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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The lost decade: (Mis)Governance lessons from India

Disclaimer 1: Its purely based on perception with facts and reports available in public domain! If you don't agree with this in part of full, its easy, just ignore / delete this link. If you agree, its easier, please leave a comment :).

Disclaimer 2: The author is not an expert in politics but the performance of this government gives him a serious delusion that he can be one. :)

A section of Indians were deeply worried that the contribution from ancient India on philosophy, spirituality, science, politics, language, literature, astronomy et al seems to have stopped and looked like a thing of the past. They were anxious as to when will India will start to teach the world on new management techniques catching up with the 21st century trends.

This blog is dedicated to those millions and I am giving a 4 point formula on (mis-) Governance which we seem to have mastered. As we look back the last 10 years we notice that millions have been pushed into poverty, thousands of crores of savings and investments lost, a generation of Indians have been pushed deeper into debts, morale of the armed forces dented, independence and efficiency of judiciary and institutions like CVC, CEC, CBI etc are seriously compromised. It takes lots of effort to do this to a billion people and let’s look at what those golden rules are:

Rule 1: With us or against us
Our government that is in power is sending a very strong message that "If you are with us, then everything is OK, if you are against us then every law, agency and resource shall be directed against you". This includes parties, NGOs, corporates and what not. You need to be matured to understand this rule. May be by the end of this blog you may understand this better. 

Rule 2: Limited Latitude
Opposition parties, NGOs, media houses all are given a latitude - a margin with which they are free to do anything as long as they don't target the first family or those closer to them. If you cross this margin then the above rule 1 would apply. Most of the parties and institutions seems to stick to this rule. Some examples listed below.

Rule 3: Partners in crime
This is the democratic aspect of this government where the loot is shared. There is enough for all of us to loot and share as long as you play along. The middle class tax payers and the honest citizens are the only suckers in India, rest all play this game. This is the circle some of our media companies and NGOs are part of. Be it ad revenues, sponsored news, planted articles or the anti-Modi industry all are benefited under this rule. In fact I can safely say that the only industry that survived under UPA is the anti-Modi cottage industry. Flagship ones like Telecom, Infrastructure, Insurance and Airlines have all bitten the dust.

Rule 4: Unique scam management methodology “IDD- TBD-HIM”
This 3 stage, 9 step methodologies can be patented by UPA and is very unique for the world. This also should encourage lots of quasi-democracies to adopt for democracy for they see that this technique would help them survive any scams and inefficiencies. The expansion of this anagram is:

Stage 1: Ignore – Deny – Divert
Stage 2: Technicality - Blame – Democratize
Stage 3: Helplessness – Innocence - Manage

This is the scam management methodology which is so far produced 6 sigma results for the government.

Stage 1:
Ignore the scam and then be in denial, then divert the scam with some other scam or news. Service of media houses comes in very handy here.

Stage 2:
The stage called ‘technicality” is the original script of UPA ministers like PC, Sibal and Manish Tiwari. Through the law book to you and explain how it is such a technically correct decision but a poor economic or a governance decision. 2G and Coal scam used this technique as much as possible. “Coal in mother earth” and ‘Zero loss theory” should be etched in stone and kept as a memorabilia near Qutub Minar for the future generations to know that we had such morons governing us.

Else blame the previous government or other parties. We followed NDA’s policy and other such crap. The last step in this stage is to democratize the scam like it has been like this since independence, across the world blah blah. Typical statements are “Law will take its own course”, we should not politicize this.

Experts and NGOs come in handy here.

Stage 3:
But the cherry is being openly helpless. Be it the prime minister or Congress ministers, they can throw their hand in air and say “What can I do?” The person governing shall suddenly become a party member, just descended from the mountains of moon and act as if there is no accountability on them and comment on their own performance.

But what is unique to India is the innocence of the first family in all that. Yeah! I don’t Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is aware of the lathi charge order, hanging of terrorists etc. Even though everyone knows that nothing moves without the explicit approval of Gandhis. In fact we can safely say that this is the bedrock of this rule that if it happens to be controversial or adverse to vote banks then the first family is not aware of it.

If everything else has failed we can use the institutions to “manage the environment”. This can also be called the CBI stage which ensures that the enquiry runs for few decades and everyone related to the enquiry is dead or mentally old to remember anything so that there is an adverse or no Judgment at all. We can follow up by giving even a “Bharat Ratna” posthumously if he is from the first family. Ex. 1984 Sikh riots and Bofors..

I would consider them naive who believe a change in regime would change our course and dumb if they think that this technique will die with UPA.

Let’s look at some examples and why I say so:

  • Budget for CWG was supposed to be ~INR 7000 Crores which was increased to ~ INR 70000 Crores which is a 10 times increase approved by GoM and PM. Out of which only INR 1600 crores were spent by Kalmadi and the balance is spent by whom? Have you seen the opposition insisting on this apart from some passing remarks. Conspicuously silent!

  • Damadji's exploits with DLF and Haryana are very well documented. This episode was allowed to die a silent death by the opposition. Why? Again conspicuously silent!

