Friday, 16 May 2014

Elections 2014 - Hope, Euphoria, and Ignorance

Now we have a majority in the lower house; one that is not a dynastic ruled majority. That is a reason to celebrate. And we have a Government which will decidedly perform better than the current incumbent. Having said that, sad part is, there is no focus on the real issues; the people were blown away in an,emotional tide without indepth thought. My problem is not the result, but the method adopted to,get the result. I welcome the result, not the method which was frankly deplorable. In our 67th year of independence, we are still being taken for a royal ride by the political class. We still wont have a free police, anti-corruption laws, administrative reform etc. We will still be lorded over by babu class, We will still not have proper education reform. The money spent will continue to reach the pockets of corrupt babus and political leaders.

Sure, we will be better off under NDA than under UPA. But serious, serious fissures remain. Nothing is being done on Sachar Committee report. Polarisation of society continues. This is clearly evident in,voting pattern, at least what has been reported so far. Implementation remains a bug bear. Will NaMo with his focus on big business forget the plight of the downtrodden? If he does, then democracy has lost today, yet again. More than 300 million Indians still live in dire straights. More than 600 million Indians still don't have access to proper education and health facilities. India still partners sub Saharan countries on,HDI parameters.NaMo and NDA focus is on big business: I just pray to God that he doesn't forget the others, the 80% Indians outside the purview of this class.

If he does,Democracy will have lost -again - for the third time in a row... 

Don't get me wrong : I reiterate that NDA is a far better option than UPA. No comparison. But we, the people of India, deserve better. Please don't tom-tom democratic success a-la western news; let us move on from that clich├ęd utterance. Indian democracy is not in doubt anymore; time for us to raise the bar to real inclusive democracy and growth, and to real performing institutions! Our institutions, Armed Forces apart, have failed the Indian people and The Indian nation. That is a manifest truth. And that real change will not come about till we the people demand the highest possible standards of governance, public probity and performance from our political classes in place of populism and grandstanding. We are creating a powerful superstructure, that I admit. We have destroyed, or are on the verge of destroying dynastic rule, in itself a victory for democracy, that is also granted.

But we are building this strong superstructure on a weak foundation. There is a historical precedent for this : in 1953, Panditji was warned of the errors of higher education without a solid primary education platform. No one listened. We are still paying the price for that folly. That is the real danger confronting us : the democratic institutions of our nation are inarguably weak, corrupt, rusted and decrepit, with rampant corruption and nepotism. We ignore this at our own peril.

Read the above again. Do you deny that the administrative machinery, police etc,entire people interface of the Government is ridden with inefficiencies, corruption and nepotism? Do you deny that 80% projects are stuck in corruption? Do you deny that NDA 1 did not undertake administrative reforms? These are documented facts. Sad that we are fine with this sorry state of affairs. 

Do you deny that we are among the worst in HDI parameters? Do you deny that we are as bad as Saharan nations in health and education? Do you deny that schools in rural India go unattended by teachers? Do you deny that malnutrition is a serious concern? Do you deny that farmer suicides are rising at an alarming rate? Do you deny that small and marginal farmers are losing 800 rupees per crop per hectare? Do you deny corruption has beset the entire government machinery across departments and sectors and levels? Do you deny the increasing polarisation of our society, and the increasing intolerance? Do you deny that only 10paise reaches the people out of every rupee spent? 

The changes everyone is talking about  are superficial; they will only provide much-needed immediate relief; they will do precisely nothing to fundamentally alter the economic scenario we are currently in the grip of. What are the real problems in front of us? Police Reforms, Administrative Reforms, Corruption, Land Reforms, Labour Reforms, CBI Autonomy, Armed Forces Reforms, GST, NIA & NCTC, Oil and Fertilizer Subsidies, Structural Fiscal Excesses and Freebies. And there is no intention of doing anything on this. CMIE data shows 80% projects are stuck in one of the above problems; and further, these are at state level, where the center has little leverage due to the state list - central list problem

How will these come unstuck?

Dont we want a performing, free police force that is free from interference? Dont we want the IAS lobby and the Babus to be held accountable? Corruption is the single biggest drain on the economy... shouldnt we want to lessen it? Dont we need to both ease land acquisition while also providing for the land-owners? Dont we need an Armed Forces free from the babus who know nothing of the Army? Dont we want to be safer, which a properly functioning police and NIA-NCTC will make us? We also need to understand where things are stuck. Everything comes unstuck in project implementation, which lies solidly in areas governed by the state list as per our constitution. In a coalition government, getting consensus and moving on such matters is highly fructuous and virtually impossible. We can also not change the list or introduce constitutional amendments. Center lacks sufficient leverage to make things move on the states list. This is why NCTC still lies a work in progress, for example. This is why land acquisition deals get stymied.
 
And few people are asking these questions... which is why I state Ignorance of the Electorate...

It is fine to state one man can start the process of change. The key question here is how? No one in the entire discussion in the national doscourse is willing to tackle the nitty gritty of the issues involved: the precise methods and steps that can be taken. Let us get practical here, and look at the ground realities.How will NaMo do it? How will he ensure 8-10% GDP growth without tackling the fundamentals? Let alone the above, what about the Fertilizer and Oil subsidy? 48% of our budget is eatern away by subsidies and interest payouts. National debt is ballooning. All economic fundamentals are awry - and you already have Subramanyam Swamy advocating a removal of Raghuram Rajan - this is even before they have come to power, to say nothing of the other, shall we say, interesting statements made by some geniuses!

What will be the impact of Dr Rajan's removal? What is interest rates are lowered in this scenario? What will be the impact on the people? We are already being hammered by 10-12% inflation on CPI basis on our home consumption basket - the 8.62% is total CPI inflation. That means, interest rates are being lowered to achieve a short term impact on the economy, forgetting the other more deleterious impacts. Are they advocating interest rates reduction to benefit big business? This is even before taking power!

In conclusion, I can only state that the Jury is still out on the verdict. Time will tell whether Democracy won, or it lost for the third time in a row. The deplorable election debate, with shocking name calling, aspersions on patriotism, hindutva undercurrent, dictatorial utterances regarding non-supporters leaving India, complete avoidance of real issues plaguing the societal, political and economic sectors of the nation, the tidal wave of emotional euphoria that has tended to distort perspective, the worryingly high proportion of NOTA, the blindingly bright prognosis for a vibrant India which has no basis in the fundamentals or the indicators on both societal as well as economic parameters; and most of all the shocking and stunning ignorance of the electorate leave a worry in the mind and a bitter taste in the mouth. A bitter taste of an opportunity lost once again, for the third time in a row; and of the people being taken for a royal ride by the political class.

That is why I don't celebrate election results regardless of whoever wins. I weep for my nation, and for the ignorance of its people... Forgive me for spoiling the party, folks... I cant see anything to celebrate. Yet again, we have been taken for a ride...  

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