The Forgotten Proletariat and Absence of PR


The Politicians of India (as also the “aspiring” politicians) seemed to have forgotten one basic tenet of public life.

What, in the first place, got them there – meaning, brought them into public life ?

When I say politicians, that includes all – various political parties and the party which runs the government of the day. All of them, whether they are ministers or not, are basically politicians to start with.

But, once they get into public life, they tend to forget the people – I mean, specifically, the “proletariat”, the average and ordinary folks who are struggling to make ends meet. Not the upper middle class and the rich folks. In terms of pure number, the proletariat holds the key in any election in India. The rural population decides which party would win in national elections and form a government.

The problem of the politicians, to put it simply, is how to leverage their entry into and position in public life so that they get their ROI (Return on Investment). Investment is their cost of getting the “ticket” or the right to get elected as the official representative of a political party. Elections cost huge sums of money – we are seeing that in the U.S. as well. Both the U.S. presidential candidates seem to be collecting upwards of USD 150M every month – in fact in September 2012, President Obama collected USD 181M, the biggest ever by a Presidential candidate in a single month.

So, money runs politics – it is the oil needed to grease the engine of politics.

However, the Indian politicians can hardly forget their own constituency’s proletariat. If they do, they do so at their peril. The simpletons who vote in elections are not that stupid – they will remember which politician kept his word and who did not. At the end of the day, the proletariat wants to get what is best for its well-being – may be a new rail line, a new highway, a new factory offering employment, et al. The politician who gets elected needs to demonstrate to his constituency’s proletariat that he can indeed fight and extract the concessions from his political masters.

Apart from the sin of forgetting the critical proletariat, the politicians and their political parties also miss out on one critical matter – public relations driven communication.

If the important accomplishments or opposition to bad developments, are not heavily communicated to the proletariat, again the party and the politician would lose – and lose badly. It is their job to communicate, communicate and communicate.

The average joe on the street should know that you are fighting for him and fighting real hard on the key issues that matters to the average joe. If you let him develop the notion that you are anti-people, you are more interested in lining your own pockets with easy money, you do not listen to his genuine demands, etc., you are gone the next time you come calling for his vote.

Is that surprising ?

Not at all.

Well, so the two key lessons are: do not forget what you committed as a politician currying votes from your constituency, do not forget the faces of the struggling proletariat ; and, communicate to them at least once a month on the heavy-lifting work that you are delivering for them.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
20th October 2012
Mumbai

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