Twitter image of Arvind Kejriwal
Leadership

Arvind Kejriwal – India’s newest leader ?

Arvind Kejriwal by now has seen it all. Right from the day he became part of Team Anna at Jantar Mantar grounds at the historic fast to this week, when he launched the Aam Aadmi Party. On Nov 26 though on twitter, Arvind Kejriwal asked a very pertinent question to the media –

To this particular question, a lot of eminent personalities, writers, journalists and ardent followers of this phenomenon called Arvind Kejriwal have replied – and these replies truly cover the views of what the luminaries of the nation think about the nation’s media –

Answer by Pritish Nandy –

Not to be left behind, the irepressible Rajdeep tweeted in a way only he can – Reply by Rajdeep Sardesai –

Twitter image of Arvind KejriwalWhats indeed interesting is that while the media had a total blackout at the launch of the Aam aadmi Party – no one missed the news anyways! The news was all over Facebook and Twitter and Emails. Nearly every email group I am part of discussed about the Aam Aadmi Party. The point with Aam Aadmi party though is that, just a launch function will not be enough. A party is judged by the work it does and the newly formed party has a long way to go.

But none the less, Arvind Kejriwal has had a brilliant start indeed and as a mass leader he certainly looks capable enough to take Anna’s stance ahead in today’s world, in a more relevant manner. One thing particularly noticeable about the Aam Aadmi Party is the way India against corruption facebook group or Aam Aadmi Party Twitter accounts are already generating a massive following among the public. By doing this, Kejriwal is certainly presenting the youth with a credible option to consider for sure. Further, lets admit it, Facebook and twitter are perhaps the fastest modes of crowd mobilisation today, and will continue to grow as more and more Indians start using smartphones. Given this, the policy of using social media as a mass communications tool is indeed laudable.

In fact, almost all campaigning for Obama’s elections of 2012 was keenly contested and propagated on Social media, and now, even India, at least the Internet-enabled India is going to be increasingly influenced by these Social media behemoths and activity done on them. Particularly interesting is how this IIT alumnus is speaking at various centers about what change needs to be brought about in India.

Arvind Kejriwal’s speech in IIT Madras –

Part 2 –

Part 3 –

Part 4-


The words are indeed thought provoking to say the least. But corruption is an issue, and elections aren’t won over issues – they are won over votes. The votes gathering, the awareness generation etc are processes that take time. Will the Aam Aadmi Party be able to overcome all those obstacles ? What are your views about the Aam Aadmi Party ? Do you identify with the need of the Aam Aadmi Party?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Politics, Public Issues

India – China : The Asian Divide

India and China, the 2 most populous countries in the world, the 2 fast growing economies in the world, the 2 Asian countries bordering so close – yet with so many ideological differences!

There are so many differences as well – India is more services centric and China ia manufacturing centric. India has freedom of internet, China doesn’t. India’s growth rate is x, China is y and so on. But the main difference which everyone talks about is Democracy!

Democracy is supposed to give power to the people and make people elect its leaders. We have had democracy in India for the past 64 years now and it has been successful. China does not have democracy and it has also been successful. What people are trying to understand is which system is better. I heard an interesting thought a few days ago and this post is about that thought.

A person claimed to me that a newspaper took the interview of the Chinese Premier and he said that he actually favours democracy! But he thinks China might be ready for it only in a about 50 years or so. He also said that they have already given the first freedom to their people, Capitalism. I searched a lot on the internet but could not find this interview.

However the thought process behind this needs to be given thought specially with the currency situation in Indian democracy. Democracy empowers people but when people themselves don’t know whats best for them then is democracy functional? When voting % falls below 50% and votes are openly sold for money then is democracy functional? When regionalism becomes so prevalent that majority governments become impossible and coalitions are unable to pass any laws then is democracy functional?

A lot of questions, not many answers. Time will tell whether democracy in India will be successful or not? Something tells me that on this success / failure the whole future of Democracy in the world will be re-defined.

