Let us make the right choice in 2014

Let me start off by introducing the readers to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Anyone who has visited Singapore will vouch for the efficiency, cleanliness, order and quality of life in Singapore. Do you think that was created overnight? No! It was the efforts of one man – Lee Kuan Yew. Quoting from Wikipedia LKY led the “transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources into a “First World” Asian Tiger.” He is widely regarded as a great statesman and anyone wanting to do good for them or their country HAS to learn from LKY.

Let’s go to India.

We urgently need institutions that promote a culture of creativity and merit, and only a strong leader such as Lee Kuan Yew can do it. It takes perseverance to build a top country out of a mosquito infected swamp.

Let’s take up the inevitable question-Is it possible to make India developed? Yes, yes and yes!

How? India needs reforms in a lot of different areas. There are no magic wands and overnight solutions. This is neither a semester exam nor is it a game of cards. This is our future. We need to bake the pie before distributing it as LKY reminded us.

For the lay man: Economically, India should stand on 3 pillars: agriculture, manufacturing, services. Socially, India needs education and hygiene.

Economies that create jobs organically and supplies skilled laborers have institutions that promote these.

Who can do this? The answer is Narendra Modi.

Why do I believe this?

  1. He has shown in Gujarat how economy stands 1/3rd on agriculture, 1/3rd on manufacturing and 1/3rd on services.
    1. In manufacturing his recipe has 3 focus areas: skilled cheap labor, political support and zero defect manufacturing. These are precisely the ingredients that will create institutions which will take India forward.
    2. In agriculture, assured water, electricity, soil health card, irrigation practices, innovative land use, agro-forestry has boosted agricultural production in Gujarat. These are important ingredients which have the potential to succeed.
    3. Promotion of tourism, teacher export, technology export, you name any service industry, Modi has already implemented changes to boost it
  2. Education is a big focus area for Modi
    1. In primary education, Gujarat has furthered the DPEP system and focused on girl child education, increasing enrollment, and reducing the dropout rate.
    2. In higher education, Gujarat leads the way with the number and variety of universities.
    3. He has put in place institutions for skill development. One example is how he delinked government from lift inspection, and encouraged private parties to inspect lift by recruiting skill from it is which simultaneously started courses on lift inspection. This is a small example. The focus on skill development is important as it not only provides jobs, but also increases the morale of the people. He proves that he truly follows his principle “Glass is always full, half with air, half with water”
  3. Socio-economic impact: Providing clean water to Ahmedabad from Narmada has resulted in reducing fluoride in drinking water and also increased the immunity of the people. Modi started speaking recently about celebrating Gandhi-150 in 2019 by a call for clean India. Promoting tourism is another way to ensure cleanliness of our streets. All these initiatives will have a strong socio-economic impact that will boost India to the path of development.
  4. Will, vision, assurance and trust: He said Gujarat will have 24×7 electricity in 1000 days and he did it, with the same bureaucracy, same people. If he is determined to do something, he does it. He does not just complain, sit and cry, or do Anshan. No, he is a man of action. He has a vision for India’s development and knows the strength and weakness of every part of our country. His style of functioning is that of trust, and there is an assurance that he will make everything right, as proved in Gujarat.

How long will it take to set the machine rolling? I would estimate 20 years.

Let me now talk a little bit about political and economic ideologies.

There is no conclusive proof on whether central planning or free market works. There are only indications on why some people are able to make either work for them. There is no doubt, however, that strong institutions work. When people have faith, and are part of the institutions, it works everywhere. Modi’s 4-P framework is precisely that. It is neither capitalism nor socialism; it is modiism, modinomics, modirajya, whatever you want to call it. It will unite India and create institutions.

It is not that I don’t believe in “non-silly socialism” of Yogendra Yadav. I’m sure YY has the good of India in heart. I just don’t trust this to work because it has failed so many times for us. At stake is the future of 1.25 billion Indians. India must make up for much time lost.[LKY] These policies have resulted in nothing extraordinary as LKY observed in his lecture. We have messed up again and again. We messed up in 1977, when Morarji was chosen over Atalji. We messed up in 2004 when Atalji was shown the door. It is time to make things right, for the last and final time.

I will quote Lee Kuan Yew again, “To run democracy, whether it is British style or American style, you must have the pre-conditions, and the pre-condition is a fairly large educated middle class, that provide stability in society, that can vote one way or the other, between parties that are fundamentally in agreement on basic principles and in disagreement as to how to achieve certain objectives. Now when you have total disagreement in parties within a country and there is no middle class that is educated and has a certain standard of life that enables them to choose between one or the other, it has collapsed.”

We don’t have that pre-condition! Let’s first create that pre-condition! Let us first bake the pie before distributing it!

It is absolutely essential that we make the right choice in 2014.

If we make the right choice in 2014, then in 2034, I will endorse the distribution of the pie. We will all sit down and discuss how “non-silly socialism” is so cute. This should happen not in 2014, but in 2034, when the whole of India has Electricity, Water, Roads, Cleanliness, Health assurance, jobs, and a quality of life that affords lofty ideas like “non-silly socialism”. I promise to campaign for AAP in 2034, not now!

