Atanu Dey On India's Development

Jago Party

So there’s a new political party in the making — the Jago Party. A very hopeful sign. We need more and more people to enter the political arena. The consequence of good people not engaging in politics, as the wise counsel, is that you get ruled by your inferiors. The more choices one has in terms of political parties, the more likely it will be that a reasonable outcome may obtain.

The Jago party lists eight people on their About Us page. All of them appear to have a technical and business background. What I find missing is any indication that they have any economics training. Consequently, while their motive and mission is laudable, they do need to do their homework with regards to economics.

Good intentions are not enough. One has to be able to reason through the problems — which are definitely informed by economics as we are talking about an economy — to figure out a solution. Not knowing some basic economics is a needless handicap. One needs to know the fundamental principles of economics just as much as one needs to be basically literate and numerate. It is easy to believe that whatever economics one needs to know one can grasp intuitively. But for most of us, many of the basics of economics are somewhat counter-intuitive and people systematically misunderstand them. There is really no substitute for a knowledge of economics. It is really dangerous to substitute knowledge of economics with good intentions and a passion for reform.

One of the lessons of economics is that you don’t have the luxury of setting prices. We have to take what we get. Meddling around with prices is a sure-fire means of creating grief. Jago needs to wake up to that. They write in their mission statement (among other things) :

24 hours electricity supply for all towns & villages at just Rs. 2.00 per unit ( without any subsidy ). Electrical departments, railway and all government owned business will be privatized. Government has no business to do business . Their main product is corruption .

How do they know that the right price is Rs 2 and not Re 1 or Rs 3? Who decides and on what authority? It is not a minor quibble. It takes some degree of understanding why and how markets work to fully appreciate that setting prices is silly.

Reservation for none. Job for every one through job oriented education .

Reservation will be provided only on economic ground . . .

I agree with no reservations. But how do they justify reservation “on economic ground”? To reserve seats in education because one is poor is to bark up the wrong tree. If one is poor, and yet is capable and desires an education, the solution is to give financial relief (in terms of grants or loans), not reservations.

There are lots of things that the team at Jago need to work out a little more rationally. I hope they succeed in whatever they are trying to do and I wish them all the best.

  • abhijatm

    Fundamental problem of the middle class : Why should i waste my one lifetime in attempting something which has little or no chance of success.

    The problem of the “commons” : If the problem is large and diffused enough, its not mine to solve or worth investing my time in espcially in India where just getting by is a struggle.

    You have said previously that ppl respond to incentives. What is the incentive for a middle class indian (who has perhaps the economics training) to go into politics with no social security net. One is more interested in making one’s moolah and building a comfortable life.

    Ditto for innovation & entrepreneurship. We dont take risks coz the price of failure is just too high in India. There are no institutional mechanisms of mitigating the risk of following one’s dream. So ppl pass on in life…

    Call them lazy or armchair theorists or downright hypocrites but no one wants to rock the boat they have struggled to build.

  • http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~parijat parijatgarg

    I hope these guys have more “fire in their belly” than the last bunch of “educated elite” who hacked together a ‘political party’, the Paritran Party. During the reservation drama close to 2 years ago, we at IIT Bombay wrote to them repeatedly to atleast make a statement. We weren’t even asking them to support us or anything, just to make a statement. And we got none. None what so ever. Maybe they were afraid of being “called names” on our very own version of Fox news. But I kind of figured that we the “educated elite” are only good for wringing our hands over the morning paper or discussing the bad state of affairs over an evening cup of tea, or writing blogs or worse, leaving comments on them.

    P.S. : This is a rant

  • http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~parijat parijatgarg

    I just made a quick check of their website. Gosh! These guys just know rhetoric (and not even proper grammar). To say nothing about their insane ideas. Atanu, your points about economics are well taken. But I guess they need to read more political and general history than economics. Capital punishment for corruption of over 10 crores. Flogging for smaller values? Treating the symptoms rather than the disease. Their website just seems to be shouting slogans, in bad English. This is crazy!

  • http://jagrukindian.rediffiland.com/ jagrukindian

    Dear Mr Atanu Dey,

    Thanks for appreciating us on our intent & complimenting us on starting the party called “JAGO”.

    My name is Denson and I am one of the founder members of this party the formation of which in itself was a story of sacrifices better left unsaid.

    I think ‘abhijatm’ could not have put it in a more better way, to quote him, “Why should i waste my one lifetime in attempting something which has little or no chance of success”. This is the challenge we faced – THE RUSTED & ROTTEN ATTITUDE.

    We have been labeled time wasters & insane thinkers yet I think our passion to see a real “INDIA SHINING” is a little more fiery & fierce than most can even imagine. I heard Arundhati Roy yesterday on “sahara samay” & I was pained to hear when she said “writing is all I can do & nothing more” and I quote again, “ I cannot coerce people to take action”. She also said, “ Can’t you see clearly a divided India somewhere down the line in a few years time – Gujarat is already divided, Kashmiri’s think they are not Indians anyway, The northeastern & the Maoists already live that way and are fighting because of that & now Maharashtra has already voiced the bugle thru Raj & Bal Thackeray”.

