When it comes to Indian politics, one person I really look upto is Dr. Arun Shourie. After 2009 NDA debacle he wrote series of article in Indian Express analysis not just BJP’s defeat but a very high level failure of all the parties in India.
Those three articles should be made mandatory reading for anyone who intends to enter public life. Arun Shourie writes how organizations like that of BJP (or before that Congress) are born and how they get corrupted. The article is titled How the party withers away.
In the light of this above mentioned article I think AAP will fail. It will fail politically nevertheless but even if it manages to get into power it will fail in it’s stated objectives of cleansing the system.
Aaam Adami Party led by Arvind Kejariwal is the new kid on the street claiming to be different. Arvind Kejariwal was an IRS officer and a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax department. He joined Anna’s movement and later parted way to form a party. His popularity was essentially derived from Anna’s movement and he capitalized on it.
Today Arvind Kejariwal’s AAP claims that once they come in power they will eradicate corruption. He think that more laws such as Janlokpal will help him achieve this objective. He is surrounded by leftists such as Binayak Sen, Prashant Bhushan among others.
So far Kejariwal seems to have expressed his opinions only on eradication of corruption. He smartly links any other questions to corruption and claims that once that problem is fixed everything else will fall in place.
In my opinion, AAP is likely to fail and the Hero Kejriwal will sooner or later became the same villain like those in BJP and Congress he despises so much.
Interestingly even the poor uneducated people have asked Arvind the right question. “Congress, BJP said the same thing, why should we believe you ?” To which Arvind has consistently replies that he was in such a powerful position that he would have easily made crores of ruppees for himself.
So far, Arvind Kejariwal’s arguments have circled around the following three lines
1. Tougher laws and put and end to corruption
2. A clean leader at top can end the corruption
3. Ending corruption solves all problems.
And add a premise to it that “All parties are corrupt”.
The Fault lines
1. Equating intentions with outcomes
The biggest problem with both Anna and Kejriwal is the assumption that they make. That assumption is “Good intentions lead to good outcomes”. Or rather Good Intentions is a sufficient condition for Good Outcomes.
This assumption is not just invalid but absolutely foolish. Intentions largely determine a person’s actions but they have absolutely no impact on the person’s competence to make the right decisions. The best example is of current Dr. Manmohan Singh who has been reduced from an esteemed academician to a nationally despised and ridiculed ass hole.
2. Naïveté about building an organization
People like Arvind tell us that BJP and Congress are corrupt. He says the reason for this is that their leaders are selfish and power hungry. Somehow replacing those leaders by selfless leaders such as himself will clean up the system.
What Arvind says is applicable only to smaller organizations and groups. One clean man is all they need. When Indian skipper Moh. Azaruddin (who is now a Congress MP) was caught in a match fixing scandal, entire Cricket fraternity had began to lose faith in Indian team. Spotless characters of Sachin, Rahul and Ganguly managed to bring back that pride and faith and took it to an even higher level.
But unfortunately, this thing does not work at scale. People are essentially power hungry, people react to incentives. Any organization who fails to account for the same is likely to fail. AAP has not demonstrated how they are going to address this reality.
For example BJP was a good party to begin with. It has withered over a time and this had nothing to do with the character of those at top but likely because of the incompetence of the leaders at top. Kejriwal has not done anything to prove competence of himself and his comrades.
3 Lack of Economics vision
Indians are not inherently corrupt. There is no reason for us to believe that Indians are more corrupt than any other nationals. But we have all reasons to believe that one cause of corruption is the excessive government controls on economic activity and a complete lack of “freedom” for the citizens.
Arvind’s arguments are in opposite direction. He thinks that following government regulation is “honesty” and more stricter laws (or more government regulations) is what is required to fix the issue of corruption.
For example, in Arvind’s opinion Indian Railways will have to appoint (or assigned) 27,000 lokpals to watch over the corruption. But in reality the better solution is to simply shut down loss making routes and privatize the Railways.
Corruption is not a result of few bad people getting into position of power. Corruption is a result of economic system that gives strong incentives to be corrupt. It can not be fought with good intentions but it needs people who can bring systemic change in the way we expect government to interfere in our lives.
In short Arvind brings nothing new to the tables than the usual “I am better than them” argument. The real problem is that he claims he is better than others in “intentions” and that alone is enough. He views private enterprises as enemy and state as the “authority” that dictates rules to its citizens.