Good governance vs. Good cricket

[ Just to refresh memory or for the sake of those who may not be aware at all I have been into activism for a very long time now and have clearly realised that the need of the hour is to be active in politics to make a larger difference. Having held the view since long and in the post 26/11 scenario I contested LS 2009 and secured 3301 votes]

I have been getting a lot of queries about am I contesting the coming elections? What is Jago doing? Is it fielding any candidates? If not then how does it expect to be seen as a serious contender? etc.

My thinking on this is borne from my experiences from the previous election. Clearly my conviction that I am good leadership material for the country remains.  But along with that is a realization that it takes two hands to clap.

If I think that I can provide good political leadership for the country then there has to be the flip side to it in terms of a demand for good leaders and not just demand but a decent level of support for them as well. And yes speaking specifically an appreciation and support for the excellent work I have already done till now (no humility lost in patting yourself on the back once in a while). A comprehensive listing of my comments in media on some issues is here –

Since it is cricket season I keep coming to my bete noire. Are good cricket players and good cricket more important for the country or good politicians and governance? And it is not an either or question. We can very well be enjoying our cricket and be taking good interest in the governance and politics of the country.

But the average man on the street would spend 100’s of his man hours on cricket, some money as well and nothing commensurable on good governance and good leaders. Not just the average man, even within the 3301 people who voted for me or the 188 odd who are on my Facebook support group, how many came back to check on the way ahead? How many keep a tab on the scores and player selection and Dhoni’s health on a daily basis.? Cricket versus good governance?

[cricket and excessive cricket watching anyways I feel is one of the bigger of many reasons for the state of this country]

And because millions are willing to give their eye balls and man hours to cricketers, one finds companies paying them sky rocketing sums to endorse projects, if what they get paid to play per match was not good enough. So much money that they do not know what to do with it.

Now if I were to devote my self to give good governance and understand legislation and improve on it and ensure better utilization of public tax payers money – what do I get?

Can I please get funds for a working secretariat. Can I please get even one twentieth of the time you give to cricket? Can you please help reach out to people? Publicity?

(And I have along with a very small group been doing yeoman service to the city by questioning the award of the outrageous Rs. 3,500 crores for remedying the Deonar garbage dump when significantly cheaper options are available. All this while even the average governance activist is completely clueless.)

The last election left me with three months of lost income and a fair share of expenses from my pocket as well, all of which completely delayed my plans to be into green business and left me financially in dire straits.

Thus if you play cricket well you get rewarded so well that beyond a point you have too much. And if you think about how your city’s taxes are used and how the average man at the railways station feels, or how are the footpaths and the urinals and do our municipal school children deserve a better deal and how our energy efficiency, renewable energy and green buildings policy can be a lot better you dont get as much as a 100 rupee note accidentally.

I think good people get good leaders and deserve good leaders. Opium addicts who would care a damn about the state of things around them – only their daily fix – don’t. That I feel is the state of 99 percent of our citizens today – consumed by cricket and many other worthless wasteful addictions.

And it makes more sense to either spend time on rehabilitating the opium addicts or waiting for their rehab to happen before starting to seek their votes.

[I have been thinking of alternatively naming this post “Politiking in the midst of opium addicts” ]

10 thoughts on “Good governance vs. Good cricket

  1. hi
    while i can see the reason for the irritation at the general apathy of the population – i can understand their reasons as well.
    the system has let down citizens.
    possible candidates appeared on the horizon, for parliament, 3 months before the election- supported by a party and agenda that was – how does one say this nicely – wonky.
    maybe, the opportunity is to build up groundswell over the next 5 years – nurturing your constituency. Being where the various communities are ! this time there is time 🙂

    1. hi harini,

      while i will accept the bit about coming into the horizon 3 months before election and the bit about the party agenda (though not my own)..what i refuse to agree on is citizens being let down by the post is not about only myself..even though it may sound so..i can count you two dozen people who have been on the horizon long enough and still have no support…

      it is the citizens who have let down the system..the Indian educated have completely misused democracy for self body has bothered to nurture the tree which gives them fruits and shade only choosing to make slant and expert remarks about how the tree could have been better and how it looks ugly in places..

      and i can narrate two dozen instances of this which could make a book and yet the shameless people that make india will not change..

      people get the government they deserve is something i have believed since long…

      regards, rishi

      1. Hi
        thanks for your response.

        to make a change – aspiring leaders have to go beyond whatever it is that they do – and start making a difference at the constituency level.

        That is one of the things i find so very strange about our system – local and state levels are not considered to be ‘hot’ – for aspiring politicians. IT is only Parliament 😦

        citizens have chosen not to participate -because there is nothing to participate in – it is a choice between three or four equally unappealing parties that all stand for more or less the same thing.

