May 9, 2014

India doesn't need politicians at all - give us just Raghuram Rajan and we'll make do!

What is the role of a ruling government, after all? I'm sure my answer doesn't consolidate all views, and might even be considered too simplistic for the eco-politico geeks; yet, aren't the elected group of politicians in any democratic nation supposed to ensure that there is continual social, economic and cultural uplifting of citizens through dynamic, focused and objective oriented policies and measures? If you agree to this, then you would also agree that on each and every such aspect, Indian politicians have had minimal and insignificant contributions, if not nil. India's pockets of improvements have either occurred because of the spirit and perseverance of its civil society, or in specific cases, because of a conspiratorial connivance of the political class with the business class. In either case, the impact of any advancement has not benefited the majority of India's population. How can one justify the fact that India still has such a massive population of people living below the poverty line?

The 2013 World Bank report on poverty (The State of the Poor: Where are the Poor and Where are the Poorest?) shows that while the number of people living in extreme poverty globally has come down considerably over the past many decades, India now shamefully boasts of a higher percentage of the world's poorest people as compared to three decades ago. As per the study, 33% of the world's poorest people live in India, a shocking figure of 400 million plus. Not to worry. Indian politicians have found out quite a simple way of reducing the number of such poor people in India. They conveniently reduce the benchmark that is used to qualify a person as poor – as was done just a couple of years ago, when the Planning Commission reduced the poverty line to Rs.28.65 per day in urban areas and Rs. 22.42 in rural areas – and then claim that poverty has been dramatically reduced. If one had to classify criminal behaviour, then I have no qualms in saying that this should surely qualify as one, that almost six and a half decades after our Independence, we continue to suffer this ignominious situation. Not only have India's politicians been busier attempting to make their own gains, but those in power have refused to take the bull by the horns. The deportment while in office of Dr. Manmohan Singh, soon to be our ex-Prime Minister, is perhaps already a case study globally on how the so-called head of a nation maintained a mystical silence almost throughout his tenure, even during the most critical situations. No wonder that 'policy paralysis' is one of the major terms that is used by many economists to describe (nay, lampoon) his tenure. If Manmohan Singh was perversely silent, then some of his other loud-mouthed party people and even those in opposition, have been perhaps as perversely corrupt, as has been evidenced in the past eight years. In effect, Indian politicians per se have shown the world benchmarks of what never should be done while leading a nation.

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2 comments:

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Dear Arindam, I'd like to get in touch with you regarding a classical liberal political effort I've been working on for a very long time. Can you please send me your details at sabhlok@gmail.com. More about me including my book/s and reform agenda at: http://sabhlokcity.com/

- Sanjeev Sabhlok (of the 1982 batch IAS, resigned in Jan 2001)

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