छप्पर फाड़ कर

Till the morning of May 16th, nobody was sure, but India finally has a government, and how!

The people have delivered a verdict that leaves no excuses for performance, and have put a man who promised that at the helm.

No more whining about coalition compulsions and dual power centers with no will or abilities for the job and all the other non-sense related to governance that we saw over the past 5 years. For the past 5 years and to a large extent over close to 20 years, we have been told that for a country ‘as diverse as India’ and with ‘compulsions of democracy’, this is our fate.

But now there is hope – no guarantees, but surely and truly, fresh hope based on an electorate’s collective mandate.

Of course, nothing as far as the situation on the ground is concerned has changed immediately. But the biggest and weakest link in India’s growth – that of government – seems to have been unchained by the people themselves.

The overwhelming numbers along with the people who got them provide that hope, though their tasks especially over the next few months will not be easy. But one can expect a firm will in operation and a resolute hand in action, that will be well supported by the electoral numbers that enable them to move forward.

But along with this hope, this mandate has also provided existential threats to a number of people and various power centers in politics and thereabouts, whose bread depended on caste, religion and division.

Simple mathematics of votes suggests that a number of people made their living by catering to, or pretending to cater to specific segments within the electorate, and that made sense for a long time in the political scenarios then.

Now their survival is in jeopardy, and they won’t give up in a hurry. So expect a lot of communal vs secular arguments, caste based disturbances and even unexpected shocks over the coming months as the euphoria regarding this government settles down.

Markets and investments are not always rational so there are never any guarantees, and hence there is no need for drastic changes in investing strategy as such. But suffice it to say that Mr Market is likely to be in a good mood for a while, and it will take a lot of doing to depress him over the next few weeks and months at least.

But that is only one part of this story and its impact, and there will be occasions to make one’s own assessments on that from time to time.

Be that as it may, but for now, the probabilities of a new dawn increase from here.

The people have given themselves a fresh lease of life and a hope of a better future, and now it is up to the government to play its part and enable it. Its time starts now!!

The Government on Lokpal: Giving Precedence to Form over Substance

A few observations I made over the past few days, since Anna Hazare went on a fast for a strong anti-corruption law.

That the government’s recent responses to Team Anna and the public demand for a strong anti-corruption law seems to be like that of someone asking a dying man to fill a form at the hospital.

That someone needs to ask the government, similar to the way Munnabhai asked Dr Asthana in the movie “Woh casualty ke bahar aadmi mar raha hota hai, to usko form bharna zaroori hai kya?”

That the government still does not get it that it must give precedence to substance over form, intent over procedure, at least for something as important as setting up a strong Lokpal.

That saying that ‘the Delhi Police is following procedures to maintain order’ and ‘Parliament should be allowed to make laws’ look like giving more priority to procedure over intent.

And responses like ‘present your views to the standing committee for consideration’, or ‘a private member bill cannot be introduced when there is already a government bill introduced’, or ‘the legislative procedure will not allow the bill to be passed in this session of parliament’ – all of these are akin to asking people who are already desperate for change and action – ‘to fill forms’.

Like the government is looking more and more like Dr Asthana from the movie, bashing its head over how to handle the non-violent rebellion from a group of  ‘common citizens’ who have garnered the support of thousands more.

That the government still does not understand that decent, law-abiding, normal citizens of society generally do not join protests spontaneously on roads. That despite fully knowing that it is not the ‘proper’ thing to do, there must a strong reason for their doing so, which the government needs to fix.

That it is a clear problem of giving precedence to form rather than substance, and procedure rather than intent.

And that the more the government focuses on procedure, the more its intent will be doubted.

That this is not the time to think about vote banks, urban versus rural, communal versus secular for the government. The people who are fasting, joining the protests and supporting the movement do not seem to be thinking about it.

That while some people may think Anna’s procedure is not right, most people are not questioning his intent.

That while some people may think the government’s procedure is right, most people are questioning their intent. Which is not good news.

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