supporting research on environmentally friendly extermination of mosquitoes as well as immediate and aggressive measures to curb mosquito breeding all over the country on their agenda.
Also consider punishing people (Minor punishment or the real evil - red tape hoops to jump through) who are repeatedly found allowing mosquitoes to breed on their private property.
Aggressive stand on child marriage including action against adults involved
Protection to whistle blowers who alert the state about child marriages and state adoption of vulnerable children if they are deemed to be at risk in their homes. This will improve health of mothers and children as well as have an impact on child mortality, as underage mothers are a large factor in underweight and at risk infants. It will reduce the birth rate (a third of Indian women marry underage and a significant number bear kids too early too - not sure of exact numbers off the top of my head - can be found out). It will also safeguard women from potential domestic abuse from a very young girl being thrown among strangers with authority over her while she can't even legally operate her bank account independently or take many actions in her own interest. Needless to say, politicians and governments who witness child marriages and allow them to happen should face legal action.
Endorsing the rights of gays and transgenders and possibly rooting for a quota in govt jobs (or alternative strategies or motivations), since social stigmatization and discrimination is a problem with getting employment. Will also be good if you can have a couple of gay/transgender candidates.
Environment and support for environment friendly practices
Crackdown on polluting industries, reviving water bodies, making roads safe for cyclists, possibly removing taxes or offering special subsidies for poor people buying cycles. Bicycles are important. They offer instant mobility that can be maintained for very little cost, promote health and have the potential to empower women in particular. Support for organic farming, encouraging people to recycle their organic waste at home as vermiculture. Steps to reduce plastic waste as well as clean up of plastic trash accumulating in rivers, roads, gutters and so on. Free legal representation/advice/other govt support/resources for environmental activists on issues related with protection of environment.
Laws about plastic should also be revised and made less discriminatory against the small businesses and local shops. For example, when plastic is banned, as it often is (till ban forgotten, it resumes out of necessity) a small grocer has a problem selling loose sugar (for example) because clients don't want to risk taking it home in paper bags that will puncture easily. Branded sugar continues to sell in plastic packing. A fifty paise toffee comes with its own plastic, as do five rupee snacks packets. But a forty rupee investment in sugar has to be risked to fragile paper or purchase branded (more expensive)?
There is also a need to investigate abundant reports of reverse osmosis water selling businesses dumping the brine from the process into the water aquifier (in the name of "recharging the groundwater", which degrades the quality of water for all (and in turn make the purchase of drinking water necessary). This should be investigated and banned.
Endorsement of control of people to their own land
They should have a veto on "development" being imposed on them without needing to risk their safety at hands of brutal crackdowns aiming to crush them.
Local resources sold should be by consent and sharing revenue received towards the development of people impacted.
Solar lighting is very hep (and promotes imported products), but:
- Solar cooking and water heating can save a hell of a lot of fuel and can be done with scrap materials.
- Solar water purifying can be a boon in India (rather than the environmentally damaging, but highly profitable reverse osmosis mafia).
- Biogas fuels can transform India with such a large rural population with cattle and agriculture.
- There needs to be a decentralization of power production and movement toward renewable energy, which works out cheaper in long run and sustainable. Also important because our losses in Transmission and Distribution are far more than our deficit. Reducing the distance electricity has to be transported will help save losses and automatically improve availability.
Rural Community Interdependence
Encouragement for poorer sections of society to contribute to and self-govern communal kitchens for cheaper food and saving labour for income generation. Community kitchens can use more heavy duty designs of solar cookers as well as bio-gas from animal/plant waste.
Possible exploration of bio gas to run vehicles and/or other machinery like pumps for water and such. In villages with lots of cow dung, even if some of the transport or agricultural machinery or pumps can be made independent, it will be self-sustainable.
Another idea is encouragement for swadeshi and imports/FDI that will contribute to development. While complete swadeshi is near impossible as a lot of "essentials" are simply not made in India, there should be maximum stress on self-reliance and building capacity. For example FDI in computer manufacturing can prevent massive numbers of computer imports rather than crap like FDI in retail. Encourage people to know the source of what they buy and prefer the closest source as far as they can afford. Keeps money in local economy + is friendlier for environment as less fuel is spent on transport and preservation and storage.
Building a future
- No clearance for new construction without solar panels to take of building lights and rainwater harvesting.
- Every village in India to have its own rainwater harvesting tank strictly for drinking water for all its residents. Harvested rainwater needs no further treatment to be drinkable. The water from such tanks can NEVER be used for any commercial activity by law - including selling drinking water, factories or agriculture.
- Water from lakes and ponds cannot be sold without consent of those dependent on it and sharing profits from its sale. Which means a village with a lot of water can allocate a portion of it to coca cola if they want and their share of the money can be used for the local school or whatever - this should be done my local voting/show of hands in Panchayat meeting or whatever.
Supporting the disabled
- There used to be news for the deaf and dumb in sign language on DD. That should be started again. Daily. At least one weekly news slot for deaf-dumb should also be made mandatory for private news channels.
- Government buildings should all be disabled accessible.
- 50p, Rs1, Rs2, Rs5 coins should all *feel* different from each other and have properly raised inscriptions so that people with poor eye sight or blind don't have to examine barely visible numbers. Different shapes will be even better.
- Govt supported care for special needs children with profound disabilities - or payment to hire help. Particularly for single parents living on their own. Single mothers with children with severe disabilities live near impossible lives with expenses as well as inability to take a job because of child.
On a long term, larger picture view, I think AAP should become India's Pirate Party as well by adopting their key agenda points like patent and copyright reform, free speech, direct democracy and so on.
The patent and copyright reform in particular is important for India because if knowledge is accessible to only a few who can afford it, then you will never be able to end inequality, because those who can't access that knowledge will simply never be able to compete. Also, reduced access to knowledge reduces speed of growth of knowledge available to mankind too, as the fewer people have access to it, the fewer people expanding it. Alternative means of funding and earning can help reduce restrictions on access as means of income.
An added benefit of becoming India's Pirate Party will become access and collaboration with Pirate Parties worldwide, access to policy ideas and research, and a common interest in channeling people's voices very transparently. There is no obligation, only access and sharing of resources and work done among people with similar goals. Pirate Parties are autonomous - Pirate Parties of other countries will have no power over you.
AAP has a lot in common with Pirate Parties. It will not be a big shift. New ideas will be added. Nothing already happening is incompatible, Pirate party agenda will only add some very useful ideas.
I guess I am the first individual to try to recruit a party :p.
PS: Feel free to let loose in the comments with your own ideas on how specific changes can get big results/improvements.