    We strongly feel it is high time we the literate noble thinkers, bloggers & critics have to draw ourselves out of those cushy chairs & come out ,WORK TOGETHER & TAKE ACTION BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    Now to answer you regarding the inferences you have made about our party or facts pertaining to our mission I do hereby write in to clarify both the points that you have highlighted.
    (a) Electricity at Rs 2/- : Recently Reliance bid to supply electricity @ Rs. 1.19 at Sasan Mega Power Plant in MP. Hydro power is even more cheaper . After all T/D losses & reasonable profit this price is quite possible . Besides practically your electricity bill today includes a major component for all the organized pilferage which is happening across India not only in villages but also in towns & we could support the same with photographic evidences of all the “khoontas” that come out everywhere boldly even during the day.
    (b) Reserving seats in education – In our manifesto what we say is that : All poor Indians: (i) will get free/subsidized modern day education (ii) Mandatory education upto the 10th Std.

    Pertaining to knowledge of economics I think we can do a better job than Shri Laloo Yadav, Hon. Railway Minister, addressing MBA students in IIM’s.

    I think our greatest challenge, now is to convince people like Sh. Parijat Garg that it is high time we stop criticizing people who want to do something instead the need of the hour is to pool in our talents together & work in unison under this open platform which we have readied called – “JAGO”.
    Kind regards
    Denson Joseph

  • http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~parijat parijatgarg

    Dear Mr. Joseph,

    I am not, at all, criticizing your efforts. Its only the front that is being put up that I am criticizing. And its only the inaction of a previous such party that I’m criticizing. When a political party is setup by people as polished as you, one expects the initial happiness to be enhanced by a polish in its ideas, its language. As I said, loudly proclaiming the ‘diseases’ that are rampant in the country and then proceeding to announce the solutions sounds a little naive at the very least. Clearly, flogging for bribery is not likely to change things in a complex world as ours. Corruption is a worldwide problem and yet nobody seems to have been able to contain it with flogging. A little subtlety and indepth thought at what you think would be solutions to our problems is the least we can expect from educated men like yourself.

    Just setting up a political party by the “noble thinkers” is not enough. Its important that some ‘noble thinking’ reflect from their statements.

    I find myself incapable (and non desirous) of setting up a political party and I sincerely hope and wish for your success and with you, the success of the country. That, however, does not necessarily mean that we all contribute our talents under one single platform.

    I’d rather say that it is our greatest challenge to convince people “like Sh Parijat Garg” to stop and think for a moment before they add another crumpled polythene bag to the litter on the street, to consider not honking when near a hospital, to spend a little time improving their minds instead of blowing it off in Marijuana.

    Meanwhile, I continue to contribute in the little ways that I can.

    P.S. – Is the name a rip-off from the Tata Tea ad? No offense!

  • Rahul Kumar

    “Flogging ” still exists as one of the punishment in Singapore . It is one of the best managed country in the world .

    Went through JAGO website , it seems domain name jago.in was registered two years back , so no tip-off from TATA Tea ad .

  • http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~parijat parijatgarg

    Dear Rahul,

    I see that you have not directly said that flogging *is* the reason why Singapore is a well managed country, and I hope that was not your intent. It is a common logical fallacy that if A and B occur together, A must be the cause of B.

    As for the name being a rip-off, it was just a thought. Good to know its not true :)

  • Rahul Kumar

    You are right “flogging ” is not the only reason for the development of Singapore .

    However your could not provide any valid reason for opposing this .

  • http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~parijat parijatgarg

    How about on humanitarian grounds? Not that there isn’t flogging already in prison cells everywhere in the world. Also, I assume that by flogging, they mean public flogging – which is not done in Singapore either.

  • Rahul Kumar

    Humanitarian ground ? hmmmm.. Why all human right activists talk about right of criminals and never about common men ?

    Everyday thousands gold chains are snatched from unlucky women , no one raises any voice . But if a chain snatcher is beaten in Bihar , nation cames to an abrupt halt !! That policeman is Bihar dragged that criminal only one meter , but media dragged him thousands of meters by repeating that clip.

  • Amit

    Rahul, the issue with chain snatcher was someone taking the law in his own hands and deciding to mete out punishment, when it is the job of the judicial system. There’s a good reason why there’s separation between police and judiciary – to prevent abuses if one person decides to be judge, jury and executioner, and to ensure a fair trial – innocent until proven guilty. Can this system be frustratingly slow in India? You bet. Is it flawless and does it always guarantee that justice is served? No. But the answer, IMO, is not reverting to days of Wild Wild West – at least not without putting in efforts to improve the system. It may not be perfect, but it does work.

    I’d also think that we as a society have moved past the days when people were hanged in public or a spectacle was made of them by public flogging etc. For example, the rapists are not punished by someone/victim raping them back. We send them to jail.

    Anyway, just my opinion.

  • http://jagrukindian.rediffiland.com/ jagrukindian

    Hi Parijat,

    You are right there has to be an allround initiative & that too at all levels. And sure it has to start with moral science & cleanliness classes at the very grassroot levels of our society.

    We congratulate you in your initiative to have taken up such issues at your own level. Great work & keep the zeal going, even if you are not rewarded. Regards & Jai Hind !!