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Poll bugle is sounded and dates are out. Country is going to decide who will rule takht-e-dilli for next 5 years. Present rulers are struggling to remain relevant but winds of change are blowing hard. It’s clear that change is coming. Heir apparent is not in contention. It’s chieftain of Gujarat or Baniya of Delhi, who are fighting it out. This season get entertained by Kejriwal and Namo instead of Saas bahu.
Indian public is loving this season. We are the umpires, spectators, and commentators. Politicians are performing either on the field or off the field as cheer leaders. It’s just tamasha. And we love them. Everyday appeal for wicket is made in terms of scams or complaints or runs are scored by giving vision of developed country or corruption free republic. One example, Yesterday video of Kejriwal and Punya Prasoon Bajpai of Aajtak was leaked and immediately entire BJP machinery was out complaining match fixing. Entire episode is something like this. Imagine Shahid Afridi is bowling and 6 fielders are surrounding Ravindra Jadeja. Ball hit the Shoulder and Akmal caught it and now entire 11 plus the crowd is going mad appealing for wicket. And we are loving it 🙂 NOT OUT is my call. You the reader, please be the umpire 🙂 Now to extend the analogy. Appeals should be believable, slightly doubtful and plausible. Otherwise umpires will give benefit of doubt to batsmen where none exists. Not because they want to but because those who are appealing have lost ground by making frivolous appeals.
BJP thinks it’s war of old order while it might be just IPL season for Indian public this time as well. It was 9th March and as per my friend’s ground report when he went to register as voter there was nobody at the counter. 🙂 So that’s where we are.
BJP has same old tired faces but it is hoping to win the game by just changing the captain. It’s more like hoping that Salman khan will carry the film irrespective of Cast, Direction, Story, Music and Dialogs. It may still do but then those who are looking for Anurag Kashyap’s level of film will be disappointed at least in near term. On the other end AAP is hoping that they can get in super six stage with 1 player team. And our old Congress is hoping that they can release something not so bad that can stop Salman making 200Crores.
Circus has just started and we are loving it already. We have stakes in the game but we don’t believe anyone can perform miracles. So those who are claiming to be magician by removing corruption or making India like US. Yes, good try. Or those who complain that Nazis are coming or Anarchists are coming. Again good try. But we have stopped buying into emotions and we are ruthless evaluators who work on self interest. And that’s great for our democracy!
So those who are partisan should go on the ground and try to convince those who will vote! Not those who are here for entertainment. You look like clown!
Because my friend Saurabh Bhardwaj is minister for transportation in Delhi now, I thought let me start with what he can consider.
What needs to be done to improve public transport in the cities of India?
1. Get rid of permits for autos or cycle rickshaws
Do we have permits for restaurants, barbershops, movie theater or any other public recreation or requirements? Society finds its equilibrium. Those who make money stay others wind up and leave. By imposing artificial restrictions on number of autos that can ply on the roads we are creating 1. Monopoly 2. Dearth for service 3. Demand supply gap. and incentivizing corruption. It also smacks of communist style governance where Government know and would also decide what is good for the people. Which definitely is not true. Government shouldn’t dictate terms on what services and in what quantity are good for the society. In current situation, auto unions force the rate. i.e. In Bangalore auto costs 13/KM while cab costs 14/KM. Auto drivers can demand arbitrarily high fare and refuse to go by meter. This can be because of scarcity of autos on the roads. It also creates black market where un-registered autos ply and traffic police harasses them for want of permits. It’s also reported that in some places mafia controls the entire auto market and it costs 4 lakhs to 5 lakhs to buy one and operate. Condition is much worse for cycle rickshaws where they are already carrying burden of fellow human being (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUPQPnsIOpc)
2. Rationalize and Privatize routes for buses
This is remarkable that in all Indian cities government works as monopoly as far as large public transportation is concerned. And they do very poor job of it. Very poor connectivity and very poor availability in many cities. (I have lived in 6 cities). What is needed is comprehensive transport policy to ensure that no one in the city needs to take their vehicle if they are willing to walk no more than a kilometer. Once the objective is clearly laid out 1. Identify current capacity 2. service delivery gap 3. See who can fill it (i.e. Autos can be feeders from home to main road etc or mini buses in congested areas). It can be done fairly easily. On top of that government must build all weather shelters at all the bus stops. It can also provide digital devices to let passengers know when is the next bus coming. Show routes on the stops. If government can’t provide let private players chip in and develop the system for the public.
3. Let taxis have their stands
In most Indian cities taxis are not allowed to have their stands. It has stifled the growth of taxi services in many Indian cities. Just like autos they should be allowed to have their meters, stand and pick passengers on the go. Bit by bit auto drivers might find more value in having taxis and we might see transition. Current mechanism just doesn’t allow alternate transport medium to grow.
