Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Taming Of The Shrewd (Politician)

An interesting article titled 'How the political class has looted India' has come out in 'The Hindu'. It lashes out - and rightly so - at the corrupt political class of India.

A quick reference to the article has been given below;

An equally interesting response to this opinion was sent to me. It's the need of the hour to probe into these problems and bring out some workable solutions.

The response :

'The Taming Of The Shrewd (Politician)

There was an article titled “Looting India” by A.G.Noorani which appeared in the Hindu dated 30-07-12. It is a wonderful article. Why does this sorry state of affairs prevail?

Millions of people feel that the politicians are looting the country. As it has become a way of life in the country, (as evidenced in the serials where peoples’ emotions are focused and intellect takes the back seat), people are agitated and stay agitated. They like to stay agitated and indirectly shun finding out solutions. Everyone thinks, including the media men, (whose responsibility is to organize, coordinate and follow up unto finish), that somebody else should take the corrective steps. They are satisfied to give vent to their feelings that it is incorrigible. This defeatist mentality is the feeding ground for all corruptions. That too, when the corrupt politicians are united with a lot of muscle power in a defective democratic setup. Even the genuine politicians will have to compromise to keep going. Otherwise those slots also will be filled by corrupt politicians. When everybody knows about 176, still nothing could be done to check the wrong doings or to take immediate corrective steps. Justice takes its time. Even God may be faster. Yes. It is observed in the occurrence of natural calamities, failure of monsoon, floods, famine conditions in other areas, If the elected Government does not get the hint and correct itself, then more severe calamities will come. For instance, there is no occasion to celebrate spending hundreds of crores of public money for advertising even as millions of womenfolk are cursing the electricity department for the utter failure to carry out the promised supply of electricity. Under these circumstances, any celebration and spending public money for that, is a mockery. It is like throwing a lavish party, with dances and music in a death house where near relatives are mourning the demise of the departed.

Coming to the topic of looting India, a relevant question has been asked by A.G.Noorani about how the increase in assets of politicians (as shown in their own statements submitted before elections) is being taken casually! And for the same reason, a case has been pending against Ms.Jayalalitha for years and years incurring a lot of expenditure for the Government, wasting everybody’s time. Why don’t the newspapers (including the Hindu’ ) list out such increases in the cases of all politicians along with that of Selvi.Jayalalitha and showcase the need for action or no action on all the people instead of listing out one person only for action.. Why can’t we strive for a scientific mechanism to check the recurrence of this phenomenon and make corrections in the system, to make it foolproof and show the lead to the world?

The solution for this problem and many others are given in my book. “Vettrikku Vazhikattum Melanmai” but nobody makes any use of it. The never failing Kural shows the way.

Find out the disease, the cause for it, the proper means,

Most effective method and give treatment to bring results. (Kural-948)

The root cause for the disease of ‘Looting the Society by the politicians’ is uncontrolled Power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So the question boils down to the ‘Taming of the shrewd (Politician).

On this again,Valluvar throws light.

However chosen, when put on the job

There are many, who perform differently. (Kural 514)

So he finds fault with all kinds of selection for appointment - written exam, interview, on the job training, in-basket game, election, selection etc. Then what is the way out? In another context he says, that one should know the book on measurement (Alavai Nool) He says that the performance of the administrators should be constantly and continuously observed and evaluated so that mistakes can be avoided or corrected as and when the operation is in small scale. If not, the work has to be considered in identifiable parts and then integrated so that constant monitoring and evaluating is possible. Since this is not done now, it has given room for all malpractices. We evaluate the working of the MLAs and MPs once in 5 years and that too subjectively giving consideration for caste, creed, party, money, relationship etc.., which makes the judgment absolutely wrong.

This is not being done even in advanced countries where of course the fourth estate does a part of the job, though not so effectively. We can do it because we have done it earlier in Tamilnadu, with great success. The greatest of all Indian emperors, the imperial Cholas, whose empire spread far and wide, even in foreign countries touching China (Rajaraja Cholan and Rajendra Cholan), some 12 centuries ago, from 6th to 16th centuary AD, had successfully implemented a system, following the system which was prevalent here in 907 to 955 BC (Paranthahan -1 ) as evidenced in Uthiramerur and Pallipakkam (Tanjore) stone carvings (Kalvettukkal)

That was possible, even in the absence of democracy, where the power was heaped at the top(King). The kings were benevolent, who followed the dictums of their conscience, who followed the “Dharma” (Aram) explained in the scriptures, and who were accessible to the poets who roam about the country and give valuable feedback to the king. And there was an ingenious, brilliant arrangement which had horizontal and vertical link ups. The real power centre was the village as against the present setup where villages are neglected and power flows from Delhi downwards. There was a group of five (Imperum kuzhu) selected to rule and a group of eight (Enperaraayam) who will constantly and continuously watch if the rulers rule properly, keeping up their promises and taking timely action. Now this continuous monitoring is not in vogue. We only do post-mortem after all the ills/malpractices have been done. We make a big move at first vociferously and then forget the 176 after sometime.. Newspapers, nor any public bodies (media) do not follow it up anymore in a systematic manner. So, the main solution for the problem of ‘looting politicians’ is formation of evaluating groups in every village panchayat, vertically linked up to the district, state and country. Evaluating groups which will have representation for the masses, media, curriculum (R&D), parties etc. Even in parties, there could be a group of ministers who will rule and a group of more powerful evaluators.

