Wanted: An Opposition in India

For the most part, the governing Congress party is having a free run in India. The Opposition parties (BJP, the Left Front) are beset by their internal difficulties, and as much there is little co-ordinated action to keep the government in check. It is the stupidities of the government (two recent examples: leaking the Liberham report, deciding on Telangana at 11:30 pm at night) that seem to be creating their own counter-forces, rather than anything the Opposition in India is doing.

Six months into the new government, one has to feel let down. (And this is not just because I supported in the BJP in the elections.) India needs big, bold vision with speedy decision-making and flawless execution to get us moving along the path of development. We seem to be getting none of the above, even though the government has to worry little about what its opponents are doing.

Given that India’s real Opposition parties seem to be in slumber, is there something we can do to organise? The role of an Opposition is not to oppose, but to provide alternative viewpoints as needed. In fact, if the government does right, it needs to support it. We seem to be missing a culture of sustained and deep debate on issues that are of national and far-reaching importance. What can we do to change the situation?

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

21 thoughts on “Wanted: An Opposition in India”

  1. You are right on! India needs a strong and smart opposition party. Even if their numbers in the parliament are small, that party needs analytical strengths and good communicators. There is the dire need to articulate the basic requirements of people (Maslow’s need ladder) and a national strategic plan to improve the social and economic well being of all people by defined stages. They deserve the support of think tanks to suggest initiatives to tap the immense intellectual potential of the country’s youth and the natural resources. There is need for studies on policies to attract domestic and international businesses to invest in beneficial economic sectors. The need of the hour is for Thought Leadership.


  2. The problem is with the overall mentality. Only opposing some one or something is not important. We, indians have that mentality overall. Rather than opposing, what you mentioned about providing alternative is more important. But will it really work ? Will the ruling party listen to some thing which is against its decision ?


  3. I completely agree with you that Indian govermnet is in unfit to make decistions for India. Unfortunately BJP and Communists are even more useless. Manmohan Singh is a puppet of Sonia Gandhi who has no clue about India. There is a huge political and leadership vacuum which sets back India when compared china etc. This is a huge price for the country to pay and will have far reaching effect that no one seems to appreciate now. This is an opportunity for a new party or front to come in clean up the mess the current crop of leaders (read sonia, mm singh, p chidambaram, pranab mukherjee, lk advani, karant etc) havd gotten our country into. Just look at the mess they caused in AP which has been doing great until this stupid decision.


  4. We need few strong think tank (with less bias towards their own interest) and these bodies should help shaping policies and influencing decisions.


  5. I want to add a couple more points to this item.
    1. Retired talent: Indian retirement age for public servants is from 55 to 60. That is too early to go to pasture. These talented people live well into their seventies and draw pensions. They can be productively drawn into think tanks and other high level voluntary activities in stead of playing cards at officers’ clubs. Many IAS, IFS, IPS officers, engineers, scientists, professors and others of several occupations form this pool. They can be requested to provide their inputs on various issues. Since they are no longer in service, they can be candid about their views. That they are members of think tanks and volunteers in organizations does not mean that their word is sacrosanct but their knowledge and in-depth understanding of the organizations and issues can allow them to contribute to enlightenment on issues. Of course, we should be cautious that think tanks do not become forums for witch-hunts and character assassinations.

    2. Hero worship: India got rid of the kings, princes, and jamindars. But, long live the kings! We are a people’s democracy, which implies that we are equals but we worship the ministers, secretaries, collectors, CEO’s, and inspector of police in a village. People do not realize that we are all role players. We should respect a person in a position when that person is discharging the duties of that position. We should not throw shoes at a person in an official position even if we do not agree with his or her point of view. Beyond his or her duty hours, he or she will be a common citizen. If the nation develops such an attitude, we will hopefully have leaders with no egos. We will not be expected to heed to their words as Vedavak.


  6. older, wiser? someone certainly jumped the gun last time!

    the present government drifts, much like the earlier one did, so no surprises on that front.

    and they have had the current and dying economic recession as an invisible aid, all the sops that looked like extras earlier, look like wise moves in retrospect. mmm, how did sonia know?

    ya, we do need an opposition, but what will it say? some ideas would help!

    and this time around, one needs to be more careful about not belling a dying, oops dead cat….sorry, rajesh, couldn’t resist that crack….


  7. Sorry about that last crack…on more genial terms, here it is…

    This discussion will remain mere moaning until you exert yourself a little….like say take up an area of concern, tech infra being one of your passions, identify its issues, say what’s wrong with the current approach and what you would do, let us say if you were minister for that area.

    A series of posts in that vein would be very welcome. And would help further intelligent discussion and concept coagulation.

    In retrospect, this “minister cameo” may be a good way to start, because then in addition to the opportunities you see, you will also be forced to see the constraints under which the current system operates.

    And wonder as to how one would work around those constraints. A good way of (political?) self education from which we readers and perhaps the nation would also profit. (wink wink)

    Can we expect to see something on those lines as against a mere and repetitive recital of complaints? And let us feel both your passion and your reasoning coming through, for what is politics but sustained passion even when it is at times mindless? ex. Telengana.

    Such passions can in fact open mental doors faster than deep discussion can. keep plugging away…

    PS: Oh, yeah, such posts will be a nice addition to the top notch reading links that you put up once in a while; we do enjoy that, and tremendously.

    Do have one minor complaint though, your frequent mobile vas and mvno posts do bore us silly. As the paucity of comments there would tell you. You don’t want us reader’s deserting you, do you?


  8. My gut feeling is untill congress does some really terrible, they are going to be in power yet another time.
    Opposition is too much weak and new leaders will take some time before they can command and drive their camps.


  9. Rajesh,

    I was having some discussions with a few mid career students at kennedy school of government and they also feel that there is no sustainable intelligent mechanism that can churn right policy. I did a little google search and did not find any school in India that is dedicated to government / policy / politics that is comparable to IITs and IIMs something like ‘Indian Institute of Policy’.

    I think putting together a ”II*’ level prestigious institution in the policy sector will pave a way for long term credible policy solutions for India.

    If the institution need to be totally independent, then it can probably modeled around ‘ISB’ which is formed with alliances across the world. The ‘Policy’ school can be formed with collaboration of institutions like Harvard KSG, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, World Bank etc.

    The idea of such a school is emerging for the past couple of weeks in my brain and I happened to see your post. If this sounds like a credible idea, I want to pursue it after completing my studies next semester.

    Appreciate your input.



  10. the congress was never known for any radical moves now or earlier, they are best at dealing with status quo’s. but they are amenable to evangelising and that looks the only viable option now.

    to drive the change we want to see.

    rajesh is doing a good job, bringing issues of governance back into to focus. good luck


  11. Rahul is currently the poster boy of the youngistan.
    and we are really blinded by his charishma..
    sonia..priyanka..rahul..n their flashy angelic smiles..
    we wont ever doubt them of any wrong doing??

    thats the best trick that congress has pulled off..
    as for BJP is concerned … it wont ever be able to bounce back from its tainted past..
    can they shrug off modi/advani/RSS from its back..??

    lets see..

    I really think we should do somthing like that movie YUVA… it really inspires me..
    if you want a CHANGE.. then be the CHANGE


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