4. Cycle transport
Today cycle transport is mostly toy and has very little utility value. There are few near Bangalore metro. Has very limited use for multiple reasons. One it’s not well advertised. Two not many cycle stands where people can drop their vehicles. Three roads on which they ride are not very cyclist friendly. For short distances government should allow having cycle stands and companies that allow people to rent cycles and drop at nearest places. For small distances with convenience it may find many takers.
After Delhi election results things look so different that it warrants some study. After winning 28 seats Aam Aadmi Party looks like breath of fresh air. Non-corrupt, full of fresh blood, young minds and lot of passion. Hardly visible in existing parties. Even if we write off congress, BJP is the same old party with just Modi on the top of the campaign. BJP also has lot of dynastic leaders in it. By going through list of 70 candidates in delhi we can see sons of VK Malhotra, Sahib Singh Verma etc. We can see that repeated in every state. BJP is equally bad as far as dynastic leaders are concerned. So is true about corruption. Considering that AAP looks like refreshing change and something that is worth welcoming with open arms. But some digging is required here as well.
So some background. Vyavastha Parivartan was the mul-mantra of the Aam Aadmi Party. Their birth was the result of Janlokpal movement (I also participated in it). Entire movement was to get the Janlokpal. UPA and parties playing politics never passed it. Politicians vouched for supremacy of parliament and prerogative of assemblies to pass the bill and almost forced the movement to take plunge in the politics. They did and now AAP is the second largest party in Delhi. Movement just wanted foothold, but recent election results got the door wide open. Situation is such that AAP has veto and is also in a situation to form government if they wish. BJP, the largest formation can’t govern without the blessings of AAP.
But as BJP is playing politics of appearing moral and trying to see if the repoll along with Loksabha elections can take them through mid-way, so is the case with AAP. AAP is also hoping to get votes of those who were AAP sympathizers but were reluctant to vote for AAP for the fear of wasting their vote. If AAP as they claimed were interested in vyavashta parivartan and change, can’t get better than this. While in the past people who never captured power brought change here you are in a position to actually affect change. But no. We want re-poll.
Why? Because you want power? Nothing wrong with that. If capturing power and bringing change only after that is AAP’s goal then we have to measure AAP not only by their honesty but also by the ideas they re-present and policies they will implement. AAP’s idea is honest government with lot of extreme left policies. It is a socialist congress with more leftist bend with honest pursuit of social equity. The same socialist congress that has brought the country to the grinding halt. Corruption yes, but it’s more the policies of freebies that has brought this country down to 4% growth rate. (Read first part of this excellent article by Surjit Bhalla http://www.indianexpress.com/news/why-the-bjp-loves-aap/1205588/0)
In summary AAP has raised the bar of the game. AAP will capture the space where there is political vacuum starting from Haryana and some parts of UP as well. It’s the new congress party of middle class (probably of Indira era when interest rates touched 97%). While the BJP is hoping for impressing the voter with Modi’s face without changing what lies beneath it will be forced to do so very soon.
When I saw BJP’s http://www.india272.com/ site I was pleasantly surprised at political party’s ability to bring in technology to try to change the political landscape in India.
Even if the effort is not fully materialized it gave me ideas which I thought are worth sharing.
Technology as enabler not for the sake of it.
If you see http://www.india272.com/ is good looking site with some real punches with it. Will it be effective in changing outcome? I doubt it.
- Action is on the ground not on the web
Yes, you can say you have to create ‘hawa’ online also but to sustain it for 10 months is tough task. Site or app should be used as tool rather than utility.
- Tool without hands
What any site provides is tool. You need hands to use it. Similarly someone has to take leadership run with it. Probably create organisational hierarchy. With existing party members. And set agenda. Do follow up. Update information etc.
- Technology for ground reality
Any technology that we apply should solve real life problems. What should be the objective of the technology employed? To mobilize voters to vote on the day of polling. Keep them informed on the way and motivate them to participate in the political activities and have them stay invested in the outcome of the poll. Does current site do it? 50-50 or less I would say.
- Final product
So, now we know objective of the tool probably we can roughly outline what it ought to do.
- App and site should be as intuitive as possible as most users will not be tech savvy
- Tool should work when user is offline
- Tool should provide me mobile connectivity
- Tool should collect information till booth level
- Tool should have task creation, follow up, deadline, update etc
- Tool should have role based access
- Users should get feel of community ability to look for volunteers in every booth in entire country
- There should be leader for each booth who can set up tasks voter enrollment, meeting, events, preparing marketing material and distributing it etc. etc.
