Monday, April 20, 2009

Politics: See the big picture

An alternative title of this post could have been 
"The poor state of politics & The politics of poor state"

Dear friends, 
Here I am talking about the poor state of politics in the poor state of Uttar Pradesh. I was told that once upon a time UP used to be amongst the envied states for it being rich in resources and hence providing better prospects for business in the area. However, the situation as of now looks just the reverse.

Doesnt matter whether you agree or not but UP is one of the poorest states in the country, has among the worst law and order situation, ranks very high in corruption and strongly infected by regionalism and casteism. Ever since I recall, the state politics has always revolved around caste and nothing else. 

Politics = Casteism - Devlopment

Mulayam Singh asking Yadav votes, Mayawati scheduled caste votes and BJP Hindu votes. Congress could not find any places in the voter market with its dubious targetings and always fail to create any impact. All the political parties, no matter whether BJP, Congress, BSP or SP, have always focussed hard on these caste vote banks and barely make any attempts to keep development of the state / nation as their political agenda. Well actually if you belong to UP or have seen UP politics closely, development of the area means building new roads. I remember one of my acquaintances (educationally, socially well-qualified) making a comment around the previous elections, "This time it is almost sure XXXX will win from Agra. See, he has worked really hard. The roads are in good shape. That road from AAAA to BBBB is also new (The road he talked about connects his home to his workplace)". I am not denying the importance of building roads and infrastructure rather I consider it a very important parameter for future growth but this for sure cannot be the only development we talk about.

Think beyond your society, Think National

Another important point to think about in case of elections is about the national stability and overall national growth rather than just focussing over the local ( and is the case, local residential area's growth). I cannot forget the conversation I had with a friend of mine while having a haircut some 6-7 years back. He happened to be a hardcore XXXX fan (probably his family's impact) and so he talked in detail about the local candidate for the XXXX, which happens to be a regional party. My question to him was: "Do you want YYYY (head of party XXXX) to be the prime minister of India? Do you agree with his policies for the state / nation?" and he was so confused since he never thought about that. All he thought (family's influence) was that so and so person from XXXX is standing from Agra and he should win. That's all he knew.
Clearly this person is not a standalone example but the state is more or less same for majority of the voters here.

Focus on policies

As I already mentioned above, very often we just look at the local candidate and caste our vote accordingly but what is far more important is to look at the nation-building policies of the Government-in-making. It is crucial to look where the nation is leading with the new Government. See it is more like a corporate, Company's growth ensures employee's growth (Here, Nation's growth ensuring your state's / city's growth). I agree that the growth might not be equal for all the corners of the country but you have to realise the fact that it is practically impossible to make everyone grow at the same pace. Even in a company not everyone gets the same raise!! Having lived in Kolkata for about 2 years, I can say one thing for sure that the idea of everyone growing at the same pace is absolute crap. The result of such a policy is that you grow at the pace of the weakest participant so all the while where Dhirubhai could have built an entire empire, we make sure Tata doesnt get approved land for Nano.

Learn from past

It is a widely acknowledged fact that our politicians make false promises before election only to speak the same after 5 years and hence, learning from the past activities of the parties (while they were in power) gains enormous importance. Not just about the broken committments but it is also important to look at the change (good or bad) they have brought about to the society in those 5 years. For example, talking from the personal observation and various external researches done on UP politics, it is a fact known to everyone but the EC, police and other related concerned departments that the level of corruption rises manyfold under BSP rule while law and order worsens manyfold under SP rule. I dont really want to take political sides here but the way UP situation has worsened during last 2 (rather 3) state Governments, forces me to write a few lines about the same.
Mayawati came into power and all the IAS, IPS started get trasferred to other places, not because she feared there liaisons with regional gangsters/dons/con-men but because that fetched her lakhs and crores of cash. Mulayam Singh took pledge to resolve that in the next election only to let free all his gundas to loot whatever they want. Police was obviously helpless (and probably involved) in all these acts. Ransoms and Hafta-vasooli became a thing commonplace and in open. So again Mayawati promises to resolve the situation and takes the corruption to the next level. Please do not forget the "gifts" she allegedly "demanded" on her birthday. Don't know what she has in store next!!

