Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Most Demanded Social & Political Product: Lokpal

The Most Demanded Social & Political Product: Lokpal

Why Lokpal: The country is today ridden by corruption. Whether it be routine transactions that involve the government or services and amenities and benefits provided through the public exchequer, the ordinary citizen pays a price daily in terms of harassment, delays, poor quality, absent infrastructure and in-equal access. What we need is an effective and independent institutional mechanism for tackling the malaise of corruption in this country which we haven’t. Lokpal has played an effective role in checking corruption and wrong-doing in Scandinavian and other nations. The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) set up in 1966 recommended the constitution of two-tier machinery - Lokpal at the Centre, and Lokayukta(s) in the states. What if head of party and head of the government or organization do corruption in a organized manner? To support this many visible examples are in public domain for example many CMs, CJI, top most IAS, babus are under cloud.

History: The Lokpal Bill introduced in 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in the Rajya Sabha, subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, yet not passed and pending since 42 years. A big hue and cry about it is going on nowadays.

Lokpal as social and political product: it was an invisible issue before April 2011 like other bills for example Womens reservation. Baba Ramdeo founded Bharat Swabhiman trust on January 5, 2009. He was canvassing and making public aware against corruption and black money in his Yoga camps. He toured rigorously and brought in limelight as per his site :1) Our country must get back around 400 lakh crore rupess which is a national asset, 2) By making hard laws of able lokpal completely eradicate corruption, 3) Foreign system (British rule) running in independent India must stop so that all get economic and social justice.

To achieve desired results he applied tools, technology, tricks and concepts of ICT and marketing for these social issues like any commercial product. By using modern social media and applying marketing fundamentals, he made these issues visible and important in pubic eye in a very short span of 2 years.

In the mean time assessing the visibility of the issues, Anna team brought the solution in the form of Lokpal to curb corruption. His Gandhian style and austere life is his great strength. He has a good team of experienced and learned people of different fields. Hence his coterie is now a civil cabinet at national level to market social products. He sat on Jantar Mantar on 4th April to have a strong and capable lokpal to provide medicine to a country-wide problem of corruption. Demand was already created over the years by all level of growing corruptions and Baba added salt to it by his Bharat Swabhiman trust. Anna tried to match this huge social demand by supplying its solution in the form of Lokpal. Disappointed citizens purchased this social product and in exchange giving unexpected support. Naturally this annoyed Baba and he showed it in his style on Bhusons inclusion issue.

The opposition by the powerhouse (GoI) making the things easy for Anna team. The opposition on the role of civil society in policy making is a big issue now. In almost all fields, civil societies are assisting and working in various ways but its first-time entry in policy enactment area has raised eye-brows of political actors. They are feeling this incident as an intrusion. During my study in USA, in a political economy course, I did a project related to Oxfam International (OI). OI is a NGO which is doing such jobs since 1990. To be not influenced by governments and to influence them, it doesn’t take government grants. So role of NGOs in policy making area can’t be held for longer in India too like outside. Our political actors must learn from outside and mold themselves accordingly.

Theoretically speaking, in any policy making the first step is constituency building that is demand generation for the issue or making it visible and popular. Lokpal is now talk of the town all over the country and abroad. So its first step is 100% successful. The second step is drafting the bill document. Now a parallel draft of civil society is in public domain. If government will bring any weak and ineffective bill, it will be compared and will expose the intension for fighting the corruption. So, enacting a weak and showy lokpal bill prove counterproductive to the party in government.

How it is the best social and political product: Citizens are facing corruption everyday in one form or other. Anna is now a symbolic hope for all sections of society including politicians and political parties. On political lines one can’t say anything but in personal capacity mostly are with team Anna. Anna is trying to brand his social product Lokpal to get the emotional attachment of citizens. For this, he is saying it is a movement to liberate the country from corruption like Gandhiji’s movement of freeing country form British rule. We can say one more similarity in this liberation movement. Anna represents Naram Dal and Baba Garam Dal. Swabhiman site home page mentions in priceless thoughts about revolutionaries.

