I sometimes wonder how Scott Adams would write about Indian politics.
In United States, political parties take hard ideological stands and when in power, try to implement those policies. If the Congress and President belong to different parties, the only way to get things done is by both parties to compromise and find a common ground.The word “bipartisan” is used often.
In India things are different. Almost everyone is clear on what needs to be done. For example it takes IQ of an Rabbit to see that APMC is one of the major bottlenecks why Indian farmers continue to remain poor and why food remains more expensive. It is illegal for Indian farmer to sell his produce to anyone other than the government approved Marketing Board at government approved price. This is same as saying Toyota, Tata, Suzuki should sell all their cars only to government at a price determined by government and government would then sell those cars to consumers.
I am pretty sure that the economist in BJP and Congress understand this perfectly well. But the one in opposition will always oppose the move to abolish APMC. The one in power will always be on defensive to go ahead with this sort of move.
One of the reasons for this is that, in India it is much simpler to gain votes by pure rhetoric. At least the political class believes so. It is easier to come up with a totally artificial cause, claim that it is in the interest of your vote bank and then rally the people. For example if BJP government decides to dilute APMC then, the Congress would say “Government want to leave farmers at the helm of greedy corporates and private players”. This sort of argument actually has buyers in India society.
One of the classic example is of Railways. Railways is a Government monopoly. British government wanted a monopoly on railways because their priorities were different from the priorities of Indian public. But in reality during British rule several private players had their own trains and train routes. It was under Indian government this became and impossibility.
Railways fare were not hiked for a decade. Railways employs more people than everyone except Army. It has continued to bleed. Because it does not make profits, it has also failed to make more investments in upgrading infrastructure or capacity while the quality of service deteriorating.
Again it is not hard to see that if Railway does not make profits, if it does not downsize it will simply eat away taxpayers money, increase government debt, reduce efficiency of transport and hurt the economy for the worse.
However any move to make the fare close to profitability will be heralded as “move against aam adami”. (Read the last para in this link and you would get the idea).
The reason why such arguments work is because the general population fails to pay attention to details and rather focuses more on empty rhetoric. e
What is the best way to deal with this ?
I think the best way to deal with this is the way UPA government went ahead with the Draconian Right to Education Act.
Step 1: Fancy Names
Give your decision a fancy name. Something that is unquestionably pro-people. For example “Plan to increase seat capacity and faster booking in Railways”. This is something that all people want.
Step 2: Erect Strawmen
Any criticism directed at this “Plan” must be invariably treated as opposition to increasing seat capacity and better booking. It does not matter what arguments opposition brings.
Step 3: Leave the devil in details
Any proposed hike in railway price must be kept hidden away in the details of the plan. But if anyone starts bringing it up follow step 2.
Step 3: Deliver
This is where most political parties fail. For example if BJP government increases Railway fare but fails to deliver any noticeable impact on the quality of service, the public will punish them irrespective of the rhetoric.