• Monday, January 20, 2020

Others Have a PM. We Have an EM (Events Manager)--- says India's Mani shankar Aiyar

Discussion in 'Central & South Asia' started by Psycho Pakistani, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. Psycho Pakistani

    Psycho Pakistani FULL MEMBER

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    Mani-Talk: Others Have a PM. We Have an EM (Events Manager)


    4ac0abc5e8875108c3fba2d5f543f5dd.jpg
    Mani Shankar Aiyar


    • (Mani Shankar Aiyar is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha)

      Other countries have a PM. We have an EM - an Events Manager. Having returned from his rocking visit to the US (Madison Gardens, venue of boxing matches and pop concerts, forsooth!), where he achieved little of substance but much adulation from his fan club of NRGs (Non-Resident Gujaratis), Modi sought out yet another photo-op by picking up a broom and positioning himself, most photogenically, in front of a mound of garbage in Valmiki Colony, an ersatz version of a 21st century Gandhi. There he proclaimed the commencement of his Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, tokenism run riot as we already have a Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan that he has usurped wholesale, pausing only to slap a saffron label on an old Congress bottle. Indeed, the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was preceded by the Total Sanitation Campaign, 1999, of the previous Vajpayee-led NDA government, but our Modi does not scruple even at pinching his own party predecessor's programmes.

      Such patent pinching would be OK provided Modi would at least study the lacunae of the past and the immense volume of research that has gone into the conception and implementation of the TSC and NBA with a view to making the course corrections essential to ensure the attainment of these noble objectives. Alas, he has no use or time for administrative detail. What he concentrates on is the colour of his waistcoat, admirable in a fashion model, deplorable in a Prime Minister.

      Had he a head for anything other than the trivial, Modi would not have been looking for film stars (and comprador Congressmen) as "brand ambassadors", but summoning the hard working authors of the SQUAT survey to learn what has gone right and how much has gone wrong with the sanitation programmes we already have and what we need to do to get the strategy right. SQUAT, incidentally, stands for Sanitation Quality, Use, Access and Trends. The survey has been undertaken by New Delhi's Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, and the two young authors, Aashish Gupta and Payal Hathi, have summarised their findings in an article published the day after the launch in The Indian Express. Their survey finds that over 600 million Indians defecate in the open every day. Indeed, The Daily Mail of 7 August 2014 says 70,000 Gujaratis in Ahmedabad still defecate in the open; The Hindu of 17 September 2013 reports that 40 to 50% of Gujarat's population defecate in the open; and a blog by V.B. Rawat of 2 March 2013 in Countercurrent.org says that even now 2500 households in Gujarat have been forced into manual scavenging. Ending this "will require a shift in mindsets, because without addressing the attitudes that shape people's distaste for latrine use", the mere building of household toilets will not scratch even the surface of the problem.

      They have found that more than half the mothers they interviewed do not even believe that in-house toilets are safer for their children's health than the consequences of outside defecation. They have found also that even in households where toilets are used, one or more of the family members prefers to go outside. It is such mindsets and misinformation that have to be patiently and diligently transformed. Does the PM intend to sweep Race Course Road every morning, noon and night to change the Indian mindset? Or does he think one snapshot of him in a heliotrope jacket and - voila! - 600 million Indians will swear never again to go to the fields and the roadside?

      T.R. Raghunandan of Accountability Initiative puts the same point in a more colourful light. He describes a road journey at twilight from Bhubaneswar to Kandhamal in Orissa lined by villagers squatting on the roadside, their behinds picked up by the headlights as their jeep tears down the road. Raghu asks the Orissa government official, who has been trumpeting statistics about toilets built, toilets planned and toilets to be built, why the people are not using the thousands of toilets that they have already been provided. The official replies: "Well, people believe it is unhygienic to relieve themselves at home because God lives in the home". Raghu wryly adds: "Quite clearly, government-constructed roads have reached the appropriate level of Godlessness!"