I hope this social marketing strategy through branding will bring the desired result in day to come as it a great social potent product.

Political product: States and Parliament elections are contested on some issues having wide constituency. Bad governance and rampant corruption in states have made corruption and development election issues. Gujarat, New Delhi, Bihar are good examples in support of this point. Recent elections of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal endorse it. Current trend shows that in 2012 UP election. Good governance will also be an issue and it’s by product will be issue of law and order. Likewise, in parliament elections, Mandal, Mandir were issues-related to non-governance. But in 2009, good governance and corruption free image of Manmohan was prime factor of UPA repetition. The clean image of PM was the political product to sell in 2009 parliament election. BJP tried to make black money an election issue in last parliament election. Now seed of corruption is showed by Baba and Anna in political field of India. 2014 will see this as an issue to be contested upon. Reason being, this issue is beneficial to all stakeholders-public, civil society, politicians. This is the reason GoI is trying to bury this issue by making this 42 years old pending bill into an act in coming parliament session. Situations have made “Lokpal” the best current political product of India.

Dispute between Anna team and Government: If we read between the lines, there is no difference as basics are agreed upon that is it must be passed in coming session of parliament. Political economy is the main hurdle for the government. Doing political business Congress led government will try all its best to get its credit. To acquire the benefit, they are trying to dilute the position of civil society and oppositions through different diplomacy and tactics. There are so many compromised formulas which will suit both the sides. But Government is fighting for its business to maximise its political economy. Merchant Minhaz suggests one most amicable compromised solution in his article in ToI on June 15,2011.

first, should the prime minister come within the purview of the Lokpal? Yes: the prime minister as head of the government must welcome institutional scrutiny - as, for instance, US presidents routinely do - not evade it.
Secondly, should the higher judiciary (high court and Supreme Court judges) fall within the purview of the Lokpal? No, the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, currently under legislative review, should instead be strengthened to include a judicial commission which would hear public complaints against senior judges. The judicial commission could have five members: the chairperson of the Lokpal body, the central vigilance commissioner, the leader of the opposition, a senior government minister and a former chief justice of

Corruption is not a normal issue as it looks- affecting whole country. So, it needs a movement like led by Gandhiji and will take its own time. A start has been by Anna and Baba. It will see many more ups and downs. So far, we have seen one up and one down of Anna and Baba. Citizens need to push their effort to achieve this patiently and continuously. Indian governance is very complex as diversity is its basic nature. For government, making a balance among all factors is not an easy task. Congress will move in steps and gradually like in 2G and CWG. In these two aslo, first they oppose like lokpal , but public pressure molded them for actions and still actions are in progress. It seems Lokpal will see the light of the day in steps and gradually and not in one go. Since this is the best current social and political product. So, it can’t be set in reverse gear as it has win-win situations for all stakeholders.

Heera lal

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Synopsis of my Ph.D. : Study of ICT enabled services to Social and Political Marketing

