Long-term Public Good vs Short-term Political Costs

One of the great challenges in a democracy is how to reconcile the long term public good with the short term political price to be paid. Most major public policy decisions have a slow rate of social pay off, and involve instant political losses.  Leadership is essentially the ability to persuade people to accept the temporary pain for long term gain.  While there is no substitute to visionary and inspiring leadership, the political culture of a society and electoral system have a  profound  impact  on this ability to reconcile public good with political costs.

Ensuring a Safe City

A city has been turned into rubble and thousands perished in the recent earthquake in Iran. The image of a mother crying on seeing her dead children in the rubble will be forever etched in my mind. We cannot predict the ways of nature.

Mosquitoes, Musi and the USA factor

I recently learnt about a junior college-going boy who contracted dengue fever and later passed away.  His father was simply inconsolable.  As a fellow parent I was shocked at the tragic loss of a precious, young child.  When my children go to sleep, every night I adjust the mosquito nets on their beds so that mosquitoes cannot come in. Every parent can understand my anxiety.

Absence of Risk and Reward System

An acquaintance once remarked, “If anybody came up to me and said ‘India’s problems can be solved if the population is reduced by half’, I am willing to die”.

It doesn’t require such a great sacrifice to set India right. Nor does that kind of sacrifice guarantee things will be right in the end. Wasn’t our population half the present size only a few decades ago? Haven’t we managed to bungle? Far from any guaranteed success, we would have the additional problem of disposing off 500 million bodies!

Deify, then crucify. Lionize, then demonize

I am compelled to talk about a strange syndrome that is endemic among the Indian population. The initial symptoms of this disorder are acute:  the heart begins to beat rapidly, tongue gets tied in knots and the victim temporarily loses all intelligence and memory power.   The chronic symptoms are more dangerous: the victim’s spine slowly loses its strength and then disappears altogether; the knees remain permanently bended.  In some extreme cases (seen in parts of Tamil Nadu and Bombay), the victim is simply unable to get up from the prone position (‘saashtanga pranam’).

Error | Foundation for Democratic Reforms


The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.