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Some unsolicited advice for AAP, Bengaluru

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Aam Aadmi Party's rout of the Congress, I would like to believe, had more to do with the revulsion of the Delhi-ites with the inept and corrupt Central regime than with the comparatively competent Sheila Dikshit government. Perhaps some of the populist programmes, listed in AAP's election manifesto, too helped in garnering votes. But, now that we are talking of governance, it's perhaps time to examine the practicality of the tackling of the 18 issues (sourced from YahooNews), pertaining to the common man raised in AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal's letter to the Congress and the BJP chiefs (based largely on the points listed in their manifesto).

Most of these issues could apply to Bengaluru too (as much as any other city in the country), and since the city is supposed to be AAP's 2nd strongest base in the country, I, as a card-holding member of the LokSatta party (whose chief Dr Jayaprakash Narayan had extended considerable support to AAP in the initial stages), would like to offer some unsolicited advice against the issues raised. So, here I go:

1. The VIP culture should be stopped in Delhi. No MLA, minister or Delhi official will use a red beacon on their cars. Neither will they live in big bungalows nor take any special security.

Agree totally. Perhaps, the bungalow culture in Bengaluru too could be phased out over a period.

2. Passing of the Janlokpal Bill, the same version for which Anna Hazare held fasts.

Agree with the need for the Lokpal. The "Jan" bit is a contentious matter, which has been debated at length on various platforms, including on Praja (here). We will choose not to further it here for now.

3. People will take decision directly in 'mohalla sabhas', which will be held in every locality and colony.

This is the "ward committee" issue, about the unsatisfactory constitution and functioning of which, extensive debates have taken place (here). This is quite the basis of decentralisation of governance, and as such needs to addressed immediately.

4. The AAP demanded complete statehood status for Delhi. Central government's hold on DDA and Police should end.

Very true - again, immediately needed. Doesn't apply to Bengaluru, though, at least as of now.

5. The party also demanded a special audit of all electricity companies in the national capital from the time these were privatised. The companies that refuse to participate, their licenses should be cancelled.

AAP has been alleging fudging of data by the DISCOMS while making tariff increase claims. As such, a special audit perhaps needs to be undertaken. And, if the allegations are found to be true, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) needs to be pulled up, and perhaps reconstituted, allowing for a position for a nominee of the Civil Society. Notwithstanding AAP's allegations, it needs to be recognised that, at least in those parts of Delhi coming under Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), over the 8 years since the taking over from the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), the system reliability has gone up by 42.7% (from 70% to 99.9%) - meaning, I expect, the sales of gensets, inverters, UPS devices, batteries, converters, emergency lamps, voltage stabilisers, candles, match-sticks, etc must be dropping drastically. And, with the tariff levels still comparable with those in other cities, Delhi-ites are nett of nett enjoying cheaper power than those in cities, like Namma Bengaluru. In fact, I would go on to recommend the Delhi model of privatisation of power supply for all cities currently (dis)-serviced by government service providers (check this) - first in the list needs to be Bengaluru.

Incidentally, Lutyens Delhi continues to be covered DVB (check this). This is essentially to allow for all kinds of concessions to the Neta's and Babu's residing there, including non-payment of bills for months and years together. AAP should immediately demand that these areas too are handed over to TPDDL.

6. Electricity meters should be checked.

Representatives samples can be checked, and if there is a problem, more rigorous action can be taken.

7. There is 220 litres of water available for every person daily. Where is it?

Likewise, 1400 million litres of water is being pumped into Bengaluru from Cauvery everyday, apart from the smaller quantity from T G Halli. Now, if all of the water drawn from Cauvery alone can be distributed at an efficiency level of 90% (the level recorded in advanced countries) across our 8 million population, each person will get a comfortable 160 litres a day. But, this calls for professionalism, far beyond the capacity of our BWSSB or Delhi's Jal Board. The job has essentially to be outsourced to professional players, and the huge costs involved have to be met too. Full scale debate on the subject is accessible here).

For future needs, Bangaluru needs to restore and rejuvenate the many lakes that the city still has.

8. AAP wants unauthorised colonies should be regularised. Thirty percent of Delhi's population lives in such colonies and these should be regularised, &
9. The party demnded to know if the Congress and the BJP will support its decision to give clean and affordable 'pakka houses' (built up houses) to those living in slums.

I have clubbed these two together since they are related. Urbanisation is inevitable. But, instead of everyone crowding into a Delhi or a Bengaluru, leading inevitably to the establishment of slums, they should be facilitated into residing in smaller townships around these mega-cities, which are provided with less than 1-hr affordable connectivity to the mega-city centres. The proposed "Namma Railu " is literally the vehicle for this in Bengaluru. Apparently, there is a similar "commuter rail" proposal in Delhi too (check this), which is indeed the way to go. Regularising unauthorised colonies will only encourage more and more similar unhealthy developments. Pakka housing can thereafter be offered in the outlying townships.

10. It also sought their support to give regular jobs to those working on contractual basis.

This can be done provided labour reforms, allowing for easier sacking of recalcitrant workers (check this debate) and for down-sizing when essential, are simultaneously put in place. Without that, it will be impossible to get any decent levels of productivity from workers.

11. It wants to give infrastructural facilities like roads, electricity, water and basic facilities to the ordinary trader.

Who can have a problem with that? But, why only to traders?

12. AAP said it is against FDI in retail.

Here I agree with ex-AAP member, Surajit Dasgupta, when he says that "Delhi badly needs Foreign Direct Investment in the retail trade that cannot be withdrawn easily. More important, why should an AAP Government favour a small, monopolist, anti-competition trading class to the disadvantage of the large consumer class, more so when its apprehensions about Big Retail are unfounded?" (check this). Apart from this are comments on similar lines from Dr Jayprakash Narayan (check here)

13. The party wants to provide facilities and subsidies to farmers in the villages in the national capital.

Here too, what is needed is comprehensive liberalisation of the agricultural sector, as stated by Dr Jayaprakash Narayan (check this)

14. The party also demanded to know the Congress and BJP's stand on opening 500 government schools, stopping donations in private schools and making the fee system transparent.

The better option perhaps lies in funding children than schools, as detailed here

15. The party said it wanted to open new government hospitals with better facilities.

Heathcare is one sector where government presence is very much needed. But, perhaps what it needs to do is to run a few model hospitals, may be on the lines of AIIMS, with good budgetary support, and leave the rest to the private sector, after putting together a proper regulatory mechanism or ombudsman in place (check the debate here)

16. It also wants to have special security units for women and wants all harassment cases to be tackled within three months, &
17. It wanted to set up enough courts and appoint judges so that all cases are dealt with within six months.

Rather, what is required is comprehensive reforms in all matters related to security - police reforms, judicial reforms, et al - for more, check this

18. The AAP wanted to know whether the municipal corporations of Delhi will support them on these issues.

Like in Bengaluru, in Delhi too, the municipality is in the overall control of BJP, and hence this question. Garnering the support of all stakeholders is what politics all about - it will be interesting to see how AAP goes about it.

The above are apart from the points I had made in a blog posted immediately after the Nirbhaya incident (some issues are common, though) - check here.

Perhaps other Prajagalu too may want to offer their advice - please go ahead - it's another matter whether AAP bothers with it.

Now, the comments by Mr Surajit Dasgupta, in his blog, on the goings on in AAP, are not exactly quite complementary. So, does it make AAP too another Congress or BJP? I would like to believe not quite so. Let's see how things evolve.

Muralidhar Rao


Promod Kapur's picture

Some Unsolicited Advice.......

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Unsolicited or otherwise, Murli's advice is sound, but let us remember the context in which these conditions were put.

1. AAP"s debut is unprecedented, probably far exceeding their own expectations. The party is perhaps flummoxed at its own showing.

2. What perhaps was intended was to make a statement and effecively register public anger against the system politically (response to a challenge thrown by the arrogance of major political parties), and the results have shaken the political environment in Delhi.

3.  So far so good, but what next? AAP can not form the government on their own, even if they did, it is too early for them to figure out the nuances of effectively traversing the vast and complicated politico-administrative space and deliver their promise. Governance is not only about becoming ministers and MLAs, but about delivering effectively through a network of people, firmly entrenched in the administration. So how do they now keep their base of expectant voters together? AAP is riding a tiger, albeit a small one. Not easy to get off because this tiger is hungry and is growing.

My unsoliciteed advice?

1. Keep riding the tiger and keep growling till you know how to train and reign in the growling tiger.

2. Make noises and in the meanwhile learn the nunaces of effective governance. Other political parties have already been put on notice and hope it will internally cleanse them as well.  

3. Pursue relentlessly - bottom upwise, (Panchayat and Corporation ward upwards) and wait till AAP is mature and strong enough to change the environment and democracy in India becomes credible system.

xs400's picture

19. AAP will not support the elite / diplomat class criminals

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19. AAP will not waste its and peoples time and energy (including media)  in supporting the elite criminals (ministers, diplomats, actors, CEOs, praja members...) convicted of crimes in other countries.


It will assist menial labourers (domestic help, programmers,...) in getting a fair salary under their Indian slave drivers in the US./World.



abidpqa's picture

Supply of 700 liters free is

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Supply of 700 liters free is not necessary at all. The WHO Minimum water needed per person is only 100 L. When water is short, we can even survive with 50 L or less. So no more than 200 L free water is needed.

Auditing private electricity suppliers are needed because they are making exorbitant profits and even the projects they justify to increased prices are inefficient, creating new infrastructure and ignoring the already existing infrastructure. But power tarriffs should not be reduced.  After the false justifications for power tarriffs are exposed and they are forced to reduce, taxes should be increased so that tarriffs paid by people are not reduced, again to prevent wastage.

murali772's picture

worrisome goings on

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The middle class euphoria over not paying water bills is clouding over the reality that the AAP is implementing a regressive policy measure, which helps the middle class more than the poor. There are better role models for water management and supply in India. AAP needs to work harder at its policies if it doesn’t want to bankrupt the capital, and then rob itself of credibility.

For the full text of the article by Mr Dhiraj Nayyar in First Post, click here

For all the promise that the AAP revolution held, if this is where they are headed, it's a bit worrisome.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

can we have fact-based arguments, please!

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Auditing private electricity suppliers are needed because they are making exorbitant profits

Such sweeping statements, without even a glance at the Company's financial statements, is plainly indicative of a Socialistic mindset

and even the projects they justify to increased prices are inefficient, creating new infrastructure and ignoring the already existing infrastructure.

