Anna Hazare

All posts in the Anna Hazare category

Hugo Dixon & Jeff Glekin: Unravelling India: growth bottlenecks

Published January 31, 2012 by vishalvkale

Hugo Dixon & Jeff Glekin: Unravelling India: growth bottlenecks:

‘via Blog this’

Classic analysis and Development  – 360 degree viewpoint, almost. In summation, the authors are looking at the following points:

  • Corruption
      • High-level corruption
      • Petty corruption
      • Electoral corruption
    • Anti Corruption Movement/s
      • Lokpal / Anna Hazare
      • Media
      • Right to Information and its impact
      • CAG, CJI etc other pro-and re-active offices
      • Stray political responses
    • Corruption Remedies
      • Powerful Independent Lokpal
      • Transparency in Government
      • RTI – 2005 and its impact
      • UID Project and its impact
  • Sustainable Growth
    • Economy
      • Demographic Dividend
      • GDP Per Capita
      • Bottlenecks
        • Private Investment, negative sentiment of the same
        • Politics – Coalition politics and decentralisation
        • Environmental issues and problems
        • Corruption
    • Problems of the day: Decline in investment, fiscal deficit, corruption and environmental roadblocks
The article deserves special mention since it places corruption, negative sentiment and environmental problems at the same level, and examines – or attempts to examine- their impact on growth. 

The Demographic Dividend, first extolled by Nandan Nilekani in his book on India, is worth mentioning: India will have an average age of 34 by 2050, whereas the age of the average Chinese will be 46. This means that both consumption and working-age population will be in abundance in India. But at the same time, our nation will have to struggle to provide land, water and power to satisfy an ever increasing consumption – which is going to be a challenge. And to make sure that we are able to cash in on this dividend, some problems have to be overcome. Interestingly, we dont have any option: unless we overcome these bottlenecks it is our own country and consequently our own population that will have to bear the brunt of our failures. Because we have to produce enough to provide for this burgeoning population!

The proposal of decentralisation is worth examining. Furthermore, the point they have made that given India’s diversity, a plethora of political parties is inevitable seems justified. Decentralisation, or devolution of power to the state would also be in keeping with the spirit of our federal constitution, as well as the panchayati raj bill etc amendments. It is a fact that the well governed states- Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and now Bihar are doing well. 

The 3rd take-away for me from the above is the author’s belief that the anti – corruption movement is here to stay in one form or the other. The increasing levels of awareness and education, media focus have given rise to a broad anti-corruption consensus – which would serve to generate reverse pressure, as also win converts within the system itself – there are many that we can think of today. All in all, a great article that offers a balanced, holistic view and several thought provoking suggestions and observations. For me, these are:
  1. Broad anti-corruption consensus
  2. Coalition politics, its inevitability and decentralisation
  3. Demographic Dividend – pluses and minuses. (We are aware of both sides, but have never linked them together like the 2 sides of the same coin, so to speak)
A must read article, in my opinion

Govt ironing out lokayukta kinks from lokpal bill

Published January 8, 2012 by vishalvkale

Govt ironing out lokayukta kinks from lokpal bill – Hindustan Times:

1) Why couldn’t they have done this sooner???? What a waste of taxpayers time and money.

2) No mention of CBI’s independence yet again. Is this Lokpal of any use? Team Anna should explain to the nation how an independent Lokpal will be an asset, and will be able to become a scam-free and independent body that will take the anti-corruption agenda forward. The real pressure on the politician classes will build only when the people of India understand the nuances of CBI’s working, and the ramifications of its continued dependence upon the government. And Team Anna – Team IAC if you will – is in a unique position to do so. The need of the hour is education of the masses on this critical agenda.
‘via Blog this’

Team Anna / Team IAC: What Next???

Published January 6, 2012 by vishalvkale

Team Anna needs the Media back on its side… as the above article argues, it would have made perfect sense for the Media to turn cheerleaders…  get them on your side! It is the information age, after all…