Study of ICT enabled services to Social and Political Marketing
Heera Lal
Special Secretary Home Guards 
Govt of Uttar Pradesh
India has come a long way to maturity as an independent nation and had its share of ups and downs, the country has changed drastically in terms of economic prosperity as well as lived the concept of a welfare state.
In the age of expanding satellite service, fast growing awareness and melting boundaries make it difficult for public managers, social workers and political actors to connect, engage and communicate with the public, masses and voters to the level of their satisfaction.
To satisfy masses and voters, social and political sectors broadened its boundaries by using concepts and tools of Information Technology (IT or ICT) and marketing. IT has affected and impacted all walks of life in the society. It has brought India on world map by exporting its services worldwide- particularly USA. Likewise innovative and investigative marketing concepts have galvanized vast consumer sector of India too. Keeping in view the vast landscape, number and fast desired speed, social and political sector must work in tandem with IT and marketing for achieving the desired results,. These two factors have contributed to the exclusive growth of the country immensely and have brought the results, but Indians lag behind in the fusion of the above two in order to be a developed welfare state with both factors complimenting each other.
In exclusive growth, social, public and political actors have a major role to play. Fast changing mind set of pubic where none is will to wait has compelled these sectors to replace their traditional ways and means with modern concepts, tools and technology. Indian Yoga Guru Baba Ram Dev is one of the best current practicing social marketer while President Barrack Obama has set precedent in political marketing as well as good governance worldwide.
Recent result trends of elections and mass movement against corruption, black money and bad governance are clear indications from the masses that they wish to get rid of these things sooner than later. To fulfill these desires of the masses, our political, social and public players need to emulate the modern concept of social and political marketing in establishing India as a welfare and developed country the earliest possible. Without the use to these, we can get the name of India in the list of developed countries soon as desired as well as the desired result of inclusive growth.
The idea proposed is to research the impact and effect of IT and marketing that can be employed as a tool and technique to foster social marketing efforts in India. It also aims at developing a strong medium which can be practiced to evolve political marketing initiative as well.
Objective of the proposed research are:
  1. To investigate how IT enabled services can compliment the social and political marketing.
  2. To develop a formal framework to achieve the good governance.
1. Heera Lal, “How to use social media in indian election”, The south asian time, pp 24-25,May 1,2010, NY, USA
2. Henneberg, “ Political marketing theory : Hendiadyoin or Oxymoron”, Working Paper, School of Management, University of Bath, UK.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Legislature-Executive Vs Judiciary- Civil Society

Legislature-Executive Vs Judiciary- Civil Society

Recently latter has gained ground over former in India

After independence, constitution empowers legislature to make welfare laws to develop the nation. British rule ruined our nation. Permanent bureaucracy, also known as steel frame, is tasked to implement the laws. It was expected that both would work in tandem to convert the constitutional dream into a reality. But after more than 62 years, dream is still dream for the majority. People, particularly middle and lower class, don’t see desired change in there condition and some see no change. The World Bank repot of September 2010 says 28 % in rural and 26 % in urban are living below national poverty line. They didn’t acquire required capacity to manage their day-t0-day life needs. They are now convinced that hard and grave situation is their fate of life. It doesn’t mean, they didn’t make effort to imbibe the fruits of development. Tried but didn’t get response. And finally compromised and waiting some ray of hope to come to save them. There is an overall despair in the society as their voice in unheard. They are subjected to injustice frequently and are paying prices for others fault. For these lots, democracy doesn’t bring the dreamed fruits of life.

Question now why this situation and how this happened. Change is the basic reality of life. This can be accommodated by enacting new laws and amending the existing one. Our constitution permits us to enact laws as and when needed and amend it as required to accommodate the progressive changes. This must be to keep laws relevant and suitable in all situations. Very old land acquisition law of 1894 is a good example to understand this point. Likewise, many others old laws are not amended to make them relevant. Therefore, they are not benefiting, instead harming. On this front, our legislature didn’t stand as expected. One can easily assessed what and how much harm old land acquisition act has inflicted to our farmers. For saying, we boast, we have law on this issue. But it is playing a negative role and weakening our backbone. In our agricultural country, farmers are the backbone of the nation- known in Hindustan as Annadata- food provider.

India is developing with good GDP rate. So, new laws are required to accommodate the progress. Lokpal is a good example of this to understand whole story. Just after freedom, it was not needed much. But as country progressed, corruption also increased. With the advent of Member of Parliament local area development scheme in December 1993, the corruption rate rises in politics and a systemized corruption griped our political actor. Contrary, Parallel IT revolution helped in enhancing the transparency. Thus it catalyzed digging corrupt actions.

To contain this ugly situation within the limits, the demand of a body likes Lokpal- protector of people-increased. Law making is the first and foremost duty of our honorable. Our legislature neither enacted Lokpal nor amended concern exiting laws. Lokpal is pending since 1969. Therefore, corruption keeps increasing. Still, they don’t feel its importance and therefore its need. Our legislature failed in discharging their very basic duty of law making too. Concluding, our legislature didn’t work as expected on basic front of two duties- law making and amending.

