Sunday, December 29, 2013
Of Political promises, Conflict of Interest and Survival Or Why Congress wont reduce Poverty and AAP wont reduce corruption
If there is one trait that is so ingrained in our Psyche that we can call it our first nature, that would be the survival instinct. We are here because our forefathers survived, our genetic ancestors survived, going all the way back to the microbes that started it all. Survival is so fundamental to our existence that we carry it in our genetic makeup and our brain is wired for that. So one can safely take it as a fact that when faced with conflicting choices a person would choose an option that would aid his survival. This survival instinct extends all the way from the individual level to that of the species covering groups of all sizes and types, be it religious, linguistic, cultural, racial or any other real or imaginary differentiation for that matter. Since organisations are essentially extensions of persons and run by groups of people, the instinct not only carries over but also gets amplified because now multiple individuals are vested in it. Since irrelevance means a certain death for organisations, be it corporations or political parties, they survive by staying relevant. But unlike companies that could launch new products or even enter new markets, most political parties are stuck to a single ideology, whatever the reason, and that leaves them in a very interesting situation.
Now to explain why the Congress will not get rid of poverty and the AAP will not get rid of corruption let me give an analogy. Consider yourself shipwrecked on a remote island with a limited supply of food. All other things being the same, you can rest assured that you will survive as long as you have the limited supply food or if you find an alternate food source. So one can say the presence of food is what keeps you alive.
Garibi Hatao (Poverty Eradication) has been the primary selling point for Congress for over 60 years (The slogan itself has changed with times, but the underlying idea has remained the same), and Eliminating corruption is the primary selling point for the AAP. Or in other words, the presence of poverty and corruption is what feeds and keeps alive Congress and AAP respectively. Technically both poverty and corruption can be eliminated, so by Reductio ad absurdum doing so would render Congress and AAP irrelevant respectively and that creates a very big conflict of Interest. But unlike your shipwrecked self on the island, who necessary have to eat and thereby reduce the available food and hence your own survival, the parties can get away with faking a fight against poverty or corruption. The proof of this is that after nearly 6 decades of congress governance, countries that were worse of than India in 1947 are now considered developed while we are still a pathetic 3rd world country. In fact publicly available data shows that India fell heavily in the prosperity index in the last 8 years. Or in other words we got poorer.
As can be seen in the rough approximation, the more Congress and AAP try to reduce their respective problems, the more irrelevant they become. So the million years of evolution kicks in to ensure their (party's) survival as opposed to the survival of their ideals. This begs the question of whether all political claims are subject to this conflict of interest. And the answer is No, and one man shows how to avoid this trap.
That man is Narendra Modi (as opposed to BJP, whose promise to build a temple at Ayodhya runs into the same conflict of interest) and his selling point is development and creating prosperity. But you might say, reducing poverty is the same increasing development. But that equivalence ends with the semantics because in practice increasing development avoids the conflict of Interest that reducing poverty creates. As opposed to reducing poverty metric that tends to Zero, the development metric theoretically tends to infinity. So if he increases development then it also increases his political relevance. And what is even better is that development is multifaceted. If he has developed Agriculture, he can then develop industry. When he is done with industry he would still have education, healthcare, economy, defense, technology and what not, even assuming he takes them up one at a time.
And what is amazing is that this argument would still stand even if we assume a totally altruistic Congress and AAP and a totally selfish Modi, cos the self interest of Modi would still align with the interest of Nation.