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US-India-relationship
Business, Finance, Politics, Public Issues

US and India Relations – A tale of two democracies

(One more guest article by Ankur Singh . You can read his previous article here. Ankur will soon start writing on Strat.in as a regular author. Do you want to write on Strat.in too? Read this for details )

US and India Relations – A tale of two democracies –

Democracy, as its meaning suggests, is all focused for the welfare of people. And its two most celebrated practitioners are India and the US. Both are the world’s largest democracies with plural societies tolerant of diversity. However, both of them are now bound on a journey that may twist the very fabric of this system.

The social and political conditions in both countries have never been amazingly similar as they are now. Both countries have witnessed a nation-wide public movement (Lokpal and Occupy Wall Street). Both the governments are struggling with economic and financial problems. Important elections are due next year in both countries. And finally, governments of both countries are entrapped in a mire of allegations and stalemates.

Let’s start with US. The government formed a super-committee that had representatives from both republican and democratic party who were expected to suggest a solution to the debt crisis of the country. It was also decided that the suggestions made would bypass the conventional rigmarole and would be implemented expeditiously. However, the committee tossed up its hands on 21st November and left millions of Americans disgusted.

Now let’s see the Indian scenario. A few days before, key industrialists like Mukesh Ambani & Ratan Tata emphasized on fast decision-making on the part of government. This statement was made in front of representatives from both Congress and BJP. However, our parliament seems unperturbed. The 1st two days of winter session of Parliament have been disrupted by opposition  with no significant output. Plethora of reforms (some good and some adequate) are lying in the pipeline. But neither our responsible government nor the constructive opposition have accomplished anything.

The reason for stalemate in both countries is the lack of social responsibility on the part of politicians. As the elections are close, the opposition parties could not let the government get their policies right. That could mean severe damage to the vote-banks. I am sure that similar thing will happen if the parties’ positions are swapped (ruling party becomes opposition and vice-versa). This vicious cycle may go on leading to delay in a number of welfare schemes over the decades. However, none of the parties are violating any rule of democracy. So, we can’t complain.

So did our constitution-framers made a mistake? Should we resort to system like that of China which is undemocratic and partially capitalist but has yielded much better growth results than both US and India? Perhaps not. Perhaps, the current events may just be once in a while scenarios. But the current situation definitely calls for some changes in the decision making. “What those changes could be” is an open question. Please express yourselves on this issue. Notes from the Editor: This is an article contributed by Ankur Singh – A guest strater. Ankur works as aStrategy and Operations Analyst with Deloitte Consulting and studied at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi earlier. The article serves as an eye opener about the value added by Engineering Entrance Exam coaching centers in the Indian Education Ecosystem. We look forward to more insights from Ankur in the coming months. Also, the views expressed are author’s own and Strat.in neither supports or opposes them. Strat.in is a forum for thought provoking discussions and will continue to remain so.

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Politics, Public Issues

Bharat Bandh – An agitated nation or merely a political game?

Having read too many views about the Bharat Bandh that happened today – which had real impact from what I saw in Mumbai, and what I saw reported in the media – I can definitely say that the Bandh has impacted everyone in India in some way or other.

There were some incidences which could have been avoided. In my relative’s office, one of the officers was beaten up for ‘showing the courage’ to turn up for work. Really, such incidences can be avoided, infact should be avoided – they leave a mark in the minds of those affected.

In pure monetary terms, the cost of the Bandh is huge – quoting from this article on Rediff

According to Assocham, the strike eroded the national GDP “by a production loss of nearly a full day which in monetary terms can be roughly estimated at Rs 13,000 crore.”

The calculation is based on assumption that the GDP would stay around Rs 50 lakh crore with a growth rate of over 8 per cent in current fiscal, Assocham added.

I believe in a lot of cases, the ‘support’ to the bandh was a case of people avoiding going out in fear of possible damage in many cases. How useful will such agitations be in real terms, I have my doubts. Over the afternoon, ‘Bharat Bandh’ was a trending topic on twitter – everyone had strong views about the topic.

