People and Governance in the Future

People and Governance in the Future -19 August2002 at ASCI

Sand Tracks or Proper Rails?

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Some one once asked Archimedes, "People say you are a great scientist, can you move the earth?". He replied confidently “Yes, give me a place to stand on and a long enough lever and I will move the earth”

Courage to Lead

For far too long governments in this country were held to ransom by the entrenched employee unions who were able to get almost anything they sought. Out of the total 28 million employees in the organized sector who get a monthly secure wage, 20 million are in government alone. This makes even the lowest employee in government more powerful than the 900 million ordinary Indians. In spite of getting a decent wage and having life-time security, government employees rarely deliver services of quality.

Fresh Blood In Public Service

There is no greater calling than public service

FDR

Institutions are the Key; Not Culture

No. Corruption is not a cultural or genetic problem. There is no special predisposition to corrupt behaviour in our society any more than in any other culture. Ordinary Indians are as decent and honest as people anywhere in the world throughout the ages. A reputed global magazine conducted a survey of levels of integrity in several nations by dropping at several public places equivalent sums of money (in purchasing power terms) in small packets containing addresses. About 85 percent of Indians – mostly the poor, hard-working labourers-returned the money to the addressee!

Irrational Land Policies

Many of us know of at least one relative or friend who was a victim of an unscrupulous tout, selling land that didn’t belong to him or which is in a legal tangle – sometimes we ourselves have been victims. Very often these land touts come up with forged documents and sell government land to unsuspecting victims. If they find some one gullible enough, they are even ready to sell the Charminar! We hear many instances of people investing their life savings, only to realize that even after getting the land officially registered, the title is contested.

Politics of Tokenism

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One should set their course by the twinkle of the distant stars and not by the lights of a passing ship

Last week, chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu has suddenly decided to bless us with a shower of gifts to make up for the sweltering heat wave that we are going through. He has announced a package of sops worth Rs 700 cr for the farmers, Rs 300 cr for fishermen and agriculture labour, Rs 1000 cr for artisans and weaker sections. He has also resolved to gift every girl child attending a government school with a bicycle!

Agents of the “Crown”

During colonial times, the British Raj used to administer its provinces in India through Governors and “Resident Agents” (in princely states). And within each province/state, the head of administration for each district was the “Collector” who used to report directly to the Governor. Not withstanding the fact that many civil servants of that era have done an outstanding job in public service, they still used to function as the agents of the Crown/Raj.

Perennial Threats – Quick Fixes

A glance at the news headlines in the past few weeks made me very frustrated. Some of the headlines read: “ Mysterious viral fever attack leaves scores of kids dead”, “ Floods devastate northeast India”, “One more train disaster”, “ Farmers upset at not getting quality seeds”. Headlines in previous years around this time are more or less the same. Why is it that we are not able to tackle and find lasting solutions to these perennial problems?