The existing friction between leaders and babus regarding the enjoyment of actual power is also a cause among others. This accelerated the deterioration. Leaders instead of focusing to their basic duties of laws started interfering in babus work. And to prevail over them, they took help of transfer and setting up inquires. Fast falling values, degrading social commitment and growing greed made bureaucracy puppet of leaders. And finally they compromised and become partner in law breaking and money making industry.

Without babus’ help, leaders can’t do any wrong as this power rest with them. Partnership is the most suitable proposition for both. To avoid this situation nothing has been done. Interference in daily working increased and worse situation we have reached now. This clearly implies, implementation deteriorated and corruption grip increased gradually. The police are now playing the role of thief in disguise. This is the most correct evaluation of current situation. Like leaders, steel frame rusted and implementation is not as per design of the program and project. As a result duo (Leaders-babus) has lost the public faith. To regain ground nothing concrete is done. Second administrative reform bill is eating dust drafted by Veerapa Moily and his team.

As such judiciary has limited and rare role to play in day-to-day life. So, public expectations are also less as compared to other pillars of democracy. Judiciary comes in picture when laws in not implemented as per its design or a law is misinterpreted. Bureaucracy does this either for self gain or under pressure of bosses or leaders. With the deteriorating implementation and misreading laws by them, Judiciary gains the ground.

Since legislature-babus-two sides of a coin- didn’t discharge the desired duties. So, the role of judiciary is getting prominence. Though, judiciary’s role is also not up to the expectation and alone it can’t do much. That’s why the judicial standards and accountability bill is in offing. It needs some partner to bring the desired result. Thus, a good combination of judiciary and civil society has formed to fill the gap created by Legislature and babus. Its true that if all three main pillars-legislature, executive, judiciary- of a democracy don’t work well. Then the role of society comes in picture automatically.

Judiciary- Civil society is acting as ray of hope for the disappointed society nowadays. This is one reason among lots that they are getting overwhelming public support. In our country NGO are playing roles in all walks of life expect policy making. Outside the country NGO are involved in policy making too. Oxfam America did such work in 1996 and it is a good example of such NGOs.

The supreme court of India has played its good role recently. It is an open secret that Hasan Ali went in jail when our justice enjoyed power. If judiciary would not have been in picture, our dream to see Ali in jail would have been a day-dream. Good judicial actions revive the hope of public. To supplement the judicial action, civil society acted as catalyst. Civil Society took the public issue of corruption which is harming them the most and often. True Gandhian style of Anna made him unelected mass leader and public hero over night. Latter on Baba Ramdeo took black money issue and jolted Government of India.

What national parties couldn’t do? Anna and Baba did overnight. BJP wanted to contest 2009 election with corruption as an issue. But it was unable to do so. What powerless Anna did is well known. Similarly, black money issue was not visible. Now what is situation after Baba’s agitation? Thanks to civil society, who used its public power to put pressure to curb these two societal cancers? Can any government ignore the civil society’s power? If yes, then why Government of India is active on both issues after sitting idle for long. Civil society always plays constructive role in all walks of life provided its capacity utilized properly. In preset scenario, any adverse comment against civil society would harm our democracy. Thus their issues should be taken seriously to provide proper solution for them.

Judiciary-Civil society activisms have revived the hope of public to a greater extent. Notion of thinking that corruption is incurable has weakened. On this minor progress, Public are giving all support to civil society. They are not giving heed to some irrelevant utterances of leaders regarding Anna and Baba as their work is in national interest and to benefit every citizen. Uttering leaders don’t enjoy public faith on these two issues. Judiciary- civil society has gained prominence and ground lost by the legislature-babus due to their inactions. This comparison of duo has given us an insight about the strength of NGOs and civil society.

The best hope for advancing freedom and democracy among oppressed nations of the world comes not from armed struggle and not from the intervention of foreign powers, but from democratic civil society organizations engaged in strategic nonviolent action.

Now Anna and Baba is unanimous leader to carry the movement of liberating the country from the clutched of corruption. Hence taking the heart power to civil society lightly and decrying them is not good approach by any identity. All such identities and forces would pay heavy price in duo course of time.

