Friday, February 24, 2012

Anna Hazare and all that ....

I am quite amazed to see that there is absolutely no mention of Anna Hazare and his team in the recent news. Neither do I see any blog post from the famous bloggers on the same topic. Is there any follow up of the ardent task they had started ? What happened to the enthusiastic followers who took up the cause with such passion ? Is it another case of our people where our short memory is to be blamed ? I had been following this campaign quite closely from the beginning. I even went on to read the draft prepared by Team Anna and also read the one which our government proposed. Quite frankly speaking the draft from the government was a joke. Even a novice like me which absolutely no knowledge of how bills are passed in our parliament could tell that.

Anyways, this is not a post about what Anna did or whether the ways he took were right or wrong. I have read many articles from both sides of the argument. But my biggest surprise is that since the beginning of the campaign, people are just discussing whether a bill will be passed or not. Hundreds of articles have been written by one group of people congratulating Team Anna for the noble cause they have undertaken and for amalgamating the entire nation to fight against corruption. Hundreds of articles have also been written by the second group of people criticizing the whole campaign as a sham and for making a mockery of our democracy and that such a bill will  do nothing more than creating a new government department which will also eventually end up corrupt.  

There are numerous articles and essays written which only discuss the problem but never aim at finding any solution or even discussing it. I have yet to find an article or a blog where the author actually proposes a solution or at least brainstorm steps that should be taken to achieve the removal of corruption. I can understand that there can not be a foolproof plan for such a vast and diverse country like ours but at least one has to start somewhere.

Being 100% corruption free is a myth. It is impossible. It is a basic human trait to return favors. Even the most advanced and developed nations are not completely corruption free. In fact they have come up with a fancy word called Lobbying, which for me is totally bogus. So, we must concentrate on getting rid of the lower level corruption. Now, I am neither an economist or someone with a fancy MBA degree but still I feel there are two ways to eradicate core corruption.

1. Start completely fresh. Complete restart. Like what happened in Germany after the war. The common man was left with nothing. They had to build up the complete nation from zero and thus there was this community feeling. People took upon themselves to work hard and build up their nation. Hence, only honest efforts were put in. This option looks pretty tough in case of India considering its vast size and I don't think there is any holocaust coming soon.

2. To copy the model of Nordic countries (i.e. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland). They are the least corrupt countries in the world [link]. Start by copying the model and then trim it in a way to adopt it according to Indian needs. Of course, one can argue that copying that model is impossible since the population of those countries are not comparable to India. I would say let us start from State level or even lower to the Municipal level. It needs to initiated at least somewhere and then build upon it.  

With any holocaust not in sight, copying the model seems like a good idea. There are many aspects in that model but the one which I feel should be implemented foremost is to have a balanced and flat society with less divide between rich and poor. The race to become rich by the poor (to have basic comforts like house and car) and to become richer by the rich so that the poor don't catch up is the breeding ground for corruption. Take for example the case of a government servant like a police inspector. The average salary of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) is between 15-39k [link]. A police inspector is below the rank of an ACP thus getting even a lower salary. With such a pay scale, can he offer a good private school education for this kid ? At the same time the entry level pay of a software engineer would be double than that. This is not see in the case of the Nordic model. Yes, even there the public sector salaries are less than the corporate world but not in the magnitude of half or even less. This is just an average case. I am not even talking about going further down one level where the salaries would be exponentially low.

Another thing which much be copied and I think is extremely important is to have uniform education for all and a must. Strangely enough, it was just last year that education became a must in India by law. Even that is not sufficient. The quality of education should also be at par. It should be more or less of the same quality regardless of the economical background of the student. I know all of this might be sounding too ideal but how else can I believe that the student coming from a Hindi medium state sponsored school be able to compete with a private convent school educated  student. If you are running a company yourself, which of the two will you pick ? This will in turn lead that public school student towards a lowly paid job entrapping him in the same circle which he will try to come out in any way possible thus increasing corruption. Another point to note here is that how will an illiterate be able to elect the correct candidate during elections to govern him ? Is is possible for the illiterate person to actually analyze things around him before he goes to vote ? It comes out as no surprise that voter turnout in urban areas is falling since the educated people are slowly giving up on the politicians [link]. Of course, it is good news that the rural turnout is increasing but equally alarming and dangerous is the higher turnout in rural areas where uneducated people could be easily influenced to vote for anyone. I have never seen huge rallies and gatherings in urban areas but at the same time there are record breaking turnouts each year in such rallies in the rural places. This also shows me that there is absolutely no political will to educate the people since if the people actually knew what our politicians are doing, they might not vote for them or even go to the polls.

Finally, I believe people in India should give up this "chalta-hai-dude-attitude". It irritates and annoys me to exorbitant levels to see such attitude. Yes, such an attitude does solves the problem at hand for the time being but in the long run, I don't think it is an efficient way. We are getting too used to thinking short term for petty gains and forgetting the big picture.  

This is the last year of the 11th Five Year Plan laid by the Planning Commission of India. I only hope that the draft of the next plan take some non conventional steps to break India from the shackles of corruption, poverty and illiteracy, all of which are interdependent on each other to a great extent.   


Vetrimagal said...

Really good ideas.
All one can say is, it will be only a Plan. As all the Plans before it.It will turnout to be something else in the end.

Did anyone analyse the out come of all the Plans made earlier. Did we complete, what was the cost overrun, I wonder. said...

That is another very valid point which you raised .... we hardly see and follow up of work done !