        I always thought that there was a space for a Green Party in India – given its traditional affinity for the environment 🙂 Maybe that is what will appeal.

      2. Harini, I dont know how much you have interacted with the parties and the leaders you call unappealing. My reading with fairly decent interaction is that even the worst of those would mend their ways or reduce their bad doings considerably if citizens were interacting with them and playing a balanced role of a guide and a watchdog..

        It is a very much widely spread wrong perception among the public that the leaders are useless. Its like a kid not going wanting to go to school bring out a thousand reasons about whats wrong with the teacher and the school and everything else…People dont want to take the trouble of participating…Running the country is not even a spectator sport like cricket where people will particpate in the millions by making expert comments. In this case it is like hockey or TT or one of those lesser games which dont have any audience..far less participation..

        Bottom line people need to participate..irrespective of what choices leaders make or not…you dont make a good defense for people 🙂

        The debate between local or parliament is inconsequential i think…to people who want to participate at all levels it doesn’t really make any difference. In my case I was heading for the state assembly but it was the Party decision to give it a shot, the reasoning for which was ok with me..

        Let me assure you there is absolutely no place for a Green Party in India. The environment features no where in the masses agenda – educated or uneducated. Some pointers in my latest entries on GM food and Mumbai and climate change..


      3. hi Rishi
        a) I have met leaders – MLA, corpororator, panchayti raj level not MP level . I don’t find them unappealing, a lot of the middle class ‘electorate’ do. a lot of the blue collared in a place like Mumbai or to be more accurate – the non English speaking ‘working’ class is more aware of the power structure than the middle class. Outside Mumbai, or a metro, the awareness is greater. These are the guys who fix people’s problems – jobs, schemes, disputes etal. These leaders – tho’ i prefer the word representatives – are far from useless. And, if they are ‘useless’ their constituents dump them.
        b) people need to participate – many do. few don’t. In my travels and in my interactions in places like Mumbai i have seen interactions b/w people and the system. More at the local Govt level, less at the Parliamentary level.
        c) which brings me to my point on local, state and centre. It is easier to get people involved with their backyard than with esoteric things like the nuclear deal or balance of payments. 26/11 was an aberration and it impacted the middle class because it attacked their watering holes. we didn’t see the same backlash on other terror attacks.
        I would love to see the BMC get filled by idealistic independents rather than the lot that sits there – it may be easier to get people who can make a change to take over muncipalities !

        d) i have been interacting with Navdanya on organic bodies and a couple of other bodies on microfiannce and rural dev. It is incredible how Bharat responds to the environmental agenda – and refreshing 🙂 organic is growing, Rishi. The groundswell against pollution, GM and BT is growing. The sad part is that it is not reported. Again, one of the things one has come to realize, is how little Mumbai participates 😦 it needs to change – but this has to be on real issues, not macro level stuff. Not stuff that makes people feel guilty about their lifestyle choices (that can come later) but stuff that they can actually do that is ‘easy’ to accomplish !

        Let’s meet and jam – there is a lot that can happen. This country and its’ people are worth believing in 🙂

        happy diwali and here is hoping for good governance 🙂

      4. Hey Harini, I am so glad you have been responding. A part of me was worried that you may take my replies as a stubborn insistence to my views and downplaying yours, which I have no intention of doing. I must admit that your replies have brushed of a good bit of irritation and frustration which was built over the past few years. And adds much needed oxygen 🙂 There is such a huge lack of discussion that I think I would be grateful even to someone who beats the shit out of my positions 🙂

        Interacting with the system is more a function of each individuals value structure and fascination with ‘the system’. There are blue collared worker who give a damn about the system and there are well off middle class who just cant seem to think of anything else. But the vast majority even out of their lack of a value structure and appreciation for the system manage to have the better influence on it! That is the paradoxical reality. So you fret and frown and also sweat a bit and nothing changes and you remain indifferent and respond to rhetoric and manage to keep the system the way it is.

        The current class of politicians are firmly in touch with the essential makeup of the vast millions. An incredible ability to be intimidated with violence, an inability to not stand alone for what you believe in and a complete refusal to upgrade your knowledge base continuously – in fact a denial of any knowledge outside one which will get ou a good job are very essential characteristics of Indians today. And it is on this rotting bread that the mold of our existing politicians grow, no mold without bad bread.

        I unfortunately do not keep much track with what happens in rural areas but my reading is that those places are far worse of because the element of lawlessness and the vicious grasp of traditional thought patterns which comes in small non-cosmopolitan towns and communes makes for a far worse cocktail. Bombay in fact makes for such a wonderful laboratory for good governance but is also a phenomenal wasted opportunity. And I could add 10,000 word note here on the complete ineptness and enormous contribution of the few active civil society constituents in the situation.