The following is a catalogue of the transformation that Tata Power (TPDDL) has brought about in the 8 years of its taking over from DVB (for fuller details, check here)

  • AT&C (aggregate technical & commercial) losses dropped by 75%, from 53.1% to 13.2%.
  • While the sale to purchase price ratio during the DVB reign was a whopping 2.53, it reduced dramatically to 1.19 at the end of the 8 years since the TATA take over.
  • No of consumers went up by 69.1% (from 700,000 to 1184,000).
  • Distribution Transformation Capacity in MVA went up by 116% (from 1926 to 4160)
  • System reliability went up by 42.7% (from 70% to 99.9%)

What need one say about anyone who believes that all of this could have been managed with the infrastructure handed down from DVB?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

All the positives

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There is also no telling at this stage of course how long AAP’s current streak of sincerity and zeal for a clean politics will last- tested as it will be by the dynamics of actually wielding power, even in a limited sphere to begin with. Who can guarantee that the AAP will not be ‘defanged’ by the very system they have taken on and turn out to be yet another failed promise, like so many in the past?

While all these doubts surely need to be answered the real question is whether one should be a passive bystander in this process and cynically wait for the AAP to make all the usual mistakes, collapse and disappear forever? In my opinion, what even those who don’t concur with the AAP on everything should do is to work with them and build upon those aspects they can agree upon.

Spurning the option of being a rocking chair revolutionary one should rather reflect on the harder question, “If the Aam Aadmi Party represents any hope for a better Indian politics and democracy what can we do to strengthen them?”

For given the barrenness of the Indian political soil in terms of new ideas, quality of participants and processes, the AAP certainly represents a positive trend that needs to be supported. As in romance, in good politics too, it is always better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all…

For the full text of the essay by Satya Sagar, click here

AAP has made a remarkably good start. Even if the party fails to hold on to power in Delhi, it would have irrevocably altered Indian political discourse, creating much welcome benchmarks in politics. Would that still be a failure? Surely not.

For the full text of this essay in YahooNews, click here

There is a lot of hope. AAP can't afford to belie it all.

Muralidhar Rao
abidpqa's picture

Okay, maybe they are not

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Okay, maybe they are not making exorbitant profits, but profits can be hidden by inflating costs.  Also why they are opposed to audit making obstacles to audit even if it is legal. The agreement which is keeping it out of audit seems biased favouring private suppliers. They are serving the public, and so govt audit is needed, and public needs know the component of the tarriffs paid by them.

wgwwd's picture

I agree with abidpqa. The

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I agree with abidpqa. The truth will come out only when auit findings are out. Till then people should not take biased stand based on their own ideologies  of socialist or pro-privatisation. Both have trouble in Indian eco-systems. So please wait and watch. Peace..

- wgwwd : (w)e (g)et  (w)hat  (w)e (d) look at yourself first

murali772's picture

fair enough; but, what after that?

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Corporate accounts are subject to various levels of scrutiny already - company audit, statutory audit, etc overseen by Registrar of Companies, apart from which are those overseen by Central Excise department, Sales Tax department, etc. In the case of the Delhi Discoms, there is besides the DERC (Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission), which looks into every aspect of their functioning. As such, it's not as if the Discoms have a free run, and can charge what they want.

Now you don't want to trust the job being done by all of these, and say that the CAG has to do it all over again. Fair enough, let the CAG do it just this once. But, if the CAG doesn't find anything amiss, will you accept it, or will you again find fault with it and say that somebody else has to do another one afresh? If so, where is the limit?

The main area of dispute, if I have understood correctly, is in the "valuation of the regulatory assets" (check here). And, for all you know, the CAG may say that tariff levels are unsustainable and have to be increased.

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

Water Subsidy

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I feel its better to subsidise water than petrol or SEZ's. 200 ltrs may be sufficient but there is no need to throw the baby with the bath water. The key is to use this to push for more metering & more connections so unauthorized ground water withdrawl is stopped. Anybody & everybody is able to drill borewells for a cost. This has also gotten into cronyism. There is absolute anarchy in the water withdrawl/supply in the name of "market forces". In fact water that can directly go to the user is also funnelled on the side to the "market forces". Clearly greed has begun to overtake legitimate "market forces". Just sitting by doing the same old things will get the same old results.

Most of the cost for water goes in providing connection than in monthly supply. In Bangalore the supply cost is more because of pumping required. So case to case basis we need to start providing basic necessities at a discount out of taxpayer money otherwise that money is being spent in building flyovers for cars or lining crony pockets. Atleast its better than subsidizing airplanes for the rich.

All of the growth/development we are achieving in the fanciful markets hasnt even begun to provide for water & food for most people then what use is all this growth/development? Finally "market forces" in India is immature & greedy. The ethics required to provide basic human services honestly without cheating the consumer doesnt exist in this society. We need to figure a way to do this right. We need to give some time to see if the AAP approach is right. If it is not, you can say I told you so. If it is, I can say I told you so.

idontspam's picture

Delhi Power affair

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Sharing a document I found. I am not surprised to see Reliance name whenever there is trouble.

xs400's picture

AAP - No WILFUL Misgovernance - Inflexion point in politics

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Right now, whatever AAP is doing, good or bad, sucessful or unsucessful, populist or not... all pales into insignificance (for me at least).

The most important effect of AAP is the LACK OF WILFUL MISGOVERNANCE.

This is good beginning given our society's current state.

Water, electricity, food, education, etc - will at least go to the people, if they dont do it right, they will learn and do it better as their intention is not to misappropriate money. 

And then there are Prajagalu to help, and they are willing to listen! Wow - thats quite a change. 

This change in direction is all I care about RIGHT NOW.



murali772's picture

one hopes thay don't belie the faith

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Water, electricity, food, education, etc - will at least go to the people, if they dont do it right, they will learn and do it better as their intention is not to misappropriate money. And then there are Prajagalu to help, and they are willing to listen! Wow - thats quite a change. This change in direction is all I care about RIGHT NOW.

Well said. Only, I hope they don't belie that faith.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

lost cause, sad though!

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I recall during my long phone conversation in late 2012 that I told him that Arvind is speaking in populist language and such an approach will harm India. To that, Somnath responded that according to Arvind populist policies are needed to get votes, and after power is obtained, good policies can be introduced. I cautioned him against such an approach since the means and ends must match. Instead, I advised him to try to influence Arvind in the right direction.

- - - Unfortunately, Somnath was unsuccessful in changing Arvind and, instead, seems to have fallen into Arvind's and Yogendra Yadav's ideological trap of socialism that includes subsidies and anti-business policies - some of this may simply be political compulsion.

For the full text of the blog-post by Sanjeev Sabhlok, click here.

I was beginning to suspect this. AAP looks a lost cause, as far as I am concerned.

The only positive that may have resulted out of AAP's dharna is the 'jhatka' it may have provided for police reforms, talks about which had started decades ago (Dharma Vira commission), but very little progress had been made.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Novel postulation

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Many analysts and businessmen fear that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), dominated by socialists and Marxists like Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, is an extreme Left party. These fears are overblown.

The AAP has appointed a seven-member committee to formulate its economic policy. This includes libertarian economist Laveesh Bhandari and business honchos like Meera Sanyal (former chief of Royal Bank of Scotland) and Sanjiv Aga (former chief of Idea Cellular). Clearly, AAP does not have a closed leftist mind, and wants to incorporate a variety of views.

Its main focus is good governance. So, unsurprisingly, the committee is headed by anti-corruption crusader Prithvi Reddy.

- - - Asking Marxists, socialists and libertarians to come up with an agreed formula may produce a messy compromise rife with internal contradictions. It will be helpful to cite a respected authority as an appropriate trail blazer. Probably the best candidate is Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.

The recent book by Sen and Jean Dreze, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradiction, has an agenda broadly acceptable to a range of thinkers. The book highlights the lack of attention paid by governments to many essential needs, especially of the poor, and above all, of women. Rapid economic growth has co-existed with grossly inadequate social services (education and health) and physical services (safe water, electricity, drainage, transportation and sanitation). The book cites successful countries like Korea and China to argue that fast economic growth is not sustainable without strong development of human capital and essential infrastructure. India lags behind many countries at a similar level of development, and even behind poor Bangladesh.

AAP leftists will happily accept the book’s social agenda. Economic liberals in the AAP Committee will also be happy to emphasize other aspects of the book. Sen has often been accused of underplaying the importance of markets and economic growth, but in this book he and Dreze emphasize that rapid economic growth is crucial. They say categorically that fast growth provides rising opportunities, jobs and incomes. Moreover, fast growth also produces revenues that can be used for essential social services and infrastructure that create more equality of opportunity for all — especially the poor and women. There is no trade-off between fast growth and human development: the two buttress one another.

Economic liberals in the AAP Committee will be happy to cite the condemnation by Sen and Dreze of red tape and senseless regulatory barriers that hit economic growth and benefit only the corrupt and powerful. Many sorts of regulations are indeed needed, but India is full of perverse ones. Sen and Dreze have roundly denounced populist subsidies that are not targeted at the poor.

For the full text of the column by Sri S A Aiyar, click here.

Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze talking this language is indeed refreshing, or perhaps one didn't understand them well enough, earlier. And, one hopes AAP sees meaning in this kind of a talk.

Socialism has done enough damage to the country, and we desperately need salvation from it, at least now.

Muralidhar Rao
xs400's picture

AAP - List political affiliations of Media Houses

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All the corporate houses and politicians own media houses.

Along with the list of corrupt, AAP needs to list the political affliations of the media houses ("corrupt").


By the way it is not clear who funds and their affliations!

kbsyed61's picture

Who funds Praja?

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Praja is an independent entity and has no affiliations with any particular political party or dispensation.

With regard to funding, all the required funding for Praja activities - Website, Advocacy campaigns, is all met by the personal contributions from individuals who work and support Praja activities.

So far there wasn't any need for any external funding that you are alluding to. There is absolutely NO EXTERNAL FUNDING in Praja activities.




xs400's picture

Media house political affiliation

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Thanks for the clarification! And Praja needs to display this non-affliliation prominently; if for no other reason than to indicate that other sites/media may be affiliated.

Back to the original topic:

It is quite difficult to clearly see the links in case of the major electronic and print media houses. Their sometimes amusing behaviour can be explained only if one knows their leanings.

These corrupt media houses are a threat to democracy as much as the corrupt netas and babus and businesses. 

Hence the need for a party like AAP to put out a list.

murali772's picture

can AAP provide the answers?

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I have been watching the AAP movement since the India Against Corruption days. There is, somewhere inside me, a huge sort of a nationalistic and patriotic person. Perhaps it goes back to my days at JNU, but, there has always been that person. So while I have been a fairly apolitical person for the past decade or so, (maybe, it was a mid-life crisis!), something struck me in the last year and I started getting really frustrated with the system and started feeling like we were all living in a make-believe world of our own, where we live in our nice air-conditioned houses, go in our nice air-conditioned cars to our nice air-conditioned offices and talk about a whole lot of stuff that impacts may be only 5–10 percent of the population and (we) feel like we are saving the world. And, I felt like there is a whole world out there, a whole country out there which we are not even looking at. And my fear stems from the fact that if we keep ignoring the rest of the country, we are headed to a civil crisis - that is something that bothers me. Leave behind all sorts of wealth for our children, leave them a few houses, leave them a few cars, but if they cannot even walk out on the street safely, it’s worth nothing. And then when I started looking a little deeper into it, and started seeing the kind of politicians we have, the kind of leaders we have, there is nobody we can even look up to.

