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Notes on the meet with Mr Manivannan

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About 15 prajagalu attended, including Mr Vasantkumar Mysoremath (who came all the way from Mysore), and Viswanath (the acknowledged water expert, aka zenrainman).

The highlight was also the liberal packets of Mysore paak (from Mysore) and Maddur vada (from Maddur) that Manivannan had so sweetly brought with him.

After brief introductions, Manivannan brought out three important aspects of governance, viz control, transparency, and credibility. He made this startling point that governments are always required to approach any proposal with mistrust, positioned as they are as the custodians of public interest. So, their role necessarily requires them to exercise control over the doings of contractors/ service providers entrusted with public work, and this has to happen in a transparent manner, with a view to gain credibility.

In essence, it meant that in today's world, the government's role was that of the controller/ regulator, and its role as a player was long over (this was melodious music to my ears, and 'Prajasevaka' had a wry smile on his face when I looked at him across the hall). In response to interventions by prajagalu, he admitted that not many in the government appreciated this view.

Personally, however, I would have liked a situation where there is a bit more trust, and the term 'controller' replaced by 'facilitator'.

As the chief host, there was something or the other distracting me during the proceedings. So, I will leave it to the others to add on.

Muralidhar Rao


psaram42's picture

My take of meeting with Mr. Manivanan

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 The meeting was attended by a good number of praja, approximately 15. Mr. Manivannan was happy to see such a good number, which included 2 from Mysore.

Pranav started the meet with a brief update about Praja and its working:

  1. Ideation on the Praja Web Site
  2. The main purpose is to build a network of like minded people interested in the cities of India they live in.
  3. No doing
  4. Only help the authorities to deliver efficiently
    1. By Tracking
    2. By RTI audits

Mr. Manivannan gave a detailed presentation using the black board. The meeting hall was excellent with very good seating arrangement and a huge writing board, a real board meeting hall. The main points discussed were:

  1. The main purpose of the elected Government is to see that there is no misuse of public funds. The concept is MISTRUST
  2. Transparency, (cost) Majority is opposed to Transparency
  3. Credibility is worth building to achieve something in public life
    1. Good leaders are brought up by Transparency
    2. 5 levels in leaders ladder is required
    3. A good 5 levels of national leadership requires >50% literacy levels in a Nation. Take the example of Kerala, with 100% literacy.
    4. The key is to plan for a basic literacy of 50% or more in our country, Period.
  4. Governments are comfortable in the Defense Department if there are no developmental activities.
    1. LCA was not a success
    2. Space department is a pampered department where the order of expenditure is orders of magnitude higher.

There are 887 acts in vogue to day which are basically prohibitive in nature.  Government is not authorized to take any risk. It is only a regulating authority. The maximum efficiency of government funds utilization is only 66%. 33% is allowed as permissible leakage.  Governing does not encompass development. MISTRUST phenomenon is so powerful that even Mr. Manmohan Singh could not achieve much. BFORS saw Rajiv’s downfall.

Nehru’s socialism was a well known experiment which was abandoned after him.

The takeaways

  1. We know that Mauryan Empire failed when it expanded more than it could manage due to communication failure
  2. We have the internet at this age of technology
  3. Net working as management tool. Develop the proper web site
  4. divide and rule efficiently
  5. transparency of data
  6. accountability
  7. access the gap between demand and supply
  8. Produce enough leaders by cloning
  9. Smallest sustainable office support
  10. Strong Audit
  11. Target decision making people for networking
  12. formulate a direction for the elected government to follow
  13. Support literacy programme


idontspam's picture


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 the government's role was that of the controller/ regulator

It will be interesting to see that in practice. City administrators are generally poor in contract administration and formulation.

Nehru’s socialism... was abandoned after him

Not really, unfortunately. This bane exists to this day.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Praja meeting on 29th at Bengaluru - well organised

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Praja meeting on 29th at Bengaluru was attended (15/1000) by Prajas who were concerned and a couple of Lady Prajas who took active part and had pertinent questions.