        How you frame your arguments, how well you are able to understand that a significant chunk of the constituents are non-english speaking, how you able to even better understand the complex diversity of the constituent base is something which makes all the difference and this is something which the existing civil society is hopeless out of touch with. And so importantly how you are able to manage your ego – of which the Bhagavat Geeta propounding types suffer the most from – is absent.

        Maybe I am wrong and even if right maybe there is change coming about which I am not seeing. Its great you have been interacting with Navdanya and I am possibly out of touch with the changing reality. Maybe I need to be farming for some while and be away from the city!

        As regards Mumbai’s participation if people are able to engage themselves on what I see as purely selfish issues – the conditions at the railways stations (for which I ran what must be Mumbai’s first coordinated Clean Railway Stations Campaign in 2007 [some pics in my facebook acnt] ), the state of the cooperative housing societies (a large majority of which are anything but cooperative), an interest in land use and transport which ultimately has a massive impact on your quality of life whether bottom of the rung or right on top, look into an every rupee account of the BMC budget spend, then I think a lot will be achieved. And need I say that to me each and every issue is a selfish issue, I am concerned about the air quality, and the sewage that is poured in the sea and how it enters the food chain, and the trees which give shade and the municipal hospitals and the public urinals and the…..its like I said, does your value system make these things as fascinating as watching Big Boss?? If not, don’t blame the politicos!

        The BMC is my first governance love! So all game for any plans to take charge there. Yes lets meet soon…maybe others who I sent the message and some how may be following this discussion can also come in. Lets grow the numbers.

        Thanks again and Happy Diwali!

  2. hey,
    i did. sorry got tied up in the post of the film and other work related stuff.

    i enjoy a civil and involved exchange of ideas. if we both said the same thing – the exchange would be boring 🙂 na ?

    i think that cities are ripe for change. communities need to be rebuilt – not in a religious or an ethnic sense, but in a neighborhood sense . It has already begun. I was telling someone, little things that you see in the west like a raffle for the local police charity or for the local hospital – doesn’t exist. we need to start getting people to participate in their own neighborhood first. it could be cluster of buildings a small gulley or something like that. nothing huge. start small and build.

    at a slum level – maybe a collection of people from around there who help people with school admissions, hospitals etal — those are things that the political system does. that is what needs to be replicated. the reason why its all out of control is because there is no alternative mechanism. maybe that would be something that would be worth working on ! if we reduce people’s dependence on the political machinery and got civil society to step in and do its work – then maybe people can look at larger issues. today, unfortunately, we can only look at survival issues. politics has to move beyond that !

    outside the metros – communities are better defined, as are neighborhoods as are problem ares – therefore, solutions are easier.

    16 million people of Mumbai don’t need to get involved on day one of change – if 16, or 160 or 1600 or 16000 do in various clusters – maybe things will change. but we have to break the barriers in our head – we can’t look at the city as us and them –

    something very easy to start with – and maybe close to your heart – there are a number of low income MAHDA’s – my maid got moved from her slum to one of them. she is cribbing about electricity bills. would be interesting to see what would be the impact of solar panels 🙂

    Come to Sophia’s next term – address my students. maybe we can get a volunteer movement started 🙂

    1. Hey Harini, no problem. thanks to internet we are able to interact this much also…had we been discussing only when we meet then ?!!

      I will react to your idea of not all in Mumbai getting involved in day one. Recently in an email discussion about the way forward after the Hansel try at the just concluded elections, I was of the opinion that we need to do introspection and decide on a paradigm shift in our engagement with politics. One of my ideas was that if even 100 citizens got together in each councilor ward and acted as a support group to the local elected representatives instead of the whole mass only complaining and doing nothing then maybe a lot of change would come about. We have to realise that politicians also need support ultimately – you just cant be critical all the time. And yes politics needs to evolve considerably from its current form!

      What you mention about the neighbourhood involvement model was quite successfully tried in the late 90’s and early 00’s through the Advanced Locality Management (ALM) Scheme (it was also successfully tried as the Bhagidari scheme in Delhi). In Mumbai we reached around 700 such such ALMs before the scheme suffered on many accounts, one of them being a power struggle which saw local councillors feeling challenged by the rise in power of some of the citizens who were able to leverage the mechanism well and were growing popular. Also petty ego clashes!

      The Mohalla Committes are a similar mechanism for a similar purpose.

      I wonder about your point ” outside the metros – communities are better defined…” I am really not sure. But maybe you are right.

      The idea about working with solar in your maids colony is a great idea…give me the details and something can be much is her bill? Is she in G+7 or just ground?

      Let me knw about the next term…sure it will be interesting to work with your students 🙂

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