Quoting a few top tweets on twitter today:

Coming back to the point, it is true that inflation has raised its ugly head in India. Whatever it is, life has become tough with the steep hike in prices of almost all commodities. Those who called the bandh referred to the state of the nation as ‘agitated’. The members of the ruling party however dismissed this as a political game of oneupmanship played by the opposition. What do you think about this? Do post your views in the comments section or on our facebook page .

Finally, leaving you with this enduring image – Bandh-istan – made by the famous cartoonist and good friend Shreyas Navare for HT

Credits: Rediff , HT – links quoted in context.

PS: I haven’t been writing regularly for the past few months. Work had been hectic. But now I promise to write regularly , irrespective of external factors. Keep writing to us about issues you feel about strongly, at contribute AT strat DOT in and we can feature your article on our site. To those who wrote to me to start writing again, Thanks!

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Politics, Public Issues

Hats off to Rahul Gandhi!

Although I have historically been a supporter of BJP, I feel that everyone should be open to change and if anyone does something right then it should be commended. I have been trying to follow the political happening in India and recently Mumbai has been on its forefront. Shiv Sena, once a powerful force and probably a righteous organization, has started taking the same path as MNS and going on the Marathi and Maharashtrian Fundamentals. For a good number of days when MNS and Shiv Sena both were making statements which promoted regionalism, and no national leader came out criticizing them and this made me feel all the more terrible.

Thus when RSS and Rahul Gandhi took the bold stand and countered them I felt a relief and I felt proud of both of them. The steps which Rahul Gandhi took might be considered a political game by some, nevertheless I think he deserves a big applause for them. Quoting from IBNLiveIn Mumbai, men in the NSG were from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. At that time they were silent and did not say that those from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh should be taken out. India has to move forward and all have to be taken forward. India belongs to every Indian. Every part of India belongs to every Indian. All Indians have every right to go and work anywhere in the country.” The demands which Sena have been making are nothing short of regionalism and if left uncriticized will probably lead to a demand for a new country! It seems even to work or stay in Mumbai, people should apply for a Visa according to Sena. By answering them Rahul Gandhi actually took considerable risk but in the end came out shining brightly as a star.

Moreover that is not all that Rahul Gandhi did. Rahul went to Mumbai to show Sena that he does not fear them. Although he had a million security guards to protect him but the step was important, because it actually showed that Rahul does not fear a faceoff with Sena for his words! Moreover what Rahul did after reaching Mumbai is unprecedented. Rahul went to an ATM, took out cash, bought a local ticket and traveled in the mumbai local! This is a big achievement because I don’t recall any chief minister of Maharashtra or any major leader who has presented himself as a common man and traveled through the common man means. Rahul Gandhi would have a many security men, and the train will probably be on the fast track and many other things, but the experience of walking inside the station to the platform, the smell and dirt on the platform, the noisy mumbai local, are all a part of Rahul’s memory and hopefully one day he will make an effort to rectify this.

I feel the young leader has shown bravery in his approach and truly deserves appreciation. Will wait to hear your comments on this one though!

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Business, Entertainment, Politics

Battlefield of Economics, Politics & Power

Recently Mumbai witnessed yet another gimmick of exchange of words, high intensity drama and its fall when three of the icons of the field of Bollywood, Maharashtra Politics & National Power confront each other – Shah Rukh Khan, Shiv Sena and Rahul Gandhi. We would be assessing the positives negatives and strengths of each of these confrontations.

On one side heavily criticized for his comments on the recent IPL auction for Pakistani players, Shah Rukh Khan had to moderate his comments and views for his upcoming movie – My Name is Khan. After being type casted as a “Traitor”, Shah Rukh Khan even though being one of the most popular names in Indian cinema had to negotiate for the release of his movie which has a budget of around Rs 38 crores. The movie distribution rights have already been sold for Rs 100 crores to Fox Studio (above the Rs 90 crores for Ghajini). Here was the battlefield for Shah Rukh Khan

Strength:

  • Popularity throughout India
  • Media Sympathy and PR machinery
Weakness:

  • Release of upcoming movie on 12th Feb
  • Potential to lose grounds in mass Mumbai audience
Positive Outcome:

  • Media hype and publicity for the movie
  • Negotiated release of the movie
Negative Outcome:

  • Befriended Mumbai Politics czars
  • Had to lose views for money

And on another, one of the biggest up comer in Indian politics – Rahul Gandhi who will someday or the other be the Prime Minister of India also had exchange of words with Sena for his support to the Uttar Pradesh and Bihari population in Mumbai & Maharashtra. His comments on the North Indian NSG men were twisted to be an insult to the Marathi Police men who fought to death in the 26/11 terror attacks. On his recent visit to Mumbai, he was welcomed with black flags but the power of being the son of the most powerful lady in the country no one could scare Rahul a bit. Also his post Mumbai visit to Bihar brought interesting twist into Politics. His equation seemed to be like this:

Strength:

  • Next leader of Indian National Congress
  • Clean Image & immense power
Weakness:

  • Potential to befriend Marathi votes
Positive Outcome:

  • Positive sympathy amongst both Marathi and Non Marathi population
  • Positive vibe for Bihar visit
Negative Outcome:

  • NIL

Coming down to Sena who seemed to have been the biggest loser of both the incidents who played political cards to gain more ground in their vote bank. Now type casted as big mouths, Sena and similar parties are being criticized for all words and no work. With Marathi aam aadmi demanding jobs instead of politics they are in a very tight spot. Their equation was like this:

Strength:

  • Iconic leaders in Maharashtra Politics
  • Activists spread across Mumbai
Weakness:

  • Over reaction to both incidents
  • All words no work image
Positive Outcome:

  • Political Censors for release of movies
Negative Outcome:

  • Successful sympathy wave by Rahul Gandhi
  • Image of being party crashers

When Rahul Gandhi used public transport to relate closer to the Mumbai residents, he could successfully create a new wave of positivity and compassion. He also created a perfect ground for his visit to Bihar to revive Congress grounds. All in all the game of Politics, Economics & Power seems to have been negotiated in the battlefield by each of the players known to be the best in their fields.

(Views are personal and Strat.in is not responsible for them)

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Politics, Sports

IPL 2010 – Indian Political League!

(Disclaimer: The views expressed below are those of the author and not of strat.in as a blog in general)

ipl-logosSee the greatness of the IPL (Indian Premier League), how highly it stands among other sporting events, which has already provided us so much drama before the play has actually begun. It is in the news all over, flashing here and there, and catching eyes of all. Media is so much excited! After all, everybody was so much bored to see bald-headed Headley and evil-smiling Rathore’s face every day at the breakfast. IPL has provided the idle-sitting cricketers something to chirp about, write columns and give fancy statements in the media. It has given some freshness to the Pakistani people who had all got bored burning effigies of the US and the Taliban. It has given Pakistani ministers something to brag about and divert attentions from more serious issues.

Anybody who is not aware of what actually happened (I doubt this), here is the summary. It all started when the star-studded Pakistani team and others, went under the hammer at the IPL auction in Mumbai. To everybody’s surprise, nobody from the T-20 champions got any call! Meaning, all the Franchise owners sidelined the Pakistani team and all of this was pre-decided. They defended themselves saying they were doubtful of Pakistani players stay in India, whether they will get a visa- or not. This makes complete sense! After all, which business group will pump money into something that gives no returns! Now, this is the rubbish part of the story we all have heard. Here is the truth-

Government of India in a media release said that it has already granted visa to 17 Pakistani Players who could go under the hammer at the auction. It said it did not interfere by any means. So why, why after all, all the franchisee ignored Pakistan? Why was Pakistan embarrassed? Reason is not too hard to guess! It was the Shiv Sena’s hard talk that haunted IPL teams. It would not let matches happen if Pakistani players played.

