Voter Sickness and Future of Indian Governance

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Indian voters are caught between the devil and the deep sea. In the coming election there will another trouble to these usual troubles – anarchic honesty. The third option claims that it is clean, honesty and corruption free. But they are not fit to govern the vast majority of the Indians. For each and every problem they keep agitating. In fact they are better to be the street protesters than in the government. Chetan Bhagat beautifully and creatively constructs this reality in The Times of India, 22 February 2014.

 

Let’s say you have a fleet of cars. You hire a driver. He drives reasonably well but starts stealing money. When you give him money to refuel, he puts in less petrol and pockets the rest. When you send the car for servicing, he asks the service centre to inflate the bills and takes a cut.

The system of the house is the driver has the home safe keys. Hence, he can take out whatever money he wants and claim he needs it for the cars. Soon, the stealing becomes excessive. Not a day goes by without you hearing what the driver stole today.

Sick of all this, you change the driver. Over time, the second driver starts stealing too. It is so easy to pilfer after all. Also, the reason the new driver was hired was not because of his honesty but because of his colour, caste or religion. Hence the robberies continue.

The suffering owners switch between the two drivers, but the stealing doesn’t stop. Soon, a third driver emerges and applies for a job. He is extremely honest and passionate, even though he has no experience. Delighted, you hire him to drive one of your small cars.

This new driver doesn’t steal money. However, he breaks the tail-lights while reversing the car on the first day. The next day, he crashes the car at a signal. The third day, he forgets to refuel and you are stranded on the road. The fourth day, he stands in the middle of the road and screams at every other car owner, calling them thieves for not hiring him.

The fifth day, he wants all drivers to come on the road and not follow the red lights. When you confront the new driver about his unruly behaviour and incompetence at the wheel, he screams at you instead. How dare you question an honest driver? It only means you are supporting robbers.

Scared, you become quiet. Next, he wants to change everything, and control every car. You are not sure, and you wonder what to do. Disgusted, he quits.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the first two drivers are Congress and BJP, and the third one is AAP. It is the dilemma we Indians are stuck with.

The earlier drivers cheated us. The new driver is not competent but already arrogant. He assumes a sense of virtuous entitlement, with the right to slander, attack and judge anyone who criticises him.

AAP is honest. Their intentions could be good. However, being as kind as possible to my AAP friends, there are four major flaws in their workings.

One, their policies are downright loony. No matter what they say about embracing capitalism, the mentality seems to be anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-wealth creation and geared towards total government control. These are the exact policies which lead to nepotism and corruption over the long run.

Second, they have a misplaced sense of priorities. There were a hundred good things their Delhi government could have done, without any opposition. They didn’t. They focussed on the most newsworthy events, to gain the maximum applause in the shortest span of time and quit.

They also believe the issues they raise should be top priority for all media, intellectuals, political leaders of the country, else the latter are biased. They took on a sub judice matter about the Ambanis, and wanted the whole world to talk about it. If you didn’t comply, you were obviously on Ambani’s payroll.

Third, AAP is unable to get along with anybody who’s not AAP. They hate all political opponents, police and media if these entities don’t dance to their tune. This makes AAP quite incompetent in building consensus for decisions in a country as diverse as India.

Four, the hypocrisy of AAP is visible already. From going soft on allegations against their own, the very act of using the system to gain political power but not following it when it doesn’t suit them, one sees them as being opportunistic more than do-gooders.

All this can change. The third driver can learn how to drive. Similarly, the first two drivers can learn to stop stealing. Whether the honest have to be made competent, or the competent have to turn honest — all this will require a certain humility, sadly missing on all sides. In such a scenario, what should the Indian voter do?

Of course, there is no one answer. None of the alternatives is perfect yet. Please don’t let them feel that they are. If you choose AAP, you may have a little less corruption (it cannot all go away so fast) but you risk having bizarre policies, failed experiments and more antics than action. You risk a further slowdown in economic growth and a decade of fewer jobs as AAP treats the country like a laboratory.

If you choose the existing alternatives you may have more stability, likely return to growth, more jobs. But corruption may not be as much a priority as you would have liked. Choose wisely. Select those who are humble and willing to change, as everyone needs to. It will take a few iterations before we get leadership that is both honest and competent. Let us hope it happens sooner rather than later.

