governance, political economy, institutional development and economic regulation

Its final now. Kejriwal said as much to Rajdeep on IBN-CNN yesterday that he will be moving on to national level politics in 2014.

This is the right decision. Kejriwal is and will always be best at social mobilization. He is not a politician and would be wasted as one. The quiet Delhi social revolution he created needs to be carried forward to the rest of India and Bharat.

This would be a constitutional revolt of 45% of the national electorate, who work at petty, non-formal sector-jobs across India and whose kids are frustrated that no jobs are available, babus who have not built up political support chains and whose children are unemployed, young professionals who have jobs, surplus money but international aspirations for an equitable New India; where merit trumps family connections, caste differences converge, religion becomes a personal matter and social classes are based not on birth but accomplishments and individual preferences.

Gandhi, a Bania from Gujarat, liberated his mind with the strength of his determination and inspired people around him to break free of the chains that society imposes on us and let shine through the true, “Rousseau” nature of humans; loving, generous to a fault, reaching out constantly to improve themselves.

60 years later Kejriwal is set to do the same albeit in a different mode and for a different India.

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The struggle is no longer against foreign colonialism. The new struggle is against elite colonization of the poor and the middle class professionals and workers. The class equity, that the Left failed to provide, is what Kejriwal and the AAP shall now target.

Just as canny Indian business supported Gandhi in his struggle, Kejriwal also shall derive support from those Indian corporates, who are competitive and efficient and who therefore stand to gain from transparency, the reduction of red tape and strict oversight of babu discretion and corruption. The ones that are not shall hopefully adapt their revenue models and not grudge the Nation this growth opportunity.

Since Kejriwal and his band are new politicians and relatively young, India has at least two decades before they also get swept up into the sweet embrace of the chattering glitterati. Whilst this is inevitable (remember the story of Brahmrishi Vishwamitra and Menaka) in these two decades till 2035, Kejriwal can change the course of Indian history in three ways.

First, he can, at last, bust the centralized, colonial administrative structure we inherited from the British by systematically distributing the power to spend public money downwards (to state governments, districts, blocks and villages) so that government comes as close to the citizens, as is possible and technically optimal.

A good milestone for this could be to fit the entire Government of India into North and South Block with the rest of the Bhawans sold off. Defense and Internal Security, Diplomacy and External Trade, Fiscal and Monetary Policy management, Inter State Infrastructure and Taxation should be the only areas where the GOI should intervene financially and physically. The money for managing all the other areas, ranging from education to ayurvedic medicine should be sent as grants to be used by states and local government within a broad National Regulatory Framework, prescribing minimum standards of service and access. Our State Governments are very competent to manage their own economic and social development and do not need interference from the center.

Second, AAP should reduce the fiscal deficit to 2% by disciplining government expenditure whilst facilitating private sector job creation at all levels. Not just fancy jobs in IT but also ordinary jobs like chai servers (to whom the Congress has a special aversion); mechanics, plumbers, fitters, domestic help, cleaners, tailors, weavers, waiters. Grow the real sectors of the economy, where we have a comparative advantage. Leather exports have done more for Dalit economic empowerment that job reservations. Develop basic technical, language and “life” skills so that our citizens remain internationally competitive and can move up the compensation value chain. Target creating 10 million jobs a year; tenfold more than the 1 million jobs we create today.

Third, reverse the trust deficit. Citizens do not trust the State today. They distrust politicians, fear the police and are contemptuous of babus. Make public information available suo-motto so that citizens no longer need to use RTI to ferret out facts; manage grievances effectively and associate citizens with decisions. But the key ingredient is pure intentions; citizens can smell out mala-fide and hypocrisy instantly.  

It is a tough for the chatterati, high flying lawyers who spout the paramouncy of law, rules and regulations on TV, entrenched politicians and the elite flotsam surrounding them, to accept that citizens are the majority owners of government. If citizens are treated the way minority shareholders are at corporate AGMs (correctly within the law and the rules, but with no heart at all and generally as minor distractions to be endured every year) they are more than likely to take to the streets.

But don’t forget. It is we, the entrenched ones, who push citizens out into the streets and into the warm and loving embrace of Mother Kejriwal and the AAP.

 

Comments on: "Mother Kejriwal embraces Indian aam" (1)

  1. Kejriwal must not limit himself to being a social mobilizer. We had JP and other social mobilizers. They had only a limited impact.We need someone who will deliver systemic change. If he does not make significant improvements in Delhi and gets lost in national politics he will be remembered only as an agitator. If however he succeeds in improving governance in Delhi, he will have a much better chance at the national level .

    He needs to deliver governance. Any idiot from the NAC or Congress, can give subsidies what we need is someone who will deliver services and governance .

    As regards delegating power to spend, downwards to the panchayat the Mani Shankar Aiyar way, please read the novel Raag Darbari by Shri Lal Shukla,which shows the crazy way panchayats operate in North India. In the current system we have the CAG or others to highlight the loot, in panchayati raj the entire money will be skimmed away by the sarpanch and his chamchas and no one will be the wiser.

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