In the past also Shiv Sena had disrupted two Indo-Pak matches, by digging-up the pitch! This is not unusual for them. They dared the Australian team to play in Mumbai. (After ‘racist’ attacks on Indians in Australia). The MNS threatened candidates from North India who want to take a job in Maharashtra. They forced PSU banks to admit only Maharashtrians. They asked film-makers to use ‘Mumbai’ and not ‘Bombay’ in movies. They beat up an MLA for taking oath in Hindi, in the Assembly and in front of the Governor and the media. And, above all, they call themselves patriotic! They are afraid of no-one! Seems like jungle-‘raj’ going-on!

But, it is the Government which is the biggest ‘Gunda’, yes, you heard me right. Can’t they stop all this hooliganism? Can’t they teach this ‘moral police’ a lesson? Can’t they put these law-breakers and murderers behind the bars? What holds them from punishing those crooks who beat-up an MLA? Is the Government afraid of losing its vote-bank and if it is, this is the saddest part of the world’s largest ‘democracy’ where the Government has to bow to hooligans and crooks to retain power.

Everybody is free to work anywhere in India, and nobody can encroach upon this. Every Indian national is free to speak the language of his choice. I find no wrong in Shiv Sena’s (and the MNS) ideology! I support their philosophy and respect the love they have for their state. Maharashtra is a great state, it has rich culture and traditions and they are great people! I appreciate Shiv Sena and MNS for various programmes they conduct for the promotion of the Marathi language. But what I find irritating is the methods they use and misuse to promote their views. They misguide us. I hope you will agree with me.

This post is written by Puneet Yadav. He is a student at IIT Delhi, pursuing graduation in Chemical Engineering. Involved in varied extracurricular activities, Puneet has great interest in history, political affairs, management and engineering. Recently,he has developed keen interest in Fuel Cell Technology. Read his previous post here.

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Politics, Public Issues

South Block (MEA) holding India back?

(South Block houses the Ministry of External Affairs)

When I look back and see if India should really have been like what it is today after 62 years of our freedom, I feel that we could certainly have done much better. We have shown progress on several fronts, both domestic and international, but a lot more needs to be done and a question that needs to be addressed is ‘Are India’s foreign policy makers holding India back?’

We Indians would never want to remember Nehru’s goof up on Kashmir and his complete misunderstanding of China in 1962 which left several bad memories for us and left India bleeding. India not only accepted the UN mediation on Kashmir (which provided it an international status, and has remained a headache for us since then) but also remained in deep slumber accepting the ‘ hindi-chini bhai-bhai’ formula. Here I study the relations we have fostered with some of the countries that matter us most.

China: – Till date we have no fixed policy to counter China’s claims on Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh and are bullied by the rising military and economic giant. If China can issue stapled visas for Kashmiri people, why can’t we render the same for Tibetans? Home Minister P Chidambaram accepts arms being illegally smuggled from China into India via Nepal (for the Naxals) but not a word of his signals action he plans to take. China also aims at encircling India by befriending our neighbors and continues to pursue its foreign policy aggressively, largely aimed against us. It continues to supply arms, ammunition and military know-how to Pakistan.

Pakistan: – This is the saddest and perhaps the most unfortunate story of our foreign policy. We have no answer to the proxy war our neighbor has waged against us for the past 25 years. We have missed every single opportunity to make Pakistan dance to our tunes. Why did not India ask Pakistan to recede from Kashmir when we had 90,000 Pakistani soldiers in our captivation in 1971? Not only this, India was shamed at the recent talks in Sharm el sheikh, where we entered the summit to deface Pakistan in front of the rest of the world but came out as guilty of sponsoring terrorism in Baluchistan! Pakistan has successfully deprived India of resource rich Central Asia and smuggles fake Indian currency to destabilize our economy.

US: – We have taken our relations with US on a new level with various agreements in military and mutual trade. We saw the nuclear deal go through. But still, we need to clearly lay down our strategy on issues like Iran if we want US to pursue pressure on Pakistan. Also, US continues to support Pakistan both financially and militarily which should be a cause of worry for India, specially with reports coming in from the West that Pakistan has modified US provided Harpoon missiles and aimed them against us.