Understand the value of your vote. Caste your vote for the right candidate. That's all I say.
---------------------------------------------------------


Offline 1 : The case of Gujarat
I don't know how many of you have visited the state of Gujarat but if you have you must have noted the difference. I stayed in Gujarat for over 4 years and I could not feel more secure anywhere else in the world. The law and order situation is great. There is harmony in the people. The corruption level is minimal.
I will quote you a particular instance from there. While I was in police station for the routine enquiry of my passport, DIG of police called me and my friends to talk about the law and order situation in the city. The special reason why we were called was that all of us belonged to UP and Bihar. He discussed in detail about he goes about doing his work, value of honesty, how he could maintain the law and order, the problems in UP and Bihar and actions required to tackle the problem (and also his take on the Godhra & Ahmedabad incidents but thats a different story altogether)
I am telling you very frankly I could not have been more surprised by the fact that despite such a great law and order situation, this guy was worried about how to improve it further and take it to the next level. Kudos to him.
Another instance: The off-campus hostel was about 400 meters from the back gate of the campus and we never hesitated in walking that distance no matter what time of day or night it was. But once a student was robbed off his mobile and wallet while coming back to the hostel. This was one rare incident but clearly everyone was afraid to walk that distance from now on. The matter was reported at the nearest police station and you wont believe the kind of work police did after that. Police patrol teams made frequent patrols in that area and within 5 days the robber was caught - mobile recovered, all cash recovered and all returned to the owner without an delays. No holding back cash, no holding back mobile phone. Incredible show! (especially considering UP's state of affairs)

Offline 2 : My take on certain UPA and NDA policies

First of all, let me acknowledge that the work done by NDA government for tourism is incredible. I realised it only when I was in France and could see the impact made by Incredible India and India Shining campaigns. I was told be a professor in France that these campaigns have repositioned India (for good) in the eyes of European and a lot of new business started flowing in only after this revamped image of India. 
Similarly I was deeply influenced by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, started by NDA Government to improve literacy levels in the country. I do not know the statistics of the impact it made but on a conceptual level it appealed well to me. 
The bilateral 123 Nuclear agreement signed with US also seems to me as a promising economic booster to the country, however, I really dont know whom to give the credit for that.
Although the Agricultural loan relief and NREGS are probably 2 very successful policies but on a conceptual level I did not like either of these. NREGS, for it provides an incentive to people not to work and even the kind of work which is being done through these is a ridicule in the name of infrastructure development. Had this labour been used in some real productive work, it could have been a great scheme but the kind of work that I have seen people doing under this scheme doesnt fit anywhere around the expectation levels set by the Government. Moreover, providing unemployment benefits is probably the worst thing to have. I support Governments helping BPL but things like unemployment benefits just kills the will to work among people and that's what I hate the most. I know there will be a lot of criticism and hulla over this point but well thats just what I think.
On the other hand, NDA Government could not impress less in selecting the finance minister. Both Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh looked under-qualified to handle the responsibilities when UPA pitches P. Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh for the same post!
Similarly the alliances made with AIADMK and Ram Vilas Paswan were among the very weak points for NDA and well UPA also scored similar due to presence of Communists (who would oppose just anything good) and Lalus and Mulayams.

P.S.1 : No political biases except my belief of higher importances for national parties over regional parties i.e. national politics should rely more on BJP and Congress than any of the regional parties.
P.S.2 : Names of political parties replaced by XXXX, YYYY etc. deliberately and for obvious reasons.

3 comments:

mahek said...

Once I remember reading Yogesh Chabria and he had very well said that politicians want people to be poor because only when people are poor and dependent they can keep making promises to them. If people become welathy they will get educated and have knowedlge to throw these corrupt politicans out.

No wonder today since people are poor, politicians can buy votes with just by giving them one square meal.


Do you agree with this or do you find Yogesh Chabria's views very radical? He is radical, but I really support his Happionaire philosophy and his views.

AbhiTaneja said...

Well Mahek, I think Yogesh has touched upon this aspect very well when he makes a claim of political role in keeping people poor.

If you remember one of the Lalu's statement (and a strictly-followed policy), he clearly said he did not want people to see a developed surrounding as that would make them feel a need for further upgradation (a not so pleasant situation for him and his party).

Similarly, the point that I have tried to raise through this post is that people while casting their vote, should keep in mind that the main agenda should be the national development, with no bearing to the caste and region the candidate belongs to. As the advertisement featuring Aamir Khan also says, "Jo log aaj aapka vote kharidenge wo kal mauka milne per aapko bech denge"

tarun said...

Very nicely put Abhi. Today Lalu can behave the way he does because people have been kept poor.

I wish people like Yogesh Chabria make more of an impact. I can see his impact a lot in urban areas, but he needs to move his philosophy to rural areas too.

And so nice to know that you are a part of the every growing Happionaire family too!

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