For the full text of the interview of Ms Manisha L Gupta, who quit her job as Exec-VP, Axis Bank, to join AAP, in FirstPost, click here.

In fact, these are precisely the reasons why many of us too saw a promise in AAP. But, their Socialistic inclinations, particularly the handling of the power and water issues, as also the self-righteous posturungs of AK, I find quite bothersome. Whatever, I am still holding on to the hope that they will do necessary course corrections as they go along.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

"power" politics

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While all of the above is fine, what I find difficult to accept is AK's "power" politics. And, I am inclined to think it's plain politics in play - check this

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

AAP's course correction?

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I had all along been unsure about AAP's economic policies. All the rest was of minor consequence. This video, of AK's interactions with the CII members, has more or less cleared the air. It comes as a breath of fresh air. Perhaps there has been a realisation that you needed the "khaas aadmi" too, of the genuine variety (as different from the marauder types).

Yes, he has been playing politics. But, apparently, he is learning on the job, pretty fast too, and effecting course corrections, as required. And, I would like to believe that the learnings have been real, and there is a certain amount of conviction in this new approach. And, quite like Rajiv Bajaj (check this), I too am now inclined to bet on him.

And, this ToI editorial comment, while making interesting reading, holds further advice on style of functioning too.

Arvind Kejriwal has just articulated views on governance and economics that are somewhat surprising, given his high-pitched seven-week stint as Delhi's chief minister. He now seems to believe in government with a light touch, where priorities would be providing public goods such as safety, a good judicial system and corruption-free governance. Entry barriers to new businesses are to be lowered and tax rates kept moderate by closing loopholes. His views on governance and economics now look similar to what Swatantra Party once stood for, especially the distaste for an inspector raj which Kejriwal terms extortionist.

If he's now saying that rather than propping up handpicked business groups policy should be designed to be market-friendly and foster competition overall, that is an idea whose time has come. However, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in power was confrontational and inclined to favour theatrics over the painstaking task of ground level transformation. For instance, Somnath Bharti's hectoring style of dealing with policemen may have earned brownie points among some people but did nothing to transform the police force. That kind of transformation requires thinking through issues and patient persuasion. Transformational politicians know when to let go; Nelson Mandela is an ideal example.

Further, if there is a Swatantra party flavour to the revised economic thinking of the AAP, perhaps it's being led by Ms Meera Sanyal, who was until recently the President of the Indian Liberal Group (ILG), the successor to the Swatantra party. Well, I too am a member of the ILG, and as such, would the AAP, Bengaluru, now like to consider my unsolicited advice?

Muralidhar Rao
vmenon's picture

"Perhaps there has been a

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"Perhaps there has been a realisation that you needed the "khaas aadmi" too, of the genuine variety (as different from the marauder types)."

Don't think there was a special realisation or ephipany for Kejriwal or AAP fro this CII meeting/presentasion.Its the reverse,actually .The penny has finally dropped for a few naysayers who have more influenced by the  doctored english news channels than anything else .



sun_n_moon's picture

Still needs a wait & watch approach

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while some encouraging economic noises emerging, would prefer a wait some more. This Mint quick edit says it well -

murali772's picture

proof of the pudding

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@ VMenon - All fine - proof of the pudding lies in the eating, right? Does the AAP, Karnataka, now want to join me in the campaign for opening up of bus services and power supply (along the lines described in the blogs, to which the links have been provided), to begin with, to private players?

Muralidhar Rao
vmenon's picture


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Hi murli, Actually i think the proof lies in the cant see it from afar but if its its genuine stuff ,chances are pudding will be great. I am also not sure who should be joining who regarding yr comment on bud services and power supply.
murali772's picture

Relevance of AAP for the Future - Shiv Viswanathan

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AAP is experimental. As a result, it is not inflexibly tied to any ideology or any charter of the future. AAP wants politics to be full of surprises. In that sense, it is not a planned rocket but a wager. It does not need the mass leader in a fascist sense but insists that citizenship, when it is no longer passive, is a form of leadership. It takes problem-solving in a modest way realising that solutions to work are contextual and local. AAP requires a million exemplars to sustain itself as a paradigm. In doing this, it breaks the fossilisation of democracy as a fetish of rights, elections and governance. It is the democratisation of democracy that makes AAP the party of the future. I think this is why we have to look at AAP differently, expect more but expect the less predictable from it. This is what makes it the party of the future and a party with a future.

For the full text of the essay by Shiv Viswanathan in The Hindu, click here.

Particularly in Karnataka (and more so in BBMP), where both Congress and BJP have a poor standing, perhaps AAP has a major role to play.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

AAP has a major role to play

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I did not vote this time because I was abroad. But I made a donation to the AAP. It often makes me tear my hair, yet it’s important to support the only party that does not depend on extorted black money, or on any caste, region or religion.

Mainline political parties are the biggest business houses in India. Once, people joined politics for public service, but now they do so to get rich. They move effortless from one party to another in search of profit, with no sense of guilt or taint. The CSDS says parties will spend Rs 30,000 crore on this election. Obviously, they will seek to recoup their outlay with interest. That means gigantic extortion.

- - This system must be smashed. Narendra Modi is seen by many as somebody who can change the system from within. I suspect only a newcomer, like the AAP, can truly attack the system. I may disagree strongly with AAP leader Prashant Bhushan on economic policy, but salute his emphasis on quick justice and checking judicial corruption.

 - - Yet for all the populist socialism that AAP leaders initially mouthed, its economic committee finally produced an excellent policy document. Kejriwal told the Financial Times, “It is only private business which can create wealth and employment in this country. Indians are born entrepreneurs. Yet the government has been acting as an obstacle in everyone’s business. It is so difficult to start and run a business in India unless you pay up money. All these laws and policies need to be simplified, but then the government’s job should be to ensure the laws are followed.” This is a classical liberal position, and I can only cheer.

By resigning from the Delhi government, the AAP has spoiled its short-term prospects. It may win just a few seats in Parliament. No matter: it can enliven the opposition. If it establishes itself as a thorn in the flesh of mainline parties, keeping up the pressure for police-judicial reform, then that will be a worthwhile achievement.

For the full text of the column by S A Aiyer, in the SToI, click here.

While enlivening the opposition in the Parliament, the role in BBMP and Karnataka can perhaps be even bigger.


Muralidhar Rao
MaheshK's picture

Revolt in the party

283 users have liked.

We all saw what happened today. Both Ms. Ilmi and Mr. Gopinath quit. The antics of AK has gone too far I guess. Let him walk the talk before attacking others. What are the chances of they winning in Delhi? Per AAP survey, not more than 11 seats. 

xs400's picture

A different yardstick for AK?

268 users have liked.

So, happy with the celebrations? May the euphoria continue for the next  <nn> years!

Any improvements after the spin doctors sent in modi? I expect not, though the spin doctors will 'prove' that their puppet is a success, after all they made MM stand back and create a favorable environment for their new replacement.

Whats it that AK did that caused his party mates to quit? Why dont they demand that modi go to jail too on some trivial issue? Why a different yardstick for AK? At least accept that you support the spin doctors instead of using words like 'antics'. Why not use the same vocabulary against modi? how about his 'antics' of inviting rajpaksha?

Unfortunately for AK, he'll have to have the spin doctors' blessings and that may take a while. Till then we'll have to suffer fools.


xs400's picture

Sorry state of the judicial system, Kejriwal, BJP TROLLS

276 users have liked.
Thanks to Kejriwal, I looked up the bail system in India. True to its crony roots the brown British of India have kept the EAST INDIA COMPANY running, only now the name changes happen every five years; and their trolls have mocked at Kejriwal only to keep the Company safe. This is a good place to start http://www.legalservicein... e.g. Maneka Gandhi v Union of India [16], Justice Krishna Iyer once again spoke against the unfair system of bail that was prevailing in India. No definition of bail has been given in the code, although the offences are classified as bailable and non-bailable. Further Justice P.N.Bhagwati also spoke about how unfair and discriminatory the bail system is when looked at from the economic criteria of a person this discrimination arises even if the amount of bail fixed by the magistrates isn't high for some, but a large majority of those who are brought before the courts in criminal cases are so poor that they http://www.legalservicein... it difficult to furnish bail even if it's a small amount.
Promod Kapur's picture

Kejriwal and Judicial System

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I can not agree with you more that our judicial system and possibly the framework itself needs to change keeping with the demands and realities of present day style and substance of society. So we have judicail reforms being talked about, but only talked about because so far there has been a clear lack of political will and status quoist lobbies that have prevented for any meaningful reforms to be undertaken. However that does not take away from the fact that under the existing laws and established norms, Kejriwal should have conformed, even while taking up the cause for bringing about the change. You can not challenge the existence of law as it exists and make it subservient to your conscience or principle. I am afraid, Kejriwal will urgently need to reinvent himself in the context of the political scenario obtaining in the country today, nor must he abandon his crusade against corruption. There is far too much at stake for the lakhs of people who have believed in him and followed him, but he seems to have compromised all that he made people believe for the sake of silly and not thought through actions. His political ambitions seem to have overtaken realism. He desperately needs to change his political advisors, otherwise Kejriwal could lead the brave, young, hopeful energetic and dreamfilled youths of this country into a band of disillusioned and bitter citizens.

MaheshK's picture

What now for AAP

289 users have liked.