- Volunteers can update their tasks. Suggest new tasks.
- There should be physical meeting at booth level with 20 week agenda
- Whole purpose of the tool is to enable all volunteers to participate in the massive effort to mobilize voters. It has to happen on the ground. Tool has to enable that. i.e. Sending minutes of the meetings, Sending reminders etc.
- When user signs in s/he should get sense of accomplishment, sense of things moving etc. Ability to reach out at constituency, state or even national level coordinators
- There should be a mobile APP that allows accessing all this information
- Mobile APP that should download data when installed and should have auto sync when user connects to network as there may not be data network available all the time
Without these kind of features it will be just wishlist and also ran kind of site.
There is potential and it’s worth exploring.
Why change is so tough in Indian society?
Almost 2 years ago it was anti corruption agitation by Anna Hazare and his India Against Corruption. There was tremendous support for him and his movement for 6 months to a year and then it suddenly tapered off. Did corruption reduce in India? No. Did he himself become corrupt? No.
I can go as far back as 1974 till JPs movement against Indira. You can see in every incident there would be outpouring of support on one issue and then issue will die. Almost as if it never mattered.
Personally speaking I was convener of (wait let me recall… aah! Youth for equality :)). Spent lot money, time and energy to organize protests against reservation in higher education. Working with Google spent days on something that doesn’t even remotely affect me. Something sucked me in and kept me in for long enough. Almost 2-3 months. Today when bill is being discussed about reservation in promotion in government jobs which is lot worse than reservation in jobs or education I am almost un-affected. I bet that’s the state of most of my comrades who spent days on streets with me.
You take any event in last 30-40 years and you can notice same pattern. Don’t go in reasons. Observe the pattern. Why? I guess it is because we Indians are emotional in our thinking, approach and response. An emotions by nature comes in spike. When it subsides it takes away all the energy and passion you thought you had all the while. And you can see the same thing repeated again and again whether it’s the movement I participated in or any other event. Emotion by nature is not sustainable. It can’t go on forever (here).
Now let’s see how we Indians react to things as a society. You can be exception but we have to look things how are we as society. We enjoy music that appeals to our heart. Music should move us not necessarily on dance floor but surely with in. We enjoy movies that are emotional in nature. Things are changing but in country like India things don’t change in a generation. Though I still listen to Ghazals I personally don’t watch sentimental movies anymore. We are family oriented and emotionally attached people as society. Focus is more on kinship and tribal allegiances than professionalism. Sentimental excuses are employed rather than flat NOs. Relations weigh more than rightful behavior. Gods are personal and can be pleased by blatant bribe or bartering system. Elections are fought not on hard issues but mostly on emotional issues.
As a society we respond emotionally to any issue. It can be argued that emotions are required to stir up people and debate in society. But they need to be channelized for sustained actions else issue will remain relevant as long as emotions are high.
So will things change after Delhi’s gang rape? I wish it changes. I wish we get long pending Police and Judicial reforms. But that’s not even there on the table for discussion. What’s in the menu is death penalty and castration. What about solving the root cause? Speedy trial, fast convictions, and above all rule of law. Why should DGP or powerful politician’s son should get away with anything? But No. As usual we foolish people will rant and rave and demand justice and go home doing what we have been doing for 1000s of years.
If people know that they will be caught and they will not be spared they will be not try to be too brave. Some perverts will still be there. But people in Delhi and other places where every chhota mota guy who knows someone powerful thinks that he can get away with anything even with murder by paying his way out. That is the problem that must be attacked severely. How? Not by tougher laws or bringing some super cop. But by making sure that system works. By making Police and Judiciary more efficient, accountable and answerable. Until then horror will continue.
It is dangerous game un-leashed. Why? If Muslims are backward by all means grant them backward status, but don’t carve separate category of muslim OBC quota. What will that achieve other than muslims getting to know that they have separate pie in reservation cake?
If muslims welfare and social integration is on the mind of Congress politicians they should notify communities with in muslims as backward. I guess it is already there in most of the states and in centre as well.
Whole gamut is based on the premise that Muslims are fool. They can be used as vote bank in UP and then dump as before. But it’s shortsightedness at its best.
MJ Akbar in his brilliant book tinderbox shows how Muslims went on different trajectory by following theory of separation. What we need is to bring our muslims back to main stream and development fold.
Affirmative action if necessary give it under same OBC quota. Moment you say it’s muslim OBC quota you are saying they are different. Congress, in its desperation to win muslim votes back, is playing with fire.
Solution to prosperity is right to education. Modern and scientific education free and accessible to everyone not 7th century scriptures taught as absolute truth.