The Anarchist Kejriwal: Swaraj review

Kejriwal, the demagogue, has left enough traces of his thought process in his short political career. He has evolved into a complete charlatan now when compared to his old days as side-kick of Anna Hazare. So, it becomes super important to understand the his thought process before he became the current megalomaniac as reflected by his actions to publish full page ads of his non-achievements in the glorious municipality of Delhi in local newspapers from around the country.

Kejriwal offered a glimpse of his thought process in the book called “Swarajya” that he published during his activist days. It is difficult to miss the naivety of the solutions offered by this technocrat. But it should not be a surprise, given his mediocre performance as a student at IIT. Although, it is contested that he just plagiarized the book from another author, but since he did not mind publishing it in his name, we would take it as a reflection of his thought process on various issues. The book is now sold on Amazon and Flipkart, while earlier you could have downloaded it for free. Seems the comrade has given up on some of his initial principles. But now you very well know how he got the famous name of Mr. U-turn. With enough difficulty, we finally found one of the links to download his book for free here.

1) He raises some important questions and narrows his focus on two:
– Decentralization

– Citizen control over everything

2) While the questions seem to be fine, the prescriptions are repetitive and re-hash of leftist ideology mixed with Gandhian utopia. So where does the book fail?
– Belief in the greatness of the super awesome village panchayats

– Distrusting each and every corporate action as if they are the only culprits i.e. anti-capitalism in all forms

Back to Gandhi’s idea of self sufficient villages. In the beginning of the book, he highlights that villages should decide where they want to spend money on rather than centre and state govt. earmarking expenditure for their various schemes like MNREGA, food security etc. Later he argues to even give even tax collection authority to the villages as well as decision on how to spend its funds.

This last point on self-sufficient communities is the crux of his book. But it raises fundamental questions:
– Are villages really an idealistic pinnacle that we should strive for? How would it take care of “tragedy of the commons” problem?

– Would such a decentralized system build a modern India capable to take on its numerous adversaries?

– Do we need a society with well defined (impersonal)rules where things take care of themselves or a system where villages/RWAs need to meet every week and vote on every trivial or big issue?

– Should we replace our one constitution with thousands of constitutions specific to each community?

– India definitely needs rapid industrialization to bring people out of poverty. How would he get rid of the super slow decision making process in such a fragmented polity?

It is this last belief in anarchy that Kejriwal still carries around despite his numerous U-turns. Does it surprise you that he gave political space to Prashant Bhushan despite knowing his pro-militant stance on Kashmir? His support for Kanhaiyya and Omar Khalid also highlights the same line of approach that he mentioned some years ago in his book.

Now coming to the final point. Does it make a good read? Definitely not and specifically if you are planning to spend your money on it. It is just a re-hash of old bankrupt ideologies. He was not even creative with the name and copied it from Mahatma Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj!! But it is still important to know that Kejriwal had bucket full of failed ideas about developing India even before he embarked on his political career. Now coupled with his political ambitions, these ideas have become suicidal and get amply reflected in his support for extremists and secessionists in all states.