[Assam] Fw: More on UP Elections

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at charter.net
Mon Apr 2 07:01:57 PDT 2007


Insightful article. Thanks for sharing, Rajen. 
Not that we did not know of it all along, but 
good to see there are others who see it too.

Question however is, NOW what?

c









At 6:30 AM -0500 4/2/07, barua25 wrote:
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: <mailto:cpasind at yahoo.co.in>Centre for Policy Alternatives
>Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 2:29 AM
>Subject: More on UP Elections
>
>Difficult Days Ahead.
>
>Predicting the defeat of the Congress Party in 
>the recent Punjab and Uttaranchal elections was 
>easy enough if one analyzed the performance of 
>these governments during their term in office. 
>(See Hardnews of September 2006 to read about 
>the dismal performance of the Amarinder Singh 
>government) It is only the so-called 
>professional psephologists and glib television 
>pundits who invariably get these wrong. Let us 
>also not forget that the India Today, which has 
>now become India’s most popular reading in 
>barber saloons and dentist waiting rooms, had 
>only last year deemed the Amarinder Singh 
>government as India’s best performing one and 
>had got the President of India to award him a 
>prize. At that time this columnist had decried 
>the practice of the President and high 
>constitutional authorities being the chief 
>guests at such superficial beauty parades. 
>Ordinary people are better judges of performance 
>and have always exhibited a great ability to 
>discern good government from hyped up 
>governance, as they did in the case of 
>Chandrababu Naidu and SM Krishna in the recent 
>past.
>
>But the Prime Minister seems to be busy being a 
>chief guest at political beauty parades and like 
>functions organized by the faithful, not 
>realizing that the faithful are faithful to the 
>office and not to the person. One should take 
>the adulation of the CII and FICCI with more 
>than a pinch of salt, for the adulation comes 
>with a price tag. Witness how the State is 
>acquiring land from the peasants using the most 
>unrealistic valuations to give them away to 
>so-called developers of SEZ’s, but actually in 
>most instances these are just gigantic real 
>estate plays. Many decades ago a leading 
>industrialist, Lala Charatram, candidly 
>confessed: “We support the Prime Minister. We 
>support whoever is the Prime Minister.” But Dr. 
>Manmohan Singh would have got a truer measure of 
>his popularity with India’s multitudes by the 
>attendances to his meetings in his home state of 
>Punjab. At more than one meeting policemen 
>vastly outnumbered the public. I have enough 
>Congressmen testifying to this.
>
>Then consider this, if he accepted the offer of 
>Amarinder Singh to contest the Lok Sabha 
>elections from Amritsar, we would have had a 
>true world record of his being the first Prime 
>Minister to be defeated by a professional 
>humorist. But then he was defeated in South 
>Delhi by one just a little better than that. 
>Right now Dr. Manmohan Singh is better off being 
>the paying guest of the late Hiteshwar Saikia’s 
>widow in Gauhati and returned to the Rajya Sabha 
>by the long suffering people of Assam. The point 
>here is that we have a Prime Minister without a 
>political constituency and hence out of touch 
>with the reality of India. Unfortunately for him 
>and for us, ours is a system of government by 
>elected politicians, and India is paying the 
>price of having a non-political person as its 
>leader. More on this later.
>
>Now the challenge of Uttar Pradesh is on hand. 
>The only question for the Congress Party is 
>whether it will get more than two dozen seats or 
>less. We seem to be getting some early 
>indications of how the cookie is going to 
>crumble with the SPG advising that Rahul Gandhi 
>curtail his public meetings and the MoS in the 
>Home Ministry, Sriprakash Jaiswal, advising 
>Rahul Gandhi to follow the advice of the SPG. I 
>suspect that it is not security but attendance 
>that is the problem. It’s not always true that 
>people in UP vote entirely according to their 
>caste. Caste is important, but promise and hope 
>are just as important. In the recent past when 
>political parties held out the promise of a 
>major change in terms of performance to meet the 
>aspirations of people for better government, the 
>people of UP have responded overwhelmingly in 
>support. Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh and the BJP held 
>out credible promise of change and the people 
>rewarded them. It is another matter that they 
>failed to meet the aspirations of the people 
>even partially. The result is that people are 
>being left with no option but to turn to the 
>parties of thugs led by Mulayam Singh and 
>Mayawati. The Congress is yet to realize that 
>Rahul Gandhi and retinue of his page three 
>princelings do not still hold out any hope of 
>rescuing India’s biggest state from prolonged 
>mal-governance. For that you need to have a 
>program based upon a true appreciation of the 
>problems besetting India and a promise of 
>solutions. Wearing a prayer cap in Deoband is 
>not a program. It is a stunt.
>
>The problems that beset UP are well known. Not 
>the least among these is that with Rs.10, 817 
>(per capita GDP in 2003-4), it has the second 
>lowest per capita income in India. This is about 
>a third of the national average. If one were to 
>separate the incomes of western UP from this, 
>you would be left with a vast hinterland that is 
>no better off than Bihar (Rs. 5780). If this 
>huge region were a separate country it would 
>rank right at the bottom between Burundi ($90) 
