Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mollify them to 'Poll'ify them

History teaches us that we never learn from History. I read somewhere that the Mumbai Carnage was like a 'Black Swan'

A Black swan (according to the article) is an event that has low probability and a high impact and is characterized by retrospective predictability.

Today, 2 months after the attack, many heads have rolled and many more are on the verge of being guillotined. From a broad security perspective, nothing must have changed, but at the ground level, the Mumbai-ites are seeing a sea of change in the way the political parties are trying to mollify the vote-base.

Mollification formulae have changed. India Shining and Bharat Nirman face way too much flak even from regular voters these days. The pro Marathi campaigns initiated by Shiv Sena and MNS have also been put on the backburner.

Barring a few shameless exceptions, no political party within Maharashtra has the gumption to come out and claim that it will tackle terrorism. Left with no option, the entire spineless community has now reverted to the tried and tested methods. Bijli, Sadak and Paani have resurfaced as the strongest poll plank supports.

I hail from a suburb in Mumbai that used to face regular 3-4 hour power cuts. Over the past few months, the power cuts have ceased to a nought even though I still hear validated reports of Maharashtra facing an acute power deficit. I work in a company located in a god-forsaken area to the south of Powai. Anyone who has been using the approach roads passing via IIT would agree with me that those roads have been in an appalling condition for decades now. For the past two years in my experience now, the flyover from powai to eastern express highway has been regularly ostentated by chains of cars stuck in traffic snarls. Over the past few weeks, however, the road widening project, an initiative towards easening out the traffic, has been super efficient. Tasks that would ideally take weeks/months just to get approvals from concerned authorities are being actually implemented on ground in a couple of days. What has changed? The ruling government has remained the same for the past 5 years. Only the CM and HM were changed a month ago. I doubt whether that made any difference because most of Mr Chavan's salad days at office were consumed in issuing clarifications for his incompetent predecessors' insipid comments and actions.

Then what has changed? Well, nothing. It just happens to be a favorable time; A time that comes once in 5 years in this country.

This is a forced realization that has come in Maharashtra. Sadly, it is missing elsewhere and inconsequential initiatives and issues still continue to be poll planks. The building of the Ayodhya temple or the hanging of Afzal Guru is not going to make females feel safe while travelling in Delhi and Gurgaon at night. Fiery speeches politicizing terror attacks are not going to create the infrastructure to house the 26 million births that take place in India every year. Money used for poll/publicity campaigns shall rather be used in people centric programs. OLPC, NREGS, CAP have all remained at raw pilot stages. Amar Singh would be better placed if he donated money to NGOs in UP rather than the Bill-Hillary foundation for AIDS. We may yap about India's growth story in times of recession, but the ground reality is that growth in agriculture has fallen from 4.9 pc last year to 2.3 pc this year. With 65% of the agro-based population in distress, it is time for less yapping and more zapping while creating election manifestos and later implementing the mentioned activities.

Mollificatiion cannot be on hollow terms and inconsequential planks. It is 'Jaago re' time, not just in terms of casting your vote but also casting it to the least useless neta among the rest in our political landscape.

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