Category Archives: Government

911 vs 100: A Realistic Review

dial 100

By Ankit Chandra

Yes. I plan to compare the two numbers. There are many factors to look at, and I will try to sum them up as precisely as possible…

Ask any American, or watch enough Hollywood movies and you will see that 911 is something that Americans use very frequently, for things as small as sticking your hand to something very embarrassing (in American Pie) to something much bigger as in Die Hard… But you get the picture… as soon as there is any situation of any kind and severity, 911 is one of the first things they will think of. Efficiency of this system is so good that you are almost assured a response in minutes wherever you are in the country. There is proper research done while making roads, to ensure that any part of a city is reachable in 2-10 minutes from the nearest Police patrol (my ex roommate was working for a firm that did this research)

100 on the other hand usually has a fleeting reference in the heads of Indians. Should something go wrong, the first set of people we think about are our neighbors, or friends. In some cases, we probably don’t even want to get involved with the police. Like Hollywood in previous case, if you watch enough Bollywood movies, you will see that people do not usually want the police to get involved, or the police any how comes only when the hero has beaten the crap out of the villain, despite the absence of police. What I imply from this is that police is at least considered inept, or inconsiderate, or untrustworthy.

But if I think deeper about this, the differences don’t just stay as mere facts and jokes as above… They begin to show the vast difference that exists between the two countries.

To implement a system like 911, a few basic things are needed. First it needs to be such a dependable system that time and again, anywhere, anyhow, should there be an emergency, some help should be able to reach the victim. It is only then that a person will trust this 3 digit number so much to remember, and call, this number when their life is in danger. In addition, this number should be able to give you the warmth that you would have no inhibitions in trusting them for any situation of any sort. Third, the versatility of this number should be such that this number can handle any kind and severity of situation.

These are just a few components that go into making this system work. Any person in Process Management would tell you that this calls for operational efficiency, and that too of a very high standard, because it deals with lives of people. Implementing this, even in a small society of 200 apartments is such a huge pain. I can tell you this by my experience in getting an electrician to fix a power cut in my apartment in Delhi.

Now imagine implementing this at the level of a nation. One of the world’s biggest nations by land size and population. But this has been implemented here in the US. And everytime I think of this system, and dare to compare it to 100, I first get awestruck, and then get upset.

Why can’t India implement a system like that? What’s stopping us? Don’t we deserve to have such a system to help us lead a better life? Must our loved ones die waiting for help to arrive? Or worse still. die waiting because the PM is visiting the Hospital?

It needs will which is easy to say, but much more difficult to implement. It is also dependent on how strongly people ask for this, and make this (instead of speaking Marathi in Maharashtra) a political issue. And that comes from social awareness. That is VERY different from education, which is again VERY different from literacy… A nation of 1 billion, with most people not even knowing the significance/value of such a system is where we lack the point. And I think the most critical role here is to be played by the middle class in India. I belong to it, and by having studied in US now, I know what we lack. There are many more middle class students who have been lucky enough to see and understand the difference between the two systems. Now that we are ‘aware’ we must pass this on, and strive to make everyone aware of this.

It is only when people are aware of this that leaders will rise, and take this issue further, and even take it on to them to implement this. And then we will have someone to vote for. Then we could also look at appointment of competent officers in implementing this system, and much more importantly, sustaining it.

The best way to resolve our issues is to move bottom up. And for that we need to be aware…

  • ReThink911 (careandwashingofthebrain.blogspot.com)

Of The People; For The People; Lets ‘Buy’ The People

voting

By Ankush Kumar

Today has been no different then yesterday. Except for the date perhaps. What a week can do to the fortunes of one’s life; can be best answered by the Indian Cricket team. What effect the monsoon’s can have on somebody can be seen in the eyes of a common farmer. How valuable independence is ‘can be answered by only those who are chained since eternity’.

Today as USA celebrates its year of independence, we continue to believe in the fairy tale stories illustrated by the Congress. They have been pioneers in cooking up hopes for a billion people daily and we have been weak enough to be accepting false promises on the platter. The Panchtantra tales have entertained us since childhood, the Congress ones almost have the same effect sans the moral quotient.

Today the ordinance on the Food security bill was national news. Have you all noticed whenever there is matter on the Congress ‘Sonia Gandhi’ photograph invariably makes 
the cut. Have you ever wondered why? I mean she is not the Prime minister, she holds no cabinet portfolio, and then why is her picture chosen above everyone else? The answer obviously is that ‘her portfolio has been shot better’! Congress has more photogenic faces, poor BJP they only have good leaders, and that my friends seriously count for very little in the Indian scenario.