Bangladesh: – I was really surprised when India kept mum few years back. The Bangladesh Border security force had massacred Indian soldiers and returned their mutilated bodies to us. When a small nation like Bangladesh who owes its freedom to us can commit such a heinous crime, we can gauge to what extent our foreign policy lacks teeth. Also, North-east insurgents operate their terror-training camps from Bangladesh soil.

Russia: – India has made a mockery of our time-tested relationship with the nation. The mutual trade stagnates at 4 billion $. Russia feels isolated as our relations get cozier with US. But can we stand to lose a friend that has supported us blind-folded at so many important international issues? I don’t think so.

Afghanistan: – India is helping the nation torn out from war in a big way! Certainly we don’t want it to become the fifth province of Pakistan. Stable Afghanistan is a big asset to India against Pakistan. What stops New Delhi to name Pakistan’s hand in bombings at Indian embassy, when Kabul can boldly blame Pakistan, its immediate neighbor? Why to beat around the bush and not clearly name Pakistan? Certainly, there are lessons for us to be learnt from the Afghan nation.

Nepal: – India has failed to keep Maoists at bay in the Himalayan state. While India sleeps, China has dug deep into the nation and aims at building up relations that certainly harm our interests. China is laying down highways, building hospitals, schools and assisting in big power projects. Certainly, India stands to lose.

Sri Lanka: – If there is any silver lining for us, it is Sri-Lanka. We continue to build strong relations and were successful in forcing the island country to cancel several arms deal with China and Pakistan. But China continues to play a spoil-sport here too. It has constructed several shipyards for refueling its naval fleet patrolling the Indian Ocean.

These are issues to be immediately addressed.

Why aren’t we still a permanent member of the Security Council? Why don’t we get a strong say at the WTO? Why have we not able to solve the Kashmir issue even after 60 years? Why do we give so much importance to Pakistan? Why do we lie dormant on issues that should concern us so much? Why do we just sit on things that require immediate attention? When will we learn from our mistakes? Certainly these issues govern our present and future. We need to do away with our old-aged and good for nothing policy of ‘Non-Alignment’ if we aspire to get support for our cause.

We need to sharpen our bureaucratic brass and train them to meet challenges of today’s world. You will agree with me that men who speak for the interests of a billion people have to properly polished. If we want the 20th century to be ours, it is high time that we get talking tough and dictate terms.

(The views expressed above are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect views of strat.in )

This post is written by Puneet Yadav. He is a student at IIT Delhi, pursuing graduation in Chemical Engineering. Involved in varied extracurricular activities, Puneet has great interest in history, political affairs, management and engineering. Recently,he has developed keen interest in Fuel Cell Technology.

Strat. In thanks Puneet for his article, wishes him all the best and hopes he writes another post with us soon. You can also write for strat. in . Check the Write a Post section to know more.

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Planning, Public Issues

Issues of today’s India

This is an article by our guest strater – Sasmita Patnaik – a student from XIM , Bhubaneshwar. We thank her for her thoughts and hope she would continue writing on strat.in!

Today we often talk of concepts like Globalization and World Economy. While we reinforce these ideas again and again, what we tend to ignore is the reach and impact of these concepts. Do we ever think of what these mean to a man in a village in rural India where more than half of Indian population lives or to an illiterate housewife. They say India engulfs an America and an Africa in her. On one hand while Delhi is looking forward to launch the Common wealth games hoping it would bring great publicity, exposure and opportunity to the nation, there is another part of India that is struggling to locate itself even on local maps of District Authorities. The question here is not if we should stop focusing on events like the Commonwealth Games and Olympics that India aspires to host in 2020 but if the focus is balanced. As much as we need to work at increasing opportunities, it is equally important to ensure that these opportunities created are accessible to all sections. Can we look at alternative modes of passing on the benefits of the Globalization to the ones who are indirectly an integral part of world economy? No one may recognize the individual farmer who cultivates crops, but he definitely is a part of our nation’s export economy. Recently the finance minister of our country came up with this idea o having cluster meetings with banks once in 3 months instead of annual meetings. This was done to ensure that smaller banks have a say in the meetings and are able to express their opinions more openly. If the government is looking at making the meetings more Participative, why can’t we come up with similar models of ensuring participation at grass roots. We have tried to integrate villages with nearby town economies. Why not look at a village – village integration, where the villages are interdependent for raw materials or markets. There are several small villages which cannot become self sustainable unless they are provided with adequate infrastructure and employment opportunities. It becomes too expensive for the government to develop infrastructure for smaller villages and settlements. So, the government could look at integrating smaller villages with larger ones and bring in cost effectiveness.

