Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why we need a vision lead alternative

Mahatma Gandhi saw the need of a vision for the nation, the need to change the hearts and the minds of people, as more important than political freedom. He also saw the centrality of the vision in bringing about this change. To the extent that we (Indians) followed that vision we have been successful. And failed to the extent we compromised with it.

If Pakistan is a failed state today, it is only because it was an alternative without a vision.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The RTI is a more powerful tool than the vote.

For years the educated middle class (which unfortunately numbers fewer than the poorer class) has been complaining about the uselessness of their vote in the face of overwhelming numbers of the poorer, less educated class, who they think are more gullible and easily fooled by unscrupulous politicians. And they might be right. The majority could be wrong.

Unless, it is used synchronously with many others, a vote is virtually ineffective by itself. Then again the chance to do so comes only once in a while. Once in five years (for the different tiers of the government). The vote therefore offers a not so powerful tool to make good change.

The vote distributes the power equally to all irrespective of ones qualifications. The RTI (Right to Information) on the other hand provides for power in proportion to ones zeal, intelligence and education. It provides for limitless power which can be exercised at anytime for any number of times to effect change.

One can argue that the effectiveness of the RTI can be (is being) blunted by deliberately slow response, slow process of judiciary, general criminalisation of the government machinery etc. But this genie (RTI) is out of the bottle. And it is likely to grow bigger and bigger over time. Its impact in the first few years is hardly an indication of what is to come.