One of my closest friends had told me once ‘ Today I am a proud Indian, as my President and my Prime minister are educated leaders’. Well today I have a chance to reply ‘yes bro our president then was a man of integrity, today though our president has no teeth forget the grit’. On the PM front he is the best person who can answer how it feels to live without a spine. To live a life for nine years without any backbone needs tremendous grit and courage. I am super proud that we have such courageous leaders in India today.

It takes meticulous planning and large-hearted efforts to take the country ‘nowhere’ in just nine years. The pinnacle that we have achieved should largely be credited to Dr. Manmohan Singh and madam Sonia Gandhi’s UPA government. I was told in tenth standard that I would have to put in large amount of efforts to fail my board exams; I chose to do the reverse and unfortunately passed. But the Congress seems to have taken that humor seriously and have come out as failures in flying colors.

In nine years they have more committees than policies, they have more scams than revenues, yet they seem to have more voters than supporters. Ever wondered why? Let me explain. The way India manufactures more Black label scotch bottles than its actual production.

This was meant to be an open letter to our Prime minister. But as I began writing, halo struck that the confusion still persists on who is our leader. Hence this is now addressed to you the people. Please let me know who is the ‘elected representative’ of our country? Do we really have one? My school level civics knowledge has taken a beating ever since I have been told that a Rajya Sabha member will be our Prime minister.

The other help that I need is that please convert this post in different languages so that the message reaches out loud and clear. ‘ The opposite of Pro is Con; hence the opposite of Progress is Congress. Hence proven.

Sheila vs Arvind: The Fight The Nation Is Waiting For

arvind kejriwal

By Ankush Kumar

She still has it in her to fight once again. He is a newbie in the race, chancing his luck with crores of frustrated people. This battle is not as one sided as it seems. Arvind Kejriwal & Sheila Dixit will lock horns in the forthcoming Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections and the entire nation will be watching the developments very closely.

Arvind Kejriwal is not a TV star or a movie icon, who walks into a constituency just before the elections, addresses issues of people and yet sounds like a moron. He is a shrewd tactician who has planned his entry with minimum fuss and maximum action in the past two years. Unlike many other urban leaders he is not just an E-phenomena. He has garnered faithful followers cutting across all sections of society.

The auto drivers, the taxiwallahs, the youth on social media and the retired uncles at the chai shop, all swear by him. By making the right noise in different circles he has succeeded in generating immense response amongst the people. Will all of this translate into votes is the big question?

If past is an indicator then the answer well and truly is ‘YES’ he will have votes. If Govinda can make a lame promise of changing the air for the people and win the elections, surely, atleast Kejriwal is intelligent. If we have leaders who compliment their opposition counterparts on their beauty, atleast this man is talking about the safety of woman. If we can have chief ministers who blame population influx as the reason for deteriorating law and order, atleast this man stands up for the common man.

Time and again he has challenged madam chief minister on the electricity issue, but it seems she is only interested in keeping her waning powers in check than addressing the power woes of the people.

The only threat to Arvind Kejriwal is from the non-electorate elements, which have been instrumental in Congress winning elections. If he can keep those elements at bay then maybe India could see the beginning of a new era in Indian politics.

P.S: The journey from 0 to 1 is the toughest. If Arvind Kejriwal pulls this off then AAP is well and truly on its way.

 

Pati Patni Aur Woh In The Bihar Political Drama

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Our Political Analyst from Bihar analyses the situation in the state referencing it with frequent marriages and divorces in the Indian Political arena. A must read where he mentions no matter what the equations become, the only loser would be the state and the people of Bihar. 

“Marriage is like a deck of cards. In the beginning all you need is two hearts and a diamond. In divorce though, a club and a spade would have been better”. This how relationships begin and when the going gets tough, the tough decides to fizzle out. In the last seventy two hours the Indian political class has seen a bitter divorce that has taken place. A formidable marriage between the BJP & JD (U) has finally gone kaput.

In the last seventeen years both these parties made their voters believe ‘they cannot live without each other’. Kept each other’s secrets close to their chest, both of them covered each other’s lies, they had their voters hypnotized by their actions and today out of the blue they tell the world that ‘we are sorry, we were wrong, we can live without each other’.

Day before yesterday the rains ruined an India v/s Pakistan classic, but yesterday was Super Sunday in Bihar politics. As the news started to trickle in that the marriage is over the entire city of Patna wore a deserted look. Normally the eateries do roaring business here on the weekends, but the voters had already been given enough food for thought to keep their stomachs full through the night.

The fear of a certain mister Laloo Prasad Yadav winning the next assembly elections came back to haunt the business community yesterday. The young entrepreneurs who came back to the city in the last seven years and pumped in money to establish their settlements feared for the worse in the coming time.

What hurt the people was the fact that a state that was once considered a liability had become an asset in such a short span of time, a government that won the last assembly elections purely on the issue of development had chosen to betray the faith of their people over the secular v/s communal divide.

