Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Performer versus vapourware

Imagine you walk into a hospital for anything – as small as a common cold or as complicated as a heart surgery. For some reason, the doctor does not turn up. You have the choice of meeting the doctors kid who has no medical degree who will diagnose and/or operate upon you or you have the choice of going to another hospital pronto. (I can already picture you running…)

Imagine that you are the caption of the Indian (or any other, gully) cricket team. You have a big match coming up. And your star player has retired. Who would you choose next? Would you go in for someone who is the backup? Or would you choose the star players kid who has little to show by way of playing in cricket at an international level?

You perhaps know where I am heading to, but bear with me.

Imagine that you are working on something important at work and you need your boss to take a look at it for some final, crucial inputs. But the boss is a little busy and recommends that you meet his son instead who graduated yesterday.

Sounds funny? Almost laughable? Does it not? Given any situation, you would always pick a person who is a performer – a track record of performance and something to show for his skills rather than someone who is fresh off the block. Hell, you would do that for a cook. If you cannot verify the cooks degree, you will ask the chap to give you a trial day to check and perhaps a week before you confirm.

So, when faced with the choice of the Prime Minister of the country, who would you choose?

Would you vote for the kid of a dynasty who has little to show by way of administrative experience? Whose party (and various alliance) has been found guilty of various corruption allegations? Whose party members and alliance members have spent time in jail – just in the last 8 odd years of delivering what in their words is ‘Bharat Nirmaan’? Who has till date, not given a live interview? Who has not thought it fit to attend parliament regularly and ask questions of those who he purports to represent? Whose, one constituency, is not a showcase of how he can handle a constituency (one out of the 543 that make up India’s parliament), but a disaster across almost all human indices?

Or would you cast your vote for someone who has delivered good governance in one state over nearly 15 years now? Who has gone against the grain of offering freebies to some section of the people and delivered them some of the basic needs that have not been met in most parts of the country since 60 years of independence? Who, as of today, stands regarded as one of the most capable and able administrators? Who has managed to inspire a government, a population and many beyond his own home state? Who constantly connects with people over traditional and non-traditional media? Whose state, despite being one of the rain deficit states has managed to show agricultural growth year on year? Whose state has attracted the best industries to set up shop over the last many years? And whose state has had no whiff of corruption scandals while the entire country reeks of corruption and bribery. And I can go on and on…

I don’t know about you, but I will go with experience and proven ability than the vacuous marketing of nothing. When Gujarat’s election percentage jumped, there was a collective orgasm amongst some members of the media who thought that all that enthusiasm was to vote out a performing government and get in a corrupt one? Really? The people are smarter than that – at least that is what those state and subsequent lower level election results from there tell me.

And that in a nutshell has been the story of our ‘new’ old hope that is being marketed to us. Now, it is entirely plausible that the new improved hope will deliver us yet another puppet who will stay put in the saddle for another 5 years. Which is worse? I leave you to think about it.

One last point. There are reams and reams of paper being written about whether Gujarat’s development numbers are a decimal point here or a decimal point there. Or whether the last third decimal is better than other states or if Gujarat is behind Mizoram in power. Or how two surveys have a percent point gap.

But everywhere, there is uniform agreement that even Amethi and Rae Bareilly are in the boondocks despite years of being the dynasty’s constituencies. Think about it.

One state which is developing versus a couple of constituencies which are still languishing?

Still want to enthusiastically vote for a non-performer? Sure. Go ahead. In that case, you surely get the government you seek.

(This piece was posted at Niticentral.)

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