AK acted like a dictator, sort of, when he quit as Delhi CM. People who voted for AAP had faith in him. Looks like he may have lost it. The upcoming Haryana and Delhi (?) assembly elections will show where AAP stands. They won 4 seats in Punjab for Lok Sabha based on drug use issues. Else they would have lost that also. I think Lok Satta party merged with AAP. Now they may be wondering if they did the right thing.

murali772's picture

pretentious AAP

267 users have liked.
A division bench of MP high court stayed the handing over of water supply scheme in Khandwa town to a private company 'Vishwa Infrastructure and Services Private Limited' for operations and maintenance under public-private partnership (PPP) mode for 23 years. In its interim order, chief justice justice AM Khanwilkar and justice Sanjay Yadav, while restraining the Khandwa Municipal Corporation from handing over the water supply scheme to the private firm, asked to maintain the existing water supply system till further orders. Hearing a public interest litigation of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Narmada Jal Sangharsh Samiti, the court said the petitioner has raised an issue of great public importance, in particular, likelihood of infringement of fundamental rights guaranteed to the residents of Khandwa, on account of threat of disconnection of existing water supply mechanism.
For the full text of the report in the Hindustan Times, click here
The fundamental right is for access to water from a 'common' source - a river, a lake, or whatever; but not for it to be made available at the turn of the tap in your home, which involves huge costs. Besides, water being a scarce resource, its management has to be very efficient too, if we are to account for at least 90% of the quantum being pumped from a given source, as in developed countries. As against that, the level for even Bengaluru is a dismal 55% odd of the 1450 MLD being pumped in every day at enormous cost. For Khandwa it must be much lower, one would guess.
And, it is an established fact that efficiency and government are quite antonymous, particularly when it comes to providing of services or manufacture of goods. The answer therefore very plainly lies in outsourcing the job to professional private players. More on that may be accessed here
Now, all of the above doesn't call for any higher level of intelligence than a normal human being is blessed with. But, for all of that, if the politicos are opposing it, particularly during election times, they are obviously playing vote-bank politics, which apparently is the case with AAP too, for all of Arvind Kejriwal's talk about his being a bania, and therefore a natural friend of businessmen, and Shazia Ilmi (who has since switched to BJP)'s assertion, as a spokesperson of the party, that they were for privatisation (check here).  
So, the criterion, for choosing which party to vote for, can perhaps be based on which of them can get out of the election mindset faster, come to term with realities, and implement what is in the overall interest of the country, even if they are charged of making U-turns by the opposition. BJP perhaps scores better here than others. AAP is a bit too pretentious to play that game.


Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

AAP's true colours?

262 users have liked.
Considering the incurring burden on a common citizen with the exorbitant 10% rise in water charges every year as per the contract signed by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the private water company which took charge of the city's water supply system from September 1, 2014 the Aam Admi Party has launched a signature campaign on Wednesday to pressurize the civic body cancel the contract with the private Water Utility Company. - - - - "The civic body's plan to extend the 24x7 water supply project across city hasn't gone down well with the citizens. Hence from Wednesday, members of AAP, kick-started a signature campaign against the project. They alleged that the project initiated by AMC is nothing but privatization of water supply," said the AAP district convenor, Manisha Chaudhary.
For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here
This water supply "privatisation" exercise has begun in many cities across the country - Mysore, Hubli-Dharwar, Bangalore, Nagpur, Delhi, Khandwa (MP), etc, etc. In the first place, since the sources remain in the control of the municipalities (government, in the case of Bangalore, the source being the river Cauvery, flowing some 100 km away), the term "privatisation" is not quite appropriate here. These are essentially upgradation, maintenance, operation "outsourcing" contracts, for defined periods, which can vary from contract to contract. A fuller debate on the subject may be accessed here.
Now, to begin with, why did these become necessary? Essentially because the municipailities (the parastatal - BWSSB, in the case of Bangalore) could not build the capacity to handle the job efficiently (unaccounted for losses even in Bangalore is of the order of 45%), even over the donkey's years they have been (mis)-managing them. Also, there's no hope ever of their being able to do that in the conceivable future, either. Leave alone that - they are hard put to discharge even the 31 mandatory functions and 21 discretionary functions they are normally assigned - check this. As such, it is the elected representatives themselves, under pressure from the public who have been deprived of proper supply of the basic good, that have opted for this outsourcing contract, in spite of many of them possibly having vested interests in retaining the status quo.
So, if at all there has to be a review, it should be of the terms of the contract, and not of the idea of outsourcing itself. As such, when AAP is demanding reversal of "privatisation", its true colours show out. If some elections were happening in Maharashtra, one could have looked at it as vote-bank politics, a la the Congress. But, that not being the case here, and, the agitation obviously having the blessings of the party "high-commend", the "psuedo-Socialistc colours" of AAP show out even truer.
On the power supply front too, while AAP is only talking about how the private DISCOMs in Delhi are looting the public in various ways, and the supposed stalling of the CAG audit (though, what it will show out eventually is debatable - check this), there doesn't seem to be any appreciation whatsoever of the overall system improvements they have effected, providing for 99.9% reliability (at least in areas covered by the Tata company - check this).
On a comparison, here are the extracts from Modi's speech (for the full text in the ToI, click here):
AAP's promises of reduced power tariff and water bill also came in for attack, with PM saying that politics where politicians could get away by abusing a few rich and making extravagant promises is passe. - - - -"30- 40 years ago a kind of politics in India and globally would involve abusing few businessmen and rousing the poor for electoral benefit. But now, times have changed. The poor now demand accountability," Modi said, adding, "The promise of cheap electricity is fine but in order to get bills one must get electricity first. We are taking steps that will provide 24X7 power, shut down the generators and make it easier to breathe too." - - - "Just by providing two LED bulbs as we have started, we can help you bring down your bill by Rs 300 annually", Modi said as he announced that people in Delhi can soon switch their power suppliers the way mobile users change their SIM cards. "This will increase competition and lower rates".
Yes, there are charges of crony capitalism in return for party funding etc, against BJP. But, these have largely resulted and got perpetuated out of the 'pseudo-Socialist' policies pursued by the Congress, so far, and which the AAP is apparently championing now. Liberal policies, which the BJP seems inclined to pursue, should reduce that greatly (the debate on that can be pursued here).
All in all, Arvind Kejriwal appears more a Prakash Karat in a Bania's clothing
What Ms Meera Sanyal (supposedly the President of the Indian Liberal Group, of which, I am a member) is doing here is a bit of a paradox. 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

towards r - - -aam rajya

243 users have liked.
Setting the tone for its latest round of Delhi Dialogue on governance, Aam Aadmi Party today promised to provide water as a “right” upon winning the elections while opining against the privatisation of Delhi Jal Board (DJB). Releasing a ‘White Paper’ on water, the party claimed there has been no improvement in the city’s water situation even after spending around Rs 32,000 crore in the last 10 years.
For the full text of the article in the Financial Express, click here.
Well, it looks like I didn't quite have to cite the Aurangabad example (check my post immediately above). AAP has made its position on 'privatisation' clear as daylight now. Perhaps, seeing that there isn't much of a future with the middle class and the CII lot (who are more interested in quality supplies from utilities, than subsidised low quality supplies, of the Jal Board kind), apparently, the AAP has decided to concentrate its efforts on the jhuggi-jhompdi lot, who are more likely to buy its populist 'rights' talk.
The question that begs an answer however is why water alone? How about rights to health-care, education, power supply (reverse the privatisation that has happened here, and hand it all back to DESU?), bus travel, metro travel, train travel, cooking gas, etc etc, and may be even subscription to their favourite TV channels, and a bottle a day of local "daaru" - how can we deprive the aam aadmi of some much needed entertainment and rejuvenating 'spirit' at the end of a hard day, right? Namma Siddaramaiah's Congress government can provide some inspiration too, with its numerous bhagya schemes - check here
Reforming DJB, which allegedly spent some Rs 32,000 cr over the past 10 years without making any improvements, will be quite a miracle. If AAP can actually pull it off, then the miracle can be replicated in other services too (Lalu fooled even Harvard Business School into believing he managed that with Railways - so, be warned that the scrutiny will be closer this time around). Then, of course, everything can remain with the government, and you don't need the private sector at all, and we can all enjoy a r- - -aam rajya, and live happily ever after.
Muralidhar Rao
vmenon's picture

Don't see why a "right to

272 users have liked.
Don't see why a "right to water "is a difficult concept to understand. It is implicit in the constitution's guarantee to "right to life" as opposed to say right to entertainment. Confusing right to water to a debate on privatisation smacks of "blog centric sensationalism "and is far from real issues on the ground. One has to admit first that our developmental model,(and that of many countries) is essentially flawed when it comes to interests,livelihoods and even existence of the less fortunate. The debate should start there rather than jump to a very superficial argument of a solution(to what I don't know'!) that privatisation solves all the world's problems That's seems more like a solution in search of a problem, rather than the other way around. Vijayan
Promod Kapur's picture

Rights and Responsibilities

252 users have liked.

Right to water is linked to right to life, so far so good. Is it assumed that there is water available at any place any time and it is free AND IT IS CLEAN AND POTABLE? Is it so? Anywhere in the world? Is it available as freely as say air which is also  linked to life?

If we are demanding 'right to water', then it obviously means that every one is not getting water and this may be because either there is shortage of water or there is absence of service. I dare say it is more likely because of former and to an extent because of inefficient services as well. And that begs the question, why is it that despite regular rains and flowing rivers, we are still in deficit"?  Enough discussions have taken place at various forums all over the world and the prime reason why water levels are falling even in the underground reservoirs is because we continue to abuse nature, we feel no responsibility to conserve water and in fact we pollute whatever water bodies are left. They say the next wars are going to be fought on account of water. We in India arelready  witness to this situation. And we in India are far more vrbal about our rights with practically no responsibilites. We must be among the biggest polluters and wasters of our water resources.

It is OK for Mr. Kejriwal to make this an election slogan, but as a responsible politician (assuming that he is responsible), it would have been more helpful for him to give a solution rather than mouthing demands and 'rights'.

Responsibities must always precede Rights. And that calls for a whole bunch of responsible politicians. Privatisation or otherwise, and I personally dont think privatisation automatically or intrinsically means good deliverance. It might mean more efficient practices, but then it really boils down to good governance - private or state managed.