      It is such mindsets that have to be changed - village by village, home by home, across 700,000 villages and uncounted lakhs of urban slums. It is not by handing joint secretaries brooms to sweep out their offices once a year that Modi is going to achieve that objective. We need an army of Swacch Sevaks, handsomely paid and well-equipped, going from village to village morning after morning, to ensure the repeated and perpetual removal of what Gandhiji called the village "dungheaps", under the supervision of the Panchayat Swacchata Samiti and the local Gram Sabha. But Modi had nothing to say - on Gandhi Jayanti, of all days - on the Gandhian conception of the critical role of Panchayats in ensuring village sanitation. Local government has been ignored altogether, notwithstanding the Constitutional injunction that village panchayats and municipalities be entrusted the duties of "sanitation". So too has been the detailed analysis of the issues, based on diligent academic research, and the model Activity Map provided in the 1500-page Report of an Expert Committee I chaired last year. Modi's Swachch Tokenism Abhiyan would have left the Mahatma weeping.

      I live on a lane inhabited by two BJP ministers and one of their senior MPs. None of the three was in sight this morning as I took my daily morning walk. But poor little Pappu was there as usual, sweeping the street and carefully stacking the plastic wrappings abandoned by the cohort of BJP aspirants who haunt the lane through the day and throw their detritus everywhere, besides irrigating the sidewalks at will, not to mention the unmentionable left behind by stray dogs and infants who are encouraged by their poor parents to do it on the pavement running outside the ministerial bungalows.

      Municipal cleanliness is only going to be assured by recruiting an army of safai karmacharis and ensuring priority to their unbearable working conditions, inadequate equipment and pathetic remuneration. Municipal cleanliness is a function of well-organized municipal services responsible to local ward sabhas and residents' welfare associations (RWAs) in towns and efficient panchayats responsible to the gram/ward sabhas in rural areas. Gandhi Jayanti should have marked a major drive to vastly expand and ensure much higher levels of income, perks and welfare for the safai sewaks and safai karmacharis in both rural and urban areas to lend dignity and pride to their occupation, and thus involve the populace at large. Their work can never be replicated by PMs and Governors inexpertly waving an occasional broom. Instead, municipal services are increasingly being outsourced, depriving lakhs of safai karmacharis of their daily roti.

      Worse, such outsourcing to private enterprises not obliged to observe reservation quotas means their source of living for millions of those entitled to employment quotas is being snatched from their mouths. Gandhi Jayanti would have been rendered meaningful if it had been celebrated as Safai Karmachari Day, with special emphasis on the lowest category of municipal karmacharis who live and work in the filthiest conditions imaginable in what ought to be the most enlightened metropolises of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. Instead, the educated middle classes pinch their noses as these municipal workers, sitting atop the filth they've picked up for disposal, roll by and close their eyes to the terrible issues that plague the lives of these "scavengers", as these municipal workers still insist on describing themselves in all honesty. All this has been brilliantly documented by Milind Ranade of Mumbai and the experts on safai karmacharis whom he has assembled and among whom he works, with sweat and tears, day after day after day. The urban middle class wants clean cities but has no time for Ranade and his ilk. No wonder, therefore that when Gandhiji was asked what he despaired of most in India, he replied that it was "the hard-heartedness of the educated Indian".

      But Modi, and his hard-hearted urban middle class following, know none of this - and care less. What Modi wants is a TV slot - and gets it from a fawning media that is even more trivial than he is. He' Ram!

    Mani-Talk: Others Have a PM. We Have an EM (Events Manager)
     
  2. punit

    punit BANNED

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    Good! in his infinite wisdom our great leader Mani Sankar Aiyyar has promoted a humble chaiwala to Event manager !
     
  3. ranjeet

    ranjeet ELITE MEMBER

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    Mani Shankar Aiyyar, is at advance stage of foot in mouth disease.
     
  4. agamdilawari

    agamdilawari FULL MEMBER

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    Ain't he the same person who before elections said that Modi in his lifetime won't become PM of India and as results tuned out he himself lost from the seat he contested :p:.
     
  5. unbiasedopinion

    unbiasedopinion SENIOR MEMBER

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    Isnt this the same guy who first challenged Arvind Kejriwal to win even a single seat in delhi election. Isnt he the same guy who has thrown all kind of muck on Modi and dared him to win even 3 digit figure. No wonders people like him who were for so long in the administration have left India backward. Why has he not changed the mindset of the people when his party was in power for 65 years?