Dear Team India Against Corruption,

  • First and foremost, do not give up – not now. You are the first to have managed to successfully shake the white-collar workforce into joining the mainstream of the nation – that is your first and biggest achievement. Hitherto, no movement has been able to shake the middle and upper middle class, a fact which has potentially disastrous consequences both politically as well as for the overall social fabric of the nation. Team IAC has managed to crack through the edifice of indifference of this class. I personally know of a production manager in a good firm who had taken active part in the protests – with wife and 2 teenage kids. You have managed to shake the collective conscience of this class – these are the actual people who implement any policy, business transaction or service. If you have managed to touch a chord with them, then it is no small achievement. So, for that reason alone, dont give up. Not now.
  • The government was shaken not by Annaji, but by his – and by extension your – connect with the people, and the mass support you had. I personally do not think there is anything to worry about. No social movement can hope to sustain its momentum at the levels demonstrated by August. A study of the movement against the British fought by the Phenomenon of Mahatma Gandhi will make this clear – there were periods of intense activity followed by periods of studied calm. Adopt that strategy, for the people need time to recharge, to attend to their lives, to get on with the daily business of living. That they are willing, interested and able to take up the cause has been demonstrated beyond any modicum of doubt – just give them some breathing space. That will enable them to re-focus
  • Get your connect with the people re-instated. That is paramount. There have been unsavoury reports about your team in the media- dont over-react to them. Be calm, and place full facts before the people. Your target audience is the lower-middle, middle, and upper-middle classes of India: trust their intelligence.
  • Get the Media back on your side -at least a couple of the major publications. It is the information age: and you need the media on your side
  • Avoid getting into politics at all costs. Your target audience does not appreciate politicians,  and your political appeals will only serve to alienate your core followers. This you cannot afford. If you must, appeal against politicians as a group – avoid party-specific appeals. It would not be wrong to state that your target audience has abdicated and forgotten its civic duties in terms of voting, taking part in political events etc, and is in a general state of denial.  
  • You have already won the battle: the Lokpal bill did not pass muster. Not in its current form, anyway. That gives you 45 clear days before the next phase begins, which is plenty of time. If there is pressure of a similar nature on the parliament in February – March, then you can have some hope…
  • And last but not the least: the fact that your momentum wavered is due in some measure to perceived differences in your team, your “quarrels” etc. Get back to speaking in one voice. You were Media savvy earlier: now you need to be doubly so. Because now you are known entities, and are being dissected methodically, each statement analysed by media, government and people alike; each appearance studied to the point of distraction. 
  • Judging from comments on the internet, the people do not have a clear realisation as to how the lack of independence of the CBI makes the Lokpal an exercise in futility. The common refraint is that “sarkaar ne itnaa to kiyaa, kaafi hai yaar.” You need to educate the people, so they clearly understand how the CBI / investigative agency point is critical for an effective Lokpal – for this, you have a top-notch police officer, eminent lawyers, IAS officers who need to appear in front of the public and explain how – clearly, without any ambiguity, the CBI’s independence will make it a better functioning body. The government has frankly played a master-stroke in its maneuver. You need to counter this on a priority: Suggestion – the only one:
    • Appear in interviews in english, hindi news channels explaining this point
    • Interviews in local newspapers – Dainik Bhaskar, Jaagran, Lokmat etc
    • Extensive people contact
    • Answer allegations collectively, frankly
To summarise: Give it time / Re-connect with the people / Get Media support / Avoid political entanglements / Get back to speaking in one voice – avoid internal problems / stick to your core issue: corruption + lokpal. The last is the most critical – it would be best if all of the core group, and indeed all members of IAC avoided comments on any other issue

Please dont give up – India needs you, our society needs you. Keep up the good work, and dont worry about the mistakes. People have a short memory, a fact that has been proven many a time before…

The IAC / Anna Hazare movement: created by the media? I dont think so

Published January 5, 2012 by vishalvkale
(Updated on 6th Jan: survey report) (A very balanced approach in the above article: the best pick I have found on this topic)

The blog that drew my attention:

(The above is one of the most famous blogs from India – Churumuri/Sans Serif)

There are 2 sides to every coin. Similarly, stating that Anna Hazare was a media creation is akin to megalomania on the part of the media. At best, the Media might have played a pivotal role in his rise to fame. That much is far too obviously true, beyond any shade of doubt. It was the media that introduced him and brought him to each and every home.

The other side: Anna Hazare is part of a consortium of reasonably powerful people – or at least  people who have experienced power, and have worked in the government at high levels like Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal etc. There are other influential backers as well as a coordinated effort going on – almost an organisation. There was plenty of evidence of planning, coordinated thought and effort, a strategic approach and the road work put in by team Anna. This is further evident in their statements, the very fact that finance was arranged smoothly at every turn, the planned net-savvy approach, the brand building of IAC etc. Further, it is also possible that media interest was created by the IAC organisation, which is pretty media-savvy. Not only that, Anna Hazare was already a well known campaigner against corruption albeit on a local level (A detail of the IAC organisation)

But the clincher: the turnout and the support of the masses, the way the effort went viral on the net, the mass base enjoyed by the IAC movement, the overall frustration of the people – especially the middle and the lower middle class – belie the claims of the media. As per my memory (correct me if I am wrong) the net campaign pre-dates the media furore. And, to re-iterate: the mass support brought out people who never ventured out of the comfort of their homes – engineers, doctors, businessmen etc. A lot of road work was put in the the India Against Corruption movement: Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal, the Bhushans to name but a few. The list of associated people include people from all walks of life, as well as some eminent personalities.

This point cannot be overstated: the white collar worker was rarely a visible part of mass movements. In the IAC campaign – or Anna Hazare campaign if you will – these professionals were the one on the streets. I personally know of a production manager who had taken leave and had taken part with wife and kids in the campaign. We have seen innumerable examples of unconnected professionals who have taken leave – people from as far away as USA – who came all the way to attend.

Yes, the Media’s role is and has been important, but let us not get carried away and state that the Media has created IAC / Anna Hazare. Here, in my opinion, the Media has played an activist role perhaps for the first time. Media has 3 major functions – Entertainment, News and Analysis. I think that here, the media has added the 4th role that it should have been playing – leading change. However, the commercial aspect cannot be forgotten – there are commercial decisions, toplines and bottomlines to care about – and corruption sells especially in the current mood of the nation. It is also possible that the media has placed its finger on the pulse of the people, and is concentrating on what sells. Perhaps, it is a bit of both that is involved

Media -leading change, or reporting what sells? Or Both? OnlyTime will tell…