Policy scape and suitcases

These days, Indian policy-scape has changed a lot. Caste lobbyists are failing. Regional satraps may not succeed. Old loyalties would at best earn a sympathetic ear. It is now one on one – you scratch my back, I will scratch yours. It is no longer the domain of khadi kurtas, sarees and dhoti’s. It is not even the salwar kameez, pants and shirts. It has become more sophisticated. Now, it is suits and suitcases.

 

Policy decisions are increasingly being taken with advise from S&S walas. Today, a political leader worth more than 1,00,000 vote bank is no match to a person with assets not more than Rs.50 lakhs. A S&S wala can walk away with a government sanction in no time, while for a ‘mass’ leader it would take enormous amounts of money and time spent on representations at best, and at worst on dharnas, rastarokos, lathicharge, etc. Yet, there is no guarantee that government orders would come.

 

A number of government committees dealing with policies are either filled with S&S walas, lobbyists, network-supported individuals, cronies, bureaucrats (retired, serving, or on-the-verge-of retirement), Delhi-based, and various other qualifications, which have no relation to the need and objective of the respective committee. Ofcourse, there are exceptions to this situation, as always. Given this, political articulation is becoming a big challenge. The challenge is not only in terms of reaching the power lobby structures physically, but also meeting the right people. One also needs to overcome the entrenched interests, vested interests and especially your own physical, mental, resources and ideological weaknesses. If one likes to walk through the ‘procedural door’, you will face ‘dour’ statistics, information, history, voluminous reports by consultancies, MNC visions and MFI recommendations.

 

I have seen even Members of Parliament expressing their helplessness. Ofcourse, not all MPs are helpless. Those with the above qualifications feel becoming a MP is an additional advantage. So, you can find a wine lobby with a MP, a textile lobby with their own MP, and a plastic lobby with another MP. If the MPs do not get interested, create their interests by offering shares in the dividends.

 

Now, you would see more MPs having their own business, and minding public affairs as their business as well. Gone are the days when the political leaders could boast of their friendship with ryots and ryot leaders. You need a film star, become friends with ‘wealthiest in the world, if not India’ and/or have your multi-crore business empire. Political power can come and go, but money power stays forever. Networks would remain the same. Ideologies do not count.

 

In such a grim scenario, one would wonder what is the chance for the disadvantaged people to reach the right people in power. Apart from standing in queues every morning before ‘conscientious’ officials and elected leaders, from Panchayat to Delhi-level, hoping that their voice would be heard, or their representation would be read, the only other ‘powerful’ source can be the electronic and print media. But, not all media stories get the right kind of results. The route of civil society organisations does not work most of the times, unless they come from ‘above’, or on par, and never from grassroots.

In this scenario, I feel that handloom sector and weavers do stand only a grim chance of getting their voices heard and their needs met.

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