543 Fortresses and an Analysis that has never been done

by Amit Bhushan on Thursday 20 March 2014, 6:11 PM | Category: Governmental Policies| View: 2041 views

 543 Fortresses and an Analysis that has never been done

By: Amit Bhushan                                                                                   Date: 20th Mar 2014



The War for India's 543 fortresses, which are up again for grab in the ensuing elections is becoming increasingly interesting as well as murky by the day. While the existing lordships, seem to be fighting a losing battle where most of them are likely to be overwhelmed, is a foregone conclusion. Quite a few have already conceded defeat by declining to contest. Some others have jumped the battle-ship in the hope that this may give them the necessary fire-power to fight back and retain ‘their' lordships. This is even as some of the other lords relinquish their forts and move on to annex other areas where they perceive better ‘climes and chances' to win. With this, they hope to retain the ‘Maharathi' tag/image, which has been nurtured over the years. Some others are attempting to sew up alliances with sundry other parties and leaders to consolidate votes of a combination of castes/religion votes in order to retain turf or even to win over targeted forts. This is even as some others try to position themselves as new messiahs of the fort/s promising to be better governors bringing good governance, reforms and host of goodies which at times remains totally incomprehensible to humble voters.


Kautilya (of Arthshastra fame & not one of the journo or politician who go around with the image/halo) tells us that each of these fortresses would/should have its own politico-economic dynamism. Our politicians and journalists have made anything little known to us barring composition or demographic breakup of these forts i.e. religion and caste profile of the people, since little else has been studied by pollsters. The data is ‘used' by politicians and media experts to make ‘assumptions' about ‘tastes or aesthetic sense' of voters which guides the composition and design of ‘communication' by the warlord raring for victory. Some well known clichés or ‘jumlas' are frequently used to pepper up such ‘communication' like - Bijli/Pani/Sadak, Infrastructure investment, subsidy or subsidized goods and services and more lately ‘manufacturing'; since it has been felt that these are helpful in appealing to the educated audience. No attempt has been made to ‘understand' how it helps people or how and why such promises manage to be translated to votes. Accordingly, no attempt has been made to strengthen the weaponry by studying how to make promises more ‘impact-worthy' i.e. yield better results and therefore more votes while managing to have lower cost; for example instead of more roads, it may be just a few kilometers of stretch or instead or tap water in every home it could be community tap or a few taps in earmarked locations. Generalizations costs a hole in the government budget while yields few votes because it doesn't give desired satisfaction and due to budget limitations reach of benefits remain confined to a few.  


No attempt has been made to analyze the ‘transactions' by people of the fort i.e. most ‘common transactions' of people with government bodies in localities as well as most common transactions of people within the fort and most common transactions of the people with other private entities outside the fort. In other words, no attempt has been made to ‘understand' the economics of the fort. The is even as the primary aim of the governance is to improve the ease with which people can engage in such transactions or to organize business in a way that is more engaging i.e. employs more people as well as yields improved satisfaction to consumers. It is even when the role of lord is supposedly to make attempts to improve such transaction quantitatively and qualitatively by the way of influence/plea or applying pressure (by virtue of being part of highest layer of government) or through agitation so that different layers of government harmonize and satisfy the denizens of the ‘fort'. Instead what we see is a re-count of demographics in the fort every elections with renewed attempts to reconstitute a winning combine often leading to violence and riots.


Siloed approach to policymaking often from glass chambers covered with thick curtains has yielded inappropriate results and this is likely to continue. Take the case of our ‘farm' economy which is supposedly a large employer and manages to reign in our strategic concerns for food security. We have attempted huge subsidies to control input costs and followed up with huge subsidy to support minimum support price for produce of the farmers which yields us tonnes of cereals rotting in government silos. Despite this we continue to regularly increase calculation that would be required to support ‘rural poor'. If instead attempts were made to create suitable farm to ‘port' logistics for exports and possibly divert 10-15% or more land producing cereals towards production of cashew and other nuts or fruits/vegies as well as spices then we could have engaged labour more productively without excess subsidy for storage since cereals produced would have been consumed. This may not only cut down some of input subsidies but also is more labour intensive since mechanized solution for this is not yet available as production of such produce have been concentrated in developing countries rather than developed. Our focus on cereal security has tilted rural economy making it extremely costly to maintain and a drain on our meager resources due to our short term political approach to its management. Our subsidies diversion to create logistics infra or support of agri research could have been more productive and served various other purposes. The political apathy for transactions in the rural or farm economy with focus on castes/religion combine rather than ways to improve quantity and quality of these transactions make us suffer. We do have a lot of people talking right to food as well as nutrition though remunerative wages as well as availability of stuff at affordable prices through appropriate storage to thwart price manipulators & for all seasons could have been better ‘trick'. There might be new international dynamics to manage though.


The population is also dependent on government to either provide or arrange services such as education and healthcare. The government's own supplies mainly by local and state government are not only meager in terms of capacity to reach all but also pathetic in terms of quality. The ‘self governing' bodies regulating the system through their focus on examination and excessive control has adequately thwarted private enterprise to meet these needs of the people. Our cost of medical education is costlier than some of the former soviet republics with lack of capacity as well at those costs. We can therefore not ‘afford' private doctors for even lower middle class who may be ready to pay through the nose to meet ‘needs' and we continue to maintain our ‘lordship' over such famed system. Similarly our graduates and engineers are termed unemployable by our industry and businesses who have actually failed to innovate for products/services and guided to develop adequate rules towards creation of employment. Instead of identifying points for systemic remedies we blame the capabilities of our youth and protect political turfs.

Our approach to infra investment do not seem to follow our goals to improvement of productivity of the community but seem more directed towards the whims and fancy of political lords and we can have dedicated airports for these majesties. We have lords tottering with mineral wealth including tribal/forest land for personal gains with environment and ecology forgotten completely.


Following the above, comes the concern for safety and security provided by the state where the manning is inadequate with pathetic attitude/training/equipment support. Land record as well as Real Estate and management of transactions could be other things on list. These are besides various other areas that competing parties can look into and they can easily identify scope to improve quality and quality of transactions for the common man. Let's see who are focusing beyond the demographic break up of constituencies for the election and does this put all challengers of equal footing i.e. no one has any inkling…

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