>and Malawi ($160) in the worlds poverty 
>rankings. One quarter of UP lives below the 
>official poverty line. This official poverty 
>line is actually a starvation line, as it is 
>based on an income to provide a daily food 
>intake norm of 2400 calories. The methodology 
>used to arrive at a conclusion as to whether 
>people are starving are not is utterly dubious 
>and self serving and is mostly meant to show the 
>system in better light. Even so the suggestion 
>that almost one quarter of the socio-political 
>heartland of India starves everyday is a 
>horrendous thought and the fact this is now 
>proving to be a stubborn challenge is a matter 
>of great concern. The Planning Commission just a 
>few days ago put out a positive picture about 
>the reduction of the incidence of poverty 
>(starvation) in India, but if one just got off 
>the tarmac roads for a kilometer or two the 
>reality will be apparent. The people who live 
>here know better and all the paid advertisements 
>that UP is now Uttam Pradesh do not cut much 
>slack here.
>
>This is not just the situation in UP. It is the 
>reality in most rural areas of India. The State 
>in India is in full retreat. It has largely 
>failed in meeting even the minimum aspirations 
>of the people. Most rural clusters do not have 
>the minimum health facilities, just as they do 
>not have schools. Consequently the infant 
>mortality rate is among the highest in the world 
>and even today almost 27% of the 15-24 age 
>cohort is illiterate. The State has withdrawn 
>from establishing new irrigation works to take 
>water to the parched lands and has largely left 
>it to the peasants to dig deeper into the earth 
>by digging deeper into their meager resources 
>for water for the fields. In the last twenty 
>years the State has not created any worthwhile 
>irrigation and all the additional millions of 
>irrigated acreage have been by private 
>tubewells. We all know that this is ruinous to 
>the economy and ecology, but the Government of 
>India still watches idly. Even the new plan 
>being contemplated by Montek Singh Ahluwalia 
>shows no inclination to tackle this situation in 
>any realistic manner. He of course thinks it is 
>more important to get Wal-Mart into India as it 
>will take care of the agriculture supply chain? 
>That’s what you get when you have bureaucrats 
>drawing up the national vision.
>
>When he first took over office, Dr.Manmohan 
>Singh said that bureaucratic and administrative 
>reform will be his government’s number one 
>priority. At that time we lauded him for his 
>vision and commitment to reform. But his 
>government has done little beyond giving 
>extensions and sinecures to favored babus. 
>Despite Rajiv Gandhi’s known commitment to 
>decentralization, the party headed by his widow 
>has apparently abandoned the commitment to take 
>government to the people and give them a say in 
>managing their daily lives. This power is not 
>with the politician either. It has passed into 
>the hands of the vast bureaucracy that has taken 
>charge of India. It is small wonder then the 
>biggest single item in public spending is the 
>burden of salaries and pensions paid to 
>government employees as the Central, State and 
>Local levels. At last count this figure stood 
>close to Rs.195, 000 crores and is still 
>climbing. This should enable the reader to 
>understand as to why the Services sector is the 
>fastest growing of India’s three economic 
>sectors. For some perverse reason Public 
>Administration expenditure is considered a 
>service and this sub sector is the fastest 
>growing one recording an 11.73% growth rate. So 
>my friends don’t think it is IT that is 
>propelling the growth of the Services sector.
>
>In Dr. Manmohan Singh we thought we had a 
>reformer. But what we got instead was a man with 
>a resume, he has had the best appointments 
>anyone can aspire to and a Cambridge degree to 
>boot. Our mistake was that we confused resume 
>with record. He has now clearly lost his chance 
>to set things right. His term as Prime Minister 
>is drawing to a close. He is 75 years now and we 
>can well consider him a lame duck. He has no 
>political constituency and not only has shown a 
>singular disinclination to take the bull by the 
>horns, but has also shown that he has no 
>understanding about India’s problems. Nor is he 
>performing the role of Bairam Khan and tutoring 
>the fledgling prince on the art of 
>administration and the problems of nation 
>building. But to be fair to him the princeling 
>has not shown any of Akbar’s enthusiasm and 
>curiosity either. So he will wear the prayer cap 
>at Deoband and do other symbolic things which 
>his handlers will plan for him. Which means we 
>will have to leave Uttam Pradesh to Mulayam 
>Singh or Mayawati? India seems heading for even 
>more difficult days ahead.
>
>Now the real kicker is that all this is 
>happening when China is institutionalizing a 
>system of succession and inner party democracy 
>to enable it to continue on its current growth 
>trajectory of around 10%. Thus a totalitarian 
>system better suited for thugs is getting 
>gentrified, while a system of democratic 
>governance is being taken over by thugs. It is 
>said that Rugby is a game for hooligans played 
>by gentlemen, while soccer is a game for 
>gentlemen played by hooligans. The same thing 
>can be said for the systems in China and India.
>
>
>
>Mohan Guruswamy
>Email: <mailto:mguru at sify.com>mguru at sify.com
>March 26, 2007
>
>
>Centre for Policy Alternatives
>94, Uday Park, New Delhi - 49
>
>Ph: 91-11-41650997, Fax: 91-11-41650996
>
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