In a recent edition of The Hindu they talked of the recent HDR report 2009 making a strong case for removing barriers to migration within and across borders, arguing that human movement had brought about all round benefits and could potentially improve the lives of millions of poor and low skilled people.

This era is actually challenging age old beliefs that we thought were the ultimate way of doing things. The entire perspective of looking at migration as Brain Drain is being challenged today. The HDR report says majority of migration happens not between the developed and developing nations but within the country. 1 billion i.e. One out of seven people the world over are migrants. Internal migrants are four times as many as those who have moved internationally (740 million). 70 million have moved from developing to developed countries but 200 million actually between developing or developed countries.1 Migration has led to increase in income levels, better access to health and education and improved prospects for their children. Research in United States found that a 1.3% increase in share of migrant university graduates increased the number of patents by 15%. Mobility brought new ideas, knowledge and resources besides job opportunities.

It is a time to rethink our approach. Instead of suggesting a new model every time completely shunning the existing system, there by incurring additional costs of setting up new infrastructure and institutions. For example, instead of completely discarding the idea of Seasonal Employment and trying to provide the community with some occupation they haven’t even heard of, could we think of some similar set of seasonal occupations which could provide the community livelihood for the entire year? Sometimes one seasonal engagement could provide you more money than an all year job. Moreover, the community inculcates a habit of saving which is a positive development. Again, this saving may go into investments increasing our GDP ultimately.

Many scholars in their great works have talked of societies making a choice for themselves. But is it the fact? Most of the times it is the influential people, a few opinion leaders who decide for the people at large. The case is the same for rural and urban scenario. Therefore, the true opinion never comes affront. Therefore instead of looking at issues individually; we should look at them in a holistic manner. Before passing a judgment about something currently in practice being good or bad, it is very important that we evaluate the pros and cons very carefully and not just shut our minds completely.

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Public Issues

Is Democracy good for economic growth?

Democracy as a concept and economic growth that we perceive are very well correlated. But the major question that arises is whether the implementation of democracy is rightly executed ? The kind of democratic system which we have, can it lead to a sustainable economic growth? The political system in place is itself a big hindrance for growth at the first place .Corruption, regionalism and profit motive just lead to malfunctioning of the economic system. Apart from political democracy, industrial democracy is also very important. The employee power can never be neglected however powerful the management of a firm be. The existing pure capitalistic model doesn’t serve the purpose of an overall economic growth. Along with power in hands of all, regulation of responsibilities has to be there. Hence Democracy can be good for economic growth if we can implement it well.

Many of us might correlate democracy with “Equal Rights for All “and economic growth with “profit making firms “. But the reality is a tad different. To start with, let us take the intricacies of democracy and economic growth and weave them in one common thread. Democracy is a principle that the control of authority comes from public, and ruler and non-ruler are the same. Theoretically speaking, democracy is where citizens, who are not invested with power to govern, have equal access to power. And to take economic growth, it means an increase in activity in an economy. It says about the number of goods and services produced in an economy. But the question is “Is Democracy really the democracy written in books?” and is economic growth only about “increasing the number of goods and services?”. To dwell upon it , we need facts and general emotions that bolster those facts.

Suppose you are going to your office and in broad daylight you are robbed. You go to a police station and asks the concerned person to file a complaint. Is your request registered smoothly , as it should happen in a democracy ? Most of the times “NO”. Rather he would be saying you that this does not come under their jurisdiction with a big grin on his face.