murali772's picture

created phobia

240 users have liked.
"Right to water/ life" is totally different from "right to water supply". Nobody has an argument against right to water, available in nature - at a river, lake, sea, or wherever. But, when water has to be made available in your home at the turn of a tap (after necessary filtration, treatment, etc), there are huge costs involved, and these have to be met. If the government wishes to subsidise (or, even give free to) a section of the population, it may do so by crediting the estimated amount, in advance, directly into the account of the beneficiary through Aadhaar, as is already being done in the case of cooking gas. Whatever, the utility can't be burdened with unpaid bills. And, the Delhi power supply privatisation (it has to be outsourcing, in the case of water supply) experience has clearly shown that this is best achieved through through private agencies - check this
I have stated all of these at least a hundred times before, in this forum as also elsewhere. But, for all of that, if people still refuse to understand these basics, it has perhaps to do with their being consumed by a phobia of 'privatisation', created and propagated by themselves. May be this is another category I have to add to my list here
Privatisation/ outsourcing/ competition, have made for a world of difference to us all, be it in telecom, TV/ radio broadcast, banking, insurance, civil aviation, etc etc. But, the basic infrastructural areas of power supply, water supply, bus services, etc continue largely with government monopolies, making for the biggest obstacle to improvement in quality of life of the citizen. And, it is largely the pseudo-Socialistic outlook of the citizen that's to be blamed for this. 
Some will say that privatisation/ outsourcing/ competition will create new problems. Indeed, they will; but, quite like the highly respected late Sri C Subramaniam had once famously stated, at least they will be different from the ones we haven't found solutions for in over 60 years. For instance, some may say it has created an Arnab Goswami (I must add here that I watch him almost daily); but, on the other hand, there are also the Nidhi Razdan's, Ankita Mukerji's and even Barkha Dutt. 
Incidentally, I had a fairly long telephonic chat recently with a senior functionary of the LokSatta party, of which I have been a member from long, though largely inactive. I asked him where lay the problem in LokSatta and AAP coming together, if nothing else other than at least to fight elections. He straightaway told me that the difference lay essentially with AAP's Socialistic outlook, compared to LokSatta's more liberal outlook. I responded saying I don't agree fully - the difference being that I see it as pseudo-Socialism, and not genuine Socialism. Genuine Socialists aren't there any more in this country, after the passing away of the Achuta Menon's, LokManya JaiPrakash Narayan's, Karpuri Thakur's, Lal Bahadur Shastri's, etc. 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

comprehensive white papers on bijli and jal

260 users have liked.
AAP's duplicitous talk with regard to 'privatisation' made me go to their website to check out their "white paper" on 'bijli'. It is accessible here. And, surprise of surprises, the only pointed criticism of a privatised DISCOM reads "In the past the BSES has been penalized by DERC for goldplating its expenses and fraudulent practices", reiterating the demand therefore for the CAG audit. The DISCOMS have been criticised elsewhere too, but those are as part of the omnibus criticisms of each and every agency, which is of course in keeping with AAP's style. 
But, the biggest criticisms have all been reserved for the PSU's - Coal India, NTPC, NHPC - even while stating a line in appreciation of Reliance, as seen in the excerpts reproduced below:
The PSUs involved in fuel supply, power generation, and power transmission have also made windfall gains. The monopoly of Coal India has made it one of the most inefficient but ironically one of the most profitable and cash rich PSUs. - - - The latest power tariff orders passed by DERC throw up very important issues. The rates at which power generators are selling power to Delhi discoms varies between Rs1.2 per unit to Rs 12.21 per unit. Consider this, the newly commissioned Reliance owned Sasan UMPP bagged coal blocks by bidding to supply power at Rs 1.196/ unit. On the other hand Central PSU National Thermal Power Corporation, which have coal linkages with Coal India and which supplies about 75 percent of Delhi’s total power consumption, sells power at rates between as low as Rs 1.75 per unit to as high as Rs 6.15 per unit. Similarly, NHPC plants supplies power at per unit rates varying dramatically between Rs 1.77 to Rs 12.21. The issue is why Delhi does not have access to cheaper power and why it is being forced to buy expensive power!?
The white paper has thus brought to focus the real problem area, viz the "power purchase cost" (PPC), which constitutes over 80% of the DISCOMs' input costs. I had pointed to this in June '13 when I stated "the question arises as to why is there such a huge hike in the input costs. The main cost components are coal and its transportation - one handled by the government monopoly Coal India, and the other by another government monopoly Indian Railways. The answers then become very evident for those who want to see them" - for the full text, click here.
And, well, the inefficient and corrupt ways of Coal India, and Railways are what are now sought to be addressed by the Modi government through disinvestments in both (and opening out of coal mining to private players), including to the public, forcing them to become more accountable. Eventually, that will help bring down the PPC for the DISCOMs, and the regulator can then re-structure the tariff to wipe out the regulatory asset burden in phases, following which the people of Delhi can enjoy the cheapest and highest quality (which is already the case) power, forever. 
And, I'll reiterate - all thanks to privatisation of distribution, initiated by Madam Sheila Dikshit, of which effort, the white paper is largely an endorsement - very clearly charting out the route to folllow for all the cities in the country
My compliments to AAP too for bringing out a white paper, very little of the contents of which can be contested. If only they had put in a word of appreciation for the good work done by DISCOMs in upping the reliability, safety, and other service levels to much much higher standards that they were before their entry, perhaps they would have enjoyed the goodwill of the industry/ business sections of the population too, and helped sell more of their Rs 20K dinner (with AK) tickets. 
PS: I may add here that there's no need for setting up generation capacity in Delhi, as suggested in the white paper. There's enough and more capacity in the country that can be tapped cheap, particularly since the reforms effected have ensured proper cash flow
The white paper on 'jal' (water), accessible here, is an equally competent compilation. But, what is overlooked is the capacity of "Delhi Jal Board" (DJB) to manage all of the enormous tasks involved. The way to go would be for the DJB to convert itself to a regulatory body, with control over all the resources, and to outsource the distribution to professional private players. 
Muralidhar Rao
vmenon's picture

water privatisation is not a just a blogging opinions affair!!

267 users have liked.

A long artcle on water and water privatisation..issues , history, cons and some pros.

Esentially this is not a topic , which is a done deal..and definetly not one which can be soleved by "debates" on social forums.

It needs severe on the ground work , interacations with effected communites.


I put forwrd the view that AAP In delhi is just doing that, trying to understand the issue at the "rubber hits the road" level and not in political  party offces,air conditioned cabins and definelty not in half baked debates on social forums.






Jimmy Orogobeni, now 25, has been waiting all his life for safe clean water in his Lagos home. In 1999, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) proposed a vast expansion of the city’s water supply, raising real hope that a British or French company would lay pipes to the sprawling Ajegunle slum. 

The IFC plan was rejected as “appalling” by the head of the Lagos Water Corporation, who said it was unworkable and too expensive for the city. But in the following years, donor governments, banks and a succession of European and American business consortia all went to Africa’s largest metropolis with plans to take water to people such as Orogobeni.

Like the IFC, most proposed awarding a single giant water company a long concession in return for providing technical expertise and millions of water connections.

But the companies, banks and donors all left, unable to agree with the federal or local authorities how to satisfy corporate demands, raise the billions of pounds inevitably needed, and convince the Nigerian public that international companies would fulfil their contracts and not make unreasonable profits from the sale of what was widely seen as a public resource.

For Orogobeni, his family, and more than 15 million other Lagosians, the impasse means continuing to pay local water suppliers a hefty premium for unsafe water.

About 80% of Lagos’s piped water supplies are thought to be stolen, only 5% of people receive it in their houses, taps are often dry, sanitation is non-existent across much of the metropolis and the hospitals are full of people suffering diarrheal and other water-borne diseases. All that has changed since the IFC’s abortive 1999 plan is that the demand for water has grown due to the arrival of millions more people in the city. 

A man push cart with water at a market in Obalende  Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.  Nigeria's government will meet with labor unions in a last bid to halt a paralyzing national strike that now threatens oil production in Africa's most populous nation.
Running water … a man pushes a cart carrying water in the Nigerian city Lagos. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

The latest organisation to have failed to negotiate a Lagos water agreement is the IFC – again. The private arm of the World Bank, which has lent more than $75bn for water and sanitation projects around the world since 1995, has been in secret talks for more than a year with the city’s private water company about funding another possible private-public partnership (PPP) scheme. But this week it categorically stated that negotiations had broken down and were unlikely to resume for years.

“Contrary to recent reports, IFC has not signed any agreement with the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC),” said an IFC statement. “LWC expressed interest in working with IFC and we had a number of discussions on how we might be able to assist the company. In the end, IFC decided not to advise LWC. We continue to support the government and people of Nigeria in achieving their development goals.”

A spokesman added: “It is unequivocal. We did talk to Lagos for about 18 months and we have now decided not to continue these discussions.”

Where near-universal access to water has been achieved, it has virtually always been through a public commitment

The rebuff is a blow to the IFC, which has long been the world’s largest funder of global water projects, providing advice for governments and loans for companies to take over and invest in under-resourced water and sanitation systems in developing countries, often as part of a broader set of privatisation policies. According to the IFC’s data, it completed 847 water projects between 1993 and 2013, nearly half of which were in Latin America.


But water privatisation has been politically hot since Britain became the first and only country to sell off its entire water industry in the 1980s. Many IFC projects have been opposed by coalitions of political and environmental groups amid fears that market water prices would increase way above what the poorest could pay.

Since the early 2000s, political anger has mounted with the result that far fewer water projects have been proposed, and many fewer people have been connected to clean water than the World Bank and G8 countries might have expected when the the millennium development goals were signed in 2000. According to the latest IFC figures, about 768 million people still lack access to clean drinking water, 2.5 billion people are without safe sanitation and roughly 3.5 million people die annually from water-related diseases.

The tide has turned on privatisation

Research shows that the tide of water privatisation has now turned. Many cities that rushed to sign 20-year or longer concessions with water companies in expectation of clean water at a socially acceptable cost have chosen to terminate agreements and return urban water provision to public control. 

A report by the Transnational Institute (TNI), Public Services International Research Unit and the Multinational Observatory suggests that 180 cities and communities in 35 countries, including Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Paris, Accra, Berlin, La Paz, Maputo and Kuala Lumpur, have all “re-municipalised” their water systems in the past decade. More than 100 of the “returnees” were in the US and France, 14 in Africa and 12 in Latin America. Those in developing countries tended to be bigger cities than those in richer countries. 

“Direct experience with common problems of private water management – from lack of infrastructure investments, to tariff hikes to environmental hazards – has persuaded communities and policymakers that the public sector is better placed to provide quality services to citizens and promote the human right to water,” said the report’s author, Satoko Kishimoto, water coordinator with the Transnational Institute in Brussels. 

“A growing number of water utilities that have gone through a re-municipalisation process are increasingly ready, along with other institutions, to share experiences and provide practical support. Cooperation between public services is the most efficient way to improve water services and promote the human right to water,” she said.

This week, the IFC said it had no ongoing water concession projects in Africa, and was working on very few in developing countries generally. From a high of 85 major projects in 2007, only 22 were recorded as starting in 2013. Moreover, 63 projects, representing 28% of the IFC’s total water investments over the past 20 years, have failed or are in difficulty, according to the bank.

The World Bank can still fund major projects like Lagos, but it must drop its ideological commitm‚Äčent to privatisation

“In the last five years the failure rate of water and sewerage privatisations has increased to 34%, compared with a failure rate of just 6% for energy, 3% for telecommunications and 7% for transportation, during the same period”, saidAnna Lappé, director of the Small Planet Institute.

With the IFC also reporting that nearly 40% of all its complaints in 2013 were about water, even though water projects are a small fraction of what it funds, the organisation has been put on the back foot. But it insists that cities and governments are learning from one another’s experiences and that failure happens mostly when water projects are not set up properly.

“Properly structured PPPs [public-private partnerships] can play a key role in addressing the global water issues of today. Long-term evaluations of its projects prove that concessions can have a positive impact on levels of access and quality of services for the population,” said a spokesman. 

