Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: Lok Satta

India’s impotent middle class

Chanced upon JP's talk at TEDx last year.

How many members of the audience DID anything after this talk?

To the middle class this was just one more nice "event" to attend. A show for the evening. Like any other dance/film show. A way to spend the evening, then go home, have a drink and dinner, and forget that JP ever existed.

How many members of the audience heeded JP's call (not as forthright as I'd have liked it to be) to join politics?

FTI recently had an outreach even in Pune. How many of the audience members cared to join FTI after that event? So far none.

The middle class – which generates political leaders across the world – is impotent in India. It simply doesn't ACT.

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After clarification from Mumbai Lok Satta, I’m pleased to support Surendra Srivastava

After a clarification from a senior leader of the Maharashtra branch of LS, I'm pleased to support Surendra Srivastava's candidacy to the Legislative Council. (Basically, the Maharashtra branch "will not entertain or support any coalition with communist parties").

Please follow the instructions below, and share this blog post/FB links widely around.
Surendra Srivastava is standing as the Lok Satta MLC candidate for Mumbai Graduate constituency. Please add him on Facebook and ask your family, friends & colleagues to do so, too.

About Surendra Srivastava

See Wikipedia entry here. More details from here:

“You cannot love democracy and hate politics. Democracy demands an aware citizenry willing to act when required.” – Surendra Srivastava.
Surendra Srivastava is National General Secretary and Maharashtra State President for Lok Satta Party. He can be reached via email,Facebook, or phone (91-22-23772279).
Early life and education:
Born in 1958 in Delhi, Surendra Srivastava is the son of an army soldier. Brought up in a culture of patriotism, his first participation in political affairs was at the age of 16 when he participated in the anti-emergency movement of Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan.

Like many hard working Indians, Surendra too started early (at the age of 17) from humble backgrounds as an office boy. He worked his way through the ranks to become the President in 1999 of the Great Eastern Shipping Company Limited; India’s largest private sector publically listed shipping company.

He graduated in Commerce (1979, University of Mumbai) and in Law (1984, University of Mumbai). He resigned as a President of the Great Eastern Shipping Company Limited in 2005 to dedicate himself to the mission and objectives of Lok Satta and to bring the best and the brightest back into politics.
He founded the Maharashtra Chapter of Lok Satta Aandolan in 2004 and launched the Lok Satta Party in Maharashtra in 2009. He is currently the National General Secretary as well as President (Maharashtra) of Lok Satta Party.
Personal life:
Surendra is married to Ruchira Srivastava in 1987. The couple has a daughter who is currently studying at University of Purdue. Ruchira, a double post graduate, currently manages the Membership/Volunteer Management of Mumbai Unit of Lok Satta
Association with Lok Satta
Lok Satta Aandolan (or Lok Satta Movement)
• Joined Lok Satta Aandolan as a volunteer in 2001
• Founded Maharashtra Chapter of Lok Satta Aandolan in 2004
Lok Satta Party
• In charge of all State Chapters except Andhra Pradesh – Since 2006
• Launched Lok Satta Party in Maharashtra – 2009
• President of Lok Satta Party, Maharashtra 2009 – current
• Was appointed as the National General Secretary of Lok Satta Party on October 9th 2011 at Ongole, Andhra Pradesh during the 5th Anniversary Celebrations of Lok Satta.



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Will Lok Satta please explain why it is engaging with the Communists?

I'm very surprised (and distressed) by this news item on Lok Satta website:

Mr. Varma said that the Lok Satta Party has decided to support CPI(M) candidates in Tirupati and Anantapur as the CPI(M) has decided to back the Lok Satta Party in Ongole by dropping plans to contest from it in the by-elections to the State Assembly on June 12.

The decision was taken by the Lok Satta Party's State Working Committee here today, said Mr. Varma.

As a result of the electoral adjustments, the CPI (M) will support the Lok Satta Party in Ongole, Pattipadu, Rayadurgam and Yemmiganur Assembly constituencies.

The Lok Satta Party in turn will support CPM candidates in Tirupati, Anantapur, Payakaraopet, Udayagiri and Polavaram Assembly constituencies and Nellore Lok Satta constituency.

What's going on? Why?

What is all this if not politics? What about principles?

Could someone please explain.

This may well mark the end of Lok Satta as a party that stands for SOMETHING, unless some explanation is offered immediately. 

If LS is not going to stand unambiguously for LIBERTY, then I'll need to have a re-think about this whole issue.

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MLAs in India are its local “drain cleaners”; MPs are its policy makers

Here's an extract from a comment I received from a LS member:
There are 17 places where by elections are coming up in Andhra Pradesh. 
The rural polling percentages are always higher and the GHMC elections in 2009 ( the local body greater hyderabad muncipal elections ) polled a 43 % polling and the candidate with 23% votes won over the others. 
And As a volunteer I accept the online complaints through website from citizens and try to respond and resolve those issues by working with the ground team. And 99% of the problems and complaints are about water, drainage, traffic, garbage disposal etc. None of these are duties of an MLA, we try to tell them that. but no one comes to vote for a GHMC election. 
And they complain JP spends most of his time giving impressive speeches in assembly instead of solving the problems of people of kukatpally . 
I find this surprising because these people are educated internet users and cant differentiate between a legislators duties and that of a corporator or a beurocrat
We try to tell them he is not just giving speeches trying to convince the house about policy changes which are important for everyone. but we have no takers, they want JP to come and fix their overflowing drain for voting him
I don't know what we can do if we fail to convince these educated citizens what will we do in the rural areas. the next time there are elections.
What's the solution?
My suggested thoughts, below:
Dear XX
Thanks for raising this important issue. But the key is to note that our democracy functions in this manner. This is is something JP should have known very well, given his extensive field experience.
In India, MPs are treated as policy makers (at least some of them) by the people, and MLAs as their local "drain cleaners" (I use this not derogatively but to represent their local focus – it is an important role). 
So the solution to this is for JP to become an MP (instead of MLA). Then he'd never get any complaint about such issues. 
Of course, the "cushiest" job is that of a Rajya Sabha MP who doesn't represent any constituency and therefore NEVER receives any complaint of any sort – whether policy or otherwise.
MLAs represent the local constituency. Everyone in that constituency knows the MLA.  MLA constituencies are relatively small (while MP constituencies can have 20 lakh people; MLA constituencies usually have 1-2 lakh people). 
As a result people who can't afford to hire a lawyers/ agents to represent them in dealings with the government tend to go to their local MLA.

Most MLAs are happy to do this "job" (which merely requires them to co-sign a petition or at most make a phone call to a government agency). It not only keeps them in touch with the people but if (by chance!) the work gets done, the MLA can take credit for it and be assured of a loyal vote in the next election.
Lok Satta therefore can't tell people that JP is doing policy work and it won't do the job of representing them with government agencies on such "petty" matters. That won't work. If this continues, JP will lose his seat in the next election.
Doing such local things is a crucial aspect of the MLA's job: not just in India but all over the world. Even in Australia, the local MLA has a local office in the constituency and sits there on many days in a week for people to come in and complain about local issues. He/she is, after all, their local REPRESENTATIVE.
At the assembly level, politics is LOCAL, retail politics. Policy is a secondary thing in people's mind at that level (particularly in India). It is more about squeezing more money for your constituency from the funds provided by the government of India. 
If policy attracts JP, not this retail politics, he must become an MP.
On FTI the focus is clear –  for members to become MPs FIRST, so they can focus on policy change which is critically needed. Then state assemblies can come in, where politics is usually murky and mixed with all kinds of local issues of the sort you've described.
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