Since a few months, the civil society is making ripples in Indian political pool. The first step was taken by Baba Ramdev who sat on an unending hunger strike on 4thof June at Ramleela Maidan and was attacked by Delhi police. After that, Anna Hajare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan along with other civil society members staged a hunger strike (Anshan) against the rampaging corruption running in Indian political and bureaucratic corruption.
The civil society and Baba Ramdev demanded strict action against issue of black money and an immediate sanctioning of Janlokpal bill. Along with that, Anna Hajare and Arvind Kejriwal also called for Right to Reject and recently, the Election Commission of India has recommended a ‘Right to Reject’ option in polls to the Law Ministry1 .
Some of the points raised by Baba Ramdev and Anna Hajare were noteworthy however, the later discussions on these issues and the way the civil society wants the issue of corruption and inefficient and unethical governance in India to be tackled suggests that these members of civil society including Baba Ramdev has no understanding of the real cause of the problems. They still believe that there is a way through which government can work honestly and efficiently. They are simply ignoring the fact that if there is government, there will be corruption. They suggest that an Ombudsman bill (Janlokpal bill) will change the things drastically.
I wonder why they ignore that the government is simply an imbalanced power that cannot be balanced by another institution like Lokpal or Janlokpal. Even if an inspecting Janlokpal with omnipotent powers will be installed over government, it will have all incentives to go corrupt and irrational because of lack of competition. So, for eradicating corruption from government, you need a Lokpal or Janlokpal and for eradicating the corruption of Janlokpal, you will demand another institution for checking the working of Janlokpal and reducing chances of corruption and false cases?
This is an unending cycle and if someone says that Janlokpal bill is the only way against Corruption and Incompetence of government in India or in any other country, then it is equivalent to say that corruption and inefficiency of government cannot be removed. We have already discussed how demanding black money back from Swiss Banks is unnecessary and useless and how it will create more problems for poor Indians if all that black money is brought back in India. It is also clear that Janlokpal Bill will also fail to reduce any corruption of inefficiency and tyranny of the government. Here we will discuss about the Right to Reject.
What does Right to Reject Means?
Right to reject is a negative right which is attached with the right of chooses. Every free Individual has a right to choose, which means that every free citizen can decide whether to take a product or service or not. Let’s take an example; there are a number of brands of soaps available in the market. A person A may decide to buy the soap ‘Lux’ or he may reject it. The same man may decide to buy the other brand of soap ‘Liril’ or he may reject this one too and may opt for the third brand Breeze.
In fact, there are a number of other brands available in the market and the citizen has a right to reject all other brands but to choose a brand of soap of his choice. Furthermore, he can’t be coerced by any soap producer to buy his soap, nor he is forced to buy any soap. That is, if he is free, he can decide not to buy any of the available brands of soap available in the market, this right of an individual to decide not to buy or use any soap is known as ‘Right to Reject.’ This person may decide to create his own soap or he may simply deny using soap at all.
This idea of Right to Reject supports the principle of self-ownership which asserts that every individual is the owner of his own self and has a right to decide whatever he want to do or how he want to live. He should not be coerced or forced unless he breaches the right of self-ownership of any other person. That is, right to reject also confirms the Non-Aggression principle which suggests that no one should be forced to do or accept or to reject anything, or initiation of force is illegal and immoral.
Implication of Right to Reject
Government is a service provider with a monopoly on initiation of force and provision of justice. In India, the government also holds monopoly over education system (the government decides what the students will study through Central and State boards) government also holds monopoly on mining and excavation, monopoly over Jungles and forests and other natural resources, government also has monopoly over printing fiat currency. In fact, there are no property rights for Indian citizens and whole India is the property of the government and to maintain this large property, the government atrociously taxes Indian citizens.
If any citizen doesn’t want to accept any of these services forcibly offered by the government just because he realizes that government is inefficient and corrupt and causes huge wastage, the Right to Reject simply means that he will have a right to reject accepting any services that government offers.2
Since this citizen has used his right to reject, he should not be forced to pay any tax for such government whom he has already rejected. Is it possible in India? While Election Commission is recommending the right to reject, will it also recommend the freedom of a citizen either to pay taxes for the services he doesn’t want to be offered by the government? Furthermore, if this person is allowed to reject all political parties, and he also is free to not to pay any tax for the government which he never chose or rejected, will he also be free to take help of private or non-governmental enterprises to attain those services?
The reality is there are no such services which only government can provide. Or we can say that government is simply not needed. Some will say that government can be accepted for security and judicial purposes. That is, government should completely remain out of the economic sector of India.
Viability of Right to Reject in India
India is a socialist country with a huge government that controls and regulates almost every aspect of economic life of Indians. A person can decide not to vote or to vote for the option of ‘None of the Above.’ But that won’t mean that he has any ‘Right to Reject.’ Even now, when an Indian adult decides not to vote, he exclaims that he supports none of the political parties to control, dominate and govern him. Yet he has no right to reject because he ultimately is being ruled, controlled and dominated by the government run by same political parties which he rejected.
How Right to Reject can be Implemented?
Right to Reject is an essential element without which freedom or liberty cannot be defined. Every free individual should be free to reject any service or product provided by any service provider or producer. That is, a free society cannot force any citizen to compulsorily take any service and to compulsorily pay for it. A free market society with no government or a limited government working on the principle of Voluntary Taxation only can offer this right to reject which Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hajare and other civil society members are demanding for and which has been recommended by the Election Commission of India.
To exercise right to reject, Indians will need to reject governmental control over economic sector of India. This can happen only if whole market of India including education, health, transportation, arms, currency etc. is completely privatized with no regulatory power left in government’s hand. Unless the government is allowed to control economic sector of India, Indians cannot expect any right to reject, nor can they expect any reduction is corruption, wastage and poverty.
It should be noted that the root cause of corruption and poverty in India is the government controlling the economic sector of India.
- EC to seek law ministry nod on ‘right to reject’ option in polls, Times of India [↩]
- This will also mean that the government will lose monopoly over these services. As for example, if a person decides not to choose any particular party to form government and offer regular services, he will now be offered a choice to push the button in the electronic voting machines that gives voters the option of “none of the above.” However, what will that mean? It will mean that this particular person doesn’t want any of the political parties (which are nothing but tyrannical service providers with monopoly over initiation of force, justice, property rights and a lot many other economical activities) to offer any of those ‘public services.’
Yet, this doesn’t mean that this person just don’t want any service at all. Rather he just want to say that neither he want these political parties to be the service providers, nor he wants to pay tax or charges for the services provided by the government run through any of these political parties. But this doesn’t mean that this individual want to float a new political party. Rather, he wants all these services to be provided by private parties but not the government.
As for example, Indian roads are public property, that is, the government builds and controls Indian roads and as citizens use them, they are forced to pay road taxes. If these roads are privately owned, the road owners will also take charges for the usage of roads. However, the free market competition will create an incentive for road owners to provide best possible services at least charges and minimal inefficiency and corruption. Now when a citizen decides to Reject all Political parties, he simply means to reject the services offered by government on the name of monopoly on services which are forced under ‘public sector’. He not only wants to reject these services, he also want to not to pay for these services, because he already has rejected them. So will he be allowed to opt for a private enterprise ready to offer all these services according to the principles of free market? [↩]