An Indian man drinks water from a roadside tap on the eve of World Water Day in Allahabad, India, Thursday, March 21, 2013. The U.N. estimates that more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Supply on demand … a man drinks water from a roadside tap in Allahabad, India. The UN estimates more than one in six people worldwide do not have access to enough safe water a day to meet basic needs. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

But this is disputed by some water activists. “It is clear that PPPs in the water sector boost corporate profits at the expense of people. Privatisation, including PPPs, just doesn’t work. Where near-universal access to water has been achieved, it has virtually always been through a public commitment to build and maintain infrastructure, which represents 75% of the cost of delivering water to residents. It invariably results in raised prices, water shutoffs for those unable to pay and drastic workforce reductions, says Corporate Accountability International’s water senior organiser, Nathaniel Meyer

“Public officials often claim that due to government budget constraints they are being forced to pursue ‘partnerships’ with the private sector. But this justification is dangerously misleading, since the private sector consistently relies on the government or taxpayers to fund infrastructure, while extracting a profit, the margin of which can even be guaranteed in concession contracts,” he said.

Successes and failures

The jury is out on whether privatisation is a worldwide failure, with academics citing cities like Guayaquil in Ecuador, Bucharest in Romania, and some in Colombia, Morocco and Senegal as successes. Opponents say privatisation in Bolivia, Tanzania, Indonesia and in parts of Europe has failed. 

But both “sides” point to cities like Manila, where the IFC designed a 25-year, $2.7bn concession in 1997, giving it part-ownership alongside other companies. The IFC claims the project is a success story because it has provided an extra 1.7 million people with clean water, reduced diarrhoea cases by 51%, and offered customers significant savings: 20 times less than per-cubic-metre rates previously charged by water vendors.

But others claim that Manila’s water privatisation has led to continual price hikes, legal challenges, investigations, failures to provide certain districts with water, and has given the companies unfair returns for their work. Last week the price of water was set to rise nearly 10% in many districts. 

Several recent PPP projects are also hotly contested. A massive private water project in central India’s largest city, Nagpur, has raised concerns among local residents. Worries range from high prices and project delays to unequal water distribution and service shutdowns. Allegations of corruption and illegal activity have led residents to protest, and city officials have called for investigations of contract violations.

A Filipino fills canisters with drinking water for sale in a poor district of Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines 21 March 2013.
A youth fills canisters with drinking water to sell in a poor district of Quezon City, east of Manila, in the Philippines. Photograph: Rolex Dela Pena/EPA

Back in Lagos, the IFC’s second failure to negotiate a PPP project with the city could finally persuade the government to explore alternatives known as a “public-public partnership”. These involve cities partnering with non-profit organisations to keep prices low by taking advantage of the economies of scale and sidestepping many of the legal and corporate hurdles that accompany PPPs. That way, says Kishimoto, public water projects can be much cheaper, much more accountable and just as efficient as anything promised by privatisation.

Kishimoto also proposed that cities like Lagos partner with others to exchange technologies and experiences. Amsterdam, she says, works with many cities in Morocco, Indonesia and southern Africa to increase water accessibility. “It is easier and cheaper for partnerships to develop, compared with the costly and cumbersome takeover processes used by the private sector.

“It is quite common in Europe for towns and cities to merge their water operations through inter-municipal associations. There is no reason why rich cities should not link with cities in developing countries to provide advice and expertise where needed.”

PUP partnerships have often been seen as threatening by financial markets but their numbers are growing and they have been found to work well in more than 130 cities in 70 countries, including Yokohama. “The goal must be to improve cities’ water supplies. The World Bank can still fund major projects like Lagos, but it must drop its ideological commitment to privatisation. Investment in water supplies is desperately needed and governments must now seek new ways to pay for the improvements needed,” says Kishimoto. 

Jimmy Orogobeni, still without water in Ajegunle, would probably agree.


murali772's picture

bleeding heart Socialist politics

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"The Guardian" kind of articles have been (and continue to be) forwarded to me, at the rate at which they are published, subscribing as I have been to a Yahoo-group of tree lovers from the time it was formed, decades back. And, I have been diligently reading all of them, as also quite a few other publications, to help evolve my line of thinking. And, the gist of it is stated in the first para of my post of 29th Jan '15 (above), under the caption "created phobia". I can't quite see how, what I have stated there, is in conflict with the overall sentiments expressed in the 'Guardian' article. 
On the overall sentiments expressed in the white paper, published by the AAP too, I have stated that I have no serious quarrels with (check my post of 31st Jan '15, above). All I have suggested is that, the task being huge, and Delhi Jal Board kind of governmental set-up's inherent capacity limitations, the job be best outsourced to professional contractors, after converting the Jal Board into a regulatory body, having full control over the resources. And, if the government wants to subsidise a section of the population, it could do so through direct credit of the eligible amount into the beneficiaries' accounts through Aadhar. 
When the Guardian article talks about “Properly structured PPPs [public-private partnerships] can play a key role in addressing the global water issues of today. Long-term evaluations of its projects prove that concessions can have a positive impact on levels of access and quality of services for the population”, the author is likewise examining the various options available to figure out solutions to the serious global issue facing large sections of the world population.
Yes, I have an issue with AAP's "right to water supply" concept, whereby every household, irrespective of rich or poor, becomes eligible for 20 KL of water per month. I can't quite see why the APL households should be afforded this concession. If it's a stategy to get every household to go in for a metered connection (as compared the theft through tapping happening today), and thereafter exhorting those who can do without the concession to give it up voluntarily (like with cooking gas), then perhaps it makes sense. 
Now, the Guardian article has also stated "In the last five years the failure rate of water and sewerage privatisations has increased to 34%, compared with a failure rate of just 6% for energy, 3% for telecommunications and 7% for transportation, during the same period”, quoting a Anna Lappé, director of the Small Planet Institute. And, I have very clearly advocated privatisation (more correctly - competition) in the case of power supply, and public bus transport services. But, the bleeding heart Socialists, have an issue with that too, though, going by AAP's white paper on power supply, they seem to have come to terms with it, their only issue now being the tariff levels, for which they are largely blaming the PSU, Coal India, 's monopoly. 
One had thought that AAP was largely Socialistically inclined. But, compared to the bleeding heart types, they begin to look like Ambani's. The idea seems to be to somehow stall every reform effort, by creating a phobia around the word 'privatisation', which seems to work best with water (even though I have very specifically been advocating only outsourcing, in the case of water supply). AAP 's is obviously a political agenda. May be these worthies believe they know how to play the game better.
Also, whether on social media or on other forums (like even with the Guardian itself), what are stated are the opinions of the authors, inviting debates thereof, in order to arrive at solutions. The social media has now provided a platform for the aam aadmi to join in, and even further, the debates, and enrich them too - in effect, deepening the democratic process. Nobody, not even the Guardian article authors, can claim full knowldge of a subect, before giving an opinion on it. As such, even arm chair debates have their relevance, whether carried on in non-airconditioned rooms (since, anyway, between the bleeding heart types and BESCOM, they have ensured that the a/c's rarely work in Bengaluru), or elsewhere. As for me, besides, I'll claim I am far more studied and possessing of a greater grass-root feel, than most bleed-hearts. 
Muralidhar Rao
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the evolving of AAP

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"We do not want confrontation but are looking for constructive co-operation with the Centre and hope for reciprocation," AK said in an exclusive interview. - - - Buoyed by opinion polls predicting an AAP victory, Kejriwal said both he and his party have evolved and the changes will be evident in the way they function.
For the full text, click here
Quite the right approach - sure to get him more middle and upper class votes too. And, a victory in Delhi could help provide the much needed check on BJP too. 
Also, the more balanced view of the power scenario brought out in the white paper (compared to the earlier strident criticism of the DISCOMs - check my post of 31st Jan, above) is indeed an indication that they are evolving. Hope similar evolution happens in their thinking related to other critical infrastructural areas of water and bus transport services too, perhaps along the lines suggested in my opening post. 
All in all, a good augury.
Muralidhar Rao
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victory analysis, and fresh set of unsolicited advice

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I would like to believe that this article (in huffington post) by a Mahesh Peri, which elaborated on why he thought "it was absolutely crucial that BJP loses Delhi", after starting off by saying "In May 2014, I was absolutely clear that I preferred to have Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister. UPA deserved to be punished and Arvind Kejriwal was not ready for a national role. I also wished that AAP would get around 20 seats to have a semblance of an opposition in the parliament. From our motley crowd of leaders Modi was the best bet to be the Prime Minister. He had people support like no other leader and could drive change taking people with him", resonated very well with the Delhi middle class voters. 
It reached me in the form of a WhatsApp message, through a group, and I readily responded with a "perfect", and forwarded it to many in my circles too. Even in the WhatsApp group (through which it reached me), many of the members who were pro-BJP till then, as also some (like me) who were unsure of AAP, generally expressed agreement with the view. As such, I would like to believe it has had a very similar, or in fact more telling, impact in Delhi, leading to AAP's landslide victory
As far as I was concerned, I remained skeptical about AAP, largely because of the anti-privatisation statements aired by some of their members. However, when I read their white paper on power supply (as also, water supply, check my post of 31st Jan, above), it became apparent that they have quite understood where the problems lay, and the anti-privatisation statements were largely posturings to capture the J J Colony votes. I doubt if it has helped them. Even if it did, I wouldn't like to endorse them. 
Ms Meera Sanyal's talk, to Dr Prannoy Roy on NDTV this morning, too, made it clear that they have indeed studied the state and municipal body finances well (PRAJA has been at it from long - check here), and, if these are handled properly, they can possibly deliver on many of their promises too. On mis-handling, she gave the example of how they found out, through RTI, that a princely sum of Rs 12 cr odd had been paid to some crony for developing the most unprofessional DMC web-site, when any of their techie members could have done a far better job at less than Rs 1.2 lakhs. In fact, thst's more or less what is happening in Bengaluru - the tech capital of the country - too, check here ( I must add here that I found Ms Meera Sanyal's defence of the Rs 2 cr donation issue , again on NDTV, most unconvincing). 
Now, if their process of improving on delivery of services is going to be through unleashing of lynch-mobs on the revenue inspectors, health inspectors, hospital staff, school staff, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) valve-men, DTC bus drivers & conductors, the beat policemen, etc, etc, it is not going to go too far. And, that's where professionalisation comes in, which has made for a world of difference in the case of power supplies (with the advent of the private players), and which has apparently been largely appreciated by the aam janata of Delhi too, their only wish (not quite a complaint) now being that the tariffs be lowered (incidentally, the white paper points to the answers there too). 
The way forward, as such, is clear. Perhaps AAP can now set out models, in each of the other service sectors too, for other cities to follow, and thereby make Delhi a model city, all in all.
Muralidhar Rao
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the question of free water

