Tuesday, May 11, 2004

On Naidu's loss and the possibility of the NDA not getting an absolute majority

Actually it's just that Governments will finally realise that making the Top 25% of the population richer and relying on ineffective trickle-down economics to improve the quality of life of the remaining 75% of the population is not just bad governance, it's bad politics.

It's great to see Silicon valley being recreated and the explosion in consumer spending in Dehi, Hyd, Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai. It's great to see 2.4million$ Tennis events and 2million$ endorsement deals and 1.7m$ Fashion Weeks. It's good to see Mr.naidu give my company 1 million$ for a tennis tournament. It's good to see him earmark 100m$ to bring Formula 1 to Hyderabad.

It's not so good when that same Government is in a debt trap that does not allow it to focus on power, irrigation, infrastructure and education in the districts. It's obscene that they can give 50 lakhs to Kamran Malleshwari and nothing to a farmer who's family commits mass suicide because the drought means he can no longer afford 1$ a day.

It's disgraceful when 10% of our GDP is allocated on military expenditure. The irony of the millions spent in pursuing a nuclear deterrent that effectively ended up making our conventional military superiority redundant is, of course, priceless.

I think it's wonderful what the Government is doing for the economy. But any government in India today will do the same, unless it's the Socialists in the 3rd front. So whether it's Shourie and Jaswant Singh or Manmohan Singh/P Chidambaram/Jairam Ramesh does not matter.

But the issues that need to be addressed if this short term boom is to translate into a more permanent economic transformation are education, population, infrastructure, health, poverty and water. A government that abdicates its responsibility towards these issues and thereby 75% of it's population, in favour of advertising slogans about India Shining.

Also, let's stop imagining that the BJP provides good governance. It has Vajpaaye, Shourie and Jaswant Singh as it's only truly good leaders. There is not 1 BJP CM that has done better work than the Sheila Dixit and Ashok Gehlot (before the drought lost him the election). In fact I'd take SM Krishna, Naidu, Jayalalitha and even Digvijay Singh before the Narendra Modi's and Uma Bharti's of the world. If it wasn't for the damn waitress who leads them I have no doubt the Congress is a better party, and to me the 3 good men in the BJP are as paradoxical as Powell and John McCain in the Republican party.

The tragedy is that the BJP will see the absence of the promised "wave" (if indeed it does not materialise) in its favour, not as an indictment of it's spin and rhetoric, of its poor governance, but as the consequence of softening its Hindutwa agenda and its Pakistan policy. The contrast between this result and the electoral consequence of Modi's genocide in Gujarat will have all the sangh Parivar strategists scurrying back to the drawing board.

Our cities are shining. Our middle class dreams of shining. The economy is shining. Corporate India is shining. My own life is shining with income and possibilities and a global lifestyle.
But India is not shining.

So the NDA may be good for me and the rest of the 25% I come from. It may be the Government I deserve.
But I do not speak for the vast majority of this country nor am I representative of them.

That's why the absence of anNDA wave is a sign of the maturity of India's flawed democracy.

----- Original Message -----
From: Shah, Akshay [London]
To: 'nineofus@yahoogroups.com'
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 12:46 PM
Subject: [nineofus] GenElec

I don't know how many of you have been following the elections / have voted,
but the clearest indication of investor sentiment re the possibility of a
"secular" Congress govt (or any non-NDA govt) is being played out in the
stock markets - market is down 500 pts in the last 3-4 days! See attached

More surprisingly, Naidu is on the verge of being voted out, where the focus
is on linguistic issues rather than on his duplication of India's silicon
valley in Hyderabad.

I think it would be an absolute travesty if the NDA lost... If people get
the governments they deserve, then maybe the average Indian deserves, after
all, to live on $1 a day.

Akshay Shah

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