Suppose you are a government employee having an income of ’15,000’ per month and three daughters. Will you be interested in buying the branded shirts or the premium class cars or bikes that are said to reflect the growing prosperity of the country?

The above two cases are just a small drop in the ocean. So is the society to blame or our customs? Maybe not any of them. These aspects of our society have been gradually building and we have come to accept them as a part and parcel of our life. Now considering them, can we say that free and fair competition in our democracy can exist? And even if it does, then can we assure that it leads to economic growth?

If we trace the progress of our Democracy, then we can see that the major boost for economic growth was the opening up of the economy in 1990’s. Apart from that, there hasn’t been any major change that could magnify the growth. The IT revolution was initially subject to a lot of criticism by our Democracy which later on proved to be a major hand in economic growth. If we take the case of Tata plant setup (for Nano) in Singur, we can see that the system of our democracy, that is having distorted relationship between state and central governments, actually led to an unnecessary chaos. Everybody lost , be it the farmers whose lands were left barren and left unemployed, or Tata who lost huge time and profit margins due to it. On papers, there is no license required to open less capital intensive industries but when it comes to implementation, the entrepreneurs cannot get through the uncountable doors of the ‘ Babus’ and get going . Corruption is also widescale . A PWD engineer is killed because he refuses to pay money as so called ‘Gift’ for a politician’s birthday. Considering all these as flaws in the system , we cannot assume that economic growth is possible in the contemporary times. If every state keeps fighting for its best irrespective of others well being, then it’s logical to say that the nation’s economic growth is in danger. According to John Nash’s theory, every individual has to fight for its best and the best of the group. That is what is required in the times of recession. We have to create a political democratic system where the well being of nation comes first , then state , and at the end for individual benefits. That doesn’t mean that we have to move to socialism. Free markets, competition can thrive well in a democracy but the change required is the regulation. SEBI, RBI has done well to protect our internal investors interests and the same should be copied to other fronts of business. Then only feasible economic growth can be achieved.

Now coming to another aspect of democracy – Industrial Democracy. The idea of transferring power to employees in a business enterprise can seem a drastic notion. But it isn’t. The abolition of petty office and shop floor autocrats, management dictators and meaningless work rules can be of immense help to our economic growth. It leads to a transformation of work from a kind of punishment into a source of genuine human satisfaction. It can turn industrial capitalism – which too often has been a fountain of boredom and restriction- into an instrument of liberation and human development.

There is a widespread assumption made in our industries ( goods and services both ) that “managers” and “employees” are fundamentally different, the former endowed with vastly superior thinking powers , the latter totally incapable of formulating decisions of their own, able only to follow instructions, and at that only under the threat of punishment (Job Power Revised, David Jenkins ,2007) .It means the intelligence and knowledge of employees is most of the times under or un- utilized. This current scenario of industrial democracy is a road block for our growth. There has to be a new element. The brutalizing effects of work under capitalism and the democratization of work organizations – are shown to be firmly, clearly and intimately connected, and that the latter can be remarkably powerful in alleviating or eliminating the former. We have had lots of examples where this system has changed for good like codetermination in West Germany, participative management in the United States, democratization of enterprises in Norway ( CRISIL database) .

After political and industrial democracy, we look at the economic growth that we are looking forward to. It is very well possible that we have a positive and growing per capita GDP but at the same time , increasing number of people below poverty line (Economic Growth, Robert J. Barro ). Is this the economic growth that we desire? Or are we looking at an integrated growth of all? The downfall of US economy suggests that the individualistic approach of economic growth, profit motive can be deleterious for the whole economy. We cannot neglect the major part of our society when it comes to economic growth as a whole.

In a nutshell, we can say that if we have to grow economically as one whole entity, not just as individuals, and we need Democracy implemented in its true form or rather any inferior alternative to the idealistic form. Only then our growth will be sustainable.

(The post is written by Indrajoy Bhattacharya. An N.I.T Bhopal grad, he worked with CSC, Noida for 2 years before  joining SPJIMR, Mumbai (marketing). He has keen interest in e-businesses and global marketing,  blogging, adventure sports and painting.)

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