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By campaigning for free water, well-intentioned people are actually hurting the poor. By being fundamentalist about free water, no one is asking the question, “how can I make clean water cheaper for the poor?”
The success of microfinance is thanks to people who asked questions like that. These people were not fundamentalist about credit being free.
For the full text of the column by Mr Pavan Srinath, head of policy research at the Takshashila Institution, click here
I expect when such statements are made by social scientists, they'll have better acceptability than when more or less the same is stated by an aam blogger. 
Muralidhar Rao
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It's Socialism - there's no denying it

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Almost all of the columnists, who write on economic issues, whether right-leaning, left-leaning or centrist, have been asking as to where the money is going to come from for the furtherance of AAP's "populist" policies. Voicing the now familiar arguments of AAP's Raghav Chadda, Atishi Marlene, etc, a friend, who is quite knowledgeable about the goings on the in government circles, told me that it'll come out of the elimination of 65% odd "leakage" (yes, I too feel it can be that high, in some states, at least) from the Rs 40,000 cr odd annual budget of Delhi. And, the vehicle to achieve that is supposed to be the "Mohalla Sabha's" - a bit of a romantic notion, one would have thought. But, the hope apparently is that the aam janata will now begin to take ownership of governance by helping the government to correct all established mal-practcices, now that it is seen to be visibly sincere and far more representative, as compared to earlier times when it was largely seen as a bunch of marauders. That's perhaps what the noted columnist, Mr T J S George, means when he says "delay in the delivery on promises will be excused by the people if sincerity of purpose is transparent and convincing. If the Kejriwal government eliminates everyday corruption and is seen to be doing so, half the battle will be won" (to read the full text, in the Sunday Standard, click here). 
Now, apart from the cost of assets, that need to be built up (the pumps, piping, etc for water supply; buildings, furniture, computers, etc for schools and colleges; buildings, medical equipments, etc for the hospitals; buses, garbage trucks, spy-cams, etc, etc), is going to be the massive permanently recurring expenditure on salaries pertaining to the additional army of government servants proposed to be directly employed, now that the AAP government is planning on doing away with the idea of contract labour. Even as of now, the salary bill takes away well over 50% of the reveneue earnings of most states (check the debate here). Will the plugging of the leakages provide for meeting of this additional burden too? Also, will the Mohalla Sabha's make them accountable to the extent that, if a worker turns recalcitrant, in addition to being lazy (as we have been seeing repeatedly in the case of Air-India - check here), can he/ she be thrown out? All these years, government has generally been fostering a "labour aristocracy" (a term coined by none other than Mr Gurudas DasGupta, the fiery Marxist parliamentarian), leading to even "rat-killers" aspiring to be made permanent (check here), this in turn killing the innate entrepreneurial spirit that Indians have otherwise been known for. 
Apart from all of these is the fact that, without effective competition, there will hardly be any incentive for innovation, leaving us with old technologies, even as the world moves on. 
Overall, it's old-world Socialism alright, though AAP spokesperson are loathe to admit it, since they themselves know that it hasn't worked anywhere in the world. Cuba has often been cited by a few romanticists as a successful Socialist model. I wonder if AAP lot do too. 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

An appraisal of one year of AAP govt by a not-so-aam aadmi

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Being a keen follower of the AAP government's performance, in the hope that they eventually become a viable alternative to BJP across the country (assuming Congress continues under RaGa), I am venturing to make the following critcal appraisals of their claims (made in today's ToI):

Power supply: The caption says "CAG report vindicates AAP govt stand". But, a reading of the statement (check here) doesn't provide any substance to back the claim. The actual position, I'd like to believe, is what's stated here.

Water supply: Admittedly, there's been some commendable movement here. But, "waiving outstandings of Rs 2,855 crore from close to 12 lakh consumers" (check this report) is a cause for concern, particularly considering the budget allocations required for the many other welfare measures, existing, as well as the ones being added on, one after the other.

There's also the statement "We are opposed to privatisation of water which leads to cronyism and corruption. Alongwith education and health, water is a lifeline necessity which the government should provide to its citizens as a right. Government's governance and management needs to be of the highest quality" - check here.

If government's governance and management can indeed be of highest quality, perhaps there's no need for private sector at all. But, is that actually possible? For instance, could the current operational parameters of the DISCOMs have been achieved by a DESU?

Bus services: The statement in this regard says - "AAP government will add 3000 new buses, of which 1000 will be for elite class, and its fare will be will be higher in comparison to normal bus service". Now, while privatisation in case of water supply (my case has been for outsourcing water supply to professional agencies - check here), education and healthcare are admittedly tricky issues, where's the need for the DTC to be running "elite bus services", particularly when it's making huge losses, as also there are new-age entrepreneurs like ZipGo to undertake the job competently - check here.

AamAadmi canteen: The budgetary allocation for this has to be huge too - where's the money going to come from? Besides, won't this will mean the eventual close down of the street food vendors? Their votes won't matter, I guess, compared to the many that'll possibly accrue from the working class, the beneficiaries of the canteen.

Arvind Kejriwal seems to suggest that there's enough money if you eliminate corruption. While that may be true, I would have thought that BJP's dictum (well, it remains largely a slogan - check here) "less government, more governance" made better overall sense.

Hamae dekhnaa hai.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

perhaps time for switch to an entrepreneural approach

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Halting anti-encroachment drives is easy, devising participative redevelopment is tougher. With Delhi’s population projected to touch 25 million by 2030, a McKinsey report calculates the city needs $135 billion in investments in the 2010-30 period.

A clear-eyed leader will recognise that generous doles and blaming the Centre for Delhi’s woes may work only for a while, even as a steady accretion of police cases against MLAs and ministers and the striking down of various AAP policies by the courts point to a gathering storm. Big parties like Congress and BJP are often hidebound and heavy footed, slow to learn from their mistakes. This can offer an opening to a bold political entrepreneur.

For the full text of the blog by Mr Rajeev Deshpande, in the ToI, click here.

The investments required are staggering. Adds to the question I raised in my post of yesterday (scroll above) as to where it's all going to come from, unless the government can change its approach to an entrepreneural one.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Arvind Kejriwal governance model

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The Yamuna river in Delhi symbolises the city’s poverty line. To its east live Delhi’s “have-nots”: Almost 30 per cent of the population crammed into just 15 per cent of the city’s area, comprising the lower-middle and  working classes, including lakhs of migrant labourers and most of its 1,600-odd slums. To its west reside the “have-lots”: The millionaires, politicians, bureaucrats, business magnates and media barons, the upper crust.

The Delhi west of the Yamuna (New Delhi) has a visceral hatred for Kejriwal and considers him a charlatan, anarchist and populist. East Delhi’s marginalised millions love him with the same vigour with which all earlier governments ignored them. The Yamuna is not, therefore, just a 200-feet wide ribbon of sludge, it is the fault line which defines and explains the politics of Kejriwal.

New Delhi has historically thrived by being status quoist, its hands firmly clasped on all the levers of power. It appropriates the budget’s major share to maintain its broad avenues and verdant parks. Its per capita consumption of public resources is many times that of East Delhi. It has the best schools, hospitals, hotels and clubs. The East, in contrast, has the largest number of garbage dumps and the biggest sanitary landfills. New Delhi has profited handsomely from the status quo, at the cost of its poor cousin. Both the Centre and State have been comfortable with this arrangement. Kejriwal is not, and this is his calling card.

- - - New Delhi feels threatened by Kejriwal because of his attempts to redraft the rules of governance and the definition of “public interest”.

For the full text of the highly readable column by Mr Avay Shukla, IAS, who retired as Additional Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh, in the New Indian Express, click here.

Arvind Kejriwal has undoubtedly "redrafted the rules of governance and the definition of public interest”, and just as well. More importantly, he has gone about it with his unique tact, which even a Chanakya would be proud of. The only question I have is, "is his largely 'statist' approach sustainable?"

Now, for instance, the Rs 1200 cr power subsidy for the poor has largely been possible because of the phenomenal improvements in the functioning of distribution systems, effected by Tata's and Reliance, for the ushering in of whom, the credit should largely go to Madame Shiela Dikshit. The turnaround recorded by TataPDDL (check the tabulation below; and more on that can be read here), tells a tale in itself.

Unfortunately, not only has there been no recognition of that, but even today the talk continues to be one of how the private companies had been "looting" all the while, and, which he, as the knight in the shining armour, came along and put an end to. This has then gone onto establish a belief system, whereby everything is now being undertaken directly by the government, and at subsidised rates.

Now, the world over, governments are known to be the most inefficient of service providers, and Delhi can't be an exception. Soon you'll be faced with ever lowering productivity, simultaneous with ever bloating salary bills, with no way of shutting down any of the establishments. That's the kind of scenario USSR landed up with (leading to its eventual break-up), and lately Venezuela, for all of its oil wealth, under Hugo Chavez rule.

It was in full appreciation of that, one had thought, that the NaMo sarkar had been elected to power, going by it's slogan of "less government; more governance". But, in practice they too are seen to be wanting on this score - check here.

It is not as if Kejriwal is not aware of it all. Apparently, he had once stated that "populist policies are needed to get votes, and after power is obtained, good policies can be introduced' (check my post of 31st Jan, '14, scrolling above). His terming the newly recruited school teachers as "guest teachers" (meaning essentially, that, even as they are being paid well, they can be sacked any time if the management so decides, which is not too different from "namma sarkar's practices - check here), shows he's aware of the perils of such pursuits of his.

But, the problem is power corrupts, and absolute power, that he seems to be wielding, corrupts absolutely.

Whatever, one lives on hopes. So, the fingers remain crossed.

PS: I had drafted the above last evening. Now, seeing the election results from across the country, it looks like NaMo - AmitShah combo has out-maneuvered Kejriwal at his own game.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

are we seeing a course correction?

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Honest intent, skilled leadership and ability to take responsibility and thinking like a responsible logical business person can deliver significantly higher results both on cost savings and service delivery.

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

While one would like to believe all of what is stated in the article, there is clearly a serious limitation to the "statist" model that the AAP sarkar has been pursuing all this while, as already brought out in my posts of 11th March, and 16th & 15th Feb (scroll above, to read).

Perhaps there's beginning to be a realisation of this, going by the following excerpts (emphasis added by me) from a Siasat report, accessible here.

Addressing the ‘CII Delhi State Annual Session’, Sisodia said the previous governments appeared to have “failed” to address these issues and that there is a need of having a partnership with industry to deal with such problems.

- - - He said a solution to rising pollution, traffic woes, poor sanitation and garbage management cannot be found until the government works together with private players. “With my two-year experience (in government), governments appears to have failed to work on these issues. “Before coming to power, I was an activist and I have seen that we cannot find a solution to garbage, traffic, pollution problems, development in unauthorised colonies until we work together,” Sisodia said.