The other woman in the relationship was waiting to take advantage of the divide. Congress had been sending feelers to JDU for the past two years now. What the two partners failed to realise was that every marriage goes through problems; there are times when both face ideological differences, both have an ego tussle ensuing, but at the end of the day, the alliance was not just about them, it was also about their loved ones; their voters. The problem is when JDU realised it had a cushion to fall back on, they had stopped caring about the relationship.

What unfolds in the near future is something only the clock will decide, but one thing is sure, the jolted voters will answer this step in the next general elections. Either ways whoever forms the government at the centre ‘BIHAR & ITS PEOPLE STAND TO LOSE’.

P.S: BJP is saying to the Congress ‘Honey you can have him’. We deserve better!

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Government and Governance: What is it All About?

Malathy Madathilezham analyses the political and social significance of the terms ‘government’ and ‘governance’.

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The terms governance is used liberally by us and around us in media and public discussions but it is important to understand the concept to understand the significance of the same social, economic and political context. Therefore what is governance, how did the emphasis shift from government to a broader term governance, where government is just one among the players. I shall try to explore some of these aspects in this post.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘Government is the, agency, through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects.’ According to Heywood (as cited in Jordan, Wurzel, & Zito, 2003), the ‘core functions’ of government is to ‘make law (legislation), implement law (execution) and interpret law (adjudication).’ For Richards and Smith (as cited in  ordan, Wurzel, & Zito, 2003), ‘government is bureaucracy, legislation, financial control, regulation and force’.  Government is also referred to the formal institutions of the state and their monopoly of legitimate coercive power. The notion of government implies that there is only one centre of power in a unitary state, but in reality there are many centers and diverse links between many agencies of government—at local, regional, national and supranational levels.

There are various forms of governments such as democracy or autocracy but here I am exploring the concept of government as used in social sciences. In a broad sense, government would involve representation which is somewhat inevitable where there are large numbers of people and this representation may be imperfect too. Imperfection may mean that the representative may not be actually be elected through a majority by all those eligible to do so but only those who cared to vote. For e.g.: the recent BMC elections where the voter turnout was only 45%! Anyhow, it is this representative government that plays the central role in overall policy framing for development and management of resources and provision of basic services to the society. Thus government is associated with regulation. It can be seen that there is often a gap between the citizens and the representatives due to various reasons and for effective implementation of the policies and laws the government cannot function in isolation and therefore it is imperative to include the citizens in the process of development and formulation of policies. Therefore, as one of the government’s roles it has the responsibility of developing necessary cooperation at all levels.

Governance: Definitions
It is interesting to see the way governance is defined by the international organizations. According to the World Bank it is the “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development” with key dimensions being public sector management (stress on capacity and efficiency), accountability, the legal framework for development and information and transparency. The Asian Development Bank says about governance that “it encompasses the functioning and capability of the public sector, as well as the rules and institutions that create the framework for the conduct of both public and private business, including accountability for economic and financial performance, and regulatory frameworks relating to companies, corporations, and partnerships”.  Accoding to Kitthananan, this shows the interest of the international organisation is to strengthen  domestic institutions for policy development and implementation while Niraja Jayal argues that the governance agenda is closely linked to the neo-liberal principles of politics and economics with a strong case for ‘rolling back’ of the state and also withdrawal from its redistributive commitments.

According to her this aspect of governance is not acceptable due to moral considerations. Al-Habil here takes a more neutral stand by saying that while generally governance is finally about creating conditions for ordered rule and collective action but agrees that  it entails in it the desire to cull out functions away from government and contract out to private sector and non profits organisations in the belief that they would run things ‘better’ and more efficiently. In this context, it has been also contended that government and governance are not fixed entities but can be seen as the two ends of a continuum of different governing types.

Analysis of Governance
Kitthananan goes on to give the framework for analysis of governance through various perspective which would help to understand the theoretical and pragmatic concerns of governance. He refers to Stoker who has provided interrelated propositions that help understanding governance theory which are:

  1. Governance refers to a set of institutions and actors that are drawn from, but also beyond, government
  2. Governance identified the blurring of boundaries and responsibilities for tacking social and economic issues.
  3. Governance identifies the power dependence involved in the relationships between institutions involved in collective action.

These help us to understand that with the increase in the number of actors, centralised government became only one among others when it came to making of policy and the process of governing.

Conclusion

The political nature of governance is obvious because it depends on interaction between different stakeholders who will have diverse interest and differential power. This has been sidelined and the focus has been on participatory approaches. While the principles behind participatory mechanisms this can be appreciated but then the effectiveness of this can be contested because on the ground this process remains largely influenced by the political and social fabric which dictates who is ‘able’ and ‘allowed’ to participate. What this has also led to increased alienation of people who resorted to ‘political’ mechanism because of other factors which restrict their participation.

