Getting to the Goal of Good Governance

I gave a talk last week at a Friends of BJP event at Jai Hind College in Mumbai. Here it is.

It is good to see middle class Indians all charged up and taking action against crooked politicians and corruption. But first, we need to understand what we are fighting for. What is our goal and what are the ways to get to that goal?

As I see it, the ultimate goal is a prosperous India in which every citizen has the means to live free from poverty. Good governance is the most important means of India’s prosperity. Good governance, in turn, depends on good people in government. We are ultimately in charge because we elect those who form our government.

There are at least two paths to get to this goal. One approach, as is being demonstrated by Anna Hazare: punish corrupt people and replace them. Unfortunately, the supply of corrupt people is unlimited and other corrupt people will replace them. The Jan Lokpal Bill will not solve the problem because the system which gives us corrupt people remains in place.

Is there an alternate path? Let me propose one.

The real problem in India is a lack of demand for good governance. Ultimately, politics and politicians mirror society. We get what we demand. In India, there hasn’t been a demand for either good people in politics or good governance.

We need to realise also that the change can only happen through the ballot box. As we have seen through the Anna Hazare agitation, there are absolute limits to what civil society can do and tell our legislators.

This is where we in Middle India have to act. Earlier, our numbers were too small and our ability to connect with each other to take collective action was limited. This has changed. We can change the outcome of 175 Lok Sabha constituencies, a third of the total seats because we can act collectively for the greater good.

One way to do this is for urban voters to unite and create voting blocks,  and demand good governance from political parties. This concept has been explained in Atanu Dey’s book “Transforming India”.

There can be other ways. The key point here is that, for the first time in India’s history, people like us – middle class voters — are able and willing to play a role in shaping the country’s future. If we can focus on the right problem, we will come up with the right solution.

The movement to punish the corrupt is a worthy one. But we have to realize that it does not end there. We have to move beyond that and root out corruption by understanding why public corruption exists. The major cause of corruption is bad governance and therefore the solution is good governance. We have to demand good governance and only then we will get it. Our demand will bring about real change which will not only end corruption but help India become prosperous.

This is what Friends of BJP hopes to do through engagement and education.

8 thoughts on “Getting to the Goal of Good Governance

  1. Hi Rajesh.

    I appreciate your attempts. But I have no trust in BJP mainstream to have the economic reforms implemented.

    Anyhow, because of the current hulla gullah they (BJP) will get in POWER in 2014 .

    I believe they will carry on with there socialist agenda.

    I believe there should be a new liberal front and you have enough capabilities to build one. Or support other existing one’s. Very difficult to get into power though.

    Once BJP will show its colours , I hope you will think of a new Liberal front.

    Thanks for your efforts and this brilliant blog.

    I am working with Freedom Team of India to give India a new liberal front.


  2. Good governance or Good Looking Governance is a point that needs clarification.

    Rajesh is actually seeking an excuse, hey guys, just because I am with the Centre Right does not mean that I am a bad guy. Hmm, interesting….

    Our response: Excused

    Some conclusions while seemingly inescapable are not really so…if you stop to think about it.

    “As I see it, the ultimate goal is a prosperous India in which every citizen has the means to live free from poverty. Good governance is the most important means of India’s prosperity. Good governance, in turn, depends on good people in government. We are ultimately in charge because we elect those who form our governmen”

    What logic? And what guarantee that good people when put in power do not go rancid?

    Fine, let us cut to the chase….

    Rajesh feels that the present government or the present state of governance, to be fair to him, is in a sorry state. Again, to be fair to him, it does appear to be so.

    However is there real dissatisfaction, and if so, is this dissatisfaction with the present government or one with the way we are being governed, by X Y or Z? Rajesh does not delineate this, he merely presumes the former.

    However I think it is not the case. While there is a fair amount of dissatisfaction, it is more like the teenager complaining about his mother’s cooking. Hey, she needs to know that he has grown up and that his choices are newer!

    The recent Anna Hazare movement, if it can be called that, is more a reflection of the fact that middle class, educated, and employed India is waking up and seeks a change in the stale menu dished by its over the top politicians. It demands that its voice be heard. In a sane, civic manner.

    Once the civil voice appeared in the form of Hazare, the rustic one in the Baba’s form took a backseat, a clear indication of things to come.

    Which is good. The last time such a nation wide awakening bubbled up was during the pre-Ram Janmabhoomi era, which was when the trader class woke up, and that time the BJP with its insiduous agenda hijacked it, bringing the BJP to power and the nation to infamy.

    This time we need to be more careful. That time it was the seemingly benign sadhus who led the front, this time it is the seemingly benign and intellectual sounding people like Rajesh who are its bugles.

    Just to prove that I am not a Congress supporter let it go on record that a brief revival of public enthusiasm did take place during the last Central elections, and among college going youth. Which was successfully hijacked by Rahul and the smooth talking Congress crowd.

    Which was one reason for the BJP’s poor performance in the last election, among the young and fashionable, the party was seen as old fashioned and oscurantist. I am not sure that the image has changed, or ever will as long as they learn not to ride on the RSS’s back.

    That the Congress has made no use of popular and youthful support seems to be becoming a truism. The other day Pranab was stating in an interview that it was too early to review UPA 2’s performance simply because there were three more years to go.

    Which is precisely what young India hates. Get on the job man, hot ride it, step on the pedal, is the message these oldies must be getting. To me it looks like Rahul is losing his chance to get to power, presuming that is his intent.

    Now that the nation is waking up, and the next election landscape will be a different one, it is better for him to rebel against his own party or face an enhanced risk of failure.

    On to governance:

    While the challenges of governing India remain, and is unlikely to go away, the tools to govern India have been getting better. The very same tools can also be used by the people to demand better governance, and this is what Rajesh wants to see.

    That he needs to piggyback on the presence of a national party is a mere admission of his weakness and inability in singlehandedly foisting a revolution in India.

    I have mentioned earlier that he is driving with his blinkers on, like Alexanders famous horse. Let him take it off, and he can steer better than being steered.

    Why be a horse when you can be Alexander?

  3. Only blaming politicians for the corruption may not help.

    Attention is required to be given to unforced individual corruption at lower/ operating levels (officers, Clerks at banks, government organizations), who have a choice to do their job with honesty (at least in 75% cases) without anyone forcing them to do otherwise.

    We all have experienced people not turning up at office on time, PDS shops driving away poor people, clerks demanding money to part with IT refund cheques, company owners swindling PF money etc. etc.. Which politician is personally advising/ supervising/ forcing people to do so?

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