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India Elections 2014: Political Parties, Media and Social Network

By: Amit Bhushan Date: 12 March, 2014


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Politics in India today is at the cusp of a change. A cross section of Modernist/New Comer Political people have gone into research mode and are searching for ideas that have potential to generate investor interests so that investments are generated to drive growth and employment; with the blessing of big businesses off course. This is even as politics of promises/subsidy continues to behold some of the Traditional political families who have maintained their stranglehold in political management of the nation and its multiple provinces. As the Newcomer genre tries to out-compete the Traditional politician in India, it finds itself looking for ideas towards the West/Developed world so that the same can be pushed to the public here. This has the added benefit that - the organization business structure/model as well as finance is available from the developed world along with technology support and guidance for regulation (since they need to push their wares to markets like India). One of the principle points of speculation in the elections is which genre will w in and by what margin besides holding ones breathe about the subsequent policy outcomes and their impact. Then we off course have a lot there to speculate about the present dispensation; like who managed to make how much from the schemes promoted by th em or for anchoring of the schemes of the past. Debate about fairness or unfairness of the past is seldom done in constructive manner so as to gaze their pros and cons for guidance about the future or to seek justice for common people but is done to score political brownie points and this is true about all political parties whether new or old. This also gives a lot of leverage to the salesmen from the West where they can advise the customers to dump past in wholesale to seek completely new solutions without generating public frown for the same. Most of the political parties know that they mainly have the same wares in stores may be from different organizations in West and they try to sell themselves to public with Face or Neeyat rather than declaring underlying schemes and contenders and this has seen several successes in the past e.g. Metro Rail, IT Code-writing Revolution with office jobs, Mobile Phone et al. The older genre had also had its share viz. MNREGA, Food Security, Fuel/Fertilizer subsidy etc. There is also a footballing around who should own up the distribution of mining rights hot potato, of distribution of Spectrum and Public Private Partnership projects such as those under Common Wealth Games, Toll Roads etc. We also have no takers for the success of the Trade and Finance treaties since they are more long term and very limited idea about the real victors, about RTI (where mix of new and old unite about the claim or they fend off the claim), about some of the other bills and provisions. H owever, most of the real and politically material discussion remains off-commercial media, thanks to our learned editors and anchors who continue to enthuse its audiences with analysis of sloganeer-ism and details of the concocted drama of the parties and political people as well as the body language. Any traces of significant peeks are dutifully deleted for the lack of confirmatory proofs since the credibility of the news organization as well as that of its collection network needs to be maintained. Since people in social media have lesser hang ups so the sharing of info is relatively more and therefore social media has gained audience and clout.

One of the causalities of the above debate is that- very rarely is a change in the existing organiza tion is discussed. That is how a change in some to existing government department/ministry or special purpose vehicle can enhance value delivered to people in a cost effective manner. This is primarily because the government organization staff is highly resistant to change and circumspect about taking additional responsibilities unless the clout of the boss grows. This is then reflected in multiple organizations in the same space with nearly same business profile e.g. National Population Register and Unique Identification Authority who strive for their public relevance. We also have EPFO and PFRDA in the space for managing savings for the old age by public. SBI with SBI Act is little different from Banking Regulations Act. Similarly there can be a plethora of legislations and government bodies which can be merged to cut the cost of governance as well as lead to drastic improvements in service to public. Since this may not yield any business to anyone but can be a thorn in the neck for the incumbent because this ruffles bureaucratic feathers, so no one talks about the same. Similarly, we can possibly achieve better services by restructuring government monopolies e.g. Railways which can be corporatized into say a Capital intensive RailRoad laying/management SPV/Cos, Station and Platform Managements Cos, Passenger Travel cos and Cargo Transportation Cos, Service provider cos.; pieces of which can then be privatized. This may open up the sector and allow rail transportation and travel business to grow with cheap circular rail for cities, travel links in north-east as well as to neighboring countries. However, the government has remained focused on the Automobile sector with huge doles on roads and little focus on the rail sector which continues to be managed politically with huge losses and little investments. The same is the case of Coal mining segment where one SPV continues to underperform and creates opportunities and excuses for scam which is defended vigorously citing laws and power supply situation with attendant pressures on growth. Electric distribution monopolies at state level, Food Storage and Distribution monopolies are some of the other example which continues to underperform without much scrutiny or debate. The lack of focus remains even though suc h industry reorganization in media space (Television and radio), Telecom space, Insurance space has led to creation of some strong domestic businesses some of which have gone global and have created tremendous job opportunities locally although charges of scam cannot be ruled out. It is indeed very interesting that the political parties who accuse each other for scams would never get together to relieve government of the pressure points so that a better direction for growth is laid down by virtue of strong and mature foundation. Instead the parties will continue to create pressure points for each other with their promises of doles of subsidies to alleviate people from misery, organization of Hartals/Strike of public servants, demands for fresh doles and handouts like loan waivers etc. Little is done by the way of structured policy intervention and development of systemic capability to overcome the underlying causes by identifying root cause/s. Almost none of the current leaders has any interest is raising awareness level of masses or even some of the students since they are all very aware of the fact that doles or its promise can succeed in yielding votes and not empty lectures. The learned mass media also continues alongside political leaders with only tokenism towards raising awareness of the masses. And, hey some of the mass-media also have the grouse that social media paints them in bad light???