Tag Politics

The Art of Doublespeak 7

Jul2

‘Satyamev Jayate’, being the motto of the country has not stopped Indian politicians from mastering the art of doublespeak. Indian political discourse  is full of stonewalls, falsehoods, propaganda and disinformation.

Indian Poitics Doublespeak Image

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Why Social Media can Fight Corruption? 13

May27

Social Media platforms seem tailor made to fight Corruption. Many of their characteristics are ideally suited for building  a sustainable forum against Corruption. Fighting Corruption in India with Social Media

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Can Gandhigiri solve Corruption? 10

Feb7

I was forced to mull on this question by the runway popularity of a recent post by Fumiko Nagano on the World Bank blog regarding the efforts of 5th Pillar to fight Corruption in India with Zero Rupee Notes. Since then, it has taken the digital world by storm with several hundred twitterattis including @ShashiTharoor and @Gulpanag retweeting its link and several prominent websites including The Economist, CNN, Boing Boing featuring related posts. 5th Pillar is Chennai based, grass roots organisation that has been working against Corruption using RTI and Zero Rupee Notes. It encourages people to use Zero Rupee Notes distributed by them to counter requests for bribe. This is akin to ‘Gandhigiri’ as it tries to shame the Corrupt officials into giving up Corruption instead of using punitive measures. For the uninitiated, the concept of Gandhigiri was introduced by a 2006 Hindi film, Lage Raho Munna Bhai. It consists of confronting the tormentor with moral force, kindness and non-violence in true Gandhian tradition. Since the release of the movie, strikers, protesters and activists have begun to distribute roses or flowers to draw attention to their cause. Even powerful Politicians & Police have sometimes resorted to  Gandhigiri in an attempt to educate the public and convey their message.

Corruption in India Graphic

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Bribe Rate Chart 8

Jan1
Each of us have our own experiences of Corruption to share. Bribe Rate Chart is an effort to pool our common knowledge of Corruption into making a price list of corruption services through out the country. Any reader may add new information to the table and become a contributor to this collective effort. The modification will however be subject to moderation by the moderator. As per decision of the moderator the proposed addition/ change may be accepted or deleted.
Department/ Designation Service Location Rate Reference
Income Tax Refund (Manual IT Return) India up to 10% of Refund Amount @NoBribe
Police FIR – Stolen Car Noida Rs. 5,000/- @Akshay_Khanna
Police Passport Police Verification India Rs. 200 – 500/- @NoBribe
Police Passport Police Verification Bangalore Rs. 100/- msubbudu
Police Traffic Violation Bangalore Rs. 100/- msubbudu
Railways Ticket-less Travel India upto 50% of Ticket Price @NoBribe
BDO/ Mukhiya/ Gram Sevak BPL Card Bihar Rs. 5,000/- Hindustan Times – Patna, 30.04.2010
District Registrar Marriage Registration Noida Rs. 1,100/- @Naina
KEB Repairing Main line from Pole Bangalore Rs. 75/- per person msubbudu
TNEB Allocation of Transformer/ Cable to an area Tamilnadu Rs. 5,000/- TOI
TNEB 3 Phase, 50/100 Amps Meter Tamilnadu Rs. 3,000 – 5,000/- TOI
TNEB Replace burnt Meter Tamilnadu Rs. 2,000/- TOI
BSEB New Connection/ Load Enchancement Bihar Rs. 1,000 per KW @NoBribe
BSEB Removing Old Meter after disconnection Bihar Rs. 1,500/- @NoBribe
State Govt – Registrar House Registration Mumbai Rs. 5,000/- sriram

If you wish to add to this rate chart, please register and then login to be able to edit this rate chart. For help on adding information to this table click help.

Persistence beats Perfection 9

Dec29

One of the most redeeming qualities of Nitish Kumar is persistence. Most politicians have a tendency of launching something with much fanfare, only to fade away in a whimper once the public gaze shifts. Nitish on the other hand has an inclination for following up on his initiatives. One of the best examples of his persistence is the ‘Janta Durbar’ program. Every Monday morning, he along with his key ministers and top bureaucrats meets complainants who approach him.
New Bihar Janta Durbar
Such programs had been in fashion with earlier administrations too, but then they were primarily used for either dispensing favours to select groups, patronizing sycophants (ala ‘Lalu Chalisa’), or most importantly for earning useful publicity news bites . However, more often than not they quickly lost their utility and were slowly relegated to the back burner. One of the first significant changes that Nitish made to this program was to change its name from ‘Janta Durbar of Chief Minister’ to ‘Chief Minister in Janta Durbar’. The change though symbolic, epitomizes Nitish’s approach to governance. Another important improvement that he brought in was to connect all the complaints to an online tracking system. This online system assigns a ‘ticket number’ to every complaint that is logged in. The complaint is then followed up through the maze of bureaucracy till its resolution. He also experimented with ‘Janta Durbar’ on specific topics such as cases related to Police or to other departments and schemes. After assuming Office, Nitish Kumar has meticulously stuck to his ‘Monday morning’ schedule of ‘Janta Durbar’. The only time he makes an exception is when he is unwell, away for some important business or any other extenuating circumstances ( like the period of mourning after his Wife’s demise). Another time when he changed his schedule was when he took the program to the electorate’s door steps during his ‘Vikas Yatra’ while campaigning for the Parliamentary Elections.

This is not to suggest that all the complaints that land up in the ‘Janta Durbar’ get redressed. While many complaints are frivolous in nature, many seek personal favours and some are even antagonistic and require investigation of the contrarian point of view also. However still many genuine problems too face bureaucratic resistance in spite of the direct intervention of Chief Minister. Moreover one of the unfortunate offshoots of persistence has been that that those whose problems get redressed are less likely to return for expressing their thankfulness than those whose problems do not get redressed. This has led to several publicity disasters with complainants turning to the Janta Durbar multiple times unable to get redressal even after repeated attempts. Anyone else would have given up on this program if not for anything else, then for the bad publicity it generates when complainants recount their horror story of bureaucratic apathy and expose the inability of even the CM to cut through the red tape. Yet he has steadfastly stuck to his guns and refused to shut the program down. Four years down the line, different people may have different take on the efficacy of the program, still its regular continuance is an achievement in itself. That people continue to flock his Monday morning sessions and are allowed to approach repeatedly if their problems are not resolved, is no mean achievement at all.

In conclusion, Nitish Kumar has turned out to be an honest politician who has sincerely worked hard to put the state back on rails. He however, does not just bring good intentions and hard work to the table but also actively engages in realpolitik to ensure his political survival. He may not be a perfect politician, but his persistence scores well over his lack of perfection. Yet it may not be desirable to have him at the helm in perpetuity. On the contrary, we need many more such politicians so that we can rotate power among them and be sure that one takes off from where the other left. Only then, the people’s work can finally get done .

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