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Relevance of Dr Vivek Murthy's appointment as US Surgeon General, for the democratic world

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Governance

The bane of Capitalism is the power of business lobbies to affect governance in a way that it suits their vested interests, even if it is at colossal costs to public interest. The gun lobby of the US (National Rifle association - NRA), which is working hard to stymie the appointment of Dr Vivek H Murthy (the Indian-American head of a doctors group, who has been chosen by US President Barack Obama for the post of surgeon general, check this), is a prime example of such a lobby.

In India, we have been battling with Nehruvian Socialism, which essentially turns public sector undertakings (barring the few exceptions), particularly the monopolies, into mafia like set-ups, which in turn promote/ nurture more mafia like organisations under them. In Bangalore, for instance, we have the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (a government-run monopoly bus transport service provider), which is invariably milked by the minister-in-charge, through various means, the latest being mis-use of JNNURM (check here), even as the officialdom milk the various operation and maintenance contracts, and the labour unionists milk the workers (check this). The poor service resulting thereof promotes the auto-rickshaw raaj (check this), which, given the various operational factors involved, can operate only like a mafia.

Similar is the story, more specifically in the critical infrastructure areas like power supply, water supply, etc, coming under state government agencies, and railways (including manufacture of coaches), coal mining, etc, coming under the central government. This is even as Indian products and services, wherever the sectors have been opened up for competition from private players, have become near world-class.

Even as that is the case, "privatisation/ outsourcing" continues to be perceived as a bad word, perhaps largely on account of the kind of hold the NRA kind of lobbies have over governments (apart from other rather trivial reasons - check here). The equivalents of the NRA in India are the "crony capitalists" in the various sectors, and it is not without reason that there is a huge resonance amongst the public when an Arvind Kejriwal makes that an election issue.

While admittedly lobbies work to change the laws to suit them, once adopted, they largely work within the law. Mafia's, on the other hand (the governments' own being the biggest), openly flout all laws. Given the country's vibrant democracy, where Civil Society and media have gained considerable strength of recent, I would any day prefer to work with the lobbies.

As such, it is in the interest of good governance, across all democracies of the world, that the clout of a lobby like the NRA be challenged. Dr Murthy's appointment provides an ideal opportunity.

I am therefore starting a petition, addressed to the US Senators, at Change.org, and I request all those in agreement world-wide to sign it.

Muralidhar Rao

PS: The petition may be accessed here
 

Comments

murali772's picture

bane of gun culture

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37 users have liked.

A senior Chicago police officer said that parts of the city are being overwhelmed by gun violence, after a weekend in which nine people were shot dead and at least 36 – including six children – were wounded.

For the full text of the article in The Guardian, click here.

My petition didn't quite receive much support. All the same, the cause I believe is still very relevant. As such, I'll continue to help build awareness in however small a way as I can.

Muralidhar Rao
blrpraj's picture

price of capitalism

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44 users have liked.

Lobbyism is the price that is paid for capitalism. I am not justifying it but just making an observation. Where there is money there is power and where there is power there is money. Money and power unfortunately go hand in hand. That is where the checks & balances come into play (in other words accountability).

Also, every country has it's own issues. Gun culture is one such issue in the US. That is not going to be solved unless the mindset of the people changes. After all, the NRA survives beause of the people.

 

 

 

murali772's picture

stranglehold of lobbies and mafia

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34 users have liked.

Obama also expressed frustration that "the grip of the NRA (National Rifle Association) on Congress is extremely strong" and prevented gun control from advancing in Congress after 20 children and six educators were massacred in a Connecticut elementary school in 2012.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

The hold of lobbies like the NRA continues in the US, in spite of Barack Obama, as also of the mafia in India (though it seems to be weakening), in spite of NaMo.

PS: Incidentally, President Barack Obama, battled through Republican opposition for more than a year to finally secure a confirmation of Dr Vivek Murthy, as the Surgeon General (a four-year tenure), on 24th April, 2015.

Muralidhar Rao

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