This Time Bound Action Plan (TBAP) can be put in place.

  1. Shocking News. When they are reported in the press, make it a point to periodically discuss progress and report the progress until the solution is found or the problem is solved/corrected.
  2. Likewise, plans for the country, state, district, taluq, village (Ward) to be published with the TBAP in the newspapers/News channels and progress to be assessed. Such a planning Diary will reveal the percentage of achievement of the planned goals.
  3. Reduce the importance of politicians. They are the users of wealth (as against their predecessors who were Thiyagis who sacrificed) More importance should be given to those who produce wealth, jobs.
  4. Form groups to evaluate the promised performance within the time frame specified (TBAP). This should be done at all levels, starting from village panchayat to national level at Delhi.
  5. Even in parties, there should be two groups, the rulers and the evaluators.
  6. We have to hold a seminar to discuss these matters and from the groups of evaluators with arrangements to report findings in the newspapers and Channels at periodical intervals.



Monday, 9 April 2012

Why Gandhi ticks?

It was one of those evenings when Mahatma Gandhi surprised me yet again. During the dusk of Wednesday 04th April 2012, I had the opportunity of releasing my book ‘Air, Fire & Water’ on Indian independence, at the Nehru centre in London.
It was interesting to note why Gandhi’s business is still valid today and in fact more relevant.
I spoke in the evening on Gandhiji’s Ahimsa or non-violence and why it can have an effect now.
To extend on it, all we need to do is to look at Sri Lanka where ironically Gandhi’s statue has been vandalised recently.
The 26 year long war against terror on the island nation was rounded up in 2009 with more terror by the military, making it hard to distance military from the terror outfit itself, given the scale of civilian causalities.
While violence over violence has ripped off the gloss and shine over the victory of the Sri Lankan army in less than 3 years, Gandhi stands tall, in stark contrast. His universal appeal is on the rise even after 64 years of his demise. And that includes this little thing of vandalising his statue. Whoever did it probably thought they could empty the ocean with a homemade bucket.
Mahatma expertly used Ahimsa to create the collective consciousness that strangely had more power than violence. His methods were not confined just to India as evidenced by other leaders who followed him elsewhere such as Nelson Mandela. The recent example is President Obama who famously said ‘Gandhi is my hero’.
If I ask you to march up, stand there, get beaten up while you chant the mantras about your nation, you would probably call me nuts. But this is exactly what Gandhi asked the millions to do.
The immediate reaction to physical assault is retaliation or retreat depending on who you are. There is a third option – to call the police. However this option was not available for those folks as it was the police who were thrashing them.
So how could Gandhi achieve this unique feat of impressing upon people to go against their natural reflexes, for decades?
  1. Gandhi had a solid national goal to which he wedded his life. His life became a focal point for the masses. They could not see the difference between the goal and Gandhi. Most people need a tangible form to idealise intangible sentiments, however noble they are.
  2. Gandhi was an excellent strategist. He knew what to fight for, what weapon to use and when.
  3. Gandhi was nothing but an external symbol, representation or embodiment of their /our own noble self. Or people perceived so.  Since a noble self does not belong to one single nation, his appeal had to be universal
  4. Gandhi said ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. In other words he did what he said. This has almost become a cliché that people skip it as a natural, subconscious reaction. But that’s exactly where the point is missed.
  5. Gandhi took criticism. He did what he believed in, at times stubbornly, but not once did he ridicule or spend time in attacking his critics. He left his critics to do their job and so had the energy to attack his problems.
  6. The most charismatic thing in the world is truth or authenticity. Yes we have a glamour world full of artificial cosmetics that are charismatic. But then I said ‘most charismatic’ which includes the longevity factor as well. Gandhi had this truth in him which pulled people towards him, most naturally.
The violence that we see now in the world – be it from terrorist outfits or from a state – seem to have limited success in terms of what they aim for and how far they achieve it. This is because most of them have only the first two points mentioned above, in them.
It’s only the evolution of the mind that can bring about major changes in the world more than revolution. The human mind is the most complex and powerful machinery till date. This is where Gandhi was a master who worked towards this evolution in him and in others. Hence he enjoys this lasting impression. So those of us who use our energies in vandalising statues should re-evaluate and do something more worthwhile.