Friday, December 2, 2022

From ‘politics of promise’ to ‘politics of performance’

Politicians by and large get away with their promises made on different occasions. When they meet their electorates to garner votes and when questioned by their electorates, they offer all kinds of excuses. Interestingly not long ago, PM Modi referred those developed nations as having colonial mindset engaged in restricting developing nations like India from using those resources and paths which they themselves appropriated realizing the status developed. As a result, countries like India that are using western benchmarks hardly can meet the requirements. PM Modi was indirectly hitting out those who use Western paradigms as means and those employing western yardsticks to measure development which he thinks are in fact skewed.
Speaking at the Constitution Day celebration at Vigyan Bhavan, PM Modi said, “Today there are no colonies of any country in the world, but the colonial mindset has not ceased to exist. This mindset is giving birth to many skewed ideas. A glaring example of this is the impediments put in (the way of) the progress of dev eloping countries. The resources and the path which led to the Western countries reaching the status od ‘developed’, today there is an attempt to restrict the same resources and the same path for the developing nations.”
Almost all the leaders in the ‘developing countries’ view the dominant development paradigm that the West used and thus employ similar yardsticks to measure development in terms of per capita, GNP, GDP and so on. Developed countries use diverse control mechanisms in such ways to keep the developing countries under its ambit as buyers of its products (all kinds including acting as their strategic defence colonies). PM Modi questions the dependency syndrome of the developed countries, however, when it comes to his rule, PM Modi shows his preference to those state governments ruled by BJP and does act differently when it comes to states ruled by others – Centre’s policy on supply of vaccination doses is self-explanatory.
Recently, former PM Manmohan Singh accused the Modi government of keeping “selfishness” and “hatred and division” at the root of its policies and intentions. In a video message intended for Punjab, which went to polls on February 20,22, he said that “Chinese soldiers are sitting inside our pious land … but efforts are being made to suppress this whole matter. Old friends are being alienated, while our relations with neighboring countries are deteriorating.” He hoped that India’s “alienation” from its old friends would make the ruling dispensation realize foreign relations do not improve through “forced embraces, swinging with leaders, or dropping in, uninvited, for biryani meals”. Adding further, he said that “The fake nationalism of this government is equally hollow and dangerous,” by substantiating “This government has no faith in the Constitution.” He reiterated that “As PM, let his work speak for itself.”
To that end to what former PM of India referred, on the 15th February, 2022, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered a speech in Parliament on a report by the Committee of Privileges on allegation of MPs of the Opposition Worker’s Party including the leader of the Opposition, lying in the Parliament. In the speech, which has since then gone viral on social media, Singapore PM Loong briefly referred to a dilution of democratic values in India under Nehru to what it is today, when he alleges that several MPs have criminal charges against them. If this is the perception of India by a PM of a country known for his governance of a country that portrays all-round development, progress, growth and prosperity.
Adding more national and international airports, allocating more moneys to infrastructure, construction of temples, statues, allocation of crores to build cowsheds, introducing bullet trains are just part of or one aspect of development. Development is multi-dimensional that includes human development. An array of issues that confronts Indians even today are: spiraling unemployment, caste conflicts, growing inflation, cultural nationalism and religious fundamentalism, prevalence of poverty and hunger at alarming levels, increase in the incidence of rape, violence and many others. India has added more numbers going to bed without one square meal a day, live in squalid conditions, price rise, millions added every year into the army of unemployed youth, caste oppression, xenophobic tendencies and growing inequality.
Construction of physical structures such as autobahns, highways, airports, seaports, corridors and others contribute to economic growth and so part of economic parameters. They should be construed as tools of development, but should not be considered as total development. Even if we take the economic parameters into consideration, the current government at the Centre (GOI) falls short of for not having brought down inflation, poverty, hunger, improving basic amenities, providing employment opportunities and so on. If we take the social parameters, India’s performance or its standing in the indices of human development, sustainability, happiness and others have been very low and poor.
Politicians do make bundles of promises that are made at the time of elections. Most of the promises remain unfulfilled. Despite the fact for not having translated those promises on ground, political leaders go ahead with another set of promises with a belief that memories of people are short-lived. We live in an age of ‘politics of promise’ and not entered into the spirit of ‘politics of performance’. People occupy the center of development agenda, content and processes. All-round development vis-à-vis wholistic development ought to be the prerogative of GOI, and not just select ones that caters only to the rich and the powerful.
As B.R Ambedkar rightly pointed out that social development ought to precede economic development. When Dalit and indigenous communities are at the bottom of development agenda, indices and processes educationally, materially and skill-wise, what then is the use of talking about development. ‘Politics of Promise’ for the last seven-decades or so made the poor and the vulnerable to believe the politicians and bureaucrats, but they continue to remain at the bottom of the societal ladder. When are the leaders going to learn to translate the promises they gave to the people and so move to the level of performance? Let them not add more contradictions to the woes of people.
‘Politics of Performance’ does imply the contractual obligations that the rulers and ruled have agreed upon. The ruler comes out with set of promises that he/she committed to fulfil within a stipulated period If the ruler fails to translate those promises in concrete specificities then he/she failed to perform on the promises he/she uttered which tantamount to breach of contract. In the recent assembly elections we have heard a bundle of promises made by all the parties that are contesting including the Prime Minister and others from the Centre, but once the governments are formed, the promises made becomes part of their commitment to fulfil, should not be forgotten, but be performed by all means, which in other words called as ‘From Politics of Promises To Politics of Performance’.
Dr. I. John Mohan Razu
Professor of Social Ethics

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