In his book Demanding Development, the author Adam Michael Auerbach writes, “[In India]…politicians unabashedly refer to slums as “vote banks” and see them as clusters of poor voters who can be attracted with the selective provision – or promise – of public resources.” This seems to be true had you suffered from hardships. A politician uses all his tools to make voters fool and even the educated become prey.
I am in Delhi and its adjoining areas, not limited to NCR, these days and have tried to understand the ruling governments and political parties. What I found is interesting and learned those findings in theory during my higher education first. I would describe two of my academic learnings here.
While pursuing CFA, I was taught not to make loose statements and never intend to make a false or hyper commitment as it jeopardizes reputation. Determination and commitment is the key to success in the field of finance. A few years ago politicians of grand stature were cautious in committing to something hard to accomplish. Thanks to the advent of Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal as well as the fall of the Left, the moral turpitudes of such politics secured gold. Politics became a product of personal selling. The entire gamut of politics became a binary wherein one event is controlled by a Marketing Manager and others by a Sales Manager. Let us understand this.
In my MBA, I learned that a Sales Manager doesn’t care about post-sales services. (S)he is concerned with manufacturing and selling only. (S)he gives hell to the customer once subscribed. It is the Marketing Manager who is concerned with post-sales services and to distract the concern of the customers from the false commitments, (S)he displays a bouquet of offers on her product to entangle customers. The same is happening in politics.
In Sector-50, NOIDA, I saw a multistorey District Government General Hospital which was renamed COVID hospital. Noida, where the so-called educated are residing, is teamed with gratitude towards the government as if it is built new within a moment. BJP’s sales manager offered it and the marketing manager began to publicize it.
No one cares about Mayawati. It is uncommon for me as Mamta Government in West Bengal did not advertise outstanding performance during the COVID outbreak in 2020. She turned the stadiums into COVID hospitals without caring for credits. May she is not an MBA, otherwise she could have craved for credits.
Bhagwant Mann was an MP and he visited Delhi several times but he didn’t bother to visit Delhi’s hospital. Now he is a CM, he needs to do pomp shows being the head of Marketing. He visits the Hospitals in Delhi constructed and inaugurated during the previous Congress government with the camera as Narendra Modi does. Popularising the brand-in-making Arvind Kejriwal along with Narendra Modi! It is a different matter that the latter attained such a high level of spirituality that he could meditate in a small cave with live cameras all around him. Does anyone dare to ask why Mr. Mann didn’t do his homework before the elections? No, because the Sales Manager has captured their minds. It got independence just now.
I asked the people of Haryana why do you elect Khattar even though I, being the outsider, could see your state is even more remote in development than Bihar, UP, and Odisha? All my sample population replied that no one does development but there is a hope of ray emanating from Kejriwal who could provide free electricity. I got the answer and didn’t dare to ask more as the sales team is riding the bull. Punjab is all new and a yellow turban is an answer to many. Rajasthan has apparent anti-incumbency only on the issue of fuel price. Why the old monk of Congress is digging the grave is not researched by me and I am least interested as well.
An American litterateur, Richard Armour once said, “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” This is true in all aspects. You cannot have a political party that could have shown its commitment to its manifesto religiously. It cannot. Otherwise, cunningness cannot survive on the earth. They lure and induce fiat money which vanishes like a trifling sigh. One myth could be narrated here. Once Lord Vishnu realized that the earth is teamed with materialism. People began to fight like cats and dogs. He took the form of Brahmin and reached out to people. His preaching had a resonating effect. People went about to understand the true essence of being religious. Harmony prevailed. Both the disciple and Brahmin were intoxicated with Divine love and knowledge. Maa Laxmi became perturbed. She again acquainted people with gold. Being induced they ignored the poor Brahmin. Being asked, they said peace and harmony could fetch nothing rather it is gold that could bargain. Lord went to Baikunth understanding much ado about nothing. That gold is truth and the same is the unspoken reality; this theory is well researched by the political parties.
Even political scientists like Tarique Thachil say, “Slums are emerging as an arena of competence politics”. He further says, “We found that almost all leaders first had to build a following in the slum and that got the attention of political parties. It was never that a party picked a person in the slum to be its crony there. So the process is fundamentally bottom-up.”
On being asked, “Do you find that the emergence of leadership is often linked with the requirement of civic amenities?” he goes on, “Yes, absolutely. In fact, that is what we document. On the demand side, residents need every kind of civic service; documents such as voter IDs and ration cards that are household-level things and then wider settlement-level things such as getting cheap electricity or sewage lines. Due to the informality of slums, you need people who can pressure and make claims on the municipality.
On the supply side, a lot of residents are underemployed. Very few have full-time work and almost none have formal jobs. So there are some who start thinking of politics or Netagiri as a possible launching pad for a political career. These two streams intersect to produce leadership in slum settlements… The political importance of slums and, therefore, of slum leaders has allowed the latter to push themselves into party organizations. Parties are now integrating and promoting slum leaders…”
Slums are hubs of uneducated docile. In 2011, it was estimated that about 22.5% of the population are dwelling in slums that are Kingmakers. It is easy to persuade them by magnifying their future which is nothing but daydreaming. Slum-dwellers are happy with slops, waterworks, and legalized cable hooking. It is permeated in their minds that jobs are their destiny. The paralysis of analysis stops them from creating new records. Even those who cracked the competition could easily be heard that they were lucky to get good jobs.
In my earlier article published on Junputh Hindi, I concluded that tough days are ahead in India, the Sales Managers of BJP and AAP have all grounds ready and these two parties have a future. BJP is successful in making people knights of their religions and AAP is successful in engaging people in gossip to which they are unrelated.
In Haryana, there are two types of silos: feeding and religious. It is amazing that these nincompoops don’t even have an iota of idea whether the rain will complete its course in monsoon but try to ensure that blooded religions shall behave according to their whims. People having no student reading in government schools talk about the quality of education in the school. When asked, they simply reply, it’s said by many. No leaders of Congress have the guts to fetch even 1000 votes without Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and they are not accepted amongst the majority of any age. Not much hope from Mamta, Akhilesh, or the leaders from the South. People are the prisoners of political agenda and talk like the active workers of political parties. Fingers crossed with the hope of a bright and prosperous future. Amen!
Writer is a Kolkata based professional specialising in finance and governance