 

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Migrants & Parochialism in Delhi: Lessons from Nido Tania’s Death

Nido TaniaParochialism is the main villain. This villain is playing havoc in Delhi often. Yesterday’s killing of Nido Tania a first year student of a private university in Punjab for protesting racial comments about him is a devastating news.

Delhi has been very insensitive city with migrants forming the majority of the population. It is high time that the capital city gets sensitised and sanitized. Another incident like this should never happen again.

Times of India reports on 1.2.2014

A first-year student of a private university in Punjab, son of an Arunachal Pradesh MLA, died after being severely assaulted by a mob in Lajpat Nagar on Wednesday. The attack was provoked by the student’s protest against a racial taunt and, by all accounts, those who witnessed the shameful incident didn’t care to intervene.

The 19-year-old student, Nido Tania, wasn’t expecting the assault since he had paid off a shop-owner whose glass counter he had smashed in a fit of rage. But once the cops had left, he was beaten up brutally and died at a friend’s place in his sleep.

Tania’s father, Nido Parimal, is an MLA from Raga constituency in Arunachal Pradesh. The police have registered a case of murder under section 302 of IPC and are probing the matter. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

Joint commissioner of police Robin Hibu has been roped in to help in the probe. “We have detained three persons and are questioning them. Apart from a case of murder, we have also added sections of the law relating to prevention of atrocities against SCs and STs in the FIR,” Hibu told TOI. He added that further action will be taken based on the postmortem report.

According to AIIMS sources, the initial findings of the autopsy indicate that internal injuries may have caused the death though this is not conclusive. Viscera samples have been sent for further toxicology examination.

The incident has once again highlighted how despite some lip-service, Delhi Police personnel have not been sensitized to problems that may arise from racial prejudices and stereotyping. Tania should have been escorted to safety and not left among people whom he had antagonized and who had already turned violent.
Tania lived in Jalandhar and was a student of BA first year in Lovely Professional University. He was in Delhi on a holiday and had been staying with a friend at a house in Green Park Extension.
The incident took place when Tania had gone to the area to meet a friend. According to his family and friends, around 1:30pm on Wednesday, he entered a shop, Rajdhani Paneer Bhandar, to ask for the address as he was unable to locate the house.
Shopkeeper Farman allegedly mocked him for his dyed hair and made a racial comment. “He hurled a racial slur at him,” alleged Nido Jose Apil, his uncle. “It wasn’t the first time that he was made fun of because of his hair. He had faced it earlier too and used to get angry about it,” said his cousin brother Pota Nada. This led to an argument. Tania lost his cool and smashed the glass counter of the shop. The shopkeeper called out to the labourers working around the shop and they began to thrash him. Meanwhile, the police were called and Tania was handed over.

Unknown to the cops, Tania and the shopkeeper had already reached a compromise and he had agreed to pay him for the damage. The family claimed he paid Rs 11,000. “He paid the money though he wasn’t at fault,” said Apil. “There was a brawl and the cops had arrived. We rushed out and saw this boy, whose hair was dyed blond, bleeding. The shop owner, Farman, told us he had vandalized his property,” said Ajit Singh, a neighbour.

When the cops took Tania to the Lajpat Nagar police station around 2pm, he refused to file a complaint and gave them in writing that he had compromised with the shop owner. To confirm his claim, the police went back with him to the spot. “Farman told the cops that Tania had paid him and they didn’t want to pursue the case. After that the cops left. But Farman had by then called more men and they all thrashed him,” said Apil.

None of the shopkeepers and residents intervened to save Tania. Brijesh Kumar, who sells cigarettes and paan, said: “We heard people abusing at the top of their voice. But when the cops came, we knew it would be settled. I didn’t leave my shop as people get into a scuffle here every other day.”

Tania apparently got a tetanus injection on the way back to his friend’s house. According to his friends, he reportedly complained of chest pain at night and took a painkiller. “He drank some milk but threw up within a few minutes,” said Vinay, one of his friends.

On Thursday afternoon around 1pm when his friend tried to wake him up, he found Tania wasn’t responding. He was rushed to AIIMS where he was declared brought dead. Sources in AIIMS said he would have died by 4am.

“Tania had told us he was feeling unwell when he had gone to his friend’s place but we could not understand what had happened,” said Nido Shanti, Tania’s aunt.