It is not in our ethos
September 24, 2010 Leave a comment
If you want a graphical view of what is a “ticking time bomb”, another over-used phrase, visit www.cwgdelhi2010.org to see the “countdown” to the games.
Normally any countdown to a mega event should be filled with fun, suspense and thrill. To be fair, it is the same case for CWG Delhi too. Except that thanks to Kalmadi and Bhanot, the Games eve is filled with the “suspense” of who will be the next to poke “fun” on our “world class games” and the “thrill” of knowing who is going to pull out next.
In any case, my missive is not about the CWG Delhi which already looks certain to go ahead. If you are surprised at my confidence, then the clarification that I have is this : The moment that we started speaking about having a “successful games”, substantially downgrading from the tall, idiotic, corrupt and inept claims of Kalmadi of hosting “world class games”, in my view, we have chosen to ‘succeed’. So even if India has to win all the medals on offer, the Games would go on. That looks to be certain atleast.
Now, to the central theme of this note : Tucked away in a corner of the CWG website, down left to be precise, is a small link titled ‘Glasgow 2014’. Even though anyone willingly associating themselves with CWG Delhi at this juncture, is akin to those who’d willingly befriend plague, Glasgow is in an unenviable position of being the next host.
Intrigued by this little link, I ventured to click open it and what followed was an eye opener in something that is culturally alien to India : The concept of planning to execute.
A simple case in point : Check for yourselves how Glasgow has come up with a 122 page document titled “Transport Strategic Plan Version 1” in September, with nearly 4 years to go. Apart from this, they also have a detailed business plan and many such plan documents.
Before howls of protest raise in defending the “Indian honour” and seeking to explain away the differences between Glasgow and Delhi, I concede that Delhi isn’t quite the same as Glasgow. The pertinent point, in my view isn’t how easy or complex a problem is, but whether we are capable of “planning and executing”.
The difficulties that we in India face in trying to “plan and execute” are many. There are several hurdles such as political intervention, corruption, nepotism, lack of technology etc, so the execution very often cannot happen as per plan. Any progress in India is not designed but it has to be destined.There are exceptions though such as the Delhi Metro but they are not the norm.
Apart from the hurdles listed above, I think, we are “culturally” against the concept of planning. Either because of our supposed religiosity or as the proponents of the ‘karma theory’, we find the concept of “planning to succeed” a bit too overwhelming. If we can “ensure” success by making a plan, what would the 4 odd crore Gods of our country be left with ? Surely the thought of taking away the ‘work of God’ should be as blasphemous as it deserves to be.
Apart from the meta-physical explanation of why we don’t plan to succeed, there is also a political ethos to our planning. I would only seek to point out 3 “major planning failures” since independence.
The Nehruvian model of growth, propelled by the “5 Year Plans” was put in place more to ensure that we didn’t grow beyond the ‘hindu rate’ of 3% than anything else. Nehru couldn’t just bear to see India being an economic power and rather wanted it to be a ‘socialist republic’. It took us nearly 50 years to even start partly undoing what Nehru did to us.
Dr Ambedkar, architect of the Indian constitution, known for his legal skills as much as for his hatred of the hindu high society believed that a level playing field could be created in a decade. So he incorporated a system of ‘reservation’ for the weaker sections of the society in the belief that India would “plan and execute” in creating an equal opportunity society. Alas how wrong was he proved.
Far from moving to a meritocracy, in India we are now racing to declare ourselves ‘backward’ to secure seats in academic institutions.
The third glaring example of planning failure is the 20 point program of Madam Indira Gandhi. Launched during the Emergency, the program has been revisited few times (1982, 1986) but essence has largely been retained.
It is nothing but a cruel joke that the first point in the 20 point agenda is ‘Garibi Hatao’ (Eradicate Poverty) and we see the success of this program in “enabling” 80% of our population live with about Rs. 20 per day.
And thanks to the CWG Delhi, Garibi Hatao has acquired a new meaning of physically removing the poor from the vicinity of the games in line with our image of an “emerging economic super power”.
Nine days from now, the CWG may still go on and be touted as a “success” but the mess that we have created around these Games are just a “rude reminder” of our ethos. We simply cannot plan.