People-centric, not self-centric

| July 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

People-centric, not self-centric. Pushpa M. Bhargava, “Tehelka”, June 19, 2004.

People-centric, not self-centric

The new government’s focus must shift from the desires of those who run it, to the needs of the people, says Pushpa M. Bhargava

While the lap-top happy BJP big guns refused to look up from their feel-good worlds, we were able to make a two-hour presentation before the elections to Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, among other Congress leaders. It was called ‘Agenda for the Nation’. Many of the points we raised then have been included in the Congress’ manifesto. This was a positive response, quite in contrast to the NDA government which refused to listen to the real voice of India.

The victory of the Congress-led alliance was not surprising for, among others, the BJP’s core commitment to Hindutva and the ideologies of the rss and the vhp was reminiscent of the policies of Hitler. Another fault was their inclination to fill up every executive position, even in education and science, with people who subscribed to their ideology, irrespective of their professional incompetence. Their policies served the interests of the rich and its total lack of concern about the problems of the poor contributed in no small measure to their downfall. Their alliance with exploitative multinationals did not fool anyone.

Therefore, especially for those committed to secularism, their defeat has been most welcome — not because the winning coalition deserved it on the basis of their past performance, but because it was important to defeat the NDA.

The Congress and its allies must recognise that the a large number of people who voted for them did so because they did not want the NDA in power. This view is borne out by the fact that the voter turn-out in the elections has been low.

Now that the upa is in power, we want them to succeed, if only to prevent the re-emergence of a BJP-like party. Therefore, a recipe for their success must be worked out, not only by the winning coalition but also by the people of the country. An important element of such an exercise would be the preparation of an ‘Agenda for the Nation’ which would clearly state the following:

•The lifestyles we wish to achieve for our people in the foreseeable future, say on a 20-year time scale.
• Our assets on a comprehensive basis.
• The problems, including those created by the political parties that have been in power earlier.
• The hierarchy in these problems, such that if the problems at the top are not solved, the problems down the line shall not be solved.
• The value system to which we should be committed and the kind of citizens we wish to produce.
•l The steps that the government must take on a priority basis that would allow it to use its assets to solve the nation’s problems without compromising on values.
• The methodology for assessment of success with respect to achieving these objectives.

In its manifesto, the Congress said that it would come up with a programme of action within 100 days of its coming to power. I hope that this promise is kept. Traditionally, parties put in their manifestos not what they intend to do but what they think will sell. Such intellectual dishonesty must stop. The new government must show the way.

In the ‘agenda’ presentation, we showed that good governance, education, water, energy and corruption are the most important issues. Only a sincere and transparent effort will restore the people’s faith in the government. The focus should shift from satisfying the desires, whims and prejudices of those who run it – be they politicians or bureaucrats – to the legitimate needs of the people. The new government must be people-centric and not self-centric. This alone will prevent the anti-incumbency factor from operating five years from now.

The writer is Founder Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad

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