Sunday, January 10, 2010

My response to Chetan Bhagat’s article on "Fighting for a Common Cause”

The original article can be found in the following link

Chetan Bhagat in this article beautifully articulates that we have not been successful in introspecting about the targets we had set for ourselves a few decades ago. A very valid point and this is something we need to introspect on. After all, we cannot keep pushing the timeline by which we must achieve a measurable , sustainable growth.

The second part of the article speaks about what we must do in future to achieve the desired growth. Mr Bhagat speaks about voicing our opinions for a collective common cause to achieve a desired result. To a lay man this means that we need to voice our demands and opinions through a single channel or in another sense , vote on common grounds. Although this is a great idea ,this seems impractical in a country such as India. The reasons are mentioned below

- India’s economic growth has resulted in a skewed growth for certain sections. Now these sections that have already made some progress cannot blend their thought process with people from other sections of the society. For Eg : A man who has children studying in school and who has runs a successful business would be impressed by the thoughts and ideas of Kapil Sibal who wants to rope in Harvard and Stanford into India and might want him. Whereas I would rather want the government to provide goof healthcare insurance options to me and my family and might lean towards more of the leftist policies. The servant maid in my apartment would want a government that would provide better rice or what flour in the ration. She would be impressed with the policies of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu. Now , how on earth would we get all of them on the same platform to speak , debate and conclude on a common cause ? An anology to this is what Mr Bhagat specifically mentions about various NGO’s targeting different causes and the need for them to unite together !

- The second reason is India’s land size and the sheer impossibility to get everyone on a common platform. Let us consider the decision to vote to achieve results as a linear equation with a certain number of variables- now the greater the number of variables (causes we fight for) ,more difficult and time consuming it is to solve the problem(achieving atleast something if not everything).

I would like to quote several other reasons but would stop at this point. I am thrilled that intellectuals like Chetan Bhagat and Shashi Tharoor are thinking really hard to solve our problems and I hope they do succeed. This article is not to condemn Mr Bhagat’s line of thought. It is merely a counter argument. I strongly believe that arguing and debating would make us more intelligent individuals. I am also not sure if this article would reach all the people I intend it to reach. I certainly hope it does.

My Solution to the Problem

The problems faced by an area (typically a legislative assembly )can be addressed by forming an Area Association comprising of really smart and hardworking people located in the area. They can understand the needs of the people. The landscape of the area would be uniform and the professions of the people would not be very diverse. For Eg : In an urban area we can elect a person who is ready to solve issues of sanitation and roads . Similarly in a village , a person who understands the minimum support price concept for crops and issues of fertilizer prize can be elected.

So the real solution is to group people by area or locality rather than by their demands. Why should a farmer in Maharashtra who is fighting (for or )against BT cotton lose his sleep over the issue of farm land flooding near the Cauvery Delta ?

I hope I am atleast partially correct :-)
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