(Views are in personal capacity based on different sources)

Heera Lal











Sunday, June 12, 2011

Congress, Corruption and Counseling

There may be some relief for time being for congress and Manmohan Singh as Baba Ramdeo ended his fast on 12 June which he started on 4th from Ram Lila ground Delhi. It is a general perception that corruption and black money are byproducts of congress’s bad governance. After independence, congress ruled the country all along, except a full term of BJP ruled by Atalji. One question which every Indian citizen would like to know “How corruption and black money flourished after 1947 and who is responsible for it.” Diagnosing the case, we find, congress ruled most of the time with some intermittent intervals of no significance. Morraji Desai, Inder kuamr Gujral, Chaudhary charan Singh, Devagoda, Chandra shekhar, Lal bahadur shashrit, V P Singh and Atalji were lucky to serve the country form the most powerful seat. But at the same time, they were unlucky also, as none got full term except Atalji- he got one after a short term. If one determines responsibility for corruption and black money, these intermittent PMs would take excuse that they got very short period, so couldn’t do anything effective. But what answer congress will put before the nation. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi and now Manmohan Singh got sufficient time to cure and check this cancerous disease.

For the sake of saying, we are multi-party system in India, but prior to Atal our polity-system was effectively single-party-system. At national level congress was only effective party. The advent of AtalJi as PM made our polity two-party-system in true scenes. Situation is still same as at national level only congress and BJP is having wide followings and many CMs. On this front also congress is cornered. Simply we can say congress would have cured easily as there was no strong opposition.

Slowly and gradually, corruption becomes part of life. Citizens oppose it but there was no way out, except to accept it and keep it as anger. With the passage of the time, the overload corruption is now unbearable and intolerable. Citizens are simmering under heavyweight of anger of corruption and trying to find some means to take it out. In this regard, all constitutional organs contributed but lions share is of Legislative and followed by babus. Public have lost hope with these two wings and they think them real culprit. They were looking for a ray of hope for long to challenge these menace. BJP tried to make black money an issue in 2009 election but didn’t get public attention. Public knows, they also did nothing to curb corruption in preceding five years- with Atal as PM. People are disappointed with these two actual national parties and trying to get alternative means.

Baba Ramdeo popularized yoga to remove health problems. He reached to a large section of society through his ICT enabled social marketing routes. Almost 4% populations have access to internet to facilitate the molding of public opinion to have a strong soft power. Mobile has an added advantage over internet as its reach is more wide-spread as compared to internet. Its catalytic action made Baba the foremost figure on this social issue, in a very short span and he did it successfully using modern tools, technology and tactics of ICT and marketing. He is a great social marketer. He started awakening public on this social issue by forming a trust- Bharat Swabhiman. In the mean time, Anna Hazare took up the issue of lokpal bill and sat on Jantar Mantar. Public got the vent to blow out their accumulated anger with the help of Annaji. He acted as venting rod and in exchange he got support what they could not have imagined. Congress assessed the gravity and accepted the demand. This incident made corruption start floating as an issue in the society, but as natural, Baba was not happy as Anna reaped the crop sowed by Baba. To regain the lost ground, Baba announced his program of protest with three issues and bringing Black money stashed outside was prominent among them.

Manmohan government handled Anna episode tactfully without any great loss, but did’t learn any lesson as evident by baba’s case. So, by mishandling the Baba’s case, congress will pay a heavy cost for it in long-term. After forceful eviction in midnight from Delhi, Baba kept his fast and got wide publicity over a longer period. Phase-1 of Anna and Baba is over now. Both are cent-percent successful in their aim to make the issue popular. Like Bofors and Mandal, the trees of corruption and black money are panted by duo. It will give sever pain in due course and finally congress will have to pay its cost in 2014 election. After some break, both team will raise their issues and play in full swing as annoyed to make it a permanent imprint in citizen’s mind. Acharya Balkrishna announced that phase-2 of Baba’s stir in 3 months. They have enough time to do their job as 2014 election is almost 3 yrs away from now. Present public mood indicates that next loksabha election may be fought on these social issues. Annoyed Anna and irritated Baba is not going to sit ideally till they achieve something concrete to show the followers. Anna has a good team and maturity and Baba will mature on social front as this incident has jolted him from inside to learn a lot. It is hoped his Phase-2 will be in better shape and will show maturity and seriousness in style like Anna do.

