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The basic premise of the Right to Information Act is that citizens must ask and directly pay for every piece of information they want from the government. The citizens of India have a right to all the information about the governments of India—local, state and the Union. This right is circumscribed only by the limitations required for official secrets, on what are actually matters of state and security. All information not restricted by those requirements must be available to the citizens as a matter of course, without having to plead, pray or pay.

Adequate and regular supply of water is a serious problem, whether you live in cities, towns, or villages of India. Just think of the rural woman who has to walk several kilometres each day to fetch water and the housewife in a Delhi colony who has to wake up at 3:30 am to turn on the municipal tap. Water reforms are now on the top of the governance agenda. The search is apace for innovative and sustainable solutions.

A budget is an exercise in revenue collection and expenditure. On the former, the best news from Budget was uniform national value added tax (Vat) for goods and services (GST) by April 1, 2010. Therein lies the most efficient way to collect revenues.

From libertarian first principles, Budget 2006 shows hardly any improvement. The Outcome Budget and Performance Budget are still just ideas on the coffee table, they do not inform allocation of funds or assessment of schemes. A government should be judged not by how much it spends but by what it achieves. The finance minister, however, still feels more proud in announcing increases in expenditures and exemptions in tariffs and taxes.

The famous biologist Garrett Hardin coined the third law of ecology that captures succinctly the Green approach to environmental resource management. It links men's impact on the environment (I) with population (P), affluence (A) and technology (T).


Increase in population, consumption, or technological improvement, the law suggests, must result in greater environmental degradation. Sustainability, therefore, requires that population and technological change should either be slowed down or are altogether halted.

The freedom of association is as pivotal to a civilised society as is the freedom of the press or the freedom to stand for a public office. Any temptations to restrict these freedoms must be very seriously evaluated. The alleged short-term gains must be weighed against the long-term harm to the social and moral fabric of the society. The recent Supreme Court judgement in the case of PA Inamdar vs State of Maharashtra has rightly re-established the presumption in favour of the freedom of association in educational institutions.

India needs to think afresh on how to balance economic growth with rapid consumption of ecological resources. The recent tiger crisis, the Scheduled Tribes Bill that gives them parts of the reserved land, the debate on the responsibility of India in the Kyoto Protocol, all have highlighted the urgency of rethinking the orthodox paradigm of environmental management.

Banks under a free-banking system, like banks with fractional reserves under any other system, are susceptible to runs. Free-banking theorists maintain that the option clause would be one effective means of dealing with runs on banks. The option clause, printed on banknotes, would allow banks to defer redemption of their notes provided they pay interest for the period of deferment.

All our efforts have not yet guaranteed easy access and good quality elementary education for all children of India. It is time to think outside the box and the Education Voucher is the most innovative approach for universal guarantee of high-quality education.

The Education Voucher is a coupon offered by the government and covers the cost of education at the school of the student's choice. The schools collect vouchers from students and present them to the government for the amount of money specified on the voucher.

Tigers vs Tribals: This is how the debate on the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill 2005 has been framed. If you are for tigers, you shouldn’t recognize forest rights of tribals. And if you are for tribals, then it ipso facto means that tigers are not important to you. This is a completely false dichotomy.