Tag Archives: Politics

The Tale Of Entrapment

By Shivani Gupta

Under the affect of alcohol he could barely walk, walking looked so dangerous for him. His hands battled with glass wall to hold them. Tremendous pull of gravity made his grounded feet imbalanced and prone to collisions. His blurry vision and loose tongue crowned him as a super dangerous orator. Isn’t it “ITS KEWL”?

[Caution – My woven thoughts might sound CONSERVATIVE but understand the underlying message. READ THIS WITH OPEN HEAD]

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Youth population of any country is considered to be extremely important in defining its growth. India driven by corrupted politics and polluted mindsets can be superior nation if courageous youth determines to wash away evils. We have to be vigilant and determined enough to create this change, but are we?

To join us you have to be of ‘OUR TYPES’, and how do you define TYPE. The ‘type’ is clearly visible with multiplying clubs and bars. It reflects intensified and zingy social life of youth. Nightlife attraction is now top rated entertainment that has made its way through kicking all family boring parties. But here REMORSEFUL part is not midnight party culture but what happens after that….

Until dawn youth crazily party, experiment with alcohol and drugs, bid adieu party in arms of affluent strangers and then expects the snoring pot bellied cops to reach at right time if something wrong happens. Haven’t you ever learnt from bollywood spicy flicks that cops reaches to the crimes scene after IT’S DONE. SO BETTER BE RESPONSIBLE PARTY PEOPLE.

We chant bleak law and order in the society, AGREED… but how about you… when after two pegs you take an avatar of not being satisfied with alcohol even if bar is closed. You might feel light after peeing hundredth and thousandth times and continue gulping those golden tonics one after the other. Does that really matter in your life – Party and Booze?

My opinion of liberal is not against ones freedom or barring youth from parties. It is extremely important to be socially active with friends and families in order to enhance realm of networking and vent out mindful dishes. But it’s time to demarcate line of control, be a good example for your coming generation, who see you as a mentor. Let’s be responsible for our actions and stop hiding under the murky blankets of (bleak) law and order.

One should never forget lessons of – Anything in excess is harmful. 

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असल में हैं ये लोकतंत्र के बलात्कारी…

nitish sharad

 

Satish Tehlan feels the recent political problems have come because of Indian Politicians who can go to any extent for self gain. 

गठबन्धन के टूटने का कर दिया ऐलान,
नीतीश-शरद को दिख रहे केवल मुसलमान।

केवल मुसलमान, हिन्दू तो बंट जायेंगे,
कुछ अगड़े -कुछ पिछड़ों में छंट जायेंगे।

बहुमत हेतु बहुमत का अपमान कर रहे,
अल्पमत के वोटों पर अभिमान कर रहे।

ऐसे मतलबखोरों का तिरस्कार जरूरी,
धर्म के नाम पे कमा रहे हों जो मजदूरी।

राजनीति से इन्हें दफा करने की बारी,
असल में हैं ये लोकतंत्र के बलात्कारी।

 

किसान-एक संवेदनशील जीवन

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Abhinav Singh writes on why the farmer, who completes our lives, struggles to keep up his own.

ये कैसा जीवन,
जुबां पे सिर्फ आह है।
क्या करें पता नहीं,
क्युं नहीं मिलती कोई राह है।
बंज़र भूमि, बंज़र जीवन,
ज़िन्दगी भी तबाह है।
ये कैसा जीवन,
जुबां पे सिर्फ आह है।
क्या करें पता नहीं,
क्युं नहीं मिलती कोई राह है।
कैसे हो बच्चों की शिक्षा पुरी,
कैसे पुरी हो परिवार की अभिलाषा अधुरी।
खुद मुक्त भी नहीं होती यह जीवन,
मुक्त हो जाए तो होती हमारी चाह है।
ये कैसा जीवन,
जुबां पे सिर्फ आह है।
क्या करें पता नहीं,
क्युं नहीं मिलती कोई राह है।
 
कोई नेता कहीं अपनी मुर्ति बनवाए,
कोई खेलों से करोड़ों कमाए।
अश्क भी कोई समझ ले,
क्युं नहीं किसी को हमारी परवाह है।
ये कैसा जीवन,
जुबां पे सिर्फ आह है।
क्या करें पता नहीं,
क्युं नहीं मिलती कोई राह है।

Government and Governance: What is it All About?

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

the-word-government

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.

Globalization And The Role Of The Urban- 1

dharavi_2 globalisation

Malathy Madathilezham in two parts would be discussing two authors while trying to elaborate on how the urban or the city is playing a role in the process of globalisation and aided by the neoliberal process. In the first part she discussed Brenner’s approach to this urban question.

Neil Brenner’s writing and teaching focus on the theoretical, conceptual and methodological dimensions of urban questions. His work builds upon, and seeks to extend, the fields of critical urban and regional studies, comparative geopolitical economy and radical sociospatial theory. Major research foci include processes of urban and regional restructuring and uneven spatial development; the generalization of capitalist urbanization; and processes of state spatial restructuring, with particular reference to the remaking of urban, metropolitan and regional governance configurations under contemporary neoliberalizing capitalism (http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/#/people/neil-brenner.html).

