We, the middle class, must take to politics

dir="ltr">The low polling percentage in MCH elections – about 50% – has raised many eyebrows. Elections are the very lifeblood of a democracy. Honest and capable citizens freely chosen as their representatives in a fair election process constitute the essence of good governance. An election is therefore about ‘who’ get elected, ‘how’ the election is conducted and ‘what’ they do after the election. Elections involve organization of political parties, evolving a platform, mobilizing public opinion, campaigning to convey the message to the voters, and obtaining support to get elected.

Local Governments and Fiscal Management

Local governments have been constitutionally mandated with the enactment of the 73rd and 74th amendments in 1993.  Sadly, the Constitution only provides for over-structured and underpowered local governments. The results are mixed. The role of local governments as schools for democracy is well recognised.  Chittaranjan Das, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhashchandra Bose, Prakasam Pantulu and several other stalwarts started their political careers in local governments.

No Room for Cynicism and Despair

The new year brings little cheer to the long-suffering people. War clouds are hovering over our skies. Much of the economy is stagnant. The share of manufacturing sector as a proportion of GDP is in decline. Tax revenues are well below projections, and expenditure – mostly unproductive - continues to mount. Capital markets are jittery and investor confidence is low. Banks are flush with funds, and yet legitimate credit requirements of the surviving manufacturing enterprises are not met. But spurious companies get large loans for imaginary purposes.

Rhetorical Flourishes as Substitutes to Resolute Action

dir="ltr">With the nation's attention riveted on the dastardly terrorist attack on Parliament on 13th December, the recent talk of universal literacy has receded to the background.  For every failure of ours we have two easy alibis of global recession and cross-border terrorism.  An occasional rhetorical flourish is taken as an adequate substitute for resolute action in respect of all our long-standing domestic problems.


Economists are rightly concerned about the slowing down of our growth. But they are wrong when they link our slow growth with global recessionary trends. And lately, 11th September has become the excuse to explain away our own sluggish economy. The problems of our economy are far more fundamental, and have little to do with global cycles.

Rule of law a prerequisite for prosperity

diThe recent debate on POTO helped draw our attention on failure of rule of law. Although the Supreme Court in Jayalalitha case held that rule of law is supreme, in reality our incapacity to enforce rule of law has done immense damage to our polity and has become an impediment to economic growth. Right to property, sanctity of contracts, mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes, public order, and a system of fair and equitable laws well-enforced are the prerequisites of economic growth. We clearly need strong measures to promote peace and order.

Infrastructure Policies - Privatization is no Panacea

The recent paralysis of public transport in AP on account of the RTC employees strike once again brought to the fore the debate between public sector and private sector. That we need competition and private initiative for improving productivity and quality of consumer goods and services is by now well-established. While there may have been a case for public investment in sectors like steel, government dabbling in business did more harm than good in the long term.

Wasted Decades — Time for Purposive Action

Starting this fortnight, the nation began to celebrate with great fanfare and nostalgia the birth centenary year of Loknayak JP. For a whole generation of youngsters, in whose lives the emergency period was a defining epoch, JP remains an authentic hero. Only those who lived through that period will understand the ecstacy and hope with which the fall of congress and the victory of the fledgeling Janata Party on March 21, 1977 were welcomed. Those were days of great expectation and genuine belief that a peaceful revolution had indeed begun.

The real danger of subversion from within


Since Black Tuesday the whole world has been glued to television, transfixed by the  horror unfolding in front of their eyes, thanks to endless replays of the gruesome tragedy.  The American response was even more fascinating.  Initially there were signs of panic and confusion.  Quickly they gave way to order, and a cold fury and cries for resolute action. Blind rage and demands for ‘bombing Afghanistan to stone age’ are replaced by more measured, calibrated responses.  The system found effective direction and leadership.

Pitfalls in Political Funding Reform

dir="ltr">As Mark Twain said, nothing concentrates the mind more beautifully than the knowledge that one has only fifteen days to live. As the political and economic crisis is worsening, and as illegitimate and unaccounted election expenditure is skyrocketing (there are instances of candidates buying votes in village panchayats spending Rs 1.5 crore!), parties are showing belated but welcome signs of eagerness for political funding reform.