/Mr.Manivannan brought out three important aspects of governance,viz control/(or was it - Development?), transparency, and credibility.  He made this startling point that governments are always required to approach any proposal with *mistrust*, positioned as they are as the custodians of public interest/.

'Mistrust' can also be construed/interpreted at bureaucratic levels -

- 'weakness and inability to effectively implement a class action social development',

- 'fear of failure - falling flat at the last mile'.

- 'career future' - transfers to remote areas

- though unwilling to follow orders of political bosses, for the above reasons, they bend like Beckham and to be on the safer side, keep a cautious note in some obscure corner about the 'hollow prcincts' of such orders. 

(correct me if I am wrong - success has many fathers and failure, an orphan);

(- leave the politicians alone, the so called policy makers' are here today and gone tomorrow and a good project gets scrapped in no time and the file goes into the ghettos of legislature/parliament - but for Praja's sake, let us consider them as unnecessary evils).

- There are many who stand up literally (Mr.P.M for one) and are ready to face tsunamis.  Let their tribe increase.

- Many Prajas were surprised when I gave Mr.Mani a small bundle tied with a rubber band and requested him to open - he was kind enough to do it only to  find an empty non-bio degradable plastic carry bag.   

- This needs an explanation : My intention was to bring to his kind notice that majority of the urbanites are using this ubiquotous environmental degrading -use and throw evil - for their temporary need.  

- In Mysore, I did a sting operation on an well known Mall in the heart of the city and found that on an average, daily, about 30,000 plastic carry bags of varying sizes are being handed over to their customers and are finding their way to the garbage bins. None of them are within the permissible limit of bio-degradable microns (Customers are prohibited from bringing their own bags inside the premises).  Further calculation is left to the Prajas if there are 100 such stores....??!!  Our future generation/soil will be choking with plastic.


- See separate post on Prajas 'Innovative grassroot level method to arrest proliferation of non-bio degradable plastic from environment' since the subject does not fit in here.

- Murali Sir, it was well organised and thank you for everything.

- Vasanth Mysoremath


Naveen's picture

Interesting Notes from Manivanan meeting

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Hi All, 

Delighted to read about the discussions with Mr.Manivanan. The build up of a consensus centered around the government's role purely as a regulator is certainly gaining ground ! 

Long overdue, too. 

Sadly, in practise, the government is ill-equipped & does not have the know how nor the capacitity to move along with this fast enough. There is also a lot of resistance from within preventing this from progressing fast enough nor are there mechanisms to monitor, co-ordinate, oversee & evaluate each step at various stages. 

However, despite these obstacles, it is still a step in the right direction - may there be many more manivanans in public policy making !

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Adopting "Bottom To Top" strategy

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/Sadly, in practise, the government is ill-equipped & does not have the know how nor the capacitity to move along with this fast enough. There is also a lot of resistance..../

This WAS the scenario and it is now changing for the better.  Earlier, taxes were being collected, money was being spent but without tangible results and improvements in the standards of living of the poor and needy.

- JNNURM, NREG and other major schemes are reaching out to the grassroots level but are being implemented due to the reasons cited by you. 

- But with proactive officers with their determined efforts, they are trying their best to create an awareness through training their subordinates in areas that make them understand the  importance of variables and need for delivery and other parameters.  This appears to be percolating and may lead to a better scenario in the near future and we may see a brighter Indian proactive implementation process.

- NREG-2 is on the anvil and it aims at creating an economic scenario that will improve the purchasing power of the aam aadmi so that the global economic recession and its effect on the Indian economy may be minised and also the manufacturing industry may continue in its present state of performance and may also improve it further.  

- Top level talks will be held with INTUC to ascertain workers views before formulating future economic policy. 

- "We will sit in Delhi next week and discuss the issues of aam aadmi's  needs before formulating the policies"  (source: Deccan Chronicle dated 27-7-09 pg.6).

- During discussions with Mr.Manivanna, we did talk about a strategic method of going "from bottom to top". 

- Will this be the future thought?

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