Team Anna wanted to be a part of Lokpal drafting team. Seeing the mounting public pressure, good sense prevailed. Hence, Manmohan accepted the demand immediately and shortened the life of this incident to minimize the damage. Both teams of Anna and Government managed the situation showing expected maturity. After accepting demand, Government with the congress help tried to malign image of the team Anna. This annoyed public against congress as public is fed-up with it and don’t want to hear anything on this. All such implicit or explicit actions are counter productive. In Baba’s case, both team-Baba and Government showed immature actions and reactions. The forceful eviction decision in midnight from Ramlila Ground was an administrative blunder in congress history as endorsed by veteran congress leader Basant Sathe in a statement. On the whole, so far, overall gainer is Baba and overall looser is congress and Manmohan government. His continued fast and deteriorating health for more than 8 days, kept him continuously in news with wide coverage in all media. This made his issue more popular than expected. Baba became champion of black money due to miscalculated move by government and illogical and loose talks by some congress leaders. Congress’ image has sagged greatly with public perception that it is trying to crush the movement or divert the issue against corruption and black money by duo. Congress applied same tactics to malign the image of Baba also like Anna by laughable, light and loose-statements. During whole episode Digvijay Singh become famous as man of loose-talk and non-serious leader. His personal image has suffered a lot. This is the reason public pelted stone at his house situated in MP and tried to lodge FIR too as evident form news.

Problems started by a CAG report in 2G spectrum and followed by CWG, Adarsh housing society scams. BJP blew these issues out of proportion one after the other and did ICT enabled political marketing to get political mileage but at fiasco. Why? Public knows the inside story that BJP did nothing while in power. All along the

episode, public showed one more very peculiar sentiment that they didn’t want to drag these nation importance issues into politics. Government controlled the emergency situation and minimized the damage by sending A. Raja and Kalmani to jail and by changing CM in Maharashtra. In public’s eyes congress took wise step to manage then immediate political crisis and compulsions. Actions in different cases improved the sagging reputation and public was convinced that congress is doing Ok if not good.

But in case of Baba, things are beyond thinking. Administrative scanning and analysis show that mismanagement has created an impression that congress is making an all out effort to foil the movement against corruption. Congress fears if it will surface many its person may be in trouble. Public also thought that corruption and black money are two bad intangible social products of proudy governance of congress. If it will be an issue in coming elections-having potential to be, it would not be easy for congress to avoid its ownership. As opposition, BJP will try its best to prove congress as parent of these two bad produces. And finally it may lead to great loss- to the extent may be of loosing government like Bofors and Mandal in past. History repeats itself fit here.

In short-term, it looks good for political managers and actors in containing the situation, but in long-term congress has to pay a heavy price with high interest rate if corrective measures are not undertaken immediately. To support, see statement of Prnab Mukharjee. He called incident as unfortunate and this was supplemented by defense minister concisely. He who is one confident of top leadership and enjoying good reputation as Mr. clean said very rightly “Transition to Transparency can’t be stopped midway.” This is a timely advisory from within to purge the sin to fit in the party and government in the public mould. Congress has sufficient time to put the things in reverse gear in the clean leadership of Anthony on these issues – unlike Sibal and Digvijay, provided good sense prevails. To achieve this, congress needs to prove its honest efforts to the masses through different visible actions and initiatives. Further congress must try an all out effort to fulfill the public’s demand on these two issues to make BJP, Anna and Baba offensive from their defensive point of firing.

Transparency is getting grip worldwide. This is in fact a time of wonder for politics with its 'transparency revolution, India is joining in. It's time for our politicians to see that big picture. And drop their small talk. Congress should take the lead being oldest party instead looking backward.

(Views are in personal capacity based on different sources)

Heera Lal