If true, that's indeed refreshing. May be the Punjab and Goa election set-backs have caused the neta's to have some serious introspection which has led to a review of some of their approaches. In the current context of the BJP becoming 'frightfully' powerful, the country very badly needs an alternate, and I would still like to believe that the AAP can re-invent itself to fulfill the promise it once held.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

largely a lost cause

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The Swaraj India today said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s promise of abolishing house tax if the AAP emerges victorious in the municipal elections was a “desperate and cynical move by a politician who can see the end of road”. Swaraj India, led by psephologist Yogender Yadav, a one-time colleague of Kejriwal, said that the Aam Aadmi Party has realised that it won’t win any of the three civic bodies in Delhi.

“The AAP seems confident that it won’t be anywhere close to winning any of the three MCDs, so it can promise anything it wishes. When the party says that it will end deficit by abolishing house tax, they clearly don’t understand the grammar of governance. Kejriwal probably considers that he can trick and fool the people of Delhi by making such statements,” a press statement issued by Swaraj India said.

Swaraj India, which is making its electoral debut in Delhi civic bodies polls slated to be held on April 23, said Kejriwal’s promise is designed to wreck the municipal corporations and ensure that people don’t get whatever they used to get from MCD. “If the AAP thinks that MCD can be run without taxes, why don’t they announce that the state government will give grant to each MCD equal to house tax revenue foregone. Why make it conditional on AAP winning elections,” it said.

For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the Financial Express, click here.

I can't but agree with what Yogendra Yadav is saying. In my post of 20th March (scroll above to check), I had expressed hope that perhaps AAP was engaging in a course correction. However, now I am quite clear that that is not quite happening, and going by what they are now upto, I am inclined to more or less giving up on them.

So, what now? Does Swaraj India hold any hope? Will have to see.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

efficient 'choars'

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The following excerpts (emphasis added by me) from AAP tracker ( ) on "CAG audit of power discoms" under "electricity", I find quite interesting:

Its (CAG's) most damning revelation relates to inflation of regulatory assets (RA) — previously-incurred losses that can be recovered from consumers if permitted by the regulatory authority. The RA of three discoms which stood approved as on March 31, 2013, were Rs 13,657.87 crore. However, audit findings contained in various chapters of this report indicate that the RA of the three discoms were inflated by at least Rs 7956.91 crore, the report says. - - - Analysis shows that inefficiencies get loaded to the cost of power at several stages from the source till it reaches the consumer — that is, in generation, transmission and distribution losses — making the retail price significantly higher. There is a scope for reducing the cost of power by reducing inefficiencies at various stages," the audit report says.

Now, even assuming the so-termed inflated amount of Rs 7956.91 cr were to be reduced from the RA claimed (which the Discoms will be contesting - check here), the Discoms are still due close to Rs 6,000 cr. They are made to carry that burden for months together, and then you go on to point out "inefficiencies" in their functioning. For all of that, TataPDDL has brought down the AT&C losses to 8.88% from 53.1%, and the reliability has improved to 99.68% from 70%, over the 15 years of its coming into the picture (check here), which means you can totally junk your D G sets, inverters, converters, what have you (the Reliance companies perhaps lag slightly behind - all the same a far cry from the days of DESU monopoly). And, the tariff levels are comparable to those charged by state-owned Discoms (say in Bengaluru) for much poorer quality of supply. Forget a word of appreciation for all of that, they are still referred to as "choars" by the AAP lot.

We in Bengaluru would like to welcome these 'choars' any day.

For all of what AAP governmant may have done for the aam aadmi of Delhi, particularly East Delhi (see my post of 11th March, quoting Mr Avay Shukla, scrolling above), when even they seem unhappy (going by the NDMC election results), it's indeed time for serious introspection, rather than looking for scapegoats.

Muralidhar Rao
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Environmental harm caused by excessive subsidy

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The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission has slashed electricity rates for domestic consumers by 12-25 per cent across all consumption slabs this year. The new tariff is among the lowest in the country — but the Delhi government makes it even cheaper by providing a 66 per cent subsidy on the rate for households that consume less than 400 units a month and an additional rebate of Rs 100 on the fixed charge to households that consume less than 100 units a month. The effective electricity rate in Delhi is Rs 1/unit for the first 200 units, and Rs 1.5 for the next 200 units.
- - - According to the newly released report of the Central Electricity Authority on Load Generation Balance Report 2017-18, Delhi is consuming more electricity than any of the following individual states: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Sikkim and all states of the North-east. Delhi’s residential energy consumption is even more shocking. The total energy consumed by Delhi households is more than that of all households in Gujarat, one of the richest states, with a population about three times that of Delhi. Already in Delhi, the household electricity consumption per capita is about 43 units per month as against national average of 25 units per month.
- - - “It is clear that a supply-driven subsidy policy for electricity and weak performance standards for cooling devices can prove to be counter-productive and perpetuate energy crisis, forcing more and more power generation at high environmental and economic costs. This needs urgent attention as in Delhi, for instance, space cooling accounts for almost 25-30 per cent of the annual consumption of electricity. During the summer months, as CSE finds, this can go up to 45-50 per cent of the electricity consumed,” said Roychowdhury.
For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) on the study done by CSE, Delhi, published in Citizen Matters, click here.
Near 100% reliable grid power supply, and at the nominal cost (determined by the DERC) that TataPDDS is providing, is in itself a major service (in every sense of the word) to the citizens. The harm caused to the environment by the excessive subsidy, as outlined in the CSE report, perhaps necessitates a review of the matter by the AAP govt.  
Muralidhar Rao
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fresh advice, rather evaluation

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Excerpts (in italics, interspersed with my comments in regular print) from an article captioned "For Arvind Kejriwal, governance is a journey from one gimmick to another" in the "The Print" by Shivam Vij:
But odd-even is completely forgotten because it was a comprehensive policy failure. It did nothing to reduce air pollution. If it did, the AAP would be imposing odd-even from November to January. Yet it succeeded as a gimmick: it caught everyone’s attention, it forced everyone to understand what Kejriwal is doing in a way that people won’t notice whether a polluting industrial plant has been shut down or not.
Actually, more effective than odd-even, as also sustainable in many more ways would have been the model detailed here, based on Delhi's very own (and most successful & equitable) PPP model of power supply. If it has not been adopted yet, I doubt if it is because it has not recived his attention, but because of his continued antipathy towards PPP's.   
This time Kejriwal has come up with a new gimmick to mislead the citizens of Delhi into thinking he has the answers to the air pollution problem. He has started putting up smog towers, which is like installing an RO to clean up the Yamuna.
Of course, engineer Kejriwal would know that smog towers would do zilch to reduce air pollution. But crores of taxpayers’ money must be spent just so that the public sees the smog meters and says ‘Kejriwal is trying’. The debate will shift from whether Kejriwal is doing anything to reduce pollution to whether smog towers work. We might even be asked to go into the technical details of how a smog tower works. When you can’t convince them, confuse them.
The pandemic year has comprehensively called the AAP’s bluff on governance. The sorry state of affairs in Delhi government hospitals doesn’t allow them to brag about running a few OPD clinics. As schools remain closed, they can no longer brag about re-painting school walls. The annual gimmick of showing a high pass percentage in government schools by disallowing likely-to-fail students from taking exams will have to wait until March-April.
The spectacular turnaround in power supply apart, I wouldn't rate any of AAP's other 'achievements' on the same level, more so because I doubt the sustainabilty of the models adopted. And, in the case of power too, the credit should go largely to Sheila Dikshit government, for taking bold to 'privatise' the job. Arvind Kejriwal would never have done that, and Delhi would at best have had a better supply regime than under monopoly DVB, but still largely mediocre as compared to now. 
- - - As an ideology-free populist, Kejriwal tries to follow public mood. So, if public mood is against corruption, he’ll put up a movement against corruption. If the people no longer care about corruption, Kejriwal will forget about it too.
- - - Hindutva succeeds in polarisation only because it is anti-Muslim. Even if Kejriwal becomes actively anti-Muslim (rather than just passively looking the other way in the Delhi riots or allowing the persecution of an Umar Khalid), the Hindutva voter has no need to vote for a poor imitation of the BJP.
This is a big black mark, the excuse dished out being that the Delhi government has no say in the matter.
That still leaves us with the question, what do people want that a party like the AAP could give them? People want solutions to their economic problems. They want the economy to get going again. They want jobs, good education and health, and hope for a better future. The AAP can see that its governance-by-gimmicks trick is unable to give people hope for a more prosperous future. The result is Arvind Kejriwal becoming a baba. We’ll have to endure a lot more bhajan-kirtan. Someone gift him a saffron stole, please.
All said and done, I'd not be as critical as Shivam Vij - I'd give the performance a 5 out of 10, far lower compared to my original expectations.
Muralidhar Rao
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impressive presentation, but - -

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Even as the 4-minute video presentation by Ms Atishi on the AAP Delhi model (accessible here ) at the UN General Assembly, is undoubtedly impressive, questions arise on the following:
Privatisation of services, is made out as villainous. But, had it not been for the privatisation of power distribution by the erstwhile Madam Sheila Dikshit's Congress government (which was fought tooth & nail by the then India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal ), would the services have reached the global stadards (by all counts), recorded by TataPDDL (others, perhaps a little lower, but far better than earlier fully government-owned monopoly DESU) today? It is a pity that there is not even an acknowledgent of that, while claiming all of the credit for it all themselves.
The guest teacher issue pertaing to government schools - check here , doesn't appear to have been sorted out.
Bus services continue to largely remain the monopoly of the fully government-owned, and thereby incapacitated, DTS (scroll above to read my post on 15th Feb, 2016). But, apparently, in appreciation of the deficiency in DTS services, the government seems to be allowing bus/ maxi-cab aggregators, like Shuttl and CityFlo, to operate, essentially to meet the demands of the high-end commuters (who would otherwise be taking out thier cars for the work-day commute, and in turn cluttering the roads). To that extent, they can be seen as more commuter-friendly than the Govt of Karnataka. But, if I understand correctly, they too are licensed as Contract Carriages, essentially providing for rent-seeking pursuits of inspectors. The government's dalliance with psuedo-Socialism unfortunately seems to keep it blinded towards possibilities that could emerge out of deeper involvement with the private sector, as detailed here.     
Further, from what one reads about Water supply, Mohalla Clinics, etc too, appear not quite what one would want to write home about. Apparently, Arvind Kejriwal's love (scroll above to read my post of 20 March, 2017) - hate(scroll above to read my post of 27th April, 2017) relationship with business/ industry (I am not talking of crony capitalists) is coming in the way of achieving far more than what the city/ country needs.
PS: AAP's pseudo-Hindutva is also something I'd hold against them, though, in a direct contest beteween AAP and BJP, I'd certainly support AAP.
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