Reference and further reading:

4 part series by Atanu Dey on Lee Kuan Yew’s address to Indian parliament in 2005





[LKY] http://www.lee-kuan-yew.com/lee-kuan-yew-speech-2005-india.html

Why Narendra Modi is like LKY: http://www.firstpost.com/india/modis-social-contract-is-like-lee-kuan-yews-in-singapore-654892.html

Don’t discount the middle class!

Before even beginning the post, let me clarify – I am neither on the pro-Anna side nor on the anti-Anna side. However, there are strong and valuable lessons to be learnt from the whole Anna Hazare- Jan Lokpal Bill drama that is happening in India currently. And this post will be about those things.

I start from the opinion piece in yesterday’s Times of India (19 August 2011) by Swagato Ganguly titled, “It’s the middle class, stupid!” Find the article here.

The article is thought provoking because it explores the composition of people participating in the movement and how the information is spreading. The media by which information is being spread is Facebook, Twitter, and news channels. The article says, “Instead of being relayed through caste, clan and kinship networks or routed through political parties, the organisers have used modern forms of communication – such as text messages, Twitter and Facebook – or relied on secular civic organisations to quickly assemble large crowds.”  Indeed without TV cameras and reporters of national dailies covering the protests, there will be no incentive for holding silent protests and it would not succeed also. Anna Hazare even postponed his very first protest so that it didn’t have to fight with Cricket world cup for prime time space. (Read my earlier blog post about why hunger strikes are successful)

The people out there who are protesting against the government are the middle class. This middle class, as many observers have commented recently, is the same people, who pay Rs 100 to a traffic cop for over-speeding/driving without helmet, pay Rs 1000 to get a fast track driver’s license. Hence many argue why they, of all the people, even started a campaign against corruption. This movement is not to be seen as an uprising against corruption alone. It should be seen as the rise of a voice that has been less heard – that of the burgeoning middle class.

Quoting from the article,

“For politicians of the old order (and professional pols belong mostly to the old order), only the two ends of the social spectrum matter. While moneyed elites can bring in the moolah, the poor masses have the votes. The middle classes don’t figure in this equation. On the other hand, when a middle-class person looks at the taxes deducted from his hard-earned salary, he’s liable to ask what the government is doing with his taxes.

The middle class (defined as those with monthly household income between Rs 20,000 and Rs 100,000) has exploded in numbers from 25 million in 1996 to 160 million currently. By 2015, it’s expected to hit 267 million. That makes it a significant proportion of the electorate, a ‘vote bank’ politicians can no longer afford to overlook. Moreover, this rapid rise in numbers indicates a shift in the balance of power within the middle class itself. The ‘new’ middle class – which owes nothing to state employment – is eclipsing the ‘old’ middle class that was a creation of the pre-liberalisation Nehruvian state.”

The middle class is indeed pissed about the way government functions. They are also entangled in the mess. If someone tries to break free from the current order,they either lose the game or are pulled back into the system. The middle class have many cribs which they have kept to themselves all along. It is true that they are selfish. They are selfish for a reason. As the article says, there is no place for them in the power equations of political parties. There is no one to support them. And if the middle class happens to be in the so called “upper caste”, that is the end of the story. Going out of the country and leading a selfish life – that seems to be the only option. In this context a modern uprising should be seen along the “I am also there. Don’t forget me!!!” line. This is a middle class who wants to stay in the country and lead a dignified life.

There was a time, not long back, when India was shining for them. I am indeed talking about the NDA rule. During the NDA government, the middle class were happy but the lower strata of society were not. The socialist Congress pulled off an “Aam Admi” slogan and came back to power as the UPA. BJP has only deteriorated since then. In the middle of UPA-2, the middle class is not happy. (By the way, the upper class is always happy irrespective of who rules. They are rich, after all.)

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no other political party which can utilise this situation and gain momentum. It is a tough time for all the political parties. If indeed elections were held today, no political party will want to fight the elections.  Corruption is not just confined with the ruling party. Political parties across the spectrum have been charged of corruption. The congress knows this; hence they need not be overly worried. If indeed a political movement vis-à-vis Jayprakash Narayan of the Indra Gandhi era arose, we could have seen another Emergency.

In this context, the rise of one Anna Hazare assumes prominence. It is not a JPN kind of movement. (Is it a mere coincidence that the latest fasting was planned to be organised in the Jai Prakash Narayan Park?). It is a different kind of movement. Whatever be the ramifications of the Lokpal bill, whether it is for the good or for the bad, whether corruption will be removed or not, the movement is not something which is to be discounted. The people participating in the movement might not know how exactly the lokpal, for which they are fighting for, will help them. All they know is that they are fighting for their voice to be heard.

The article concludes with,

Anna Hazare is just a catalyst who happens to chime with the middle-class mood today. But the arrival of the new middle class is a more lasting phenomenon than Hazare himself. Just like the TV cameras, this middle class is not going to go away. Smart politicians had better hone their strategies to co-opt middle-class rage. They ignore it at their peril.”

Can we indeed hope that the politicians are aware of this and there will arise some party or a coalition which will appease all three classes? A coalition between the Congress and the BJP, anyone???