Saturday, May 03, 2014

The dog barked at the car

But the car never did stop. Did you ever notice that? A speeding car never stops at the barking dog.

Thought that came to me as I read Swaminathan Aiyars latest column in Mint - where he rather pompously claims that Narendra Modi wont create a second miracle in India. The ending goes somewhat like this!

"If Modi becomes prime minister, can he replicate all over India what he has done in Gujarat? Not a chance. Agriculture and irrigation are controlled by state governments. New Delhi cannot order any state to reform its electricity corporations, charge farmers for power or build check dams. The crucial rural functionary in India is the district collector, who takes his orders from his chief minister, not from New Delhi.

However skilled Modi may or may not be, the notion that he can somehow transform India into an expanded version of Gujarat is a fantasy. At best he can point to the state as a model for other chief ministers to emulate. Leading by example is a slow and uncertain process, however—in India no less than anywhere else."

Somehow, like all devils advocates in the past, Aiyar thinks that it cannot be done. And why so? Because of some archaic power structure. So effectively Aiyar believes that India will continue to be the morass that it is in many parts. Thats it. Personal incredulity, Aiyar is a logical fallacy. Just because you dont think it cannot be done, does not mean it cannot be done.

There are a million other reasons it can be done. A few BJP states have done it. There is no reason to think that Congress wont like development - or if Congress chief ministers wont read the writing on the wall. They may, they may not, the model may not work, may work - there are as many arguments for it as much as they are against it. But, I am an optimist. I would rather give it a shot.

There is a Chinese proverb - The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

I used to be a fan of Swaminathan Aiyar. I must admit though that over the last few years, I am not. Because from being an economics columinst of note (I wanted to write fact based stuff the way he does) while I was in college, he of late, descends into not letting facts come in the way of his opinion.  

Not that I matter to Aiyar. But then so does Aiyar not matter to Modi.

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