Brenner looks at globalisation with a critical perspective on neoliberalism as it is practiced in the context of globalisation and the inherent contradiction that are reflected in cities by exploring the ongoing ‘urban restructuring’ processes. His focus lies mostly on old industrialized world, the practice of neoliberalism in the urban space and the process of creative destruction. He explores the localization of this practice in urban space and how it has resulted in an urbanization of neoliberalism itself.

According to Brenner, the global imposition of the neoliberal ideology has been uneven and the forms and socio-political consequences have also varied across spatial scales and in different ‘supraregional’ zones of the world. Neoliberal ideology became the dominant political and ideological form of capital globalization by mid 80s through international organisations and institutions like World Trade Organisation, World Bank etc who had become agents of transnational neoliberalism. These organisations institutionalised and extended market forces and commodification into the so called Third world nations through a process of structural adjustment programs.

The main tenets of the neoliberal ideology are ‘minimal state intervention’, market regulation, free trade, economic redistribution, individual liberty, etc. This neoliberal doctrine is used to justify deregulation of state in major industries, reduction in taxes, privatization of public services, liberalization etc. In actual practice however, on one hand it has given rise to intensively coercive state intervention to impose the ‘rule’ of market on all aspects of social life. This can be reflected in the way property taxes laws are being revised in India where they are now dependant on property prices rather than the date of construction. Thus the state occupies a very important role in the neoliberal practice as the enabler of capital by providing subsidies and acting as an arbitrator between capital and labour. In addition, the application of corporate practice to the functioning of the state has also lead to the state becoming entrepreneurial in nature.

For example the move from housing as a welfare function to an activity which would generate revenue for the state as can be seen from a perusal of the national and state housing policies. On the other hand, instead of optimal allocation of investments and resources through self regulating markets, the political practice of neoliberalism has generated market failures, newer forms of social polarization and a greater range of uneven development across different spatial scales The removal of barriers of exit and entry of capital leads to creation of a hierarchy of places in the world where certain places are preferred for investment and exchange. These places then form a network which are generated and maintained consciously. Thus the practice of neoliberalism is rampant with contradictions to the ideology that it claims to support.

Brenner also talks about creative destruction in the practices of neoliberalism which is basically the partial or complete destruction of existing institutional arrangements and political compromises and creation of new infrastructure for market oriented economic growth, commodification and rule of capital. Cities have become strategically crucial and central to the unfolding of creative destruction in recent years. The contradictions of the practices of neoliberalism are embedded with the frame of the urban.

The interplay of capital and state activities heighten and enhance the importance of the city. The creation of new cities, inter urban areas gaining importance have been observed as part of this change. The accumulation of capital, markets and fragmentation of production brings more and more changes both in within (intra) and between (inter) cities. As a result while the scale of production goes down, the scale of consumption increases at a rapid rate which makes cities the sites of consumption. It can also be seen that accumulation of capital at both intercity and intracity levels happens in an uneven manner; with centre of accumulation or concentration of capital created due to the attractiveness to invest in certain spaces than others.

Thus according to Brenner, cities on the one hand are in a highly uncertain economic geography which is characterised by financial disorder, movement of capital in highly speculative manner, high interlocal competitiveness. On the other hand, neoliberal programs have been embedded in urban policy regimes through deregulation, privatization, etc. Here he essays how during different eras of neoliberal practice have impressed upon major cities and city regions. In the post-war growth regime and initial phase of ‘proto neoliberalism’, cities were sites of economic dislocations, social and political struggles. Thus while economic initiatives were taken in old industrial cities so as to bring economic growth, the established social, political and redistributive arrangements were maintained. Cities in the era of roll-back neoliberalism of the 80s’ were subjected to cost cutting policies of the municipal governments like privatization of infrastructure, reduction in public services to lower cost of state administration along with promotion of administrative efficiency, direct and indirect state subsidies to corporates and privatization of social reproduction functions as ‘best practices’. This not only led to increased polarisation in segments of populations but declining effectiveness with respect to economic rejuvenation.

This was followed by roll-out neoliberalism which according to Brenner can be viewed as an evolutionary reconstitution of the neoliberal practices due to its own contradictions and crisis tendencies. Thus, on one hand the dominant political project for municipalities globally was about the city space as an arena for capital growth, commodification and market discipline. On the other hand, the conditions for promotion and maintenance of economic competitiveness were reconceptualized to include diverse administrative, political and economic criteria. Brenner does not see these practices resulting in a linear transition from a model of the ‘welfare city’ towards a new model of ‘neoliberal city’.

He looks at them as contested, trial and error processes of change including neoliberal strategies that are mobilized as a response to problems afflicting advanced capitalist cities. But even these strategies sometimes aggravate problems such as economic stagnation, unemployment, etc.

Brenner argues that cities have become central to the reproduction, mutation, and continual reconstitution of neoliberalism itself during the last two decades and the urbanization of neoliberalism has been occurring during this period. The cities have become strategic targets for broad range of neoliberal experiments, institutional innovations and political and ideological projects through which the global dominance of neoliberalism is maintained.

Global and Urban