29 May 2005
A brief history of what's happened so far - from my perspective, for your info:
In 1999, I proposed the need for such a party at a get-together of super-rich India-born CEOs in Palo Alto, California - members of TIE (courtesy of Parth) - and showed them the People's Manifesto we had developed at the India Policy Institute; not only was there no demand for such a party, but it was clear that the IIT and engineering based entrepreneurs somehow kept harping on population as the problem in India, and failed to see that bad governance and bad policy leads to a blowout in an illiterate population. They did not seem to care for much logic, being so successful in their own little worlds, which meant to them that they know it all.
a) Without financial support, we had to start from scratch. In 2000, I convened a meeting at the CCS, Delhi (courtesy of Parth) with four liberals whom I highly regarded, but the effort did not go anywhere. Had it succeeded, I would have stayed back in India. Because it went nowhere I resigned my job and left India. I was convinced that the only role I want to play in India is in the political arena; being a civil servant was completely unsatisfying and inadequate in terms of delivering the kind of improvements India needs. While I forfeited all benefits including pension I'm happy that I took that decision, for I have learnt significantly over the past 4 years, working in a government in a developed country. I do of course proudly retain my Indian citizenship.
b) In 2003 I initiated and organised an effort in which about 25 of us met in Delhi in Jan 2004 for 5 days. Most of you are aware that this effort did not go very far, though it seemed at that time to me that the "flame" had finally been lit. On 12 April 2005 I quit SBP as it simply was not going to be the party I had in mind.
c) This - the third, time, I am much more cautious and have hopefully learnt the requirements of a successful effort. I am simply not in a hurry how. Got to do it well, or it won't work anyway. In this get-together that I would like to convene I would like to have at least 50 of us (ideally 100), fully ready to sign off on excellent and permanent, historic, documents, with detailed rules of business, and hold formal elections for office bearers who have a burning passion and 'fire in their belly' - and capacity to attract resources and grow the party. We need a Jefferson, a Lincoln, and a Gandhi. I don't see this next get-together as a workshop of the 2004 type but as the First Annual Session of the party. I see Gurcharan as our President - he is the Voltaire of India, a moderniser and India's international voice. I hope he sees himself in that role, too. But let us give him a decent party to lead. Not just five of us.
Another thing is very clear - I have no financial ability to sustain myself or my family in my old age. The only way I can ensure a minimum "pension" - this time from Australia, is by staying on in this country for another 5 1/2 years - after which I'm ensured a small pension when I reach 65 (and provided I retain my permanent residency of Australia). Alternatively, I can only work full-time in India if sufficient arrangements exist for my family and my old-age; and my health. Therefore my working full-time in this effort will have to wait suitable arrangements. I am most likely not the office bearer I spoke about.
Dear Friends, I'm outlining all this to make sure that we understand that I am still very optimistic but not any longer in a hurry, nor can I be available full time for this effort at least till its finances are established. Please join this party not because this is something that Sanjeev keeps pestering you to do, but because it is something that you REALLY want to make happen; else it won't happen.
We need 50 now. Not less than 50 will do.
With the best wishes,