Monday, January 05, 2009

Governance in India: Different strokes

An old woman is looking for something under the street light. A good Samaritan (you had stories with them some time ago) passes by an noticing the old woman 's plight starts generally looking around. "What are you looking for grandma? And where did it fall?", he inquired. "A coin fell down son, it fell in my house. But it was too dark there, so I am looking here".

Somewhat similar seems to our response to lack of political willpower on issues such as terrorism, infrastructure etc. Quite frankly, the politician does not give a damn about what your issues are simply because you are not the voting public (Its not an attack on politicians, they know who their audience is).

In India no. of candidates of a state is determined first by demographics rather than its contributions to the country. So you have a situations in which states that contribute very little to the progress of the country vote in politicians who are driven by their own divisive agenda s (caste, land et all) . A politician from the state of Jharkhand, will at the minimum want to make enough money to win the next election, ensure that the rank and file of his support makes enough money for him to get through the next phase or at best work towards the development of his constituency. To expect him to do more than that in just a matter of 5 years is probably stretching it too far. Our systems seem to be geared for advanced economies. If most of the population is the same of level of development you could afford to fight battles on ideology else it becomes a battle of survival and attrition.

Now get such a bunch of diverse politicians from across the country belonging to different parties, the equations change completely. First you need to get in a stable coalition, then there are hierarchies of issues that need to be tackled. Now should national security or some local level caste issue be given more importance? That purely depends on how far ahead on the development curve you are.

Politics cannot easily tide over disruptive tendencies simply because their survival depends on it. How are we to tackle this problem? Maybe something similar to the IAS cadre, no regional party can have a national minister. That way you have regional parties too, but essentially you are forcing a two party system. Or maybe have constituencies declared as belonging to one party or another (is that how US works?) so that there is no change in the developmental work that goes on, essentially changing the way how we elect our representatives .

Too simplistic or too impractical ? Maybe. But then I don't really see any drastic changes in our policy because lets face it, the voters face different reality than the one s we face. We will soon be driven by a largely urban population, maybe then the issues will become similar across the whole of society rather than being confined to any particular region.

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