India is not Egypt

Well, I am going to get brickbats on this topic, I know for sure !

I am referring here to the agitation by Anna Hazare in New Delhi against corruption. TV is full of the hourly coverage of his fast unto death and enough and more in the newspapers that I am not going to write about him in this blogpost.

The key thing now is that Indian Government is incapacitated and unable to function due to various corruption scandals and now this fast. Do we need a functioning government for a large democracy like India ? The answer is absolutely an YES. But do we have one now ? NO, not really, it is only functioning partially, dented by repeated attacks on its integrity.

And, why is the government unable to govern ? The reason is that the government is not allowed to function. We have a democratically elected government. It should be given the space to function. We cannot bring down the government illegally. Our government is not shooting at protesters. It is a democratic government. It follows democratic principles. It might lack in certain areas of governance. But we should help the government create prosperity and aid it in its larger mission.

Corruption is only one of the issues. More critical and more demanding is the issue of poverty and the treatment of people below poverty line. We have the issue of rural unemployment. We need to create jobs. We need to create wealth for our people.

How can that be done ? We need to agitate for more foreign investments. Foreign investments bring in the money required to upgrade India’s ailing infrastructure. Nothing creates more jobs than the construction sector. We need more of it, rather than less of it. We need to encourage USD 50B of foreign investments every year, rather than struggling to get even USD 10B every year. Look at even Indonesia which receives more than 4 times what we get. We need to market India aggressively abroad. We need to provide a more positive investment environment for all investors.

Protests are an important part of democracy, I am not denying that. However, any protest in the Indian context degenerates into a meaningless exercise, when the government cannot be persuaded by such efforts. Government has a job to do and that is to govern.

Anna Hazare seems to have created a massive sympathetic reaction around the country, and that is good.

Well, we need to think carefully before bringing the Indian Economy down to its knees. Let us worry about the poor people, and their inability to react to work closures and economic slowdown. If the economy slows even to around 6%, one can imagine the damage it can cause to our country.

Let us think what issue should have priority at this stage of Indian economic story. Please carry on any protests no issue with that, but let the government run its business as usual. And, no violence please on the streets. No burning of buses and attacks on public property.

All the best wishes to Anna Hazare in the meanwhile – hope he will be able to persuade the UPA Government to relax its stand on corruption matters,


Vijay Srinivasan
7th April 2011


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