July 04, 2020
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On The Racks

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On The Racks

Atul Khanna
Between You and Me | Bloomsbury

Manifesto as conversation. This is a book brimming with ideas for the transformation of society, politics, democracy, administration and the economy, all couched in a discursive format through which the author, an entrepreneur, analyses problems with how things are done at present and then presents his suggestions. He is not short of suggestions on issues from Article 370 to income tax assessments, and calls for a new constituent assembly to change what he sees as an outdated and inefficient system of governance, which he considers the root of many of modern India’s problems.

Not exactly a systematic treatise of political philosophy, this book is more focused on a number of specific policy ideas—some of which are, to put it mildly, radical. For example, Khanna’s thoughts on universal fra­­nchise: people’s votes should be proportionate to the share of the vote that they or their ancestors had during independent India’s first census in 1951. So, if two people had one vote each in 1951, later get married and have two children, the family as a whole continues to have two votes, with each person having half a vote. If they have three children, each person will get two-fifths of a vote, and so on. And each child’s half-vote gets factored in when calculating what their future children will have. But having an only child will add a new vote to the family’s tally. “Everybody gets something, nobody gets more for population explosion or to subdue those who exercise restraint and have respect for [the] nation’s growth....” It gets more int­­ricate: “Now, say the state throws in another 100 votes. One-third to the poorest, one-third to achievers and social contributors and one-third to taxpayers. You may not like this as mediocrity loses, but that is OK, we can come up with another scheme. Basically, I don’t want to condemn anyone only to their birth forever.”  We believe that speaks for itself.

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