There were existing informal and formal participatory mechanism but the shift to governance has resulted in new opportunities for non-government actors to participate. The challenge is here to build the capacity of those who are to participate and at the same time reduce the risk of capture by vested interest groups. This can be particularly important at the local level where a certain person of group exercise unchallenged power and can manipulate the local government.

Decentralization offers certain opportunities for improved governance through local level planning and implementation, citizen and community participation, improved efficiency through involvement of private players etc. There is greater acceptance, in fact, invitation for citizen and community participation. For e.g.: the Slum Sanitation Programs which focuses on a demand led approach to sanitation and envisaged involvement of community right at the planning stage. Also increased powers to the ULBs and local governments, brings governance closer to the people, with a bottom up approach.

The local governments are subjected to both central and state control and do not operate in isolation. These could be administrative, financial and political. Local administrative bodies have municipal commissioners and other officials who are bureaucrats. The state/central budgets, policies and laws are applicable on the ULBs which may or may not be conducive to their conditions. The political control could be significant due to party links which would be largely ‘vertical’ (party system is evident in all three tiers and people at times vote for the party rather than individuals). In addition, they are dependant on state departments like PHED, PWD etc for technical assistance, development authorities, electricity boards and financial institutions. This could be horizontal to part of the government within a given locality. The challenge here is how to implement the concepts of governance in this intricate web of interdependency with the opportunities provided.

It is also interesting to look at aspects of equity while analyzing the shift to governance. How have been these addressed on the ground? Does participation, increased efficiency, roll back of the state, transparency, accountability actually lead to better equity?

For the shift to governance to be beneficial, the steps have to be taken to ensure that aspects of equity are not ignored in the rush to implement ‘best practices’ in order to attract aid and investment which are conditionally linked to most of these good governance practices.

Mannequins, BMC and Another Pointless Debate

mannequin-dummies

Ankush Kumar writes why BMC’s strategy of getting Mannequin’s off the Mumbai roadsides is useless and why should they rather focus on constructive things. Again, in a format he loves his articles being seen in.

Ankush BMC 1

Ankush BMC 2

Ankush BMC 3

Ankush BMC 4

Arvind Kejriwal Vs Sheila Dikshit And The Twitterati

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As the news broke of Arvind Kejriwal deciding to take on Delhi’s Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the twitterati went abuzz. Here’s a few of the best ones in our collection of best tweets. 

Dilip K. Pandey (@dilipkpandey): सुना है शीला जी अब तैयारी में हैं मैदान छोड़ने की 🙂

Aam Aadmi Party (@AamAadmiParty): विजय गोयल के खिलाफ क्यों खड़े हो, मच्छर मारने को बोफोर्स नही चलाते

Aam Aadmi Party (@AamAadmiParty): झूम के निकली है आंधी,अब पत्तों की खैर नही, सिर्फ भ्रष्ट ही घबराना हमसे,सबसे अपना बैर नही #AKvsSheila

Chanchal Sharma (@chanchal_in): डरते नही है हवाओं से हम,सिरफिरे तूफ़ान हैं, ज़रा दूर से टकराव यारों,इस नदी में उफान है #AKvsSheila

And some were real strong ones as well

Deepak Singh (@deepaksingh83): अब नई-दिल्ली विधान सभा के मतदाता तय करेंगे की वह किसके साथ हैं। “आप” के साथ या पाप (कांग्रेस) के साथ #AKvsSheila

Ankit Lal (@ankitlal): इतिहास गवाह रहेगा, कैसे दिल्ली की मुख्यमंत्री को विपक्ष के सबसे कद्दावर नेता ने सामने से चुनौती दी! भाजपा में है इतनी हिम्मत? #AKvsSheila

Dr. Kumar Vishwas (@DrKumarVishwas): Ha ha ha कांग्रेस और भाजपा की यारी में अब एक ही नियम चलता है कि , मैं न सही तो तू सही और तू नही तो मैं सही, पर केजरीवाल नही #AKvsSheila

KJS Arora (@KanwaljtSingA): Waaaah Ustaad waah !! Boliye Arvind ji, kitni taaqat chahiye aap ko hum sab se?

The Patriot (@Djjpn): हमने आजतक 65 वर्षों में सड़ी-गली और मौकापरस्त राजनीति देखी थी इसलिए अरविन्द की नेतिकता और आदर्श की राजनीति को देख लोग अचंभित और उत्शाहित है।

Now you all know that its not going to be easy for Arvind Kejriwal but as they say that for those who speak the truth the opponent does not even exist. As far as I am concerned, by now you must be sure which side do I stand.