Building a Complement to a Political Party

As I observe the Indian elections at close-range, I have also started thinking about what we can do better. More specifically, is there a role for “Friends of BJP” (or for that matter, a “Friends of Congress”) once the elections are over? I think there is a big void that such an entity can fulfill. Here are some starting ideas.

  1. Create an army of volunteers across India. This will be the new cadre, comprising youth and professionals who stay engaged through the period between elections, work in their local constituencies (zones), build inroads into the communities and associations, and thus become a credible voice of wisdom. A multi-level network needs to be created to manage this value chain.
  2. Create a Continuous Engagement Programme with Middle India. We should create a weekly session (say, Fridays 6-7 pm) that allows people to network and converse. Each week there needs to be a topic for discussion with material provided centrally, and feedback solicited after the discussion. This programme will help the volunteers widen the reach and build a deeper presence in society. This engagement will also help identify the leaders of tomorrow.
  3. Identify 10 Key enabling Ideas / Innovations / Disruptive Technologies. These can help the party leapfrog and get a huge advantage in the political marketplace.
  4. Fund a Think Tank. The goal needs to be create something like the Centre for American Progress or Brookings Institute which explores new ideas, organizes talks, builds deep intelligence into how India is changing, and creates a governance agenda (and policies) for the party.
  5. Nurture 1000+ candidates across India. At the end of the day, the party needs to win Lok Sabha elections. The process of identifying the right people should begin now, and they should be trained to work in a constituency so they can be battle-ready in a few years. They can use technology to identify local issues, stay connected with people, and solve problems.
  6. Project a Big, Bold Vision for India. The party needs to provide an overarching positive vision with big bold ideas for the country which can attract people in Middle India. For example, a $10 billion investment into solar energy, the creation of 100 new cities to house 1 million people, a high-speed rail transportation network across India, opening up the education sector to public-private partnership, leapfrogging to 4G in wireless and 100 Mbps to offices and homes in broadband, etc. – ideas which can capture people’s imagination, and also create Indian organizations that can lead globally because of their strong domestic market presence.

The goal thus has to build a modern organisation focused on the new, emerging, urban India, which can be a key source of ideas and inputs to the political party it is affiliated to. We have to be the movement that captures the dreams and aspirations of Middle India. It is a volunteer organisation, but one that has a corporate discipline. I think we will find plenty of people willing to dedicate an hour or two a week to participate in this process.

Improving the input (quality of people0 to our political system is what will lead to an improvement in the quality of our politics and governance.

What do you think? Is this possible? What else can groups like these do? Would you be willing be participate in this process?

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