  • Minor episode of Young Indians minor episode with the assets of the publication company (National hearld) was that serious that the congress party's registration as a national party could have been suspended / cancelled. Again a silent burial. Read more about it here

  • The whole political and industrial class seems to be one big family when it comes to issues against Reliance - be it Gas projects and its pricing, Delhi Metro rail project, Delhi electricity pricing, Issues around investments and approvals on Lavasa city project, Agricultural deaths in Maharastra and AP, Loots on irrigation projects,...  neither urgency nor action on any of the issues.. All are complicit and silent!

This article may sound very pessimistic and sarcastic and I agree that I have given vent to those feelings inside me. I am certainly discounting the thousands of PILs and the war waged by the Single man army like Mr. Subramaniam Swamy against this. I would also like to sound more hopeful and perhaps may be you can help!

Yours sarcastically

Happy reading!

A disaster called Dr. Manmohan Singh!

Disclaimer 1: This blog is based on my perception supported by facts as available.

As a wise man said, "Time is a great leveler". On the eve of the results of the last elections this is what i blogged about the decisive mandate received by UPA.  

Needless to add that I am one of those most disappointed citizens of this country and a review now on the State of the nation seems very different.

Dr. Manmohan Singh whom i have fondly started addressing as "Sikhandi Singh" has certainly taken us back to the 1991 days in his 10 years of reign or probably worse and would certainly find his way in all the management text books for the best case study of the century on "How not to run a country!".

Lets look at how the economy is mismanaged: 

Image Courtesy: Business Today

  • The revenue deficit which was sub 2.5% of GDP has more than doubled to 5%+.
  •  Subsidies which were 10% of the central government revenue expenditures in 2000-01 has increased by whopping 60% and is now 16% in 2009-10 as per finance ministry figures.
  • The worrying part is that the defense expenditure has reduced from 14% to 10% in the similar period.
  • Take every measure in economy like savings rate, investments, growth, inflation etc and every measure is on the wrong side of the health.
It is clear that the first 4 years of boom in UPA 1 is primarily because of the growth momentum and feel good factor that NDA government has left back.  
  • Experts are tearing apart the MGNREGA, that it encourages unskilled labor pools to remain unskilled and more so increases the labor costs for agriculture and other rural economy requirements.
  • Its better not to talk about inflation and government's response to that to avoid very un-parliamentary language in this blog.
Couple of years back few experts have expressed their fear that UPA government is taking India to be the Greece of Asia and i think we are very close to it now than ever.

Plight of flaggship Industries: 
Lets see how flagship industries were grounded. In 2004, Telecom, Infrastructure, Airlines and Financial sector were among the top industries which are now grounded and flushed through the drain - both in its current performance and its future outlook.

What happened to Telecom after 2G is very evident and the same thing happened in every big project be it how the airports are privatized, how the unofficial carrier of India is Emirates and not any Indian airlines, how Indian Airlines and Air India were screwed, looted and pushed into debt traps, the inordinate delay and corruption laden infrastructure projects, be it how our nation is held to ransom by Big brother on the gas projects... and the list is endless.

Screw the democratic institutions:

After the 2009 election euphoria the incident which woke me up was Shikandi Singh's statement on A. Raja on the 2G case. When the issue was raised in 2010, MMS replied to media that "I asked A Raja if there are any mistakes committed and Raja told me that everything is absolutely as per law, so we should drop this topic".

Well that when i thought we are setting new governance standards, were we inquire the accused if there are any issues and decide to drop the issue based on accused's assurance. How is that! But that was just a precursor of what followed.

Be it CVC (Where MMS pleaded ignorance after SC slapping him and he lost his face in front of the nation), PAC and JPC (for 2G), Armed forces on uniform pay and the issue with Army chief, be it SEBI (Which sometimes looks like our PM - muted and impotent for all the issues which we see around), Enforcement directorate, IT department, CAG and above all Congress Bureau of investigation, not one institution is spared and every setup is degraded to an extent that we have started looking at each one of them with suspicion.

In my opinion a Tsunami or Katrina like hurricane or a deadly virus like SARS or a nuclear attack or a combination of all would not have been as deadly but for what we are going through now. Japan took about 2+ years to recover from the triple disaster (Earth Quake + Tsunami + Nuclear disaster) but India may require more than 5 years to recover from where Dr. Singh has taken us.

Millions have been pushed into poverty, thousands of crores of savings and investments lost, a generation of Indians have been pushed deeper into debts, morale of the armed forces dented, independence and efficiency of judiciary and institutions like CVC, CEC, CBI etc are seriously compromised.

Had it been a country like China for this performance the corrupt, non-performing parts of  government and the leadership would have been sent to jail for life. Alas! we are not China and I am cursing ourselves on this aspect.

Apart from the economy, industry and democratic institutions, Dr. Singh has managed to create permanent scars in the self esteem of many Indians and deep dents in our hope for a better future. For this disaster needs more time to fight back, rebuilding our institutions and more importantly we need to mend our sense of hope and self belief.

May the almighty give us enough strength to come out of this disaster as quickly as possible.

Yours sadly,

Happy reading!!